Without doubt the London Marathon is the best race I’ve run. The atmosphere is amazing. At other races the crowds cheer, but in London they roar. It’s the closest I've felt to being a proper sportsman. Why the crowds come out year after year I don’t know, but I’m very happy that they do.
You know best-laid plans? The videos I allegedly took while running? No sign of them on my camera now I’ve come to download them. I’m gutted. So, I’ll have to do my best to put it into words instead (won’t be a patch I’m afraid).
After the worry of the week - with weather forecasts predicting full sun and temperatures of 21 degrees - Sunday morning was cloudy and quite cool. It was forecast to get hot later on though. I got up at 6am, went downstairs for three slices of white toast and was out the door at 7.10am with Liz, Mum and Carol and Dave (Liz’s Mum and Dad) in two. The tube and DLR were heaving - I couldn’t believe it at that time on a Sunday morning. Talk about breathe in and push on.
Then I went into the assembly area and start pen. Even this was brilliantly organised - I honestly can’t fault it. At about 9.40am we all started shuffling forwards, round the corner then there was the start line! We were off. I crossed the line around 9.47am, hardly delayed much at all.
That is where it all gets a bit woolly. I just have snapshots in my head (many more early on that later on I may add) of:
- A pub with at least 40 people stood outside dressed as pirates.
- The Blues Brothers singing to us as we ran past another pub (I had a great video of that too)
- The Red and Blue Starts merging and everyone booing each other.
Greenwich and Cutty Sark was where the first huge crowds kicked in. The roar was incredible. Even now I get shivers down my spine thinking about it. I was feeling good, was keeping a good pace and it was a pleasure to be there. I even waved at the cameras.
Then we were off towards Tower Bridge. There was a point where the crowds were so deep they were spilling onto the road, narrowing the runner’s paths. Incredible. So many people were shouting my name (on my vest) I couldn’t wave to them all sadly.
The drinks stations marshals were superb. They’d gee you up as you took the bottle - "Come on Jay", "You’re doing great", "Keep it up" - great people.
We were running down a road with high buildings, there was sharp right at the end. I suddenly realised this was Tower Bridge. Halfway. I got a great video crossing Tower Bridge and then there’s a section where the runners ahead are coming back on the opposite side. Thankfully only the elites were there at this point. On we went.
I was expecting Canary Wharf at Mile 18 but it seemed to start much sooner – probably my poor geography. Still we charged on. It was starting to hurt a bit by now but I easily had 90 minutes left as I was only just past halfway. I heard someone holler "Jay" - I had already passed them but it turned out that it was Ian (my brother). Everyone had been there watching and managed to spot me.
As I left Canary Wharf at about Mile 20, I was really feeling it. That's where things start to get a bit patchy. I remember quite a few walkers but thinking "No, this is meant to be hard, a marathon’s as much in your head as in your legs" so on I pushed.
I remember passing the Tower of London and again there were massive crowds. Running through the City the crowds continued. I was struggling now but knew it was only three miles to the finish.
The best part of the race must be the last three miles – Victoria Embankment, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace. I remember very little. I focused on doing the next 500m, the next 500m, the next 500m. Everything was screaming at me to "take a little walk, it’ll be OK" but no, I knew I had to push on. I could not have looked myself in the mirror ever again if I’d walked even for a minute.
Onto Birdcage Walk - I never knew it was so long. The highlight surely would be turning at Buckingham Palace to run down The Mall? All I remember thinking was "I hope we’re going the short way round that roundabout."
I don’t even remember crossing the line. I remember slowing down then literally staggering sideways. I have no idea why, I’ve never done that before. At some point my medal was placed round my neck (great touch), my timing chip was cut off then I had my photo taken. I managed a pose! I don’t know how, I was desperate for a drink and was struggling to walk in a straight line. I picked up my goody bag and found a drink at last! I sat on the edge of The Mall completely empty, drinking my drink and contemplating what I’d just achieved.
I sat down for ten minutes or so then made the walk (shuffle) to the reunion area where everyone was waiting. I was completely empty, emotional and needed another sit down. A hug from Ian, a hug for Liz and my Mum, then a sit on the kerb. It was the best seat I’ve ever had.
Liz and my Mum were there, Ian, Jess, Al and Kath were there (brother, sister and partners) and Liz’s Mum and Dad. It was great. My Uncle Peter and Aunt Rosemary had come in from the suburbs to see us too, as had Helen (my cousin) and her fiance Ricky. It was a lovely ending to the race. We all sat in St. James' Park and chatted. I got the worst cramp of my life, first in my right calf then my left, which made me look a bit of a wimp as I winced and yelped.
That was my Virgin London Marathon 2010. We all had a great weekend. We’ve raised a lot of money for Myeloma UK which is what we set out to do and I beat my target time – I was aiming for 3:45, I finished in 3:42.42.