Apologies for not getting around to this sooner…. So, last Sunday (22nd) Sharon, Orlando, Danny, Kirsty and myself headed into central London to watch the London Marathon. The Stragglers running club has a supporters spot around mile 25 and our job was to “capture the space”. We got there at about 8:45am (the women’s race didn’t start till 9am and they wouldn’t be past for a couple of hours after that) and got a prime location.
We watched the mini-marathon races that went past, and to be honest time went really quickly before the first of the elite runners past us. The women’s winner was Chunxiu Zhou of China, with a time of 2:20:38. The men followed shortly afterwards, with the eventual winner being Martin Lel of Kenya in 2:07:41.
We had a number of friends running and it was great to cheer them on as they went past - the heat (I believe it matched the record for the hottest temperature for the London Marathon) got to some people much more than others, and the pain on some peoples faces was pretty tough to see - let alone people staggering from side to side, oh, and the occasional person being sick.
I took a load of photos which can be found at davidrowe.co.uk so feel free to step over and take a look.
Now, here’s the rant….
First and foremost the London Marathon is a race, and a 26.2 mile race at that. According to the organisers (via wikipedia), it is “the largest annual fund raising event in the world”. Raising money for charity is a great thing - and I’m really pleased that the event does a lot of good for the people who need it but it is a race, and I would expect most people to run it! This does not mean talking to friends/family on mobile phones - and I saw a great deal of people doing it. Hang-on, take the event seriously - and don’t use your **ing phone all the time. Additionally, the amount of people walking was pretty shocking to see - its all in the pacing. OK, some people really did have bloody good reasons to walk, but it did seem like an awful lot of people don’t take the event as seriously as they should have. Because of the weather conditions on the day maybe I’m just not being considerate, and if that is the case then I apologise.
Many runners get into the marathon through the official ballot (as the event is heavily over-subscribed) and some through their running clubs, who give out limited club places to their runners. The majority I feel (I have no idea of the stats) get places via charities. Now, if you get a charity place (or indeed any place), then remember, a marathon is not a 10k, its not even a half marathon or 20 miles - its 26.2 miles and if you want to perform to your best then you’re going to have to put a damn good effort in and train for it. If you don’t put the effort in, then your spoiling it for someone who will make an effort and cannot (easily) get a place.
Many people start training at the start of the year, about 16 weeks before the race. This is probably fine to adjust existing training and core fitness to a marathon schedule but for a complete “I’ve never run before” newcomer, you’re asking for trouble. You may indeed get fit pretty quickly, but the body (bones) will take a lot lot longer than 16 weeks to cope with the pressures of running 30-60 miles on average a week.
Maybe me going “off on one” is because I didn’t get into it (via the ballot, or through my running club), and that’s just how things sometimes are. If I keep entering my time will come (after five official rejections its guaranteed). My other option is to step up my training and aim for a “good for age” guaranteed entry - this would mean that for London 2008 I’d have to run a 2:59:59 or better marathon this year (before October I believe). Now, seeing as though I was originally thinking of a time of 3:45 when I entered London 2007 this is quite a challenge (and I’ve not chosen to accept it - yet). I ran a “hilly” half marathon in 1:33 almost five months ago and I’m much fitter and faster than then. I’d like to run a half marathon (preferably flat) in the not too distant future - maybe in June/July - to see what I’m capable of.
I think I’m just a bit miffed as I stood there cheering people on thinking that if I’d been the other side of the fence and running it, I’d have made sure I’d have trained hard for it and given it the best I could.
Personally, I’d love to get in via the ballot of my running club and wear the club vest (Ranelagh Harriers or The Stragglers) on the day with pride. I’d happily try and raise money for charity as well, but my aim would be to run a marathon, like the 7,500 who did in its first race in 1981. Speaking of which, there’s a group of 24 people who’ve run every single London Marathon since it began. Talk about committment. Check out the Ever Present website for more information on this unique group of people.