Andy Falconer

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London Marathon 21 April 2013

27 Apr 2013 | Leave a Comment |

What a different experience for the second of my “2 marathons in 2 weeks” challenge. London Marathon 20132 weeks ago it was a couple of hundred runners, no spectators, 1000’ of ascent and a gale force wind. For the London marathon I was one of 37,000 runners, with 700,000 spectators lining the entire route and I ended up with sun burnt shoulders!

Having run the Paris and Berlin marathons in the last 12 months I thought I knew what to expect from a big city marathon. I didn’t arrive at the Expo until 3pm on the Saturday but picked up my bib in 30 seconds! No queue. The other advantage of arriving near the close of the Expo was that many of the items were being discounted as they needed to sell them due to the marathon branding. This meant a 30% discount on an Adidas top.

I was fortunate to be staying at a friend’s flat in central London so it was a quick ride on the Underground to get to Charing Cross station where the trains took us on the 30 minute journey to Greenwich and the start area. Your bib number gets you free transport on the underground and the trains to the start. Greenwich Park is huge and the walk up the hill through the park to the start area was great – real sense of excitement. The Red Zone start is a massive flat area of grass with plenty of toilets (although there are 19,000 runners in the Red Zone start), free tea/coffee and the bag drop lorries.

There was a very humorous Geordie radio presenter who kept us amused over the PA system. The 30 second silence in remembrance of those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings the week before was very moving. Complete silence apart from birds in the trees then a huge roar from all the runners, most of whom were wearing some form of black ribbon.

What set London apart from Paris & Berlin for me was the fact that crowds lined the route for the whole 26.2 miles. Most runners had their names on their vests which invariably meant the crowd would shout encouragement using your name. There are 3 start areas and the routes converge after a few miles, with good humoured ‘boos’ from each side of the barriers!  It was easy to quickly get into a rhythm and I was able to hit my 3 hr 45 min pace targets.

Running around the Cutty Sark was very special with huge & noisy crowds, and again coming round the corner onto Tower Bridge and then running across it. At the half way point things were going well and a minute ahead of schedule. However the second half saw my legs start to feel the effects of running such a brutal marathon 2 weeks earlier. Once a PB had slipped away I stopped looking at my watch and concentrated on keeping running and taking in the sights and crowds.  Running up to Big Ben I knew I was nearly there and the crowds were so loud. The finish line and beyond was really efficiently run, with medal and goody bag being picked up quickly, and no queues to speak of for the drop bags.

The Finisher’s Bag contained a bottle of water, bottle of Lucozade Sport (yuck), an apple, 2 prunes, dried pasta sauce, a strange coloured finisher’s cotton t-shirt and some other bits and bobs.

The London Marathon certainly has a different feel to the other marathons I’ve run. This is probably due in part to the vast numbers of charity runners and their supporters. It was fun, friendly, very efficiently run and supportive crowds along the whole course. Definitely one everyone should try to do. (4 hours 16 minutes this time).