I’m still in the process of gathering my thoughts enough to write a full review of the total epic-ness of Sunday’s London Marathon – my first marathon! So in the meantime, here are five of my most memorable highlights of the day:
- The pacers
I absolutely love pacers in races. Experienced runners who give up their chances of a PB to selflessly help others around them achieve their goals. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to pace in a marathon event, keeping your speed totally consistent for hours on end the whole way round. On Sunday I followed Martin, the lovely 5hr pacer from the green start area. It was so nice to have a little group to run with, and we all went along chatting and getting to know each other while Martin kept us on track and moving along at a steady pace. I just know that without him, I would have rushed off way too fast with excitement and really paid the price for it later on. In the end, I had to start slipping back from the group after 14 miles but I am incredibly thankful for that first half we all ran together.
2. The supporters
Five hours plus is a really long time to be out running on the streets of London. The second half of the race becomes more and more a mental battle, with an enormous amount of resilience needed to keep pushing on when everything starts to hurt. It was in these more challenging moments that I massively appreciated the support from the crowd, both the general public and those who had come to cheer me on. It really helped me break the later miles down mentally into more manageable chunks, knowing that I would see my husband Jon again at mile 21, and the parkrun crew at mile 22. The noise and support from the general public was also incredible along the whole route! I have never seen so many people standing offering out food, although I never want to see another jelly baby in my life! Fresh orange slices at mile 20 tasted heavenly, and the ham and cheese sandwich I picked up later on gave me a much needed boost! I had my name written on my top, and hearing the shouts of ‘You can do this Gail!’ along mile 25 of the embankment was almost overwhelming.
3. The inspirational other runners
Over 42,000 runners finished the marathon on Sunday, and each one had their own story to tell. From the superhuman Eliud Kipchoge who had finished in 2hr05 before I had even crossed Tower Bridge, all the way to the 7hr30 pacer group and beyond, battling their way around while the sweeper lorries cleaned up around them. The barefoot runners, the guys in rhino costumes, the people running in memory of loved ones. The ones chasing PB’s, the ones helping their injured friends to the finish line, and the ones who couldn’t even run a year ago but are turning their lives around. This was the year where the total money raised for charity surpassed one billion pounds! For many British people, the marathon remains the ultimate physical challenge, the top of their bucket list, and what a wonderful event it is. Long may it continue.
4. The iconic moments
The start line in Greenwich, the Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf, Embankment, and finally turning that last corner to run down the finishing straight on the Mall. These are the iconic sights you think of when you picture running the London Marathon. I think I will always remember running across Tower Bridge, all of the runners just looking around at each other with amazed happy smiles on our faces!
5. The ‘I can’t believe I did it!’
Wow! It’s all over! Since my name was pulled out of the parkrun ballot in September last year, I have spent god knows how many hours planning, researching, and of course training, all building up to one thing: The Marathon. After so many months of build up, I just can’t believe I’ve finally done it! Now it’s time to wear my medal with pride, tell my stories, reflect, and take a well-earned rest!
You can read all about my journey leading up to the 2019 London Marathon here!