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Manchester 10km

On Sunday my wife completed the Manchester 10km run. I saw her off at the start and mooched around town carrying her bag of stuff. Alas the finish line wasn’t really an option for me because we were already utterly confused by the maps (despite knowing Manchester well) and we wisely decided to meet in a pub rather than at the end because judging by the start it was chaotic and way too packed (and when your wife is 5’1″ it is tricky especially amongst the costumes and general hullabaloo – I also figured it would be very difficult to infiltrate myself into a place to get a good photo). It’s a huge event these days and when we got home we watched the recording of it from the BBC. The likes of Brendan Foster was wittering on (he is World Class at wittering on in much the same way Alan Hansen is World Class at doom-mongering) about how it gets bigger every year. I honestly don’t see how it could get any bigger without changing the route (well the start and end anyway) dramatically.

So I looked around a couple of bookshops (why is it I can always find a really cool book for 50p in Empire Exchange or nothing?) and was accosted outside a hotel in Piccadilly by a middle-aged woman with a clipboard who asked me, “Do you like porridge?”*. I said, “No”. She said, “Oh, that’s OK then.” and turned away. I completely forgot to buy a couple of specific things (like an HDMI cable – I really ought to get that via my usual supplier – Aria Tech anyway) so I bought a Sun and went to the pub we’d selected as a rendezvous. It was The Moon Under Water**, Deansgate. Not somewhere I’d normally go but it was big enough and town was very busy. I got a bottle of Baltika (yeah, in a Wetherspoons! It’s not bad. It was a better option than their other ‘exotic’ which was Efes from Turkey – it’s very like certain abysmal American ‘beers’. I am well aware they make excellent beers in the USA but they just don’t sell ‘em here) and flicked through the paper for that was worth.

Soon enough, Lizzy appeared looking radiant (I suspect I would have looked not so much as the walking but the crawling dead) with a finisher’s goodie-bag. She even got a medal! She was well chuffed. I was really proud of her because she only took up jogging quite recently and she was one of those many, many people who hated the enforced physical jerks of school PE lessons and especially the grim route march which was the cross-country run. I have long suspected school PE lessons do vastly more harm than good. The number of people I have known who have hated the grim ordeal of school PE who later found they enjoyed the sport of their own choosing is enormous (me for starters! – badminton, five-a-side and rounders oddly enough). Indeed on the way back to the station we watched a bit of the women’s pole-vaulting. This included, apart from some veritable Valkyries, Britain’s best hope in this event for 2012. I’d seen her on the telly-box earlier and she got into it not so long ago due to a “have a go” day at her local athletics club.

Lizzy started in the pink wave (the final one – like I said she’d never done anything like this before so was being cautious) and it was set-off by Haile Gebrselassie who had run the elite race in a time not dissimilar to what it takes for me to amble down to the ATM and then the local convenience store, buy a Coke and some Monster Munch and exchange pleasantries with Sayeed then amble back and see what is being shown on ITV3 (probably Poirot). The great man had had time to come round and start Lizzy’s wave and the one before that… That was kinda cool.

What was cooler was Lizzy really enjoyed it and I can see now why they call them “fun runs” (most of my previous experience of running had best be filed under “scarpering”). She said she felt really good afterwards and that she could have done better if she’d started in the wave ahead – which had fewer people dressed as lions or deep-sea divers etc. The loneliness of the long-distance running widower beckons!

She told me one thing in particular that amused me greatly. The course swung past Old Trafford. The blurb beforehand had mentioned the lounge there was an ideal place to watch from. Well more than a few runners, as they passed by, started a chorus of “Blue Moon”. Tickled me that did. I guess the race stewards round there had to have nets on poles to catch Sir Alex’s flying monkeys.

So now for some pictures. This is before the the start…


This is the start (almost)…


… And this is afterwards…


Sorry no finishing-line piccies. We were waiting on the official ones (which is why this post is somewhat belated) but they turned out to be poor so you are stuck with what I managed to get.

All of this brings me to my ultimate point. Lizzy ran for the charity Animals Asia and I posted about her run a while back asking for sponsorship. Well, those of you who gave deserve to know how it all turned out and I am glad to tell you how it turned out and thank you all again for your kindness. Moreover I’d like to thank you all for something else I hinted at above. Lizzy ran not just for the bears but herself and knowing you were backing her must have helped her running and that matters for it’s own sake – moon bears or not. As I said I’m very proud of her. Her school PE teachers would be astonished but then a good cause, personal motivation and knowing good people have pledged money matters so much more than the rote nonsense of National Curriculum physical jerks and the petty sadism of PE teachers.

Now, for all you sports fans out there here are the results…

Lizzy finished 25,013 out of 40,000+ in a time of 1 hour 13 minutes.

I reckon that is pretty good for a first-timer starting in the final – slowest – wave. Some of those were “teams” running together in silly outfits and therefore difficult to get past.

Thank all of you for supporting her. It meant a lot to Lizzy. It means a lot to the bears (and the cats and dogs) and it means a lot to me.

Oh, and Lizzy is well on course to exceed not only the 10km but her fund-raising target of £415 – the cost of gall-bladder surgery for a rescued bear “milked” for it’s bile in the most horrendous conditions.

Anyway, it’s not too late to give (and that total is just via that site – there has also been cash – and it is a pukka charity in case you are concerned on that score).

Otherwise you could always even adopt a bear. Lizzy did and the bear is called January and don’t worry the bear will live in China or Vietnam – you won’t have DHL deliver a big box full of growls. I was iffy at first. I mean we’ve got a big garden but the cat (His Feline Majesty) would have kittens and seeing as Timmy is a neutered male that would make zoological history.

We can change things but we have to think small scale. We can’t change everything nor should we even attempt it but if all of us who care try to change one specific, targeted, achievable thing we as a civilization can do wonders.

So thanks to all of you! Lizzy was brilliant. So were you.

*Same hotel I was once accosted at and made a fiver for answering some questions. I was quizzed over the cover design for the DVD of the “Incredible Hulk” movie. A movie I had not seen and had no desire to buy the DVD of.
**Yes, I am aware of the bitter irony of that name for a chain-run mega-pub. It’s almost Orwellian…


  1. Tim Newman says:

    I got a bottle of Baltika…

    Baltika 7 presumably, which is their export stuff but probably their most popular line in Russia as well. They do a whole range from 0 (alcohol free) to 10, but I only found 3 and 7 drinkable. It tastes good, but like so many Russian beers, gives me a stonking hangover.

    Incidentally, when I was a student the rumour was the Moon Under Water was the largest pub in Britain, or the longest bar, or something. It was a nice pub, though.

    Quickest I ever did a 10km was around 43 minutes, the winners used to come in at about 29:30. Lightning fast they were, first race I did was the Marske 10km somewhere near Middlesbrough, I thought we were doing grid sprints!

  2. RAB says:

    Hats off to the little lady, the girl done good!

  3. NickM says:

    You could have been more patronizing but I know not how. ;-)

  4. RAB says:

    Um you mentioned that Lizzie is 5′ 1″ . I am 6′ 2″ nearly everyone is kinda on the short side from my perspective. She is a lady in the best sense of the word is she not? And I call many women I have deep respect for “Girl” especially if they are half my age. If THEY object I apologise and ajust my terms of endearment to something they feel more appropriate.

    I have the greatest admiration for Lizzies achievement. I can walk that far in about 3 hours, but run it in one and a half? no way!

    I would advise you not to try to emulate your good wife my friend, you appear to still have broken glass in your shoes. ;-)

  5. NickM says:

    She is a lady but “little” is a bit patronizing. I mentioned it simply because it is staggeringly annoying at times. It is not annoying one on one but put Lizzy into a crowd and she is very difficult to find and that is annoying. Hey, she’s taller than Kylie!

  6. RAB says:

    Nick, if Lizzie has a problem with my entirely innocuous and well meant comment, then she is perfectly able to call me on it. In that respect she is a “bigger ” man than both of us.

    Stop walking on gilded splinters, my friend, and come home!

    You know you want to, we all want you to. Lizzie has run her ass off for a good cause, and as you well know, I have walked that extra mile to try and keep this place as special as it is.

    So one last time, cut the crap, the petulance, the ego tantrums and whatever hurt you think has been done to you, and think about the hurt that you have done to the rest of us.
    After all this time we are family. Families fight but we are still family. That’s my final and heartfelt roll of the dice. If it comes up Craps, so be it.

  7. Rob F says:

    Nick, total respect to Lizzie!

    i’m not totally unfit, despite being an occasional smoker, and I regularly (well, twice a week) go out jogging. I can do a couple of km (or whatever that is in Old Money), but in the summer I have to do it around 7am at the latest.

    It’s not that I’m an early-rising fitness fanatic; It’s just that I suffer from terminal hypohydrosis. I thought about doing that Piccfit thing that they’re doing in Piccadilly Gardens for the next few weeks, but decided against it, as after five minutes I’d be so covered in sweat that some very kind people would insist on me sitting down and having a nice cup of tea before I collapsed from heat exhaustion.

    Driclor and Anhydrol Forte work, though; my armpits are completely dry – I’m just pumping sweat from every other bloody part of my body.

    Anyway, please allow me to say that I’m proud of her on your behalf; I’m either 5’8″,or 1’2″, depending on whether or not I’ve happened to have collapsed onto the ground yet.

    Oh, and I’ll be making a donation…I’m all in favour, as long as they’re genuine ones!

  8. Paul Marks says:

    Congratulations to Lizzy!

  9. MrsNick says:

    Many thanks to everyone who has sent their best wishes or sponsored me. I’m not Captain Speedy but got round in the end and you really helped.

    Two other points: Nick, Rab was being jocular, you’ll give me a reputation for being a right tetchy piece of work soon and second and most importantly, my nose isn’t really that big, it’s just sunburned.


  10. NickM says:

    Soz. If I am spikey it is simply because I am cagey. I am no longer on my own territory (ask Chris about that one – see?). I am not getting back until (a) I get an apology for my use of cuss-words which was until recently deemed amusing. (b) Cats gets over himself and realizes we are not the Daily Telegraph. (c) that fucking homophobic thing in the side-bar gets the heave-ho! Tomorrow I host a BBQ. Amongst guests will be my wife’s oldest friend who is gay. What the flying fuck do you think he’d make of that? What do I? I don’t like it. Yes, Cranmer has been hit on vilely (the ASA?) but Jesus wept! I cannot in all reality partake of a blog that is unfriendly to homosexuality. I am a libertarian for bugger’s sakes! Moreover I see the growing acceptance of homosexuality as one of the few positives I have seen in my culture during my adult life. A bright flash amidst the endarkenment.

  11. RAB says:


    Ok I’ll leave it there. I’ve done more than my level best.

    Have a good BBQ tomorrow. Cracking day here in Cardiff. In the garden with a beer and the laptop and the useless bloody dongle.

    You watching the Steradentovision Song Contest later? ;-)

  12. NickM says:

    Just watched it. There are many things to say. At least we finished above Norway is probably the most profound. Azeribaijan. Is that even fucking Europe. I mean Turkey and Israel are pushing it somewhat but fuck me… the bloody Azeris! we got raped by a bull for a porpoise.

    Sweden won with something I swear to God I heard on dance-floors like fifteen years ago in Leeds.

    We laid back and thought of England, or Poland or Spain. It were bloody awful. We created this continent for a reason and Eurovision was not it. Fuck the muppets. This is divine. This is Kyung Wha Chung playing the second movement of the Sibelius concerto.

    Yes, and I know she is Korean. That is quite my point.

  13. RAB says:

    Managed to see the first 12, but then we had to turn over for Lewis, being at my mum’s place in Cardiff for the weekend, and her finger is almost permenently on the ITV3 button.

    The Hump played a blinder! Well done sir! crap song and dreadful dreary performance. I could been designed to lose, or am I being cynical? Well he’s saved this country a good few bob next year, in these cash strapped times after the ludicrous expense of the Olympics.

    But it’s just not about music is it? Italy had the best actual song, bit Amy Winehouse, but an actual tune you might want to listen to twice and all.

    Here’s a different take on it…

  14. NickM says:

    the Hump did his duty for his country. He went to Baku and sang that dirge. Top marks from me! I mean it isn’t like we need to win. Only shit-holes need to win. We produce genuinely popular popular music. It’s an anglospheric thing.

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