The morning arrived, we met the group downstairs and Bruce Fordyce (#namedropping) took one look at Chris (my husband) and I and said we had too many clothes on and we were going to overheat on the run. It was rather cold outside and expecting to reach a high of 12 degrees, but we decided to listen to our new friend Bruce (I mean he must know these things!!) We race upstairs, stripped off and got ready once again (somewhat chilly).
The levels of laughter erupting out of this square in the middle of the field were hysterical. Some ladies got stage fright, some missed the P-Mate entirely and some just couldn’t even attempt it. I am happy to report I was successful, although I did laugh the whole way through.
After that experience I just knew it was going to be a fun day. Two minutes before the start, clothes are flying everywhere. People take off their track tops/jackets and throw them over the fence (these are collected for charity); it looked like a graduation ceremony. And suddenly WE ARE OFF…. thousands and thousands of people, my word so many people, runners and spectators everywhere!
A very fascinating aspect to this marathon is the blue line. This line is the exact distance and the objective is to keep to that line as best as possible.
The elite runners pretty much run on the line the whole way. The rest of us just need to make sure we are always ahead of the blue line cleaners who come up behind the last runners and clean the blue paint off the road to ensure the road is clean soon after the race. With that knowledge off I went….
A few miles in, I hear people shouting HUMP, HUMP, HUMP – I was rather confused as I didn’t know this running term. But once I ran over the speed humps in the road I realised they had marshals indicating where the speed humps were – giggling once more I skipped along.
Every mile there are St John’s medics standing with their hands out – once again I was confused, but with so many people I couldn’t really see what was happening. A lot of children along the way count the number of times runners touch their hands and there is much excitement amongst the children. I did plenty of high fives to add to their numbers. So you can imagine I was a little confused with the Medics. I decided to get closer and see what was happening as people kept stopping there. To my amazement, all the medics had big clomps of vaseline on their hands for the runners in case you missed a spot. I thought this was such a brilliant idea. Clearly I had not done any long distance running as all of this was new to me.
For me the experience felt like one continuous party – plenty of people, music, food and alcohol – what more do you need. The noise was unexplainable, it was so loud. From mile 0 right through to mile 26 it was so loud – a combination of people and music. I stopped and took a lot of selfies as I was determined to remember everything. Running over Tower Bridge was a highlight as I knew I was half way. I felt good, I felt strong and I was so happy to be there.
I met up with friends, enjoyed a hug and a banana (and a selfie) and off I went.
When I got to the 32 km point I felt rather emotional as that was the furthest I had ever run, so anything after that was new to me.
Coming through the last tunnel (about 20 mile mark) I heard Bruce Springsteen playing on the sounds system – I had a little dance as it was a great song. The crowd clapped, cheered and shouted for South Africa.
With a skip in my step I continued alongside the Thames homeward bound. I wanted it all to slow down as I didn’t want the experience to end. Next was the Big Ben selfie and round the corner to see the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
On my training runs I had practiced running with my phone as I wanted to record the last bit of the run. I curtseyed to the Queen, pressed record and recorded the last 500m trying to absorb the last few minutes of this amazing experience. And then it was over!!
I DID IT - I had run 42.7km (I didn’t stick to the blue line) and it will go down as the best experience of my life!!
Would it have been as memorable - NO
Experience - PRICELESS