5 ‘Daddies’ ran this one; Liam, Shaun, Frankie, Rick and me (Pete). We all met at McDonalds in Denton at 7am to load up with coffee, porridge and jam (not together) before tapping Wigan into Speedy’s Sat Nav and heading off.

We arrived with about an hour to spare so we had a preamble to get a flavour of the place and to find out where the loos were! This would prove important. First impressions was that this was a very well organised (and therefore expensive to put on) event with lots of food stalls, a big stage with live bands on, police and a huge swathe of volunteers. We found the loo’s and I found that this would be the only race I would win today. I emerged from the blue cabin first, followed by Frankie, then Liam, then Shaun, then ……, then ……, Hmm? Where the hell is Rick? Rick eventually emerged to our applause, in what would have been a record-breaking time (for a marathon).

We’d parked about 400 metres away on Library Street, free on a Sunday which always makes things easier. We were in our ‘civvies’ and needed somewhere to get inside to get changed. How the heck Superman uses a phone box to get changed is beyond me as we spread out inside the Royal Arcade and emerged in full ‘DE” kit, ready to tackle the streets and park-paths of Wigan.

Time was getting on so we had a bit more of a ramble before heading back to the portaloo’s. Not to be outdone, Liam set about extending Rick’s previous time. To be honest, I think it would be a photo finish, albeit not a pretty one. Time to get rid of the bags (no, we hadn’t managed to pick up any loose women); we were directed to Wigan Life Centre which was, by sheer coincidence, next to where we’d parked so we stowed our stuff away in Frankie’s car. We jogged up Library Street again and took a left to warm up on Wallgate. We cut down the side of Wallgate Station before turning sharp right as Frankie needed the loo again. Maybe, as he was in a strange town, he just wanted to leave his scent? Anyway, on to the start …

On your marks …

They opened the pens at about 9:10 am and everyone ambled down, setting their Garmin’s and the like in anticipation for the start. Following a mass ‘JoiningJack’ salute, we were counted down from 10 and then we were off. Shaun was out the blocks like Usain Bolt and, but for a yellow blur at about 10 miles, was all I saw of him. I ran with Frankie and Liam for the first bit while I tried to find my stride. The race was on closed roads that were well marshalled and punctuated with eager support from the Wigan locals who had turned out in numbers to cheer everyone on. The opening 6 or so miles were quite flat, taking in the sponsor ‘HW Moon Toyota‘ and Dave Whelan’s empire: the huge distribution warehouse and of course the DW Stadium that is home to Wigan Athletic football team and Wigan Rugby team. Free admission was available to all runners for that afternoon’s rugby game between Wigan and Huddersfield. A nice touch that but kicking off at three would have meant a long wait for us.

The route tracked back to near the start and took us down Library Street AGAIN where we passed our parked cars. It was at this point that a slight drizzle began which partly cooled me down but I was still feeling rather hot. I knew Liam, Frankie and Rick were not far behind me as we negotiated the roads near Ince before turning left to join the canal. This was a straight section but dotted with little rises every 200 M or so where locks were to lift boats. It was at this point that I was really hot and I looked for a suitable place to get out of everyones way so I could remove my sub-layer. This took me 30 seconds or so as Frankie and Liam arrived. I managed to keep with them for about another mile as we entered Haigh Hall Country Park and the start of some hills into the woods.

This section was a bit ‘trailly’ if this even a word with a meandering path through a woods, emerging some time later at the top with wonderful views across the surrounding areas as we ran down the side of Haigh Hall before beginning the final descent (or so I thought!) towards the finish some two miles away. This downhill section was enjoyable as finally, all my ducks were lined up, I wasn’t burning up any more, the energy gel and water I’d took had kicked in and I was on final approach to the finish. All was well, until. Well, basically, someone had decided to throw in another hill at 12 miles! A right turn through a cutting took us up the steepest incline of the route. If this was not enough, the 1:45 pace runner passed me at this point. I’d have been happy with sub 1:45 but it was not to be.

We emerged from Haigh park opposite Wigan Infirmary. A considerate thought by the race organisers should anyone have needed A&E after the final hill! A left turn after the infirmary took us down the final descent and ‘flat bit’ to the finish. I really like town / city centre finishes as all the supporters really give you a boost when you most need it. I crossed the line, clapped on by the other ‘Daddies’ who had finished before me. Not my best but acceptable.

Hat’s off to Wigan. They put on a great show and the locals offered great support. We’ll be back next year. Just get the contractors in and flatten that hill at 12! 🙂

Times and data:

  • Shaun finished in 1:31:54 and was 6th of 103 in the V50 category.
  • Frankie finished in 1:42:45 and was 157th of 609 in the SNR category.
  • Liam finished in 1:42:57 and was 160th of 609 in the SNR category.
  • Rick finished in 1:43:57 and was 49th of 214 in the V40 category.
  • Pete finished in 1:46:38 and was 49th of 180 in the V45 category.

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