The London Marathon is rightly known as an iconic event, famed for its slick organisation, friendly atmosphere and superb support. This year was no different and Neil Page (personal and ERN men’s PB), Phil Humphries and Anne-Louise House took part and ran some stunning times. Congratulations to them all from us mere mortals!
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Phil Said: “The day before the race the Icelandic volcano gods allowed us safe passage, and we arrived at midday in a hot and sunny London via City Airport. Registration at the Expo was quick and easy, which gave us time to visit some of the many stalls and collect a few freebies. The warm weather on Saturday was a bit of a concern, but fortunately it was cooler and overcast on the Sunday, and we were treated to a heavy downpour 20 mins before the start. This did not seem to dampen any spirits – least of all the various costumed folk massing at the Green start. One of the perks of being a “good for age” entrant was being placed in the “Green Start” which contained only a couple of thousand runners compared to the 15,000 or more in the Blue and Red mass starts. The Green start seemed to be a mixed bag of celebrities, good for age runners and runners in costumes. The celebrities hid in their private tent out of the rain, leaving the rest of us to take what shelter we could, however there was plenty of entertainment seeing all these amazing costumes that folk were going to run in. The most extreme of these included a 20ft + giraffe, and a scaled down version of the Angel of the North which was probably akin to having a small glider strapped to you back – good job it was not too windy !
At 9.45 am the rain cleared up and start from Greenwich Park got off well. I was quite close to the front, so was over the line quickly and soon eased past a few celebrities that I did not recognise other than a lumbering Gordon Ramsey. At about 5 miles, after all the different starts merged I heard a friendly voice on my shoulder and it was a fellow ERN member, Neil Page! We ran together for a couple of minutes exchanging a few encouraging words, before Neil sped off into the distance on his way to a fast PB. Quite amazing to have bumped into each other from different start points and in such a massive field of runners. I reached the half-way point on Tower Bridge in about 1:31 hrs, and so was on course for PB, but after about 15 miles my IT band injury flared up again getting gradually worse, and I could not keep up with the pace. However I still managed to run with the pain and finish in 3:33.01 having been overtaken by a seemingly endless stream of runners including a couple of leprechauns, a baby, a clown, a tiger and Buzz Light Year to name but a few (still I did beat Gordon Ramsey and the Giraffe).
The most memorable aspect of the event was the incredible public support along the whole route, there were crowds of people lining the entire route (including Elly at various points), so us runners were literally clapped and cheered the whole way round. The whole event was also extremely well organised for such a large field of 36,000+ runners which is the largest marathon in the world apparently (although Tokyo I believe comes very close). I can’t remember having to queue for anything, and you get a pretty smart looking medal at the end. (Although it is not made of chocolate).”
Neil said: “I found the Expo the day before the race to be well set up and easy to negotiate. I like Phil was a good for age entrant and so was fortunate to benefit from the exclusive green start with dedicated bag drop off, toilets, tented changing area (which provided good shelter from the rain shower preceding the race) and quieter start. I think this helped to take the stress out of things and helped me to set off at a good comfortable pace.
The race itself was a superb experience, a fast flat course with great iconic buildings to marvel at as you run along and a very crowd support all the way round. There was a carnival atmosphere engendered by the patrons of some of the pubs we passed – a few had taken on a theme and dressed themselves up in costumes, such as pirates! Going over Tower Bridge at the half way stage I found particularly invigorating – the combination of sense of place and noise from the crowds cheering was nothing like I had experienced before and really gave me a massive boost. Prior to that I had bumped into Phil – both of us resplendent in our ERN singlets!
In the end, with running conditions favourable, I managed to stick more or less to a reasonable pace and set myself a new PB. I would consider the event impeccably organised and I think the best marathon I have taken part in (a veteran of only 5!). I would say a real must for anyone who enjoys marathon bagging!”
Anne-Louise said: “Despite having high expectations, the London Marathon didn’t disappoint. Although it is difficult to secure a ballot place (I think this was my fourth attempt), the experience makes it all worthwhile. The organisation is fantastic and although I expected a long delay at the start, I managed to get over the line in under 10 minutes, which is pretty impressive with more than 36K participants- I think the 3 different starting points help. The support is phenominal with lots of DJ’s and bands lining the route together with some pubs playing music extra loud out of their windows. There were also a few balconies filled with people having marathon parties.
I have only run one other marathon- Edinburgh, and London certainly didn’t seem to be much different in terms of gradient- it was thankfully a very flat course. When I inevitably started walking intermittently towards the end, lots of people cheered you on which was fantastic encouragement and started me running again a few times. They also have showers which you can run under if you are feeling the heat, which was very welcome towards the end. To top it all off, you finish next to St James’s Park where lots of people celebrated with friends and family, having picnics at the finish. Definitely one for the calendar!”