A Baking Hot London Marathon Weekend
Arrival in London begins with a visit to the Excel centre to collect my number and chip. I also pay a visit to the Hull Marathon stall and have a chat with Lucas and do a video clip. Then it is back to central London to meet my wife but I’m running late. The train finishes at Tower Bridge so I leave the station to text my wife. Then disaster I have still got my suitcase and rucksack but no running bag, chip or number. Panic my marathon is over already.
I go back to the station and talk to the station staff. They take me to an office. I look around and spot the bag. Relief!!
I continue my journey and we travel to our accommodation. We have a couple of days of sightseeing. Research has revealed that the Wormwood Scrubs Park Run is a 10 minute jog away. Very tempting but maybe not great preparation for a marathon. I go for it and do it in a very slow time. Despite the name and the prison the course is more rural and less urban than East Park. I wonder if I am the only East Hull Harrier to have run the Scrubs Park Run. I subsequently find I am not. Can you guess another Harrier who has done the Scrubs Park Run? Answer at the end.
Then it is the night before the big day preparing kit. A restless night. The journey to the start begins quietly. It is hot enough to travel in shorts and t shirt. Then the hordes of runners build.. At Tower Bridge a train is cancelled. The next train is jam packed. Then it is a quiet walk to the Green Start for the third year. I get there for 9.15. Already the announcer is demanding that all bags are put on the baggage lorries or your life will end. I meet lots of other Harriers including Dan James Ann Magda Linda Julie Suszanne. We discuss strategies for the hot conditions. Official advice is contradictory drink lots of water and douse yourself but you can drink too much, don`t tip water over yourself or there won`t be enough for slower runners, start more slowly etc. I decide to run as normal use lots of water and hope for the best. Under 4 hrs is my target. We go for a final warm up ( no pun intended given the weather) and visit to the loo.
Then its off to our various start zones and I am standing next to Magda. We see the start on the big screen then we are off. Magda soon disappears into the hordes ahead and I don`t think I will see her again. I find myself next to Ann we run together for a while then get separated.. The crowds and the atmosphere are fantastic but you have to stay focussed because of the number of runners around you. It is very hot and soon we are at the first of many water stations. I drink and tip some over my head. I take water at nearly every water station.
I spot Paul Nippress in the crowd and we shout greetings.
For two or three miles I find I am running alongside a man in fancy dress with his top half secured in a straight jacket. He shouts to the crowd that he would high five them but he is a bit tied up!! The problem he has is that he is reliant on spectators and other runners for water. The last time I see him he seems to be struggling. I wonder if he will make it to the end.
Then I am alongside the 3hr 45m pacer. I stick with that group until about 13 miles when I start to slip back a little. I am going okay and my time at 13 miles of 1hr 51m at Tower Bridge is what I hoped for.
Going into the Dockland there is a bit more running space. I look at some of the elite runners coming back from the docklands on the opposites side of the road.. Shouts of encouragement from Pete Dearing.
Then around 16 or 17 miles I see Dan and Magda ahead of me. After a water station I find I’m running alongside Magda. We run together as things get harder. Around 21 miles I know I am slowing but at least it is countdown time. Around 24 miles Madga moves ahead. Then it’s the final mile. At least its going to be under 4hours. Shouts of encouragement from Harrier supporters.
At the finish I see Magda again and we walk up to bag collection area. Then it is off to the pub Lord Moon of the Mall to meet up with fellow Harrier runners and supporters.
Everyone has a story to tell and everyone seems to agree that the heat made it one of the toughest London marathons. At least all the Harriers made it round with some excellent performances. The standout performance being Mike Hargreaves finish in 2hrs 29 m It is a great inclusive event from the elite runners through to the slowest fancy dress charity runner. The support of fellow Harriers both runners and those supporting make it a very special weekend. And as for next year……
Answer to question posed earlier: Mark Gadie