Virgin London Marathon

Posted by martin.parnell |

Next Quest:

TransRockies Quest 888 (Quest #8)

  • 6 months (May to October 2013)

  • 10 trail running, mountain biking, road running and road biking events

  • Completing over 888 race kilometres

At 9.55am on Sunday April 21st, I was in London, England, standing with 35,000 other runners, in complete silence. A whistle had blown and for 30 seconds a hush fell across the mass of singlet clad individuals. This act of remembrance was for runners and supporters in Boston who had been killed or injured in the worst act of terror since 9/11. The Boston marathon had taken place just a week before and there was speculation about the status of the Virgin London marathon. Should it be cancelled or postponed? The consensus was overwhelming. It would go ahead.

A second whistle sounded and a huge cheer went up. We were ready to race. In the world of marathons, London is unique. It holds the Guinness World Record for "The largest one day fund raising event". In 2012 over $85m was raised for hundreds of charities. As I stood waiting for the 10.00am start gun to go off I could see a number of runners with their chosen charity printed on their shirt. There were also many in costumes. I spotted a man in a chicken suit, a two person Jamaican bobsleigh, a Rhinoceros, Wolverine and Mary Poppins.

The logistics of this event are mind-blowing. There were three starting chutes and I was in Red. There was also a green chute for the elite runners and a blue chute for fast age -groupers. From the time the start gun was fired, it took 20 minutes just to get to the timing mats. I started knocking off the kms and was spurred on by the packed crowds lining the streets. Every so often I'd here "Go, Right To Play, Go". The route takes in some of the historical landmarks in London including Tower Bridge, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

I kept a good pace but it's the first time I've been in a race where there were people around me for the whole 42.2kms. My step-son, Calum, lives in London and at the 40km mark I heard a yell and there he was. I couldn't believe how he had tracked me down amongst all the runners and spectators. It was a great day for running but the temperature was rising as I approached the last two km. I felt pretty good and pushed it a bit over the final 200 meters. I was therefore a bit surprised when Mary Poppins came up beside me and pipped me at the post. Next time Poppins!

My target time was 4 hours 40 minutes so I was very pleased with my 4 hours 37 minutes 42 seconds. I had arranged to meet Calum and Kathryn, from the UK Right To Play office, at a spot along Horse Guards Parade. The finish was a mass of humanity but fortunately RTP had a flag flying and I tracked them down. Kathryn asked me what my next marathon was. Well, on May 26th I'm running Calgary and London has given me lots of ideas.

Quote of the Day

""It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short,easy words like 'What about lunch?"

Winnie the Pooh

Heading across Tower Bridge during Sunday's London Marathon

Virgin London Marathon

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