Rock and Roll Liverpool Marathon 2019 report by Stuart Jones

Race date: Sunday, 26 May 2019

Race report by Stuart Jones

The type of drunk you become is heavily influenced by the mood you are in as you have your first drink, research shows. Already unhappy = miserable drunk. Enjoying a night out = happy drunk, life and soul of the party. Feeling excited = Mary Poppins exuberant. Tired before you start = likely to be found later, slumped in the corner. Full of sorrow = Crying tears into your pint / V+T.

This is no different from Confirmation Bias, or Neuro-Linguistic Programming, really – say you will, and intend to be, and you most likely will achieve it. Henry Ford (I think) had it that, ‘whether you think you will or think you won’t, you’re usually right’.

I’ve been foolishly nursing a foot injury and continuing running for about three months, like you do, and went to Liverpool by myself and wasn’t loving it at the start line. My experience or recall of it is, predictably, more dour than Tony Bilsborough’s, who loved his return to our shared home city and the race.

I was born here, right on the route, and lived my first year just off ‘Upper Parly Street’ (Liverpool 8), so I am used to the sound of a Liverpool lullaby or two. Being ‘Rock n Roll’, this event has bands at every kilometre.

The event is huge and it can lead to getting tired of hanging around. The start is very organised and staggered –not a case of all together now at all. The Half is a full hour before the Full Marathon start and each corral sets off a short time after the previous, so there is clear road ahead.

I just found I could not shake off the low mood at the start, and these thoughts caught me as I curbed my enthusiasm on the way round:

  • What was the point of that diversion at Goodison, down Langham and back up Spellow? (We took an unnecessary left down a terraced street and right at the end and another right to be back onto the road we’d just left.)
  • And all the kerbs? The start is on the incredible water front at Albert Dock and quickly gets to the Fab Four’s Museum (The Beatles Story), but has to pass between the first of too many sets of bollards and cleats and up the first of very many kerbs to get there. I ask you, what’s it all about?
  • And the underpass under Scotty Road? The overnight rough sleepers were replaced with disco lights and a sound system, but no underpass sells a city well. Bollards at each end had been replaced with soft tarmac, but no way to sell our great city.
  • I know I have spoken before about how routes don’t have to be to somewhere and back (they can meander and double-back), but this route does every park three or four ways over. We disliked the Leicestershire Half, didn’t we, partly because of the convoluted contortions around that airfield? This route had the same in Stanley Park. And Princes Park. And Sefton Park. Please, let me go free!
  • Aigburth, generally; apart from running past where my Godparents lived, what was the point of heading there? It got us to nowhere on the tourist tour unless you count St Margaret’s where my mum and dad met, and the house I was born in. This is now part of John Moores Campus, so in a way the race ran in my Liverpool home. It just isn’t an area that shouts ‘Liverpool’ in character – it could by Rotterdam (or anywhere) really.
  • And my feet hurt like hell after just 3.5 miles. I fell off the top of a step ladder several weeks ago. No breaks according to the x-rays, but still it hurts. ‘Carry On Regardless’ is proving to be pretty stupid. I told myself to relax, but actually just ran in pain all the way. No pins and needles, just burn and ache. Accelerate are about to sell me a new pair of shoes – and I might try the Hoka try-on next week in Hillsborough (Wednesday, half an hour before the Club run).
  • People started passing me at mile 11, and the lass I was keeping with burnt me off on the first up-slope in Seffy Park. ‘There she goes’, I thought. I don’t like a negative aggregate position – I am much happier starting further back than needed and overtaking all the way round.
  • The final run-in is a 3.5 mile section on Otterspool Prom, one-time home to the International Garden FestivaI: not quite the garden of Eden whilst being fairly pleasant still. It is hard underfoot, unsheltered, exposed to the head-wind and stripped of any supporters. I dropped a minute a mile, and cramp in the ‘hammy’ really worried me. I needed to be whole again, but had to ‘man up’ and get on with it.
  • This year’s route had no famous Anfield Kop (some rugby thing was going on). Last year we ran through the concourse and got to sing songs of past glories, songs of Brucie, Brucie Grobbelaar and a poor Scouser Tommy. Instead I felt properly old as we ran round (the outside of) Goodison Park and I knew all the names on one side AND on the Gwladys Street end of the ground in the ‘famous scenes’ chronology (seen them play an’ all, all the way back to Brian Labone). My first visit, as a nine year old, had been to see Everton play Coventry City. Coventry played in red, and I was persuaded that day to join my dad as a proper Red.
  • I do not understand the medal – a whirling lollipop with a beamed quaver. Music is a considerable fraction of the history of Liverpool, but a lollipop? What’s that about? It was part of the reward I suppose; along with an 8 minute course pb.
  • Facebook grumbles have included the poor quality of official race photos – If I had a photograph of you or me to show, I would.

I will go back in 2020, but only for the Half. I will go for the weekend again as there is far too much to do to do it as a day tripper, But if you want to take a ferry ‘cross the Mersey you have to go in the week – it only runs for commuters these days. Tourists get river and canal cruises.

First finisher:      Ben Russell (Liverpool Harriers) in 2:32:57

First female:       Radka Churanova (Czech Republic) in 2:54:40

Finishers:            3,116

Striders results:

Name Chip time Category (Age) position Overall position Gender position
Stuart Jones 3:37:47 17 / 145 471 / 3,116 422 / 2,043
Lee Kenton 3:42:27 114 / 339 573 / 3,116 513 / 2,043
Philip Swirles 3:58:15 155 / 326 1,007 / 3,116 859 / 2,043
Tony Bilsborough 3:58:52 38 / 145 1,029 / 3,116 876 / 2,043
Peter Storey 4:02:11 126 / 250 1,109 / 3,116 941 / 2,043
Sarah Storey 4:30:30 72 / 208 1,820 / 3,116 412 / 1,073

Full results:

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