2014 London Marathon report – Mark Edwards

So here I am again, my 16th London and 25th marathon in total, after every marathon I’ve done since my first in Dublin in 1984 I’ve vowed never again they hurt too much, and yet here I am knowing that I am going to suffer, then I give my head a shake, its only for a few hours after all, then I’ll be in the pub and after a couple of pints wondering when the applications come out for next year. I had picked up my number the day before at the excell arena , I swear that place gets busier every year, had quick look round as I didn’t want to spend too much time on my feet, after about 15 minutes and having had dozens of leaflets and brochures thrust in my face I’d had enough, back to the hotel and feet up and something to eat. Met my family back at the hotel, they had been shopping all afternoon, I’ve made that mistake in the past and been with them, not any more I’ve learnt that lesson. Early to bed and up at 6, I made my way to charring cross station, even though I’ve done London before I like to soak up the atmosphere which starts at Charring Cross, the later trains get packed but as I was on one that left about 7.15 there were loads of spare seats, got to Blackheath about 8 and with blue skies above everybody was in good spirits, the waiting area for runners is only open for those with numbers so no family are allowed in, my family were still in bed when I left the hotel but I knew they would be at Cleopatras needle on the embankment later when I stagger past. The next couple of hours are spent athlete watching, I’m always amazed at the size and shape of people who do marathons and those who are in fancy dress, it’s tough enough doing it in vest and shorts never mind dressing up as sponge bob square pants or a rhino. After putting Vaseline in all the places that haven’t seen the sun for a few months and giving my bag in to the trucks that transport them to the finish I make my way to the start, the start is made up of 9 separate pens depending on what time you estimated your finish time would be, on your running number there’s a smaller number which tells you which pen to stand in, mine was 1, which means I was in the 2hrs 45 to 3hrs pen, how did that happen, no way was I going to run under 3hrs, but it was too late I was in the pen, as long as I ran my own race and don’t get carried away I’d be ok. The seconds before the race starts there seems to be a lull and you can hear a heart beating over the tannoy, then the crowd start counting down the last 5 seconds, then the klaxon sounds and away we go, steady away, don’t get sucked in, run at a pace that suits me, all the advice that you read in the run up to today comes flooding back. The first 2 miles are flat and the 3rd is slightly downhill and the crowds are out in force, the drink stations start at 2 miles and all the advice is you don’t need to drink at every station but even at this early stage there are water bottles, some empty, some still full all over the road, ankle breakers all of them, keep your eyes open. At 6 miles we come to the Cutty Sark where the crowds are massive, the noise is unbelievable, you get a real lift here. Between here and Tower bridge at just before half way the crowds are still out urging you on offering high 5s and jelly babies, a bit early for sweets yet, later on maybe. At Tower Bridge the crowds are even deeper, this is at about 12 and a half mile and where I started to feel it but the noise and support from the crowd just carry you along, I later found out that my wife and daughter were stood just on the other side of the bridge but with the all the excitement we missed each other. I find it a psychological lift at halfway , now I’m counting the miles down. The crowds from this point just get noisier and deeper and at about this point 13 to 14 miles we can see the leading runners coming back on the other side of the road at their 21 to 22 mile point. The noise was even louder here, I soon realised Mo Farrah was passing, a fantastic sight, you don’t realise how fast these fellas are running till you see them in the flesh. Now this is where it really was starting to hurt and I would have to start digging in, with the help of the crowd, Lucozade sport and jelly babies I was determined to reach the mall in a reasonable time. A few years earlier I’d had a running battle with Sponge Bob Square Pants for the last few miles, thank god I hadn’t seen him this year. Every now and again I could hear shouts “ well done north York moors” but I was like a punch drunk boxer and could just about grunt back “thanks”. At about 25 miles I could just about raise my head enough to look out for my family, somewhere near Cleopatras needle is where they usually stand, and there they were, a quick hug off my daughter and off I shuffle, 1 more mile past the Houses of Parliament, Birdcage walk, Buckingham Palace and the Mall and that’s it, the feeling you get on the last mile with the crowd cheering you on is probably why I love this race, at last I round the last corner and see the finish line,…..sprint! no chance just glide(shuffle) over the line and done, fantastic, 3hours 54 minutes 26 seconds I’m happy with that, that’s it now, last one, no more road marathons. Fast forward a couple of hours, a couple of pints of London Pride and the inevitable, actually I enjoyed that, it wasn’t that bad, when are the entries open for next year. The next few days were spent shuffling around London as my daughter was competing in the World Irish Dance Championships with her friends from the Robson Academy for Irish Dance, they did brilliantly finishing I 23rd out of 65 teams, so all in all the Edwards family had a good week, roll on next year.

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