Running Off With The Fun City Girls: The Great Manchester Run 2011

Okay, here’s the deal: I run 10 kilometres, you give me loads of money for that, which I then give to a charity of my choice. That makes sense, right? Wait, what do you mean, what’s the point of me running at all? Well, it’s… you know… oh just give me the money already, will you!

Sponsored charity runs are a completely alien concept to Germans. I had to explain the idea to my family several times, mumbling something about ‘challenge’ (“Why? You run all the time anyway don’t you? What’s the challenge in that? And why should we give you our money?”) until I finally resorted to the ‘give me your money and you’ll be on my wall of fame’ trick.

I signed up for the Manchester 10k run in January and started training quite enthusiastically…for about a week. Then I realised that 10k wouldn’t be a big deal anyway and went back to doing my usual runs round the block and in the park. I forgot about it completely for a while until about a week ago when I was planning the upcoming weekend and started to panic: I won’t be able to make it. I’ll get really ill before the run. We’ll be late. I’ll oversleep. I’ll have to go to the loo every five minutes. There will be torrential rainfalls. We won’t be able to park anywhere. I’ll pass out for no reason.

Fortunately, the mighty Jogger Swan King took me under his wings, and the whole ‘I’m going to run 10k as fast as I can’ affair turned into ‘we’ll run 10k with a guy in a 7 ft swan costume and have fun’. Our team partner Dr Maha was suffering from an ankle injury, so we decided to take it easy on the day. Dressed up as the Swan King’s hipster bodyguards (think Bjorn Borg ca 1975 meets Michael Cera in Juno meets the 118 118 guys), sporting hot pants, white socks and co-ordinated ponytails (mine left, Dr Maha’s right), we rolled up to the great event in the loveliest Manchester weather: freezing cold, drizzly rain, icy wind.

After the much needed warm-up with Mr Motivator*, the guns went off and we embarked on a leisurely jog joining 40.000 other runners, down Portland Street, then Chester Street, to the Man United ground, and back up along Deansgate, to the finish right in front of the Hilton. Here’s the highlights of the day:

  • At km 1 I realised I needed the loo.
  • At km 2 we whooped for at a runner wearing a giant giraffe costume and the Swan King high-fived loads of kids.
  • At km 3 we had our first ankle-pain-induced walking break.
  • At km 4 we went past a band playing ‘Chariots of Fire’ by Vangelis (click the link and you know the song!), pretending we were running in slow motion.
  • At km 5 we started swearing at people on the side who were eating chips.
  • At km 6 we stopped for a little dance to the Stone Roses in front of Clint Boon’s stage.
  • At km 7 we yelled the Super Mario Bros theme tune at two runners dressed as Mario and Luigi.
  • At km 8 the Jogger Swan King had a little jig with the dixie band. I also finally found the loos.
  • At km 9 I got utterly confused because people were shouting my name at me, until I realised that it was written on the race number on my chest.
  • At the finishing line the announcer praised the Swan King, mentioned my name, we high-fived and collected our medals and goodie bags from the army.

Oh, what fun we had. If you see someone walking round Manchester with a medal round their neck, that would be me.

I raised an okayish £333, Mr Swan King managed around £500, both for the Red Cross, who welcomed us in the Charity Village with bananas, crisps, iced tea, mini mars bars and custard creams worthy of a children’s birthday party. (THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO DONATED, YOU’RE SUPER AWESOME!)

Due to tiredness I’m actually lacking sarcasm, so here’s my completely honest and filthy cliche conclusion: despite the weather, the atmosphere at the run was great, the other runners were nice, and we really enjoyed it. And OHMYGODIWANTTODOITAGAIN.NOW!

Next year. Next year. And I’ll up the fancy dress. Oh yes.

* It wasn’t Mr Motivator, but I really wished it was.