Six months ago, Philippa Braidwood, Kerry Neale and Phil Wilson were complete beginners. On April 18, all three successfully completed the Flora London Marathon. We caught up with them, and their coach Keith Anderson, straight after the race.
“I wanted to get under five hours so I’m delighted with my time,” said Wilson, the first across the line in a superb 4:36:31. “And I beat Jeffrey Archer! It was great overtaking him.”
Understandably, Wilson, who gave up smoking, overhauled his diet and overcame a knee injury to get in shape for London, wouldn’t be drawn on his future plans straight away. “I’d like to run abroad maybe, but we’ll see.”
Before the off, Braidwood said she’d be happy as long as she didn’t come last. She didn’t, of course, and finished in 5:49:21, well inside her target of six hours. “When I came up The Mall I could hear the commentator saying, ‘31,500 have already finished’, and I thought ‘shut up!’” Braidwood, who missed two months of training because of a calf injury, has already started planning for next year’s race. “I enjoyed every minute of it and would love to do it again in a faster time. I thought it would be a struggle, but it was easier than I expected.”
Having cut down her training in the build-up to the big day – “I think I took the tapering to an extreme!” – Neale found the race tough from around 16 miles. “I ran a bit and walked a bit. I could probably have kept running but I wanted to enjoy it; there was so much going on – the bands, the RW forumites at mile 18 – and I wanted to soak up the atmosphere.” She came home in 5:27:12.
Perhaps to the relief of Anderson. “If I’d run under five hours, Keith was going to have to let me take him to aerobics. I even had a pink leotard lined up for him,” revealed Neale, who will now have to make do with running the Auckland Marathon in her native New Zealand with her coach!
And it isn’t just our intrepid trio who have benefited from the last few months. “Coaching Kerry, Philippa and Phil has been one of the best experiences of my life,” admits Anderson, who also finished the race. “To see all three go from non-runners to marathon runners has been immensely rewarding. I think they’ll all continue to run, and it’s great that they’re all already looking forward to their next challenge.”And a big thankyou to Girls Run Too for supplying our marathon beginners with their kit!