A Question of Sport?
This was my third London Marathon (and my fourth overall) and it was certainly the best - not in terms of time, but in terms of enjoyment. If I had a gameplan it was simple: try to run consistent 10-minute miles - certainly avoid going faster, and try hard not to slow down. My splits suggest this strategy was almost maintained, and I finished with just enough gas in the tank to smile and pose for a photo with the fragrant Sue Barker.
How best can I describe the London Marathon in 2005? To take chanteuse Martha Tilston out of context "...it's music, magic, come together for a tribal dance..." The atmosphere was fantastic - the crowds appeared even more supportive than ever, amidst the drummers and bands, the outstretched hands, the kids offering fruit and sweets, yellow and green balloons everywhere, East End drinkers... plus my mobile kept bleeping with texts of support from friends and family, including my sons, George, Oscar and Charlie. (This may have had something to do with the family sweepstake to predict my time!)
The runners, wow!... On the road with Wombles, Elvis, Steve Rider, laughing policemen, Simon Hughes MP, a rhino, Paula Radcliffe... (well I saw 6 out of the seven at least).
By far the most humbling experience, however, are those runners you see with photographs of loved ones on their back, especially those of children no longer with us. It puts a lot of "normal" problems into genuine perspective. Thank you, therefore, to friends and colleagues who sponsored me - it certainly helps in many ways.
The day is not about sadness, however, but about pure unbridled joy and celebration, even if, as a runner, it doesn't always feel so good at the time. Let's face it, on marathon day you witness the best side of humanity.
April 17th 2005 finished for me with a physio-massage session, courtesy of my charity, Barnardo's, followed by three pints of Guinness with dear friends. Needless to say, I slept very soundly that night.