Turning over, I reached out for my phone to check the time. 6:20am. Outside the rain sounded torrential, and all I could think was yep, gonna need those waterproofs today.
As it turned out, I actually didn’t. By the time I peeled myself out of bed just before 7am the rain, that had been constant all throughout Saturday and likely the majority of that night, had stopped. The sun was even peeking through the (still very grey looking) clouds. I made the decision to pull my shorts out from their long winter hibernation. Long time no see.
Before leaving, I managed to eat half a bowl of porridge and chug plenty of water down. I really struggle to eat so early in the morning (usually have my breakfast at my desk at 9!) so that was an achievement in itself. We set off around 8am and managed to get a parking spot real easy.
The best place to be was the Wetherspoons near the race start apparently, because every runner seemed to gravitate there. Likely because they had better toilets than the portaloos outside… it was also pretty chilly outside, despite the sun still showing it’s face. I sat down for a bit with my mum, had half a cup of apple juice and just waited for the time to run down.
By 9am I was heading back outside and towards the massage tents. Every year The Bridgeman Physiotherapy Centre give out free massages to runners before and after the race. It’s really helpful, and this year I discovered they had students there, so useful for them too! I like having my calves warmed up before a race, it really does help to loosen them.
After that it was time to head to the start line, ready for the 9:30am kick off. It didn’t feel like we were waiting in the pen for that long at all, which is always good.
The 10 Mile Race
This is the first race where I’ve had a bit of a plan. My goal was to start a little conservative, but still at a faster pace than my training runs. The middle section was to increase speed a little more and then the last 5km was to really go for it.
I think I stuck to that pretty well, and it wasn’t too difficult to keep at that. That’s not to say I found the run easy, but I just felt really strong and good all the way round. And that’s a good feeling. It shows me that all the training, all those dark evening runs in the cold and wet, was completely worth it.
The water stations were a little strange I thought at the time, but looking back I guess it kind of makes sense. We had a water station at mile 3 (felt a little too early to me) and then we had water and gels at mile 6. I think I’d have preferred mile 4 and 7 if I’m honest. Not a big deal though.
Race Route Splits
This was the first year of the 10 miler, with the half marathon being the usual route. Both runs followed the same route right up until roughly the 8 mile point. 10 milers headed left and the others went right, straight into that horrible plantations hill. I thought this ran pretty seamlessly. It was well marked, and we had marshalls there to help too. Now as the hill section on the half marathon is an out and back 2-3 mile ish route, we were actually still joined by those faster runners doing the half.
We headed out of Haigh Hall together, and ran as one until we got close to the finish line where us 10 milers had to do a detour through Mesnes park to get that last mile in. Against, a seamless split and didn’t feel awkward.
Support Around the Course
The thing I like about the Wigan courses is that there’s usually quite a bit of support along the way. A lot of the routes run through the town centre and residential areas, so there are always plenty of people cheering you on in those sections. The quietest, and hardest I’d say, is between 2-3 miles ish, when you’re running through the industrial estate.
There’s hardly any support and it’s just a little mind numbing really, there is nothing interesting to look at. In comparison, whilst the canal sections are also very quiet on the supporter front, they are at least pretty and interesting to run down.
The finish line is always absolutely buzzing, and you’ve got people lining the streets for your last kilometre. They’re always super loud, so that gives you a good push for the finish. And I love a good sprint finish.
I was aiming for between 1h30 and 1h45. Finished in 01:37:36 so yeah, race plan executed well. You can see that my pace got faster over time (besides a couple of splits) and you can also see that the hills got worse as time went by too… Those Haigh Hall hills really are killer, and I didn’t even do the worst one. Pleased with the effort though and my placing. Next year I think I’ll go back and tackle the Wigan Half Marathon though.