Rise and Shine (02/05/2010)
Shine was the name given to the Charity event to raise funds for Cancer Research. I had no idea it was on, until Sally Clayton dropped a note saying she and Dave were doing it and would I help with sponsorship. No problem, an excellent cause and in fact I ran the old Manchester Marathon a few years ago for exactly the same cause. A few weeks before the event, I thought, why not do it, my wife was away on one of her regular visits to friends in North Africa, so I entered. A very smart entry pack appeared after a couple of days with all information, plus my Shine T Shirt. OK, I had a few miles in my legs after an Easter walking holiday down on the Gower, so I went for the full 26 miler. The day before, saw all the normal plans, a few tasty nibbles (eat a little regularly and BEFORE you need it, an old bikies trick), an emergency bottle of water plus the all important, cut those toe nails!
With a 22.00 start, a forecast of dry and warm throughout the night was most welcome, and I was really looking forward to my little tour of Manchester and Trafford. A bit of juggling was needed, as it was my Granddad day, plus we had all been invited to a 40th Birthday at a neighbours house. Emma was determined to go to the bash, so after bath and pyjamas, we spent an hour round there, a couple of beers, mmm, then I dropped her off at her parents home. It should have been a sleepover, but not possible today, there was work to be done. The blurb had advised all walkers, (note, it was a walk, not a run) to be at the start by 19.00, ready for the 22.00 start. I got there by train at about 21.00, to find Manchester Central (the Old G Mex) heaving, with the obligatory warm ups going on, led by local celebrities. Amazingly, Dave and Sally bumped into me, in a crowd of around 7500, that was surprising, but when it happened again, as we massed outside under the gaze of the Midland Hotel, it became weird. We discussed cycling matters whilst waiting for Dennis. Dennis Law was the official starter, everyone was too excited to be quiet and listen, and a big groan went up when it was announced there was a delay due to safety issues. Whatever it was, was sorted quickly, and at 22.10 off we went, split probably about 60 /40 with the biggest number going for the shorter 12.5 mile option. The male / female split was probably about 75/25 in favour of females, and most had balloons with little glow sticks in them, tied on, it was all good fun. Off we went, across Deansgate, heading for Rusholme and Curry City. A favourite eating hole, and by the time we reached there, the walkers had started to spread out. Being a fairly quick walker, I was able to quicken up, with the intention of hitting my target time of 6 hrs 30 minutes. A couple of power walkers passed, wow, was I stood still, they sure were moving, but it looked hard work. Not for me. At Withington, a Cancer Research film was being played on the walls of Christies Hospital, home of CR, and lots of people were out supporting here, including the many regular Pub goers, spread out amongst the various hostelries. On to Kingsway for a long 3 mile stretch, with the lights from the balloons bobbing in the distance, a really pleasing and happy sight. I was really enjoying this walk. Back through Rusholme and here the events split, with the half distance entrants taking a separate route. Hot drinks were on offer, so I did my usual trick of grabbing a cup of tea and not stopping. It was just about warm enough for shorts and a jersey, but I think any sort of stop would have made me think about putting longs on, so I didn’t! The route now headed out towards Old Trafford, and in fact we went right around the world famous Club, watched by the warm smile of Sir Matt. Now on my own, I was able to settle into a steady 4 mph+ pace, slowly reeling in early fast starters. In fact the only thing slowing me down, was my normal problem of peeing every 10 minutes. As 2 fast walking girls commented, it’s OK for you, you don’t have to get your knickers down! Enough said.
By now, and after the above frequent pit stops, we were in the middle of Trafford Park. The worlds first major Industrial Park (and still its largest), I thought I knew my way around it. Ha ha, over the next hour and a half, we weaved this way and that, occasionally recognising familiar landmarks, but in the main, being totally and utterly lost. I think it’s opportune here to mention the excellent marshalling arrangements; no maps needed tonight, with every change of direction handled by high viz clad marshals, most of whom were cheery and supportive. Thanks guys. On through the night, with regular mile boards, and another CR film being played onto the walls of a large warehouse, very emotive, well done team, back round Old Trafford, then onto the Trafford Centre, a favourite haunt of mine, with great cinema and eating experiences. Oh, and not forgetting Escape indoor snow dome and the climbing wall. Go on, give them a try.
By now, I could feel the pace dropping slightly, and my target time of 6.5 was looking a bit remote. I tried to pick it up around the Trafford Watersports Center, using each walker that came into view, as a personal minute man. Sorry, this is an old bikies term, in time trialling, you started at one minute intervals, hence the guy in front was your ‘minute man’, and you tried to catch as many as possible. Some of these ‘minute men’ had either started too fast, or were unused to the distance. Whatever, some were in real difficulties, hobbling along, some in real pain with blisters etc. I tried to urge each one on, with the usual advice of visualise crossing the line. It’s worked with me for a long time, I hope it helped some of the poor souls I left far behind over the last few miles. Into Manchester centre now, Deansgate in sight, and up the steps to the finish. This was a bit special, with a big illuminated arch, and a posse of pretty girls to clap you in; wow, that was worth the effort on its own. A handsome medal, goody bag, and breakfast voucher completed a wonderful night. Refreshed after my bacon sarnie and tea, I ambled back to the station, in good time for what I believed to be the first train. Aha, big cock up, I had got the days wrong, and I had 2 hours to wait for the first train back to Hazel Grove. Hmm, not much fun with the drunks and wineos tottering about. No problem, only 40 minutes to wait for the first bus, and I was back home by 7.45. Bath or bed? No question, bed, and I crashed out for 4 hours of great kip. The World Snooker Champs were starting that afternoon, so a comfy session on the settee with a bottle of beer whiled away the hours until it was time to collect my wandering partner from the Airport. A really pleasant way to spend a night, if you get the chance, give it a try, having fun and raising money for a great cause has got to be a win win.
ps. Missed the target time by 20 minutes. Dave and Sally finished a few minutes later. Will be back next year with a new target, yes, to be the quickest OAP!
Quentin Blagg. 2.5.10