April the 2nd will be a day long remembered in Daddies Escape. For Liam and Frankie, the shackles of a sub four-hour marathon were not just been broken, but shattered. At the other end of the M62, Shaun and Pete also smashed through their Half Marathon personal bests, Shaun emphatically so, carving up the roads of Merseyside in just 88 minutes.
The day was a long one for sure. At 6:45am,Shaun and I (Pete) had just left for Liverpool when we heard that Liam and Frankie were already pacing the streets of Manchester near Old Trafford, parked and ready to go with over 2 hours before the start. Now that’s dedication (oh, and making sure they had a decent and free parking space!).
The only bad part of the journey to Liverpool was that Shaun had to go and remind me that Everton had been beaten (again) by Liverpool the day before by three goals to one, just a couple of miles from where we ended up parking, in the shadow of the famous Liver Building.
Having not been for a while, I was really impressed with developments on the Pier Head; the former run-down riverfront has given way to modern yet respectful area that pays tribute to the most famous of bands ‘The Beatles’ with a great statue of the Fab Four walking towards the water, the Liver Building behind them. Eleanor Rigby would most definitely approve.
In both Manchester and Liverpool, the start times were both at 9:00 am which I like as you still have the freshness of the morning although (save for a running disaster), we would be finished doing the Half before the heat of mid-day had managed to make itself known.
At 9am, the hooter went off and we were away in Liverpool, started by Ian Rush and Gary McAllister in Liverpool and in Manchester, the legendary Dr Ron Hill and Mara Yamauchi got everyone under way.
The Liverpool route meandered through the waterfront before bearing left to take us away from the river and on to local roads, Sefton and Otterspool Parks. Somewhere ahead, Shaun was having the race of his life. I tried to run my own race this time after learning from Wigan Half two weeks earlier where I’d been caught up in the occasion and gone off too quick. I found myself counting down from 100, one number every four steps and somehow this just worked for me. Running is not just physical, it’s seriously psychological and concentration does play a part for elites, good-for-age and fun runners alike. The training and dedication to get to the start line is where all the work is done; the event is just the end of it.
The weather played nice too. Scattered clouds allowed sunshine to break through regularly and a light wind rolled off the coast. The finish was flat and relatively straight back to the Liver Building. On approach, the ‘Beatles Story’ building which marked the end of the race loomed in the distance but never seemed to get any closer! Here came the cobblestones which are never met with pleasure from ANY runner made for a difficult couple of minutes, negotiating through the slower finishers on quite a narrow section. For all runners, you will know the absolute delight of seeing the finishing gantry and this was true here too. Never are the six letters of ‘Finish’ so welcome. I crossed the line and stopped my Garmin and dared look. I know it was better then Wigan but when I saw a 42 in the row of numbers, elation set in. Medal around my neck, I picked my way through the finishing pen to find Shaun who was clearly chuffed, having broken 1:30 by over a minute; a magnificent effort.
On to Manchester …
We had agreed that we would try and get back to Manchester in time to cheer on Liam and Frankie who had all we’d just done to do again. The night before, they had both been worrying about finishing in 4h 30 but that was not to be, and how, as it would prove.
Armed with a McD’s coffee via a nearby drive-through, we jumped onto the M62 and tried to get as close to the finish line as we could via an impromptu petrol station fill-up as the Fiesta was close to empty. Having filled up, a short drive through Weaste and Trafford Park put us within touch of the race finish and we ditched the car opposite Old Trafford football stadium. A ten minute walk brought us to the finish line but getting a view would prove difficult as the streets were lined both sides, three-deep. We walked a couple of hundred metres down and found a space and peeled our eyes for the Daddies Escape tops of 8478 and 8479. Shaun and I were not sure how Liam and Frankie races were going so we consulted t’interweb which allowed live tracking and splits. We entered both numbers and found that they were both flying and were well-ahead of schedule which meant they would not be far away.
Liam was first to appear, obviously hurting yet tearfully emotional and proud to have ran such a great race. He saw us at the roadside and waved as the finish line grew closer. Shaun and I were stunned, with a predicted time of 4h 30, to smash it by 40 minutes is a minor miracle. Not to be outdone, just five minutes later and well within a four hour finish was Frankie. Also obviously hurting, he looked better than some we had seen at the finish. Some people were in a really bad way with one limping home and one who had buckled knees, flanked by two other runners just in case he was going to fall. This was all the inspiration Shaun needed to commit himself to a full marathon this year. This kind of relentless dedication that runners have to get over the line is amazing, truly amazing. They actually PAY for this but as they say, pain is temporary but glory is forever.
All-in-all, a VERY successful day for all Daddies Escape runners:
Liverpool Half Marathon
- Shaun – 1:28:39 (PB)
- Pete – 1:42:31 (PB)
- Liam – 3:51:58 (PB)
- Frankie – 3:56:59 (PB)