The London Marathon is back to it’s regular April date where is should be, and this year 47,000 runners took to the streets in what is arguably the best marathon in the world.
Last weeks Boston marathon has a different level of competitor, as the field is much more focussed on those that can achieve a ‘BQ’ (the sought after Boston qualifying time). London brings something very different, so many special stories, it really is humanity at it’s finest, a very British marathon.
Just watching the build up to today’s race, it doesn’t take long for some of those special stories to emerge. We heard from Muslim’s who have had to marathon train through Ramadan (no food or drink during daylight), a cancer survivor running the marathon with a stoma called Audrey (the stoma that is), a 90 year old that ran the first London marathon and a young lady running on her 18th birthday (you have to be 18 to run a marathon).
So many special stories, so many running for charity, in memory of loved ones and all coming to the end of their own training story.
The IWRRs had 6 stories ready to unfold, as Abbie (Ballot) and Bridget Keyte (Club), Lucy Deville (GFA), Sarah Sharp (Ballot), Steve Hickman (Ballot) and Guy Mattinson (GFA) all got ready to take on their big day.
The runners set off from 3 different starts around Greenwich, Red, Blue and Green. The courses are then all broken in to a lot of start waves depending on estimated times. The waves have got smaller over the years (especially since covid), and more spread out it seems. Todays start would see Guy out on the course starting his race at 10:06, just a few minutes after the elite runners. Lucy’s run would not officially start until 11:25am, an incredible 85 minutes after the elite men set off.
Guy Mattinson did not mess around and got into his running quickly, passing 5k in just 22:03, before any other Road Runner had even started! He didn’t really let up and ploughed through the course. Guy posted a superb finishing time of 3:18:14. “I am thrilled with that. There was such a great atmosphere in London today. I always seem to forget how painful these marathons are!” commented Guy post race.
The marathon is a tricky distance and many will tell you, you need to be at the top of your game and you need everything to go right. The smallest issue can be a big deal on marathon day. Imagine turning up to the biggest run in the calendar year with a niggle, imagine turning up suffering from a double hernia that has stopped you training!
Marathon supremo Steve Hickman did exactly that. Having had a couple of other recent marathons where he’d really struggled, the signs were not good for Steve. But when you have 176 marathon finishes in the bank, that experience stands you in good stead. Steve found it much harder going after 17 miles today, but was really happy with his result, he thought he would be around the 5:30 mark, but came home in 4:50:43 for marathon #177.
The next amazing story stars the irrepressible Lucy Deville. Lucy had claimed her London place by running a Good For Age qualifying time in the Vet 70 category. Lucy set off at a great pace, and managed to hold it together to post an impressive 5:25:44. When chatting afterwards Lucy said she found the course very busy and had to do lots of weaving around people, and wished she had done more tarmac training to prepare for the roads of London. Lucy sent this brilliant picture and quipped “Here’s a photo to show what a knackered 70 year old looks like after 26 miles!”. We all think you are amazing Lucy, and I’m sure we all hope we can be looking that good at 70, and I’m sure we can only dream of being able to knock out the miles like you are!
Sarah Sharp‘s London Marathon story has been a marathon in itself. Sharpies marathon PB was set in 2016 at Brighton, and since then she has had an on off journey to beat this time. Having trained hard for other marathons, only to get injured on the run in. Sarah’s ballot place for this run was awarded for the 2020 marathon before covid was a thing, so it’s been a long wait for today. After a really solid injury free training block this year, she finally got to the start line, and then made it to the finish line in 4:46:34, and yes that was a shiny new Personal Best.
If you think Sharpie had a long wait to tackle her London Marathon, Bridget Keyte can call it and raise it. This was Bridget’s 8th time qualifying for the club ballot, that’s 8 times being turned down in the public ballot, running the qualifying runs, and coming to Christmas parties to see other members drawn from the hat or winning musical chairs to get their golden ticket to London. This was Bridget’s time, and she was a very popular recipient of the club place. She did us proud with a very solid run, posting a time of 5:27:20.
Story number 6 means that all six of our brilliant runners finished the marathon safely and happy with their performances. With this one we have maybe saved the star of the day to last.
Making it a family affair, young Abigail Keyte also had a place today, and the only way to described her performance is to say that she absolutely smashed it out the park! Abbie had run four marathons before today, usually with the company of dad Tim, the pacing maestro. Today though was to be a solo mission. Abbie showed that she had remembered all those well paced runs with Tim though, and paced this one to perfection. The signs were there when she posted exactly the same time for the first two 5k splits, and the pace barely dropped from there. Chatting afterwards Abbie said she absolutely loved it and smiled the whole way round. Smiling must be the way forward, as Abbie posted an awesome 3:54:51, her first Sub 4 marathon. Congratulations Abbie!
Finally, a funny story. Friends Bridget and Sharpie both stated afterwards that “They were done, no more marathons!”. Nice one girls, but that’s a story we have all heard before, we will see you next time!
Today’s results (PB indicates a marathon distance PB):