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Manchester Marathon DNF

So the cats out of the bag, my winter training had in fact been my “secret training” for Manchester. I kept it on the low as after London I didn’t want the pressure of everyone knowing I was doing one and also I can always not do it if my training hadn’t gone right. Up till St.Valentines 30k everything had gone pretty much to the plan I had done myself. However I had a lot of issues during back end of Feb and all of March. Things I didn’t think would effect me but turns out the marathon is a beast and unless you are 100% right mentally and physically then it will chew you up and spit you out.

Now a DNF for me is a word I thought I’d never mention but unfortunately I’m only human. The week leading up to race I followed the taper plan sent by RME and besides a little cough at start of the week I felt really good. I kept going over what sort of plan I was going to do on race day. I was also excited reading social media about others I knew was doing it but was hard to keep quiet. All week my daughter had been off school ill and I thought I’d had avoided it….

I paid for parking at Old Trafford and it was between start and finish. I made an early toilet visit before the queues formed and felt as ready as ever. I didn’t do my usual warm up, instead deciding to use first mile to ease into it. As people saw me the pressure started to build and the expectation started to sink in. This pressure was even more for me. I wanted a sub 3 but knew in training and races if I can get my head right I had potential of at least a sub 2:50 if not quicker. After saying my goodbyes to my family I slotted into my pen and was near the front. Plan was to start with 6:2X and then push on from half way. After count down the gun went and off we went down hill on the dual carriage way. The surge was fast and could have easily gone 5k pace for first mile, instead I saw two ladies who were pacing it right and I slotted in behind them, I stayed with them for first mile, clocked 6:23. I then left them and tried to get into a rhythm.

Even this early on my legs felt really heavy, which was a massive contrast from St.Valentines when I was chatting along, yet I felt I was having to seriously work harder then I needed to, at time I just shrugged it off as race nerves and the 4:30am start!. Mile 2 came and went and hit my target split, a few other runs I knew flew past but was happy to sit and hold this early pace. Mile 3 and crowds were really noisy and I knew I would soon see my daughter and after looping back up towards the start I saw them and gave my daughters sign a tap. I then settled in for the long haul.

Mile 4, 5 and 6 all hitting the required targets. No issues and enjoying the race. I then started my fuelling strategy of taking a gel on at mile 7, within mins of taking it my stomach started cramping and next thing I know I dashed to side of road and was puking up, it was just clear liquid but I was concerned. I continued but the stomach cramps were getting worse and at next water station I had to toilet stop by now it was coming out both ends. But I continued and the next few miles are very blurred all I remember was after the water station at mile 11, two medics grabbing my arms. Next thing I know was laid down and a marshal telling me my race was over. Silly me tried to get up and continue but they said no chance.

I spent a long period coming round and trying to get some fluid into me but it kept coming back up. Then I had to make the worse phone call ever when I rang my wife to tell her I was out. I just broke down over the phone. I was heartbroken, I felt like I had let everyone down and I had failed. I was then helped back to the finish via the tram so I didn’t have to wait for the sweeper bus and I kept seeing runners I knew and I just felt shame/embarrassment that I was out of the race. As I got back to the finish everyone was congratulating me and was heart wrenching having to say I had DNF. I met with family and had another cry before we made a slow walk back to the car.

Not the end I had expected and even now writing this it has given me a lump in my throat. Physically I feel fine my heart rate reading this morning was 35 BPM so body is also saying I’m ok but mentally I took a massive hit and if I could see a sports physiologist I would because all week I’ve been determined to find a replacement race ASAP so 20 weeks of training isn’t wasted and don’t think I could wait a year to put it right. I still think I’ve a massive mental issue with this distance and would love to get that sorted but only person who can fix that is me and by finishing a marathon.

Want to finish by saying massive thanks to all the good will messages on social media and to my family who has been mega supportive these past few days, they share in my glory and they share in my setbacks.

Kit used in race

  • Zeon Running Vest
  • Adidas Responsive 5 inch shorts
  • Adidas Adizero Adios 3
  • Sockmine Cool Runner
  • Adidas Sweat Band
  • Flipbelt
  • SIS Orange Electolite Gels
  • Pinrace pins
  • Runderwear Running Briefs
  • Naked Runner Ron Hill Classi Black Shades
  • Garmin 220

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8 comments

  1. Great honesty. Endurance sport is a psychological beast, it’s such an individual thing that it’s hard sometime to not feel like the weight of the world is on your, and only your shoulders. You’re making the right decision IMO by cracking straight back on with it, so long a short you’re happy there’s no long term physiological problems at play then great job picking yourself up. Go smash it.

  2. I’m so sorry – that’s really rough! I hope you find another marathon ASAP and have the race you’ve worked so hard for!

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