The 35th anniversary of the London Marathon.

Nearly 38,000 charity fundraisers and professional runners make this year's event the biggest ever!

A whopping three quarters of a million spectators turn out in London to support this iconic and special day!

Another GFA entry

Today is my second try at the London marathon, after an absence last year. I have had two weeks of rest since Brighton marathon as decided against racing the Crawley K2 track last weekend. 

I felt well enough but with shift work in between and no time out at home with Sunday, I just needed the chill and no racing so I can rest my body and mind.

I also have never raced in such a fast, timed lapped event before. I felt a little out of reach with the professional super elites that enter this event too!

Some essentials for the morning: Bigatmo Sunglasses, Inov8 race pack/wrag, Anker battery, Olive Oil, Pine nuts and Salt Stick capsules

It's an early start as trains are limited from Brighton with ongoing engineering works. So Sunday and myself catch the 06:49 from Gatwick to Victoria. 

The train is on time and we can relax drinking bulletproof coffee we prepared for the journey. I had the usual half an avocado and some clear broth when I woke today.

Met a few these Bosh runners heading to Blackheath

Whilst waiting for the connection to Blackheath we spot all the other runners  with the stand out red drawstring bags. 

Soon enough we see other running friends who have arrived on the next train. It is great to catch up with everyone and then the journey to Greenwich. We only just manage to squeeze on the 8:39 service. It is jam packed like the underground in rush hour.

Once at Blackheath we follow the sea of many runners up to the park and bid farewell, wishing everyone all the best. 

Greenwich Park

I am in the good for age area which is just before the red starting pens. Everywhere is very clearly signed and easy to find like last year.

The weather is damp and wet with a cold wind. It has been so dry with low humidity the last few weeks, so a drastic change in the conditions could cause some difficulty with runners today. 

I do not run so well in humid weather.

Found my start

It is still quiet at the moment so I take the chance to use the urinals in the GFA area where the line of runners is far less. It is still too early to drop my bag and let go of my jacket just yet. 

I kill some time chatting with Sunday and updating some pictures online, before he heads on down to the red start to see if he can spot our friend Duc. 

Duc has flown in from Cologne to run today. He ran Boston last week and Paris just before that! 

Duc has got the marathon running bug, thanks to our influence. Whoops!

Braving it in compression shorts and socks


After dropping my bag to the baggage truck and a last stop at the urinals, which has a very long line of runners now. I head over to the starting pens. I am in pen no1 again which is at the front.

Rather like sheep pushing into a bottle neck, without much movement we wait anxiously and I enjoy the banter and conversation around me. I can hear mentions of Boston last week and Berlin marathon in Canadian, American and thick European accents over us Brits.

Running friend Mark Jenkinson shouts from the back of the line at the top of his lungs to me. He is too far away for me to get to so it is just a cheeky smile and thumbs up to him.

After a few minutes we are all ushered into the start pen and just moments away from the mass start. the sound system seems to be having troubles and the voice over is all broken.

So without much of a warning we are let off for the go and shuffle along until the bunched up group starts to give...

The crowd support from the roadside is electric and so loud, even this early on in the race. Everyone has come outside to cheer us on...

MILES 0-13
You really cannot keep to a calmer pace here and just have to sprint along with the moving swarm of runners. It feels rather uncomfortable and congested just like I remember. It is impossible to get into a steady comfortable pace for the first few miles as runners are elbowing, cutting in or practically kicking your calves from behind. 

I try to keep my eyes on the ground and avoid the traffic islands and being shoved into the curb side. 

I am running approx 6:30-6:45min/mile on average and so far feeling ok keeping at this pace. I am not a fan of the damp and humid. Although the wind is still breezy and cooling, I still feel warm and starting to sweat more than in the drier weather we have been experiencing of late....

Once at 7 miles and reaching the Cutty Sark, feeling the amazing buzz from the crowds, I start to enjoy the sights and colourful array of people cheering, calling out names and sending good vibes of support as we all run past. 

It is jam packed wall to wall and I wonder how early these supporters arrive to get a good spot...

I take a salt stick capsule along with some water as running this pace and in humid conditions always makes me sweat more. 

Halfway at Tower Bridge

The miles seem to tick by nicely, through the Docks and Bermondsey as the crowds carry everyone along the road. I pass my water along to the person next to me, at each water station, until the tight groups start to seperate more so.

Then at the 9th miles, I keep hold of the next small Buxton water bottle. It is small enough to carry in my hand without feeling weighed down.

Halfway and over the chip mat with a bleep to know my time is scanned. I check my Garmin and see I have covered this in 1hr 25min.

If I can try to hold this pacing for the next half I could be on target for a 2:55  finish. Time shall tell how I hold up. 

Although much flatter than Brighton marathon I do still struggle with some boredom of the long roads, if it wasn't for all the London turnout today I would find the route incredibly tedious and boring. I actually wouldn't ever run this far in training on roads. 

I prefer my shorter intervals then incorporate some off road and hills into my routine. I have also noticed spending more time on trails even walking on rest days has kept me very conditioned and injury free over the winter months.

I'm just too much an ultra trail runner these days and feel much more comfortable and at ease out on the trails in the great outdoors. 

I have moments where I let my mind drift away and imagine I am running freely down a long windy track with the view of the landscape on a bright, sunny day. 

I can hear all the loud cheering but it is muffled and I have turned the volume down in my head. I just keep my head down and let my legs run on auto pilot.

Zoning out also helps me forget the gloomy dark clouds today. However my vision and clarity is much brighter, as I am wearing the Bigatmo Alutra sunglasses that are photo chromic. 

These Italian produced sunglasses are uv light activated, so in dull and grey conditions they brighten up your vision like on a sunnier day. They really do help with sharper and clearer vision whilst running. 

Bosh HQ (photo by Marie Carey) Mile 22.5

MILES 13-27
After taking another salt stick capsule with some water at the next water station, I carry the small bottle again as it is just easier than running across to try and grab one amongst everyone else.

The route heads east along towards Limehouse and Blackwall, I start to feel fatigued and overheated some, my pace is starting to drop. I try so hard to keep my pace to around 6:40min/mile and quicker, but I feel as if I have started out too fast and I cannot keep this up much longer!

I really struggle with these next few miles, at 17-20 around Isle Of Dogs before heading back on ourselves into central London. I am averaging around 7:00-7:15min/mile and the hopes of reaching a PB today have been squashed...

I take a sip of some olive oil that I always carry running, with another salt capsule. At the next water station there is a Lucozade gel hand out. I wouldn't usually take these, but I figure it is easier to have the sugar trickle now rather than rummaging for the jelly babies in my waist race pack.

Much needed boost from the Bosh support

The gel is a sickly sweet blackcurrant taste. I just squeeze out a small amount and keep hold of it for some more later.
Once nearing Wapping at mile 22, I take in all the cheers and support from the uplifting crowds to carry me through. The screaming is so intense it brings goosebumps to my skin. That lump in my throat is growing...

I remember that the Bosh team have set up camp around this point and should be waving the blue Bosh flag here. I scan the crowds hoping I do not miss anyone. Soon enough they are nearby and I raise my bosh band to them. 

It is such a boost to see everyone and is a much needed lift for when I am really flagging!

Still manage a smile at Mile 22.5

Just approaching the last mile marker along the Embankment and the roaring crowds are electric. It is so loud and overwhelming...

Passing the London Eye and then Big Ben. This is it...

My low mood and disappointment of not reaching my target time are all now forgotten with the amazing sights and support for the final leg to Buckingham Palace. 

I can't move my legs any faster and try so hard to keep at a 7:15min/mile pace but with great difficulty. I see on my watch once approaching the last 800m at St James Park I am already past my 2:57 time that I achieved two years ago. 

Then I am really pleased with my SDW50 result three weeks ago and a 3hr Brighton marathon two weeks ago, so at least my body and fitness is still enough to manage these consistent times. 

I can't race hard and PB every race I do and especially competitive marathons like London! 

The last mile to The Mall (photo by Duc Turner)

This year is a #HandinHand campaign to encourage all runners to finish while hand in hand. This is in honor to the first London marathon in 1981 when the winners Dick Beardsley and Inge Simonsen finished holding hands. 

Having battled stride for stride for 26 miles, the pair famously agreed to a dead heat, crossing the line hand in hand, a gesture which has come to symbolise the spirit of the event.

Once passing the palace and with the finish line in view I still try my best for a sprint finish but my legs won't pick up any faster, I am done...

I can see the clock reading 2:58. I look to see the nearest runner to my left and ask him to take my hand? I raise my arm but he lets go saying 'that a do', I look to my right and a runner dressed up all in green with a top hat is having the time of his life waving his hands all over the shop, so I couldn't really do a hand in hand tribute to spoil his moment once reaching the finish line. 

I tried...

 1,759th Place 2:59:17

Once through the bottle neck finish it is all over and finished. Catching a breath and collecting my medal I can relax and reflect on the run. 

I felt better at Brighton two weeks before, which is odd as it was after the SDW50. My heart was in it more so compared to today. I did feel that London was very much more congested this year and the dark cloud humid conditions really didn't help with my pacing. 

I have not been training as much road so gave it my best shot today. Happy to reach a sub 3hr for the year as it was two years ago the last time. 

The bling at Big Ben

After a few finishing pictures and goody bag collection I make my way over to the baggage trucks which is the very last one for the GFA numbers. I text Sunday, who I never spotted out today, then Helen that I have finished. Kelly text to say she was watching me on the telly and very well done for another sub 3hr marathon...

Amazing Duc finishes Marathon No3 of the month

I get changed in a portable loo and drink plenty of water whilst waiting on Sunday to reach from Embankment. We arrange to meet at the A-G meeting point as it is the first as the runners exit The Mall. 

Duc is not far behind and should be coming through the exit soon enough. Duc has now achieved three marathons in the month! Two of them majors!

He is beaming when he comes out to meet us and loves the medal

Big smiles with Rachael and Duc

We go grab some coffees nearby and then bump into Rachael who has finished. She did brilliant today and got a PB. Seeing how excited and buzzed she is makes me appreciate the finish that much more. 

I feel the event is so different to everyone and we all have our own goals and desires why we run London. 

It is the peoples race.

Sunday wants a medal 

Would I run it next year? 

I have not yet decided. I would enjoy to see Sunday experience it and hope that he gets a place in the ballot next year.

Such tourists!

Doing the tourist rounds showing off our bling, before grabbing a bite to eat and heading on the train back home...

Nice tech-tee for the 35th

Cheers! home at last

Ultra Luke

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