Organisers of the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon have confirmed that Race Angels will be present at the 2016 race, which takes place on Sunday 10th April.
Race angels are a team of enthusiastic and hugely supportive runners who will be near the end of the race to accompany any runners who need support and encouragement in the final mile or two. They are a great reassurance that the finish line is near, and will run a short distance with those who would like their help.
This year, the Race Angels hope to be at mile 24-25 of the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon.
Among them will be Adrienne Hall, who set up the concept of Race Angels last autumn after being helped herself by a spectator at the end of her second marathon.
“Despite him being in his Sunday best, he ran alongside me for only a couple of minutes in order to tell me I just had to carry on a little, then I would be at the road, then I was onto the racecourse…I could have kissed him!” recalls Adrienne.
Adrienne now works with a team of approximately seven Angels at each race, and they support a number of events for free across the UK. All Race Angels are runners themselves, which means they are fit enough to run alongside the athletes and know exactly what it’s like to be at the end of the race needing encouragement.
So, who are the runners who most benefit from having a Race Angel? It is not the faster runners, who tend not to need any help apart from cheering on, nor the back runners who are often walking by mile 24. The Race Angels are most helpful to the faster middle runners who want to complete the course running, but who have almost given their all; for them, a friendly face and a boost at the end can get them through the critical last mile or two.
Here, Adrienne shares with us the stories of five Race Angels who will be with her at the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon, plus her own personal journey of becoming a Race Angel. They tell us how they came to be a Race Angel, and it is clear why each of them is so well suited to the job - and why we would want them running next to us in any marathon!
“I love running – it makes me happy! I started in 2005 with one 10K and it’s gone on from there. It’s now a huge part of my life. I have just qualified as a Coach in Running Fitness and last year started a local group for beginners which attracts 20-30 to our bi-weekly social runs. Through running I have met some wonderful people and made many friendships. The Race Angels is a brilliant concept, and a way for me to give something back to a community that has given me so much! Like all of us, I’ve known that awful point in a race when you think you just can’t go on and my own Race Angel Denise got me up a hill as if by magic in the past! Seeing people succeed and go beyond what they thought they could do is always inspiring. I am so looking forward to being a small part of someone’s marathon journey.”
“I started running almost 10 years ago purely as a way of becoming fitter. I dabbled in the art of racing by taking part in two Great North Runs, but only seriously started running in 2014, training for Chester Marathon. Unfortunately, this would be the same marathon that would see me snap my pelvis at mile 3 and finally admit defeat at mile 9. An underlying cause of osteopenia has seen me struggle for 18 months to return to running fitness, sustaining a few more fractures along the way and becoming a frustrated sidelined runner at times. All this changed when I was given the opportunity to be a Race Angel and I haven’t looked back. Although I am now back racing, when given another chance to be involved I jumped at the chance. The ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon will be my fourth outing in my ‘wings’. It truly is an honour to watch and run alongside some amazing people and I can’t wait to do it all again!”
“I’ve been running for about 6 years. Although very much in the veterans category, I still love my running and am about to run my first marathon in London. There have been plenty of times I’ve needed a race angel, so I’m proud and fortunate to be part of the Race Angels team.”
“My running journey began 3 years ago, when I enrolled in the Great North Run ballot. At this point the furthest I had run was 2 miles with the Zumba girls. I had decided to set myself a challenge and a half marathon seemed a sensible distance and way to raise money for charity along the way. If I was going to run a half marathon, it had to be my home run hence the Great North Run. I now run about 20 miles a week and a number of races a year at different distances, with the half marathon being the furthest. You never know, I might make that step to a marathon one day! As well as enjoying my own running, I enjoy supporting others whether it be through the running club or Race Angels. When I run alongside people who want a little support, I know how it feels and understand how a smiling face and a few kinds words can help – I’ve certainly been there myself in races. I love running and the feeling you get from meeting and running with others. I’ve made some terrific friends and met my future husband through running.”
“I’ve been running for 8 years now. Once my children had grown up and were living their own lives, I found some time on my hands and decided to train for Race for Life. I never realised how much running would have an impact on my life…I absolutely loved it. After completing Race for Life in 2008, I wanted another challenge, so I trained for a 10k. Shortly after I joined a local running club and trained for a half marathon and then a full marathon. I have met a lot of people and made so many friends through running. I enjoy helping other people to run and often assist with the groups within Warrington Running Club. When Adrienne mentioned Race Angels to me, I knew it would be something I would want to be part of. From my own point of view, I find it really rewarding. From the feedback received I think the runners liked us too. I have run the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon for the last three years now and am looking forward to being a Race Angel this year.”
“I started Couch to 5K in January 2012, have run 4 marathons and many half marathons. Being runners ourselves, we ‘get’ exactly what you’re feeling and hope that bit of company/chat/smiley face helps and motivates for the last part of the race. I came up with the Race Angel concept after a few different things happened at races, and I put it into place at Chester Marathon last year. I love what we do on race day, and I think I get more from being a Race Angel than racing. The Greater Manchester Marathon 2013 was my first marathon and completing that was the start of a huge change in my life. It was probably one of the hardest things, both mentally and physically, that I’ve done, and boy did I cry when I crossed that finish line – a mixture of ecstasy and relief! I’m really looking forward to helping some of you achieve something awesome.”
The presence of a team of Race Angels is a fitting addition to what is known as the UK’s flattest, fastest and friendliest marathon. Renowned for its first-class entertainment and superb crowd support, the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon offers runners a brilliant festival atmosphere and encouragement every step of the way.
This year, runners and spectators will be treated to an impressive line-up of local bands, singers and entertainers, as well as additional cheering points along the route where charities and sponsors will be cheering runners on.
Race Director Simon Hill commented: “We are delighted to have the support of a team of Race Angels at this year’s ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon. We pride ourselves on offering a first-class marathon experience, and the Race Angels will provide essential encouragement to those who want it in the final stages of the race. We want to see as many people as possible cross the finishing line and achieve their marathon dream, and sometimes a friendly face and a few words of encouragement is all it needs. Add to this the fantastic line-up of entertainment and huge crowd support, and this really is a great race to be a part of. Thank you to the Race Angels for lending us their time and support, and we look forward to our biggest ever race day next week.”