I never go back to the big races. I did run Bacchus twice, but as a drunkard fucking unicorn. I ran BUPA London 10K a few times. British 10K *spits on ground. But none of the big races, the big marathons or halves. Which is why this weekend is so unique as I went back to the home of music, the home of some of the greatest bands in the world: Dalek I love you, Stealing Sheep, Carcass, Ladytron and the big daddy of them all, Atomic Kitten.
I ran the Rock n Roll Liverpool half in 2015 with Stevie Mac, Charly Brown and Samwise Baxter. It was a messy drunkard weekend you can read about here. Suffice to say half a day drinking, the Pump House, and buttless chaps did not deter us from a pretty decent weekend running.
The class of 2018 however had planned it differently. Rather than turning up on the Saturday, most of us appeared Friday sometime and convened for drinkages from the off. The plan being to run the 5K on the Saturday, get the wristband at the EXPO, free tee, drink for the rest of the day, then Sunday run the half or the full, then drink until hometime. And that is pretty much what we did.
And this year there would be a huge crowd, including but not limited to Lew, Kaya and Baz, Whiffers, Helen, Bri and Rach, Ant, The twins, Jen, Jk and Clare, Rachee Vee, Matt Bowman, Kev Briggs, Samwise Baxter, Marty Ewers, Harry and Meghan.
Oh that thing. Living in North London I was very glad to be in Liverpool, primarily because the Jubilee line would be clogged up with Manchester United fans (from the home counties) and wealthy SW Londoners who discovered football some time in 2004, but also because of some wedding. And because of this I somehow got roped into running the 5K as Henry Charles Albert David Windsor, Duke of Sussex, or as we commonly know him, the Ginger.
How I did and the Route?
It started at 10 which was great and, much like the other races, the marathon starts by the Liverpool Exhibition centre, that is part of a great expanse of museums and pedestrian space by the Albert Docks. We were a little concerned we would be there forever, given how long the 5K final waves took to start the day before and that the half had delayed us by 10 minutes already, but we needn’t have worried. Ten more minutes max and corral 4 was on it’s way and much like the 5K the day before we ran along the docks, over cobbles, out onto the street before a quick turn toward the Museum of Liverpool and the Beatles Experience at the Mersey Ferry building. This included grinding to a standstill as people stopped to get their photos taken with the statues of the Fab Four.
Back up and into town and a few hills appeared. We knew of them though, Parliament Street and Upper Parliament Street and then Everton Valley. It was here we had our first there and back, albeit a there and back with a loop around Goodison Park. I had met Matt Bowman (@angrydwarf9) the day before and chatted Bolton Hospice and running in the sun, and we called to each other as we passed on opposite sides of the street.
Goodison was a godsend. It was baking hot already, although only 23 degrees apparently, it felt worse and the organisers did well to shorten the gap between water stops to 4K. Goodison, as I said, was a godsend. It is a smaller stadium, surrounded by terraced houses on narrow road and it was completely in the shade. Ok, am not going to make a joke about the Everton area being shady, but it was. And I slowed to enjoy the cool temperatures knowing the next part of the race was a bit of a slog up hills and through parks exposed to the sun. It was here that I saw Kevin Briggs, and we shook hands as we enjoyed the shade for a moment. It was one of those races where you do see so many people on the there and backs.
JK came bombing by next, he was in the corral behind mine. Although they were not policed we tend to not push forward in the waves. It is not something we advocate and so he stayed in 5 and caught me up on the there and back that led into Stanley Park and looped around the fishing lake. To be fair I don’t know if it was a fishing lake, but a few guys were fishing there. You aren’t supposed to eat the swans in London parks but a bunch of Poles killed and ate some recently, so all bets are off whether an angling license is needed there. I also remember the Ace Rimmer episode of Red Dwarf where they go fishing, and Lister talks about canal fishing as a kid in Liverpool, and there being no fish, so they went condom fishing and he once caught a 2 pound, black, ribbed nobbler.
From the uphills of the park we reached Anfield, a much larger stadium that we started circling. I noticed the photos of their legendary players in the car park, thinking that it would be a loop and then out, but then we were diverted into the stadium, in the cool of the catacombs level with the pitch. Some stopped to take photos. I looked out and we were behind the goal at the KOP end (I hope it was anyway), before we ran out and by the Hillsborough memorial where runners read the names, touched the memorial, and looked at the flowers and cards left. It was quite touching.
From there we were out again and into the park, a downhill and I was starting to feel a bit sick from all the water. I don’t tend to eat on marathons, but I ate all 3 Mint Creams this time, at 20, 30 and 35K. I tried a chocolate gel at one point, and had a few swigs of lucozade but it was mostly water, and it made me feel a bit sick. And so I took an SOS. And thanks to Jenni Morris for that one. Take an SOS she said. No, I will be fine. Take one! Ok. I saw Jenni as the route turned more residential again on a very long there and back. Penny Lane is just around the corner she said, and she was right. It was just around the corner. I saw Samwise Baxter, from the 2015 Rock N Roll Liverpool weekend but he was in the zone, I then saw Marty Ewers and 3 other members of the 100 Marathon Club and we would play the overtaking game for the rest of the race.
From Penny Lane we ran down and onto a busy road. The roads were only part-closed and there was a leniant earphones policy in place. 3 lanes, with either one or two open to traffic. If you ran on the outside, it was a bit hairy at times. Along and down an underpass, I saw ice poles on the floor. Some guy was giving them out. I would have killed for one of them, but was on a mission. I was only a few miles out and my splits were getting faster and Marty and I played the overtaking game as I coveted their 100MC vests, deciding what I would have on the back of mine when I eventually get there (ask me again in 2021). Along the road, under the underpass, then along the road the other side before a loooooong and welcome downhill around a leafy park.
The KMs ticked over, lucozade now taken, then we were heading down toward the Mersey. We ran a long way along the water too, the sun baking us. I did come out with some spectacular sunburn from my new ND:R vest. I was thinking the others (JK, Jenni, Lewis) were way ahead and finished, and half expected to see Clare catch up with me but then I got a second wind. I overtook Marty and the 100MC for the last time and went for it. My knee was crunchy, but I had a head of steam. I was running. I was running! Out off the water. It all was very familiar.
Willy Wiper factory to the right. (Teehee) and then back and around the same route as the end of the 5K from the day before. Over a few speed bumps and onto the waterfront for the last time. Rachee Vee, Bazky, Lew and Ant were cheering at the start of the finishing straight and then it was Lindford time. Bombed it past most of the finishers and over the line coming in, quite suprisingly, a minute behind nippy JK, and 3 minutes behind Jenni, just in time to photobomb her finish line selfie.
Scores on the Doors
I kinda wanna say BOOM! Second, only to London as there was no goody bag, otherwise it could be top of the pops, pop pickers.