I started this post as a regular “race review” of Manchester Marathon 2017, but there’s already plenty of them about (see links below). For me it is a fantastic marathon that I may just enter again in 2018 – great price, well organised, and the 3 fs… Flat, Fast & Friendly! I did record some of the marathon too..
But what this weekend really taught me is that Running really is the best team sport out there. On the face of it this makes no sense whatsoever; you are the one who enters a race, you are the one who gets up early to put in those extra miles and you are the one that chooses to carry on, not quit and push yourself and your body when it starts to get tough.
However your team are the ones who actually encourage you to do all those things as well as motivate you to push that bit harder and go that bit further. Without a team many runners wouldn’t achieve as much as they have done and may have quit or given up at certain points.
Who do I mean by team? This can be anyone that you have come across through running – members of a running club, those on social media, friends & family, the crowd on a race day or other runners alongside you.
Manchester’s crowds were amazing. This sport and these races in particular are unique in the fact the crowds cheer on absolutely everybody, they really do want you all to succeed. There’s no boos or jeers for a rival “team” only support and encouragement and it really does help you push on. Not only that but the other runners alongside you aren’t rivals, they’re also on your team. Everyone I met on Sunday wanted every other runner to accomplish their goals. You always see injured runners with others around them, usually people they have never met before offering support or words of encouragement. When I had to walk at mile 23 I had several runners pass encouragement as well as someone in the crowd offer me a gel and water. It really is an experience like no other.
After the race on Sunday I spent the afternoon at the pub with around 20 others that had completed the race, very few of which I had ever met before. Yet we were all part of the same team. Not one discouraging word was said to another person, only how great they had done and how they are now part of the 1% club.
I only started running in September 2015 and back then I would have never seen running as a team sport. I didn’t get the appeal but now I embrace it, it really is just as good to see others hit their goals as it is to reach yours.
Yes you do get some ignorance or those that like to gloat and the elitist, but you get that everywhere. 95% of people are supportive and do help advise and motivate others. In the pub after Manchester many had just run their first marathon, whereas some had already completed 4 or 5 this calendar year. But there was no separation, no discouragement, only admiration and support from both ends of the spectrum.
I think this is one of many reasons why people take up the sport and then they love it. The community support is second to none yet you are still solely reliant on yourself unlike other team sports. The hard work is still down to you but you do have a team to help you on your way.
Manchester Marathon was the perfect way to show that this really is a team sport. Months before the race we had a Twitter group where people offered advice and words of support from day one. This would range from what kit to wear, what gels to try, what hotel to stay and most importantly what pub we would meet up at after the race.
Once the race starts you get encouragement from the crowd, the marshals and other runners. Having your name on your shirt is a massive bonus and hearing those words of encouragement really do help you maintain your speed and also embrace the atmosphere. This carries on the whole way and becomes vital in those last few gruelling miles where more people are walking, stretching and crying their way to the finish. Random runners will help you get to that finish line, if this was an individual sport you’d be left to suffer alone.
After the race you get all the congratulations from everyone and anyone. This can be from the crowd, from the volunteers from your friends or from texts, calls and social media messages. You can then speak to other runners about how they did and share the success. You very rarely get someone ask you your time and then boast if they beat you. Running is about beating and challenging yourself.
I loved Manchester Marathon and would recommend it to any runner out there. Whether it’s your first or your 100th marathon I do believe it does live up to it’s Fast, Flat and Friendly profile. Meeting and speaking to many people along the way really did help with my training and motivation before the race and the encouragement I received during the run really did help me push on to get my 15 minute PB. The post race drinks were also a great way to hear about others people views and stories and what they all have planned next.
Do you think running is a team sport?
What did you think of Manchester?
Some great blogs about the actual race;