My 2005 London Marathon

How was it for you? - Quotes and pictures from London 05


Posted: 19 April 2005

SUPPORTERS (Page 1) Page 1 2
H.

H (left) and Wolfy

Wolfy and I came down from rainy Manchester to support at mile 17 and had a fabulous day. Despite wrapping up warm in various layers and woolly boots it was glorious and I even managed to get a sunburn (but only down on side of my face of course so I look like Phantom of the Opera!) Must have made things difficult for the runners but they all seemed to be doing brilliantly and seeing them has really fired me up to apply again for next year. Ashley and Christopher Smith were fantastic in organising team 10, and I hope we were useful.

We tried to give a bit of support to the Northern teams too, but in the end we were just shouting for everyone (at which point someone told me I must be a Manc' as I was making the most noise!). I'm hoarse today and my hands sting from clapping but I bet I'm not hurting half as much as the runners.

Well done one and all and I hope they all got the times/met their goals and had a fantastic day.

meerkat

meerkat (right) and Velociraptor

What was the best moment? Getting to Mudchute and finding that no one had nicked our supporting spot!; all the goodwill and sheer enthusiasm of our entire support team; cheering in Redhead, tinygirl and Little (not so) Fat Welshman, whom I've known virtually but only met in real life for the first time at expo; the fantastic support group of team 3: JJ, Helegant, little steph, Nrg-b's family and Chris (Mr tinygirl).

The worst moment? Around 11.15 when Monique hadn't turned up...but turned to a great moment when she stayed to be a supporter, having DNF'd with a foot injury; seeing all those bleeding nips.

The biggest surprise? the two-minute gap between Paula and the rest of the field. Unbelievable, even from Paula; failing to see ANY of the celeb runners. We saw one, and little steph said “that's someone famous” “Who?” we said... but no one knew; the RAF troupe who passed, in perfect formation, at around the six-hour mark; Ratcatcher sailing past five minutes ahead of her eta: superb.

What would you do differently? I think Fraggle's idea of giving the support teams numbers is a winner, and I hope we managed to greet more of our runners than ever before. I'd love to know what the runners think. The only down side is that I saw less of fellow supporters, as I think we all stuck loyally to our support pitches and there was much less wandering around.

And indeed what was the key to your success? - planning, planning and planning, and the extraordinary generosity of the entire support team.

Berry

I'm a Londoner born and bred, so it is with shame I admit this is the first year I've been to view the FLM in person. Many thanks to Meerkat and the URWFRC for organising us at Mile 17! It was great to meet so many other Runner's World forumites, both trotting past (pausing only for a chat and a handful of jelly babies), and lending voice to the cheering.

I spent a joyous race handing out baggies of jelly babies and various chocolate goodies to grateful hungry runners. It was all I could do not extend my cry to "Jelly Babies. Mars Bars. Wine Gums. Jaffa Cakes. Larks' tongues. Badgers' noses. Ocelot spleens..."

I'm no athletics journalist, but I can report on the trend in marathoning wildlife. I am sorry to report the Womble population is on the decline, with only two making an appearance. Maybe the WWF should be notified and capture a breeding pair at the finish line. And although rhinos may be increasingly rare in the wild, they are thriving on the marathon course, with over half a dozen spotted. (Though they were all male, which doesn't bode well for the next generation.)

Pantomime quadrupeds could have held their own race, but I think the camel had the edge, possibly due to the unexpectedly sunny weather providing ideal desert conditions. Scooby Doos are on the up, though only one Shaggy made an appearance, so provision of Scooby Snacks may prove a nutritional black hole. Superheroes are still big. Neither new- or old-style Batman managed to catch up with Superman, and Robin was way behind. Neither Wonder Woman was female. And it was great to see Mr Incredible staking a claim for the next generation of heroes.

And gents, please, do not underestimate the power of jogger's nipple. I'd never seen it in extremis before, always assuming it was a mere mild chafing. But having seen a couple of fellas looking like they took two bullet wounds to the chest, do NOT forget your plasters or Vaseline in future!

Wolfy

Wolfy (right) and H

What a great day we had whilst supporting at FLM! H. and I dragged ourselves out of our beds at 5am and drove down to London from an icy Manchester. We met up with the URWFRC crew at mile 17 and spent the following four hours cheering and clapping all the very warm runners. We gave out hundreds of jelly babies and managed to spot/speak to the majority of the forum people.

I was on team six, for my sins, and was joined by RichK, Tigerunner, Gavo and friend and we had a super time. I must admit I saw a very different side to FLM being a supporter as opposed to a runner and realised how so many people really do need the support of the crew which made the early morning get up and drive down worth every minute! Seeing Sean in his tight cycling shorts wasn't a bad Brucey bonus either ;-) [Ed: blushes]

AJH

AJH (left) and Mr AJH

Last year as I ran past the RW team at mile 18 I decided that that was where I would be in 2005.

At 6.30am I was on a coach carrying water station staff to the mile-4 station where I spent the next few hours opening bottles and then got just the best view (and a really cool photo!) of the elites and the wheelchair racers. Then the hard work started as the masses started pouring through, but it was great fun and people at this point were really enjoying themselves.

Then a quick DLR ride to Mudchute to join the other team 8 supporters, where it was great to cheer on not only the runners allocated to team 8 but all forumites running. Some were having a hard time of it but it seemed that all really appreciated the support there and had been looking forward to it. A feeling I remember from 2004.

All in all a fabulous day and hopefully I will be being supported next year!

Heebiejeebie

Heebiejeebie(right) and Josie Jump

Until this year I had only ever watched FLM highlights on TV. This was the first year I had the opportunity actually to be there and experience the atmosphere of the event.

As we waited for the lead lady to arrive there was a real atmosphere of anticipation and necks craned round every time a policeman on a bicycle came past or - even better - marshals on a motorbike. There were almost constant comments of "where's Paula?" and "is she almost here?" At last Paula Radcliffe came zooming past making it look easy. If we'd had a roof we'd have raised it with the racket we made cheering.

Our job really started when the main bunch of runners arrived. The runners aiming for fast times were really focussed on their race and ran on. Others coming later had a mixed reaction to us; most gave us a smile or a wave when we cheered them on, a few looked startled that complete strangers would give support! Some were really grateful for the jelly babies and jaffa cakes five or six hours after the start.

The biggest surprise to me was my own shift in attitude towards the FLM. Runners and walkers were getting to mile 17 late in the afternoon and still had a long way to go. Some were struggling and, had I not been by the roadside throughout, I would have wondered why they didn't drop out. Now I know! They made a tremendous effort on the day and have my respect for getting so far. Well done all!

Ashley Smith

Ashley and his son Christopher - probably the forum's youngest contributor

Back in 2002 a group of people got together in a pub and discussed the success of running the marathon that year. After a few pints they also agreed that it would be great to form an unofficial club - the URWFRC. Kit was selected, and a website created.

For 2003 one of the originators, Josie Bop, came up with the idea of a supporters’ group but due to work commitments was unable to follow it through. I took over so started the first supporters’ group.

We learnt a lot of lessons from 2003, and in 2004 Ultra Meerkat took over the mantle, doing a first-class job. But for 2005 she surpassed herself with the help of all the supporters and organised 10 teams of supporters, each with their own group of runners. I was assigned TEAM 10.

Within TEAM 10 we collated photos of our team and I produced some A3 posters with each member’s photo and forum picture plus their forum name and race number.

A huge thank you goes to my long-suffering marathon widow wife Jan. As in 2003, Jan again took up the job of dividing all the sweets I had bought and placing a small quantity into each bag, making 150 of them in total.

Christopher and I arrived at Mudchute station at 10am, said a quick hi to Ultra Meerkat and then headed to the end of the line of barriers so that we could set up Team 10's cheering point.

It was fantastic to see H. and Wolfy, having corresponded with them both in the past on the forums, and also to see Gavo, JJ and Jon, whom I haven't seen in a year.

Once we had put up our signs, along came the wheelchair athletes closely followed by Paula. Having watched her at Athens last year one of the high points of the day had to be seeing her go at such an amazing pace and being so far ahead of the rest that we started to wonder if the others had taken the old marathon route!

Fortunately all our team completed the course, some in better times than expected, some on target and some a long way off. But they all finished it, and it’s the finishing and getting the coveted medal and T-shirt, along with the satisfaction that you have achieved (and raised lots of money for those in a far worse position than yourselves), that makes the whole day worth every last step.

For me, the high point of the day is having the knowledge that I have put something back in a small way.

I have to say a huge thanks to Ultra Meerkat for all her hard work... I know from experience that to make the day work you have to be prepared to invest at least an hour a day every day for months before the event.

Also I have to say a MASSIVE thank you to the wonderful people I have corresponded with on the forums in TEAM 10. After last year I was so despondent with my time that I had all but given up with running and was finding it a real effort to get back into training. However it was with their help and enthusiasm that I am pleased to say that I'm back in training... so for 2006, who knows? I will be back at Mudchute the only question remains: which side of the fence?

Lady Lucan

Lady Lucan (centre)

I was a bit concerned that I might have to apologise to the nation when I walked out of a portaloo at mile 17 and nearly knocked the BBC motorbike cameraman off his bike. He was filming the leading men at the time. I was certain that the eyes of the nation would be upon me.

Fortunately (for me), they were firmly focused on Paula who was having toilet troubles of her own further up the course. :-)

All the Lucans had a fantastic day - plenty of sunshine and jelly babies!

RichK

FLM was a two-day event for me, and having spent most of Saturday at the Expo meeting as many friends as possible, keeping a special look-out for the runners who were allocated to Team 6, I was worn out before the big day. I slept very badly that night and woke up feeling sick. I'm never this anxious before a race that I'm taking part in.

So many doubts . . what if somebody else pinched our spot at Mudchute? What if I forgot one of the drinks some of the runners had asked me to have ready for them? What if I missed one of the runners and they didn't perform as well as they hoped because of it? What if I missed the train? What if the number 6 sign I'd planned (which needed putting together at Mudchute) didn't work and nobody could find us? What if . . . what if . . ?

Well, I've never been half an hour early for a train before, but I was on Sunday. Two stops down the line, Meldy got on and I started to relax. We made it to Mudchute and I needn't have worried: the place was our thanks to the early birds.

It was great fun getting everything set up, saying hi to everyone, greeting old friends and meeting new ones. The forum is just such a wonderful bunch of people of all ages and backgrounds who all seem to be there for one another. It seemed that the weather forecast was wrong - it was a lovely day for spectating, but I bet it made it tough to run.

Pretty soon, Paula whizzed past and slowly the road began to fill up with runners. The first three forumites that I identified were first LinC, and then the wonderful sight of Hilly and Ratcatcher running side by side with the biggest smiles on their faces.

The clock ticked on and soon it was time to get stuff ready for "our" runners. By this time, the road was just a river of lycra as hundreds and hundreds of runners flowed by in a seemingly endless wave.

Gradually our runners came by . . some not even breaking stride as they kept up with their demanding schedule but still able to smile and wave as we cheered them on. Some stopped for a moment or two and took whatever it was they'd asked us for.

Trinity almost went past us but I just called out her name in time . . this was critical as she planned to leave an empty bottle with us and continue with a full one.

Slowlegs surprised us all by approaching us from behind . . having run past us, she than worked her way back up the rear of the supporting groups until she located us.

Essex stopped and had a little natter . . she was about 5 minutes early and had a big smile on her face.

DawnM had pain written all over her face but in seconds it was transformed into a big smile as she saw us . . big hugs from Tigerrunner, me and Legless and she went off with her Ribena and jelly babies and her resolve renewed . .

So many names, so many different reactions and yet all with one ambition . . to conquer the heat, the distance, the crowd, the anguish and their bodies.

It was great to see them all and a privilege to be a small part of their big day. I found it tough watching and wanted to run alongside everybody for a mile or so. Just to spur them on, to give their mind something else to think about apart from "why is my body doing this to me?"

And then suddenly the wave of runners became a trickle and next thing they'd almost all gone. And the supporters had drifted off too . . either to go home or to get to the finish area and meet friends or family who had run. And so it was time to take the balloons and the signs down and tidy up a bit . . and get to the Thistle for some welcome refreshment.

In a few words . . anxiety . . wonderful friendship . . lots of lovely hugs from lots of lovely ladies . . and a real sense of having helped others (some who I've known for more years than I care to acknowledge, and others who I'd never heard of until a few days beforehand) achieve something that mattered. You were all fantastic. Thank you for letting me be part of it.

Stiffler's mother

Tracy Stiff, supporter and proud mum of Stifler (18yrs)- 4.09.40, cried when he ran by at 25 miles!!

Back to main stories index Supporters, page 1 2

Previous article
My 2005 London Marathon
Next article
My 2005 London Marathon

 
TwitterStumbleUponFacebookDiggRedditGoogle


Discuss this article

We'd love you to add a comment! Please login or take half a minute to register as a free member

Smart Coach
Free, fully-personalized training plans, designed to suit your racing goals and your lifestyle.