Liverpool Marathon 2011 ‘The best way to train for a marathon is to do a marathon (or two)’ says Graham Williams!
Graham celebrates his ninth marathon in Liverpool
How long have you been running?On and off for 12 years, with major rest breaks in between.
What made you decide to sign up for this race?My marathon-mad wife (Women’s Running Contributing Editor Lisa Jackson) made me! I’d done the 54-mile Comrades ultramarathon in South Africa in May and thought I was pretty fit and wouldn’t have to bother with too much training, so it wasn’t that hard to persuade me.
What were your expectations for the race?I’m a bit of a Beatles fan and had wanted to visit Liverpool for a long time so this was the ideal opportunity to combine a city break with my ninth marathon. I’ve actually been cajoled into signing up for four marathons in two months (see above) and had already completed the Bacchus and New Forest Marathons by the time I lined up in Birkenhead Park, so I expected the race to be relatively easy as my new training mantra is ‘the best way to train for a marathon is to do a marathon (or two)’.
What were your high and low points during the race, if any?Seeing the spectacular Liverpool skyline, which looks a bit like Manhattan, really lifted my mood from miles seven to nine. I knew we’d finish near the Liver Buildings so being able to see that they didn’t look very far away was encouraging. The bit I found most difficult was weaving through the Wirral peninsula which at times looks really bleak and industrial while being buffeted by some very strong headwinds and a fair bit of drizzle. It was a huge relief to be able to duck into the two-mile-long Queensway Tunnel where it was warm and dry.
What was the best part of the course for you?Running down Parliament Street at mile 25 was definitely the best bit – I enjoyed the race but was looking forward to downing a well-deserved beer afterwards.
What was the most challenging part of the course for you?There were two hills to speak of and both were about three-quarters of a mile long. One occurred in the second half of the Queensway Tunnel and the other was between miles 15 and 16 when we went up Parliament Street. I could probably have run up both but as I wasn’t chasing a PB I decided to walk them.
How would you describe the crowd support?Amazing – Liverpudlians have really taken this race to their hearts and I was amazed at the support even though it was raining in the latter half of the race. Hearing the wild cheers and drumming as we emerged from the Queensway Tunnel would give anyone goosebumps.
What was the male/female ratio roughly in the race?I’d say it was about 60% male and 40% female.
Did you see many people running in costume, and if so what was the best costume?Not that many, but there were a sprinkling of superheroes, a gorilla, the inevitable fairies and two firemen manfully carrying 25kg of firefighting kit. Plus my wife in her crazy chicken hat! I personally liked the sumo wrestler – it was incongruous passing someone who was almost as wide as the road.
What’s your overall verdict of the race? Give marks out of ten for the following categories:
Organisation: 9/10 - only the 45-minute delay at the start due to traffic-management problems detracted from a superbly organised race.
Would you do it again next year?Most definitely. This race hadn’t been run for almost 20 years so it was good to be there at it’s rebirth. There were 5,200 runners this year and once word gets out, I’m sure it’s going to be double that and I’d like to be there to see that happen. Plus, I made new friends in The Railway pub afterwards (hi there, Cath, Steve and Lyndsey!) and would like to catch up with them again.
What one tip or piece of information would you like to pass on to anyone thinking of doing this race for the first time?The race doesn’t provide safety pins (a minor niggle, but it’s a major pain in the proverbial to have to go out and buy some if you don’t have any) or any food along the way, so if you fancy bananas or sweets, carry your own or get friends to hand them to you en route.