Congratulations to our Manchester Marathon runners on reaching their goals

On April 14, over 30,000 runners took to the streets of Manchester after months of training and hard work to complete the adidas Manchester Marathon 2024. Among them were Stephen Ball and Eleanor Rollett, the winners of the England Athletics Manchester Marathon prize draw.

We have been following their preparation for the marathon over the past few months and caught up with them after the race to see how it went. We were delighted to hear that both runners enjoyed the race day experience and met, or exceeded their targets set at the start of this challenge.

Stephen was confident in his preparation and said of the experience,

"The adidas Manchester Marathon 2024 was an amazing race and a day I will never forget. Training had gone well in the build up to race day - plenty of half-marathons and weekend long runs were done in preparation.

“When the day arrived, I was confident that I could execute the race plan - consistent pace over the first 20-22 miles and then see how we are doing after that. The goal of between 3hrs 45 and 4hrs was achieved and a big PB of over 13 minutes meant that I was an extremely happy runner crossing the finish line.

“The conditions were ideal for running on the day and course was flat and fast but it was the support of the local communities that really pushed you towards the finish line at the end when you were hurting! I was extremely pleased with my finish time of 3hrs 51mins 17s."

In contrast, Eleanor found the lead up to the marathon challenging, but with the help of the crowd and a friend to run with she smashed her target!

“What an amazing experience, I don’t think I stopped smiling for about 3 days afterwards!

“Leading up to the event I couldn’t tell if the training was making me fitter or just more exhausted. However, I did manage to stick to the training plan that Jo (England Athletics coach) had provided and tried to train myself to fuel when running as that is something I tend to neglect. I was so relieved to get the last long training run out of the way and start the taper, but while tapering I still felt tired and started developing aches and pains in my knees!

“Come race day I was a bag of nerves. Fortunately, the event organisation was amazing - getting to the start was easy with loads of stewards and marshals directing us all. I even managed to meet up as planned with my friend and running buddy Karen which was great considering how busy it was.

“During the race I tried to focus on the advice from Jo - don’t start too fast and aim to keep at a constant pace throughout the event. I was very keen to attempt a sub-3:30 marathon (a PB) as the course is flat and the weather was perfect so planned to run between 7:50 and 8:00 min/miles. Karen runs at the same pace as me so we both had this plan in mind, and we kept questioning each other as to whether we were going too fast! The support on the way round was amazing and I loved the 80s music being played, it really kept me going. 

“I knew the last 6 miles were going to be tough and they were! I had to really dig deep and keep focused to maintain the pace. Nausea started creeping in at around 23 miles but fortunately my knee aches and pains turned out to be some tapering wobbles and didn’t recur during the event.

“Finally, the finish line was a very welcome sight. Straight after crossing the line, I got a bing on my phone - an automated text to say I finished the marathon in 3:24:06! A ten-minute PB and 6th in my age category. I was absolutely bewildered on how I managed to achieve that, way beyond what I thought was possible.

“So, a huge thanks to England Athletics for the place, Jo for the coaching, Mind for the t-shirt, Karen for running and training with me and all the support from my family and running club.”

Well done to both Stephen and Eleanor! Congratulations from all at England Athletics, we are so pleased to have played apart in your marathon journeys.