Race Report by Claire Newman
If you’ve read my blog posts about London you might want to skip this as it is just a slightly (not very) condensed version!
Getting to the start was easy, there were extra trains and lots of marshals herding everyone towards Blackheath and the start zones. Once in the zone there was a an epic number of loos, the queues were long but moved swiftly, much better than at GNR where we stood in a queue for 45 mins. We watched the wheelchair and elite starts on the big screen and then Alison and I got into our start zones before shuffling slowly towards the start in our bin bags.
Passing through the start was an amazing feeling….. we were all running the flipping London Marathon! I felt like a part of something huge it was pretty overwhelming and exciting, Alison zoomed off immediately ready to smash her first marathon!
HUMPS! HUMPS! HUMPS!
Blue and green start people will know what I’m talking about. There is a long stretch early on that is full of speed bumps. Each one had two marshals with ‘hump’ signs shouting ‘HUMP’ in a number of amusing ways to warn the runners. The first 5 miles are visually not very exciting, but you are so swept up in the excitement of finally doing the marathon that you don’t really notice. The prevailing smell of the first 5 miles is weed, a lot of people were chilling out watching the show of people running past their front gardens. Around 5-6 I noticed there was a bigger crowd on the right and I was so busy looking at the supporters that I had almost passed the Cutty Sark before I saw it.
You start getting really excited around mile 11-12 as you know you are on the approach to Tower Bridge, one of the most iconic parts of the course. As we started the bridge a huge number of people were filing their run, or face-timing family which made for a few stumbles and near misses! The noise one the bridge was immense, it was pretty overwhelming trying to take it all in and keep on running. I crossed the whole bridge with a massive grin on my face.
A lot has been said in race reports I’ve read that the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf are a tough stretch, the crowds are smaller there, but also it is the part of the race when you have done so much, but still have so far to go. The support around this area was much better than I had expected to be, but it was hard work around this area and the tiredness and heavy legs really took hold.
But then I hit the amazing cheer station at Limehouse Town Hall by the RUN DEM CREW around mile 21. They blew my mind! Tunes were banging, I stopped for a boogie and was lucky enough to be there when one of their runners came through and that place BLEW UP! Confetti cannons went off, everyone was yelling, cheering and dancing, it was like a huge street party. I flipping loved it and it really picked me up. It is one of my high points of the whole marathon.
More aromas of BBQ and weed and the pubs along the route had all spilled out onto the streets and people were offering us their pints. I was good and resisted! No one offered me BBQ or a spliff though……..
Support on the course was fantastic from both marshals and members of the public. The water stations were plentiful, I did have a bit of an issue with dodging water and Lucozade bottles and I know a few people who turned their ankles on them or banged a toes. I couldn’t face the seaweed Lucozade pouch at mile 23, it looked like a small bag of wee.
Mile 22 onwards I was pushing to get in under 5.30. I saw a runner collapsed at the side of the road and went over but a marshal got there first and put the runner into recovery position and told me to carry on as they had radioed for help. A little further on we all got asked to move to the side to let an ambulance through for another runner. It reminds you that a marathon is not small thing and everyone out there, regardless of the time they are going for, is giving it their all.
Tunnels were an opportunity for runners to have a walk break without well-meaning crowds shouting at you to keep going. Most people seemed to walk the tunnels, others stopped to stretch, be sick, have a little cry, and in one case I saw a woman give up finding a loo not covered in squirty poo and just did a wee next to the portaloos.
By mile 24 I was exhausted, I had done a lot of weaving and dodging so my Garmin said I had almost done a marathon but I know I was not quite there yet. I managed to totally miss the Tower of London and the London Eye (not sure how!) and then around mile 25 the Massey crew spotted me, I was so happy to see them that I had a bit of a cry on them, I was so pleased to see them, I really needed that final boost.
We were so close, the signs started announcing 800m to go, 600m to go, and we all prepared ourselves mentally for the emotions of turning the corner to run down the Mall. It lived up to the hype….. I waved to Liz and headed down the final stretch. I managed a last burst to overtake people towards the finish line, I could not stop smiling, a proper face splitting smile, I had done it! The London Marathon!
I had a cuddle with the lady who gave me my medal, got a marshal to take some photos of me and then waddled off to get my kit bag. I ignored the carefully packed post-race high protein drink and snack and cracked open a can of Rhubarb and Ginger gin and a tube of Pringles! Bliss!
My official time was 5:28, but I clocked over 27 miles through the weaving about, my Garmin had my 26.2 mile time as 5.19. So not what I planned, but pretty respectable given the training I’ve been able to do. I’ve already entered the ballot for next year!