Ian Macklin runs London
I have always said “If I ever run a marathon it will be London”. So I applied for the 2017 event and like most people didn’t get a place, but then was lucky enough to receive the MDC club place. 12 weeks before the event I started my Strava created training schedule, which had me running up to 40 miles a week. I decided that fell running had too high a chance of injury so it was tarmac running for me for 3 months. I took the opportunity to expand my running map, running on the flat lands on either side of the Severn Estuary, Severn Beach on a wet Sunday morning is not very exciting, the Café at Gold Cliff looks worthy of a visit. I even extended my running map to the Bristol-Bath railway, where the 1 mile of Combe Down tunnel was a good run. The geeks among us might what to use CityStrides.com to measure what percentage of a city’s streets you have run. I also did a 20 mile race, Andy Creber’s Fission 20/20 as training, which showed I couldn’t pace myself, something I tried and failed to improve on for race day.
Due to my Mum being ill I also reacquainted myself with the roads of Derby, running from the station to her house and retracing the streets of my youth, finding places are closer together than I remember and the hills not as steep as the young me thought.
My final week ahead of the race was not ideal, with my Mum passing away on the Monday before the race, for the next few days I wasn’t sure if I was running or not, but come Saturday morning I was at the Expo collecting my number (a very quick and smooth process) and resting up with a matinee theatre trip ahead of the race on Sunday. Got to Blackheath with time to spare, despite a body on the line delaying my train, most strangely I ran into someone (in the urinals) I was at school with and hadn’t seen for 30 years, but who had spotted me in Derby at a Parkrun and who was running in almost identical family circumstances to me.
With a club place I was at the blue start and crossed the line less than 3 minutes after the race started, the Royals were at my start but I honestly can’t say I saw them. The start was slow and you have to keep your eyes open for all the runners around you. The next 20 miles passed in some sort of trance. Following a recommendation on the internet I got my MDC vest printed with my name, that means you get lots of people calling to you by name, which is good for morale, the downside being when your actual friends you don’t notice. My wife saw me 4 times, I didn’t spot her once, who I did see was a friend from school who I am still in contact with on Strava, who called out my surname, with only two Macklins in the field I was confident that was for me, looked up and saw him. Another high was being passed by Katie Roby, a fellow MDCer, who said hi, people talk about the people they meet on the marathon, not sure that happens as much in the 3:30 runners who are too busy trying to breath to talk.
The crowds are huge, literally the whole race route is lined with people and in places the cheers are really loud, the only race I have done with a better crowd is the Chevin Chase in Yorkshire where the trail cols are packed Tour de France like. The only crowd free spot is the tunnel under part of Canary Wharf and hence is full of vomiting, peeing, collapsed runners who want to do the above out of the sight of the spectators.
The first half of the route isn’t very exciting though the turn onto Tower Bridge brought a tear to the eye. I hadn’t been to Canary Wharf before, it certainly was impressive to look at, but the skyscrapers upset my GPS watch. The last 4 or five miles are in tourist London, but I was too tired to tell, I don’t remember seeing Big Ben, but the turn into the Mall is an incredible buzz/relief. What I would change is crossing the line head held high, rather than looking down at my watch, however it did help limit the number of incredibly expensive photos by the official photographers I can choose from.
Should you run it? It is a well organised race, it is huge, you might get on
telly (I didn’t), so if you get the chance and don’t mind the tarmac take it. But for me it will be trails and fells with MDC for a while.