Thursday, 27 April 2017

THE LONDON MARATHON - APRIL 23 2017

What a day! What a life! What a time!

Three and a half minutes faster than the time I recorded in my first marathon - London 2012.

05:37:29 in London in 2017.

05:40:55 in London in 2012.

05:42:10 in Edinburgh in 2014.

Yes, it would have been marvellous if  I could have maintained continuous running beyond the half marathon point - rather than switch to speed walking and running. I had after all run continuously for at least 17 miles in training. But when from 8 miles you are increasingly surrounded by walking runners, it becomes harder and harder to resist the switch. And my second half marathon was not much slower than my first - just under 3 hours compared with  2 hours 38 minutes. My dad used to take me walking when I was knee high to a grasshopper and I learned to be a fast walker from that very young age in order to keep up. I once had to kick my dad's ankles hard when he had over-walked me. Sometimes you can't just find the words!

Joy in the Meet and Greet to the south-west of Admiralty Arch

I remember posting after the Oxford half marathon in October last year and remarking on how inspiring it is to experience a city being closed down and refocused on one sporting event in the name of charity and community. It was extraordinary in Oxford - imagine how awesome it is when the city in which you find yourself is one of  the greatest capitals on our planet.

London - April 23, 2017 - what a privilege to be in that place at that time. And to be one of  the



40,000 runners! The stats keep on amazing - 750,000 spectators lining the 26 mile route - £30 million raised for charity, the latest guesstimate. And I finished 196/264 in my male, 65-69 age category! Rock on when I've turned 70 and run in the London marathon in 2019 for the Salvation Army again, if they will  have  me!

The Sally Army have been marvellous in their back-up and support for my efforts. Here in St Ives I spent a lovely and inspiring hour over tea with Captains Mark and Ellie Read. The Facebook community of marathon runners brought together by Charlotte Sally Army was such a motivational force for me. My longer and longer Sunday morning  runs were sustained by the knowledge that that same afternoon I would be posting about the run on the Sally Army Facebook page. I couldn't stop continuous running otherwise I would have to acknowledge the fact on the page! The Army provides great discipline ...

The view from our window in the Citizen M hotel - I  ran over Tower Bridge towards the end of the first half of the race and from left to right across the picture six miles or so from the finish, thinking 'That's my hotel up there' and 'That's the Tower over  there'! 


Everything went so well on the day. All the planning worked out, at least as far as getting me to the starting line and over the finish. The one hiccup was beyond  our control. When I got to the Meet and Greet area for those with surnames from A-F, after being processed through the medal award, finisher's photo, and collection of baggage kit and goodie bag, Louise and family were not to  be seen. They had got caught up in the spectators' scrum on the underground system and were running late, so to speak. But that made the joy of eventually meeting even more powerful as you can see in the photo above. It was lovely too to be greeted in the Sally Army Meet and Greet area and receive their congratulations and another goodie bag!  

One moment when I realised I hadn't got the organisation absolutely right came when I was waiting in meditational mode in Greenwich Park in the Red Start zone. Cross-legged on the grass, in an attempt at deep relaxation, I began to notice that all the charity runners around me had safety-clipped their running numbers to their fronts lower than I had, to leave their charity's name visible. Safety-clipping running numbers to  running vests is a hassle at the best of times. I just couldn't face doing it all again as the clock ticked on towards 10am and the official start. Besides, the name Salvation Army was emblazoned on the back of my top.

I did not need to be concerned. Along with the countless cries of 'Come on, Rob', I heard a good number of  'You're moving well, Rev' - and  even the occasional 'Pray for us, Rob'. Whenever, in the second half of the race, I responded to the crowds at their most dense and noisiest and broke into spirited running mode for as long as I could, I sensed the cheers were not just for the white-haired oldie showing some zip but also for the good cause in whose colours he was running. The Salvation Army is a National Treasure.


Joy in the Mall in 2012 - my first marathon. Wait till you see the joy in the photos from 2017!


And that brings me neatly to the matter of sponsorship. My webpage on Virgin Money Giving now records that I have raised £2,425.00 (before the gift aid is added). I still have to match the last two sponsorships which once done will raise  the total to £2,540.00. In addition, I have collected locally in the last couple of days another £130 or so - which after my matched donations means the grand total is around £2,800.00 (before gift aid). It would be marvellous to exceed my target of  £3,000 - if you can donate any sum online or send to me by post, it would be gratefully received on behalf of the Salvation Army and their drug rehabilitation unit at Gloucester House near Swindon. Here's the link.  

Tomorrow, I will post my next long-overdue Jago Stone post. It will be as interesting as I  hope you have found this ...            
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