The sun dawned warm and bright beside the Start line of the 2019 Manchester to Liverpool Ultra (M2LUltra) 50 mile Race outside of Manchester United’s Football Ground, Old Trafford. The home ground of Race Director, Wayne Drinkwater’s beloved team – those, like myself, who’d feel more at home at the finishing end will have to forgive him that 😉.
246 runners lined up for an early start, 229 would go on to finish, and after a few words from Wayne, and when all Trackers had been collected (courtesy of GB Race Tracker) the race got under way just after 6.15am.
The course, which had been thoroughly marked, had 7 checkpoints that were, as always, well stocked. We were happy to see the volunteers as we reached the checkpoints with a friendly welcome throughout the race. Everyone was catered for whether they have a sweet tooth or a savoury one and many thanks go to Ruth Drinkwater and Susan Drinkwater proving their prowess in the cake making department – delicious!
By 9.30am runners were really starting to feel the heat as the temperature reached unusual heights for the time of year.
The course, which is largely over flat terrain, spans through some lovely parts of the Trans Pennine Trail, taking in Chorlton Water Park, the Manchester Ship Canal and the banks of the River Mersey.
As with all 50, 100 & 215 Mile GB Ultras races, friends, families and support crews were able to follow their runner through the easy to use www.GBRaceTracker.co.uk tracking application provided for each entrant with additional access points for crews along the course as well as at Checkpoints’.
By the time Spike Island was on the horizon I’d teamed up with around 7 fellow runners and we ran together for a few miles before Stuart Nevin and I decided it was time to push on.
After Spike Island, myself and Stuart decided we’d stick together for the rest of the race and used a run / walk strategy to counter the ever increasing temperature until we reached the final checkpoint. After a great welcome and a final fuel stop we were ready to push on to the end.
As Stu and I approached the final stretch we were greeted by supporters, cheering us on and letting us know there wasn’t far to go. We were both very aware that there was still potential for us to achieve the goal I’d set out with – to achieve a sub 9 hour finish – although the heat had made this seem impossible at times.
Crossing the line together, we were drained from the heat, but eager and holding our breath to hear the result – 8 hours 56 minutes – What a Race!
The finish line had seen James Scott Buccleuch finish in 1st Place with an impressive time of 6:35:30 (hrs:mins:secs), followed in 2nd Place with some outstanding running and in only his second ultra by Leo Loughran in a time of 6:42:27, and 3rd Male was Ioannis Polymenis of Greece came in with a time of 7:24:06 (6th place overall).
The finish also witnessed some remarkable performances by the ladies with the 1st Lady, Annette Muller of Germany (LG Nord Berlin Ultrateam) finishing in a remarkable time of 7:05:17. 2nd Lady was Ultrarunner Katherine Brougham in a time of 7:15:28 (4th Position overall) and an impressive third place time of 7:23:08 for GB Ultras Athlete Sally Ford (5th Position overall), giving the ladies the overall 3rd, 4th and 5th position.
Thanks to everyone who took part in organising, volunteering, running and supporting this event – another great day of memories in the GB Ultras Ultra-marathon calendar.
by Gareth Kilshaw – GB Ultras Ambassador