Marathon Season

For most people April means the start of spring, longer days and Easter eggs. However for some people it means the culmination of 4 months of hard work, quiet Saturday nights in and Sunday morning long runs.

This April eleven Manchester YMCA Harriers ran 26.2 miles to complete marathons in Paris, Manchester and London. Whether it is your first marathon, a new personal best or another medal to add your collection it is a fantastic achievement that should be celebrated. A big well done goes to Craig, Richard, Chris, Hannah, Sarah, Emma and Jon for running 26.2 miles this month. An even bigger congratulations goes to Jill, Inger and Francesca for running their first ever marathon.

On the 3rd April 2016 I crossed the finish line to complete the Paris marathon with mixed emotions. This was my 6th marathon since joining the Harriers, but it was the first time I had not improved on my previous time. I have been a bit spoilt since joining the club expecting new PBs every season, but it wasn’t long ago that the thought of running anything more than a 10k sounded impossible and something I didn’t even want to try.

For all runners training for a marathon is tough. It doesn’t matter what pace you run the build-up of long runs mixed in tempo runs, track sessions, recovery runs and practice races take their toll on your body and mind. For 16 weeks training gradually takes over your life, not only does everything start to ache, but you start to think or talk about running more often than is probably healthy.

This why being a member of the club has helped so much; running with other people has made training fun or at least bearable. It is very difficult to make long runs along the muddy banks of the river Mersey on a wet Sunday morning in February enjoyable! I think the end of marathon training is one of the reasons for my mixed feelings. The support and team spirit of training together and then celebrating together makes being a member of the YMCA Harriers so special to me. It is one the main reasons I enjoying running so much.

The Paris Marathon itself was an incredible event with over 40,000 runners following a spectacular route. I was told that the course was ‘pancake flat’. This is not true. Not that there is any steep hills or the reason why I didn’t ran as fast as I wanted.

The race starts on the Champs-Élysées and heads out to Place de La Concorde. Then it follows along the Rue de Rivoli passing by Le Jardin des Tuileries, the Louvre Museum and La Place de la Bastille. From there runners cross Bois de Vincennes Park and head back to La Bastille via Rue de Charenton.

The race follows the River Seine, with beautiful views from the Île de la Cité, Pont Neuf, Musée d’Orsay and Eiffel Tower. The last 10km passes by the Bois de Bolougne Park until reaching the finish line at Rue de Foch. For those people who really want to enjoy the race there are plenty of opportunities to stop and take in the views and landmarks (maybe to even take a selfie with the Eiffel Tower in the background!). Even someone as competitive and overly serious as me managed to appreciate the stunning course.

It was all going so well, I even smugly remarked on route a couple of times how close I was to my target time. It wasn’t until around mile 20 that the pain really started. It is common story of effort levels increasing, but your pace dropping. That horrible feeling caused by other runners passing you as if you are standing still. The last couple of miles dragged as the temperature rose and rose. It wasn’t just me; Craig, Richard, Chris and Hannah were all disappointed with their times and were expected to run faster.

The conditions and possibly the occasion had affected us all. It made me think would I swap this experience for running 1 minute 16 seconds faster somewhere else. Being able to run somewhere so stunning, cheered on by 1000s of enthusiastic supporters and then sharing the experience with such a great group of people really was special. The best cold beer I’ve ever tasted at the finish line may have helped too. So maybe there is more to running a marathon than just the time and anyway there is always next year…

— Mark Griffiths


  • Mark Griffiths, Paris 2.46.15
  • Craig Jones, Paris – 2.52.21
  • Richard Brierley, Paris – 3.11.21
  • Chris March, Paris – 3.13.29
  • Hannah Brierley, Paris – 3.34.59
  • Jill Guthrie, Paris – 4.39.54 (First marathon)
  • Sarah Crandon, Manchester – 3.40.41 (Personal Best)
  • Emma Rettig, London – 3.42.52 (Personal Best)
  • Jon Paramor, London – 3.52.17
  • Inge Lingrasmo, London – 4.47.33 (First marathon)
  • Francesca Norris, London – 56.14 (First marathon)