Sunday, 6 February 2011

Liverpool Marathon

Since my last blog, entries have finally opened for the Liverpool Marathon (www.runliverpoolmarathon.co.uk) on 9 October 2011. I signed up within the first hour to ensure that I bagged my place. The race starts across the River Mersey in Birkenhead Park, before entering the original Mersey tunnel at about mile 12 and arriving in Liverpool’s city centre at about half marathon distance. Birkenhead Park claims to have been the inspiration for New York City's own Central Park, the location for several previous blogs. Birkenhead and Manhattan - spot the difference.

The Liver Building: finish line for the Liverpool Marathon

Interest in the race has been brisk, with entries limited to 9,000. There are guaranteed entries for the first 3,000 entries with Merseyside postcodes. This is great for me, not least because I can
get a guaranteed place, but also because the race finishes just minutes from my flat. Having said that, it might take a lot longer than usual to stagger home after 26.2 miles.

My friend Libby has also confirmed her place. My cousin Neil, who kindly paced me for the final 9 miles of the Vancouver Marathon (see http://fivemarathons.blogspot.com/2010/05/strawberry-fields-forever.html) has also shown an interest. My brother-in-law Vinnie has confirmed that he'll be signing up. Liverpool will be Vin's first marathon, although he's been threatening to run one for a long time. In fact, the first time I ever met him was the evening following the London Marathon in April 2004. He confidently predicted that he saw himself as a sub-3 hour marathon runner. A lot of Wagon Wheels have gone by since then, not to mention several lifetimes perched in front of Sky Sports, but he's adamant that the starting pen for 3 hour marathon runners is the appropriate berth for him. I'm looking forward to it immensely. A worthy round two to our international backyard free kicks tournament, which went to the wire in Stamullen last year. Hopefully, Vin can tell you about that himself when I convince him to write a guest blog for fivemarathons.com, detailing his preparations for Liverpool. As I mentioned in the last blog, he'd been talking about running the Dublin Marathon in late October, with his brother-in-law Macca, and his sister Mary (regular blog readers will recall Mary kindly hosted me in Philadelphia, including but not limited to a no-expense incurred recreation of the iconic Rocky training sequence on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art - see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUfWECjUNwg and http://fivemarathons.blogspot.com/2010/05/in-through-out-door.html). Hopefully, Macca and Mary will also sign up for Liverpool.

Jon, Jon, Jayne and a Liverpudlian Lambanana

When I posted on Facebook that I had signed up for the race, and that it would be starting in Birkenhead, an old university friend of mine, Wirral born and inbred, asked whether we'd be crossing the River Mersey via the tunnel or "doing a Jesus". I assumed she meant walking on water. After the upset caused by my "not a fair swap" gag in last week's blog, I'd better steer clear of that whole religious minefield. While you could be forgiven for thinking that blasphemy is a victimless crime, I have a bulging inbox to prove that not everyone agrees.

Ferry Across The Mersey

Marathon fever certainly looks like it has gripped Liverpool. Almost everyone is wearing a shell suit and trainers. I was sure that this had to be in readiness for October’s race, but my Scouse friends assure me that it’s entirely unconnected. All of my midweek training runs are in the city and I get to cover large sections of the second part of the marathon. In addition, the marathon will re-trace the Sefton Park sections of my run in last year’s Liverpool half marathon, so I’ll hopefully have some home advantage. The Ferry Across The Mersey (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferry_across_the_mersey) leaves from in front of my flat, so I may hop across the water for one of my longer Sunday runs to check out the course over there. There never seems to be any shortage of incident during my training runs in Liverpool. For example, last week, as I took a late night run along the waterfront from Otterspool towards the Pier Head, two foxes shot past, chasing each other as they went. The second one looked like he may have had a set of car hub caps under his paw, but I could be wrong.

Liverpool waterfront, with my flat in the middle

This month, Liverpool has opened an embassy in London. I’m not even joking (see http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a81ad20e-0a11-11e0-9bb4-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1DDHw9b79). Tune in next time, when Liverpool’s cultural attaché will be joining us for animated debate, Ferrero Rocher, several bevvies and, I dare say, a bifter or two. Right, I’m off to mend the bridges I’ve just torched with Jayne. Calm down.

Christies is the charity which provides funds for, and supports, the work of the world renowned specialist cancer centre, The Christie, in Manchester (see www.christies.org). Macmillan provides practical, medical, financial and emotional support for people affected by cancer and campaigns for better cancer care (see www.macmillan.org.uk).

Noel Bresland - Bliss - http://www.justgiving.com/Noel-Bresland-223-Marathon-Challenge

View fivemarathons photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/fivemarathons/

NYC Marathon, 2004

NYC Marathon, 2004
NYC Marathon, 2004