Saturday, 15 October 2011

With A Little Help From My Friends

Welcome back to the fivemarathons blog! You join us in the warm afterglow of the Liverpool Marathon (, last Sunday, 9 October 2011.

Liverpool saw a great turnout from fivemarathons readers, not just amongst the runners, but also the friends and family lining the route. 21 members of my family travelled from all over the UK, Ireland and Canada to watch the race and share Mel and Ron’s first marathon. Following stops in London, San Francisco, New York, Vancouver, Athabasca and Philadelphia, the marathons have become a great way to connect with family and friends from all over the world. On the eve of the race, we hosted a pasta party to carb up ready for the race. So many Vaughans in one place at the same time probably requires a licence from the Post Office. Just as San Francisco inspired Mel to run, Liverpool has inspired my cousin Mitchell and his wife Elaine to look towards running a European race, where we can all meet up again. Who’d have thought that marathon running could have such a far-reaching and positive effect?

Another Place: final training session on Crosby Beach

Sunday was also the first time over the 26.2 mile distance for my friend and former colleague, Stephen. After various half marathons, and this year’s Coniston 17 (, the marathon was the logical progression. When I suggested to Steve that Jayne and I would arrange food for us all after the race, he modestly suggested that it had better be a cold buffet, because he wasn’t expecting to be finishing in a hurry. That’s the kind of heroic modesty we like. As it turned out, Steve had no reason to worry. He posted a fantastic sub 4 hour time.

TEAM Vaughan warms up

Despite a very shaky start, with a 45 minute delay to the start of the race, involving us doing the hokey-cokey, in, out and back into the starting pens, the race itself was a lot of fun. I was so proud to watch Mel and Ron keep working all of the way to the finish. It was a great moment on a journey which started over two years ago in California. You can read Mel’s blogs, detailing her progression from non-runner to committed distance athlete, at Journey Of A Thousand Miles ( and The Manhattan Project (

New Brighton

The Canadian flags on our race tops proved to be a big hit, and we met runners from Vancouver, Victoria and Nova Scotia. Out on the course, other runners regularly ran with us to ask where Mel and Ron were from, and to talk about their fond memories of the places where they’d lived and visited in Canada. You can check us out, standing under the Canadian flag, on the photographs and videos taken by our friends at

The atmosphere created by the crowd on race day was fantastic, and few races can touch the energy created by the drum band at the exit to the Mersey Tunnel. Having said that, amongst the comments I’ve received about the race, there is a recurring feeling of disappointment with the route chosen by the organisers. Liverpool has so many unique sights: Lambananas, Liver Birds, girls shopping in rollers and pyjamas, and it’s the only town in Great Britain where JD Sports has an evening wear department. Not to mention a bridal collection. "Off-white shell suit, madam?". So, it was a real shame that we’d covered well over 12 miles before we arrived in Liverpool and even then there was no Metropolitan Cathedral, no St George’s Hall, no Anfield, no Goodison and, though the race took place on John Lennon’s birthday, there was no Mathew Street, no Cavern, no Strawberry Field, no Mendips, no Forthlin Road, no St Peter’s Woolton Parish Church hall (where another Vaughan first introduced Paul McCartney and John Lennon (see or so many other sights I could mention. It was a real missed opportunity to showcase some of Liverpool’s great architecture and fascinating history. You can make up your own mind at, where you can view the whole race route in just 5 minutes. I’m hopeful for next year. The organisers have at least conceded that there shouldn’t be anywhere near as many miles spent in Sefton Park. Mel and Ron will no doubt be pleased to hear that, after finding the seemingly endless slog through Sefton Park and Princes Park, without any landmarks to divert you, a real grind on race day.

Proud moments

My own preparations for the Liverpool Marathon were pleasantly interrupted by my nomination to carry the Olympic Torch on its way to the London 2012 Olympics: A shifty-looking bloke running through the streets of Toxteth, carrying a flaming torch in his hands? It’ll be like the summer of 1981 all over again.

Fittingly enough, the race finished on Canada Boulevard: with Uncle Bob, Mel, Ron, Jill, Josh, Seb and Monty

Before Mel and Ron flew home yesterday, we discussed several possibilities for future marathons and half marathons. My cousin Neil and I have already discussed Philadelphia for another crack at 3 hours 30 minutes (and I might be able to persuade Mary and Laurie to join us in their home city), an autumn race would suit Mel and Ron, Mitchell and Elaine are keen to get running, and my folks are ready to travel whenever we name the date. Stay tuned, it’s all looking good for 2012.

With Jay



Barcelona, 1 March 2009
3 hrs 57 mins (new PB)
London, 26 April 2009 4 hrs 01 mins
San Francisco, 26 July 2009 3 hrs 43 mins (new PB)
Berlin, 20 September 2009 3 hrs 46 mins
New York, 1 November 2009 3 hrs 53 mins


Vancouver, 2 May 2010
3 hrs 31 mins (new PB)


Liverpool, 9 October 2011


Coniston 14 (14 miles), 28 March 2009
1 hr 48
Humber Half Marathon, 15 June 2009 1 hr 40 (new PB)
Congleton Half Marathon, 11 October 2009 1 hr 33 29 seconds (new PB)
Liverpool, 28 March 2010 1 hour 33 mins 14 seconds (new PB)

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

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Rebecca Gilbert - Kids ( -

Marco Giannini – Christies – (

Melanie Opmeer – Canadian Cancer Society ( -

Lisa Canning - Cancer Research UK ( –

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NYC Marathon, 2004

NYC Marathon, 2004
NYC Marathon, 2004