Monday, 27 April 2015

London Marathon: a short report of a long race

Walking slowly downstairs today after yesterday's London Marathon, my first marathon. It was a milestone for me as it was two years ago this weekend that I dipped my toe into organised running for the first time since leaving school by taking part in my first parkrun, at Hilly Fields, after several months getting going with the NHS Couch to 5k podcasts. Since that time I've run 80+ parkruns, joined a club (the mighty Kent AC), completed a cross country season and run a couple of half marathons and lots of other races, so I feel as if running London completes my apprenticeship. I achieved my goal of breaking four hours (3:51), a respectable time I think considering I'm still shaking off a cough/cold - well anyway that's my excuse for slowing down in second half.

Yes, just like they say, the atmosphere at London is amazing with a record 37,675 finishers and hundreds of thousands on the streets cheering us on. I loved the music on the way round - 'A Town Called Malice' at Blue Start, the old guy singing 'Lady Madonna' outside Clancy's in Woolwich, numerous drummers, bagpipes in Rotherhithe, and DJs playing everything from Springsteen's 'Born to Run' to CeCe Peniston's 'Finally' (except it was at the half way point not the end). Personal favourite was hearing a few bars of the similarly named soulful house classic Finally by Kings of Tomorrow, a track I last heard out dancing to Norman Jay at Notting Hill Carnival ('time marches on never ending, time keeps its own time') . A similarly packed crowd yesterday but  I wasn't hanging around to dance and sing along - as I've said before, for me running is the new raving.

I wasn't spending too long sight seeing either, though I like the fact that as well as passing all the chocolate box London tourist landmarks (Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, the Cutty Sark in Greenwich) the race takes the world's best long distance runners on a tour of South East London, out through Charlton, Woolwich, Deptford and Rotherhithe .

One of the advantages of being a London runner is how familiar much of the course is. I was able to leave home after 8 am and get to the start in plenty of time, and in my Marathon training I've covered various sections of the route, including the first seven miles the previous weekend with a group of Kent AC runners. The club turned out 46 runners yesterday, with outstanding performances from John Gilbert, 2nd finisher after the elite field in 2:18 (I saw him running past me in the opposite direction in East London with nobody in sight behind him), and Amy Clements, 10th non-elite woman in 2:43 (full results here)

The finisher t-shirt and the medal for this 35th anniversary race both featured the image of Dick Beardsley and Inge Simonsen jointly winning the first race in 1981 (I saw them both speaking last week at the London Marathon Expo)

As expected the last few miles were the toughest, by that point it was head down and keep going with all the noise becoming more oppressive than inspiring, by that point too I was close to vomiting on lucozade and energy gels. Having done the training I had my mantra 'I do this everyday, I do this daily everyday, I do this' courtesy of Crystal Fighters, as well as my regular mind trick when suffering of telling myself that 'the faster you run, the sooner you can stop'. And the sooner I stopped the sooner I could have a pint after a couple of weeks of fitness fanatic abstinence.

Although I had a ballot place and therefore no charity fundraising target I did invite donations to Core (gut and liver disease charity)  in memory of my dad who died from stomach cancer. I'm amazed that I've raised more than £800, thank again everybody for your support - there's still time for a last minute donation at Just Giving!

sitting down on the Mall just after the finish
 - standing up again was the hard part
Update: Tim from Kent AC paused briefly at mile 20 to propose marriage to Linda - before going on to complete a sub-3 hour marathon



  1. Well done! A really good first marathon. I am fairly certain that I saw you & shouted encouragement from the sides at just before 8 miles - your splits would have made it about right.

  2. Thanks Paul, the support along the way was great, including quite a few Kent AC and parkrun people at various strategic points. Hopefully you'll be back in Marathon condition for next year.