Our London Marathon entrants have kindly kept us up to date with their training logs and the highs and lows of preparations for the Big One, which takes place on Sunday, 13th April. The date has finally arrived and this month they are sharing with us the nerves and excitement of the big day.
Well didn’t they all do fantastically? Four Maldwyn Harriers members ran the 2014 London Marathon on 13th April and we are pleased to publish three of their first-hand accounts of the day together with an eye witness report from none other than the “Travelling Harrier” himself...
Sharon's diary - April
What a weekend, firstly I ended up going with my Mum as my friend was unable to go.
We travelled down on the Friday so I could register early on the Saturday. The hotel was in a great location just a short walk from Euston Station. We had an early night and I made the most of the peace and quiet by having a long soak in the bath. Saturday morning I got up early for breakfast and caught the tube to head towards the Expo to register, I met Vicky Morris and her Husband at London Bridge Underground and we continued the journey to Custom House Station straight to ExCel together getting there for 9.10am. This was an ideal time to arrive, no queues for registration. We were informed that there were still 13,000 due to register that day before closing at 5pm. After you get your details you go to another section where they scan your envelope and you are given your chip to fix to your trainer and then you may enter the Expo. When you get your number in the bottom corner it gives you a small number which represents your pen number, mine was number 9. I was worried about this as it was the last pen for fun runners and fancy dress. I checked but was unable to move further up the pens you could only move back. Vicky and I had a good look around at the stalls and listened to various speakers on stage. On leaving the expo we passed queues of people waiting to enter. Vicky and I parted to return to our accommodation. My Mum and I finished off Saturday by having a drink with my friend Belinda and her Husband who travelled down to London for the weekend to cheer me on and meet me at the end.
This was followed by another long soak in the bath.
Another early morning but this time even earlier - 5.30am! I got dressed and packed my case ready for my journey home later that day. Breakfast was at 6am and all I could stomach was a slice of toast and a banana. Nerves were starting to get the better of me. Off to the tube station at 7am, travel was free today for any runners (just show your number). I chatted to fellow runners confirming which start they were heading off to. I was in the blue section and met a group that were heading my way to Blackheath so I tagged along with them. Runners were starting to gather thick and fast easily identified by their red kit bags and the odd fancy dress, sharing the platform with a Roman Gladiator and a Womble. Getting an early train is important as going through the stations en route on an already full train you saw masses of runners trying to fit in the train only to have to wait for a later one. Once at Blackheath it was a short walk to the start. An open field with hot air balloons and blimps showed the different coloured starts. Runners everywhere you looked, rows of trucks open sided to take your red kit bag and rows of toilets and changing areas. First thing was to queue for the toilet, once out I headed to the back of the queue which was now twice the size from when I first went. I took my bag to the appropriate truck (which were numbered to correspond with your running number). Once done I headed back to the toilet queue just to make sure. Then off to pen 9 which was way at the back, when I got there I retied my laces and got a shout from a fellow runner Jane from Caersws.
The race starts at 10am so I made my way through various fancy dress outfits so I could get to the front of the pen. The start itself was a bit of a let-down, you couldn't hear anything that was going on at the front you just moved forward like cattle to the front of the next pen and so on until the start line appeared which took 14 minutes. I had devised various strategies on how I was to combat the next 26.2miles and the one I was going to go for was run 10 miles then another then finish off with just over 6. But on the day I just ran one mile at a time, unfortunately at mile 2 I needed the toilet again, typical. Back on track the miles rolled passed quickly the crowds were fantastic cheering and shouting and when you heard your name it gives you a great boost. I did have to side step quite a few runners and walkers and you have to pay attention to thrown water and Lucozade bottles, although runners throw them to one side many get kicked back under your feet. The sun was very warm and I welcomed the showers which were freezing. I passed mile 13 in 2.08. During the race you go past fast runners on your left, running in the opposite direction, who only had a few miles left, I scoured the faces just in case my fellow blogger Martin was among them so I could cheer him on but no sign but I also realised I was so busy watching them I was also slowing down so I gathered pace again. At mile 20 I felt fantastic. I also made sure I took a drink at every mile to keep me hydrated and had some Lucozade a few times too. Every camera had a wave and a smile from me but no reports of being spotted to date. At mile 26 I gathered all my strength as I wanted my sprint finish running up The Mall, I heard a shout from Belinda who was cheering me in. With a broad smile on my face I ran over the line in 4hours 26mins 54secs (although my Garmin watch showed 26.7 miles in 4.25.45).
I had my chip removed and received my medal and then moved forward for my goody bag.
Everyone is smiling and I see one or two with the St John ambulance. You then collect your kit bag and find waiting family and friends. I had pre-arranged to meet Belinda under the L section for my surname. I couldn't have been happier to see her. After a big hug, I showed off my medal and had a photo taken. Belinda knew exactly what I needed and her and her family took me to the nearest pub for a pint of lager which I must say was the best thing I could have had and enjoyed every mouthful. I didn't need to think or do anything for the next hour as Belinda, Steve and her children did it all, carried my bags and escorted me back to my hotel, via the tube. They reunited me back with my Mum. The next hour meant a quick gathering of cases, calling into a shop for snacks and drink for the train for our journey back to Newtown.
Writing this a couple of days later I am so pleased I received a place through the Harriers. I loved every minute of training and the weekend was fantastic. Everyone should experience London Marathon. Itt is for all abilities and ages, just ask the man with the fridge on his back.
Martin's diary - April
Here’s Martin Copus’ account of his epic PB run.
Here we go, it has finally arrived. It’s race day!
5.20 alarm call. I crawl off the sofa and prepare the breakfast of champions (Weetabix, toast and a banana!), check my bag to make sure I’ve got everything I need and off to the station to catch the train. Mum and Dad are already there waiting for me as we head off to London. Arriving at London Bridge I wave the cheering squad off as they head for a Wetherspoons breakfast and I stroll across to the next train to take me to the start at Blackheath. In the past I’ve taken this train a bit later in the morning and it has been absolutely wedged but no such issue today, as they say the early bird catches the worm or in this case gets a carriage pretty much to themselves.
Into the Blue Start zone where I walk past a bloke planning to sing karaoke throughout his run and I’m hoping I’m not going to be anywhere near him while he does it! After a trip to the toilet it’s time to find a bit of space and collect my thoughts. The last few weeks at work have been pretty tough as two much loved colleagues have passed away and I’ve got both of their names tied to my laces as a little tribute and something to help me along as I go. As I’ve decided against wearing an under layer I need to get some Vaseline to avoid any uncomfortable rubbing (Editorial note –“oh! too much detail”) and the St John’s boys add my race number to what I dubbed ‘The 7 P’s list’. For those of you unfamiliar with the 7 P’s, according to our distinguished Chairman, it stands for ‘P*** Poor Preparation Produces P*** Poor Performances! Hopefully my performance won’t drop into that category!
Time to drop the bag on the truck and then off to the toilet again before I finish warming up and, resplendent in my bin bag, (can Sharon add these to the Constructiv list?). I head to my start pen. After a while and another comfort break we begin to walk forward towards the start line. One final comfort break and the hooter sounds and we’re off.
I’m over the line inside a minute, start steadily before slightly increasing the pace and I’m through 5K in 22 minutes and into a nice rhythm. I didn’t really have a time in mind but the bloke with the 3.15 flag is in and around me. However, much like a Premier League linesman just because he has a flag doesn’t mean he knows what he’s doing with it as his pace yoyos all over the place and I leave him to it as I make my way to the Cutty Sark. Deafening noise around there but I still gee the crowd up to give it some more as we go past the big boat. Miles are being ticked off at between 7.15 and 7.30 as I wind my way to Tower Bridge where the crowd is at least 5 deep on both sides and I’m feeling pretty good.
Through halfway at 1:33 I’m trying not to think about PB’s and just keep telling myself to churn out the miles when see the Old Man shouting at me at Mudchute. Well into the second half of the run and I’m encountering a few people who have found ‘The Wall’ (Editorial note – “never my favourite Pink Floyd album”). I offer some encouraging words to them as I push on hoping not to hit the aforementioned scourge of distance runners everywhere. Pace is still solid as I head back down the road at 20/21 miles where you can see runners on the other side of the road at about 13/14 and I’m very thankful I’m not as far from the finish as they are.
Into the last couple of miles and the crowds are enormous and the noise in one underpass at 23/24 where a few drummers have set up is unbelievable, goosebumps time! Down the Embankment and I look at my watch, I can afford to drop down to 11 minute miles and still get a PB and all the pressure is off. That stretch of road is special on Marathon day and I would recommend anyone goes there at least once and be in the crowd if you can’t run the race. Rounding the corner at the Houses of Parliament and the job is nearly done. More fabulous noise but I ask for more and they don’t let me down. The crowd really help and I’d like to thank all of them. At this point a fellow runner turns and shakes my hand in an act of mutual respect between running folk (we’re all at least a little bit mad!)
In the home straight the emotions get the better of me and I’m welling up as I look at the names on my shoes. It all comes out as I leap across the line punching the air and let out a huge scream of joy, relief, pain and pretty much everything else. 3.08.51 on the watch. PB by well over 12 minutes, can’t be bad! Sensible pacing and avoided hitting ‘The Wall’, 10 years after my first marathon maybe I’m starting to get the hang of this running lark? Probably not!
Medal, photos and bag reclaim sorted thanks to the marvellous bunch of volunteers before it’s off to the pub to meet up with everyone and enjoy a celebratory pint, with another to follow when I see my time was two seconds quicker on the official results! Back to my base camp for a massive curry and one more celebratory pint to wash it down with!
Brilliant day, fantastic atmosphere, a new PB, Fulham had won the day before and, as he didn’t finish, I’m claiming the scalp of the great Haile Gebreselassie! All in all and despite having blister the size of a small country on my right foot, it’s safe to say I’ve had worse weekends, how long until the Chocoholics?
...here’s Vicky’s account of her London baptism.
Well the moment had arrived. We arrived in London on Friday 11th April- last stretch of the legs in Hyde park on Saturday 12th (my Birthday) and then Sharon and I went to the expo centre to register – my husband was very taken with Sophie Rayworth (BBC news reader) who was speaking about her past Marathon experiences-!!
Red zone in Greenwich Park was my starting place and what a lovely atmosphere but terrible toilet queues!!- I made pen 6 with 10 minutes to go- when they introduced Mo to the crowd- such a roar and quite emotional warm up to the start. Then we started to walk towards the start and then steady jog/ run to the start line and then we were off.
With the injury worries (Editorial note – “see Vicky’s earlier blog”) I wanted to just get going without any niggles and it went well, with all limbs, ligaments and lower back/ hip managing to stick the 26.2 without having to pull up/ out or hobble across the line. Finished in 4.24.16 which was slower than my first marathon in Manchester of 4.13.24 but what an experience!!!- bands playing every mile or so, crowds shouting you on and children with jelly babies, oranges etc - the atmosphere, the London sites, the 6 cold showers en route on a warm day were all very welcome. The family feel they have run a marathon, trying to speed on the underground to get about the course, they managed to get to various spots to shout me on, at 4-5 miles, one group at 6-7, then 19 miles and 22-23 miles and then they met me at the meet and greet spot.
The miles did seem to slip away and I missed mile 24 so spotting mile 25 was very welcome and then signs for 600 metres and then 200 was fantastic, the site of the statue outside Buckingham Palace against the blue sky and the sign of 200 meters was a very welcome site and I was quickly to the end and over that line- the volunteers putting the medal over your head and saying well done Vicky was enough to get those emotions welling again.
The training in wind and rain and cold was not the greatest training for a dry warm run- but a fantastic day, great experience and one that I will remember for a long time
Thank you to all in the club for their support and encouragement !!!
The Travelling Harrier goes to London
Our roving race reporter Chris Copus in his guise as Proud Dad as well as pundit presents his view of the day (sounds like he and Mrs C worked as hard as some of the runners making all these connections around London)
Tell you what, I like the London Marathon. I know it’s more of a charity fund raising event than the club runner’s race it once was. It still boasts a cracking atmosphere though. Rain or shine, the streets are always packed. It’s a smashing day out. If I’m not running I’ll go and watch. This year I was on spectator duty.
With family and friends in Burgess Hill (near Brighton) I tend to spend Saturday night there. The downside to this arrangement being the 06.18 from Burgess Hill to London Bridge on the Sunday morning. With Martin in action this year Mrs C decided to join me on the streets of London. I have to say that the time between Fulham beating Norwich on Match of the Day and the 5 o’clock alarm didn’t seem anything like 6 hours.
Come on, Chris, stop whinging. We arrived at London Bridge 7.15ish and already many familiar red kit bags filled the scene. I momentarily forgot my non-com status and felt the usual pre race nervousness that tends to manifest at this time. It soon passed as we saw Martin onto a Blackheath train and then headed for the tube. Jubilee line to Westminster followed by a stroll up Whitehall for breakfast at Wetherspoons was first on the agenda. Breakfast duly despatched we took a quick look at the mini marathons before heading across to Charing Cross. The regions always seem to try and send strong teams to these races. Many of the London boroughs don’t seem to select their teams entirely on athletic ability. Those walking at the back are invariably representatives of said boroughs.
The train to Maze Hill was due to arrive there at 9.20 or so. It was a surprise, therefore, to see so many stragglers on their way to the start. They’ll have done well to have got their kit onto the baggage trucks before they set off.
The early morning cloud cover had now given way to clear blue skies and gradually rising temperatures. Great for Mr and Mrs C, less so for those contemplating 26.2 miles across the capital’s streets. We made our way down to Trafalgar Road, right by the 6 mile marker, just in time to see the last of the wheelchairs pass through. Next up; the partially sighted runners and their guides. What a fantastic reception they all got. Then we had the elite women – wow they’re quick! Anticipation is now building as we await the arrival of the elite men. How would Mo fare on his marathon debut? We soon out as a bunch of 8 or 9 guys shot through. It was the sort of pace that would have me gasping for breath after about 400 metres. A couple more shoot through, then Mo. The crowd explodes. “Go Mo”, and he does. I can’t see him closing that gap, though. Too many good runners have got away.
Gradually more and more runners come through. Anything above 2.45 pace and it’s a lottery whether you’ll see your supportee or not. The man holding the 3.15 pace flag passes. “He’s too quick” I tell anyone who’s prepared to listen (probably no one). Then, out of the throng, we see Martin. He looks pretty happy with life so far. Cue frenzied parental encouragement. Martin waves in recognition of the shouts with an ambivalence that indicates he is unaware of their source. No matter. So far, so good.
How’s Mo getting on? Let’s go and find out. Back to Maze Hill station and a Greenwich train is just arriving. Splendid! Jump off at Greenwich as a city bound Docklands Light Railway train pulls in on the opposite platform. Marvellous! Isle of Dogs here we come. We bail out at Mudchute, opposite Millwall Park on the East Ferry Road. Round about 17 miles, I reckon. It’s a little bit quieter here but there is still a terrific atmosphere. The wheelchairs and the ladies have gone but everything else is still on the menu. Before we know it several support vehicles pass through, followed by some extremely swift gentlemen. The speed these guys go is absolutely amazing. Not that far behind, but far enough, comes Mo. He looks like he’s settled for what he’s got. The crowd still go absolutely mental, though. Martin has slipped a little further behind young Mr Farah. He still looks pretty comfortable (under the circumstances) as he passes. This time he does acknowledge our presence.
At this point we get a phone call from Martin’s cousin who says he’ll meet us at Embankment station. Not necessarily my first choice of venue to watch from – it’s usually very busy there. I’m not one to argue so I go along with it. It’s DLR back to Greenwich and train to Charing Cross, via a bit of shenanigans at London Bridge. It’s now 12.55 and it’s also pretty warm. I’m now less disappointed I’m not running than I was a few hours ago. We eventually find a vantage point (of sorts) by the 25 mile marker. If Martin has maintained his earlier pace he will be along any moment now. 30 minutes elapses – no sign. Many runners have gone through. Some look pretty good. Others, sadly, less so. Thankfully they all look like they’ll finish. The phone rings. It’s Martin. Actually it’s a very, very happy Martin. He’s already at the finish having romped round in 3.08. That’s a massive 13 minutes of his previous best. I said that pacemaker was too quick!
So to St. James’ for the traditional post race debriefing over a pint, or two, of Young’s Bitter in the Buckingham Arms. It’s not all good news, though. Martin has a huge blister and I have to drink out of a plastic glass!
Same again next year?
Sharon Lloyd & Martin Copus - ready for the Chocoholics race