After four consecutive years running (or walking a lot in 2014!) the London Marathon, it was back to the roadside as a spectator for this year at least.  This was therefore the first time I ever went into either watch or run with a hangover!  (I blame my mate James!).  With just over 4 hours sleep, I was up and headed to the halfway point on the Highway just after the runners have crossed Tower Bridge.  Here you also see the runners on the return just before mile 22 and as I exited the tube station and headed to the roadside, the elite women went through on their way towards the final 4 miles.




London Marathon 2015
I had never spectated at this point before, so first priority was find a toilet and then a cup of tea - which the nearby church were selling in aid of a local hospice.  Having dealt with the essentials I located Sue Brisco, whose husband, Dougie, was running (his first marathon as a 60 something) and three of her friends.  Having said our hello's and cheered through a few more elite women and the last few wheelchair and para athletes, I headed down the road half a mile past the 22 mile marker to say hello to the contingent of supporters I knew who'd travelled down on the City of Hull coach - including several from my club (Beverley AC) to support not just our own club runners, but everyone else. Having had a brief chat to Paul, Jacqui, Andy, Denise and Dianne, I jogged back part the way to Sue as I expected that my sporting hero would appear any moment.  Sure enough, I'd only just got back and Paula Radcliffe headed past the halfway point.  Being able to watch Paula do her last competitive marathon race was an honour and made not running much more bearable. (Much to many readers amazement, I have withdrawal symptoms of running the 26.2 miles around London when I watch it!).  

There were still a few elite women and para athletes trickling through on their way towards 22 miles, but the numbers coming through halfway steadily increased as we started to play spot the people we knew.  I had over 15 people to look out for that I knew running it as well as Paula Radcliffe, Jenson Button and Rob Andrews - who was running his 370th consecutive marathon in as many days.  More about him later!  I had forgotten how hard it can be to spot people you know, but we knew Sue's husband, Dougie, was due soon as their daughter was tracking him online and watching the TV coverage and texting updates on his progress to Sue.  The wonders of modern technology!  We also knew Jenson Button wasn't far in front of him!  Soon enough Dougie appeared and we cheered loudly - but hadn't seen Jenson!  No matter - we'd see him on the return I'm sure!  (and I wanted to see Jenson Button as he's from my home town of Frome).
I headed down the Highway and passed the group from the train journey down (I was walking at that point!) and also a group from home who were down cheering on runners from a number of clubs in Kingston upon Hull and Beverley - not sure they saw me either!.  Julie and Jackie passed me as we headed round St Katherine's Docks into the Isle of Dogs - and despite Julie trying to keep me with her it wasn't happening.  I also had another club member, Andy Grainger, pass me - apparently I appeared very fed up when we spoke! A runner then tried to head round with me from mile 16 - aiming for 4 hours on his maiden marathon.  If only I had managed to keep his enthusiasm! Half a mile later we drifted apart.  Chris Dunn - another of the Beverley AC runners headed past me at mile 17ish - he had a Hull City cape being a massive fan of the club who would then go on to make their first ever FA Cup Final that afternoon with a 5-3 victory over Sheffield Utd.  On fact, a number of the fans were in the crowd with their flags.  (and a few Norwich fans too!)

Home

Lucas coming through mile 25 on the Embankment

As I hit the Canary Wharf section I headed for the first aid van as my shoulder was battering. (My legs were fine - the bio freeze was working wonders on my hamstring and glut!).  St John's had no pain killers etc but a lad, Liam, who was waiting for his mate, Alex, who was being treated, had some with him and kindly offered me some.  I bumped into Liam at the finish area and discovered that his friend had been unable to complete the course and he had been advised to head on. They were raising money for Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign and have raised over £2,300 to date - feel free to donate at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LiamEmbliss http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/AlexRidgwayRunsLondonMarathon


As I snaked around Canary Wharf I finally spotted Sandra and Aunt Val at the 30km point - and the crowds in the area did give me a bit of a lift. I headed on through 20 miles and even picked pace up for a mile when I ran it in under 10 minutes (only mile after half way run in sub 10 mins!).  With 10Km to go, I jostled with Captain America for sometime as we both ran/walked but opposite each other (I finally got the upper hand!) and at one point had a group chanting my name (Lucas not Woody!) as I was walking - and when I zoned in to it and started to run got a massive cheer.  I may have felt drained and hot but the crowds do not fail to get you round London - I am sure they were the biggest I have seen yet.  26.2 miles of cheering is a phenomenal experience - and why I will always enjoy London however rubbish my run is going.  They remind you of the thousands of inspirational journeys the other runners have and why we are there - to support so many worthy causes.


Left- Para classified runners in the IPC World Championships come through - a runner with their guide.

Right - A whelchair racer goes through

With Sue Brisco
Below - Lucas with

As I headed along the final few miles onto the Embankment I spotted another Beverley runner - Paul Evans - before seeing Sandra and Aunt Val once more at mile 25.  The crowd continued to cheer - I was called Luca as much if not more than Lucas on the day as my S was obscured by my waist coat! I also had considered losing much of my gear that was making me so hot as the record was off the cards - but I figured the response from the crowds - the high fiving a cowboy - was reason enough to do the distance in the full gear.  As I headed down Bird Cage Walk I had my own moment of glory for 10-15 seconds as they changed the route where they have crossings so I was momentarily the first runner on my side.  I waved my arms up to acknowledge everyone and got a massive cheer - which was brilliant.  I somehow sprinted up The Mall - nothing to gain other than the relief of crossing the line and concluded marathon 34.  The news later that evening reminded me how vulnerable we are on the course when I heard of the sad news of a runners death after finishing the race.  


Julie found me at the finish - she was waiting her husband, Stuart, who was running his first ever marathon.  We chatted and hugged and saw Steve Hadley and Paul from the club.  According to my Garmin I had run 26.72 miles - half a mile too much !In bright sunshine, it had been an amazing day again.  As I battled through the crowds to meet Sandra and Aunt Val in Horse Guards parade I reflected on how the day is always such a positive in the British calendar.  To see police officers on duty cheering you, having unknown people chanting your name, kids high fiving you as you remind them of a favourite animated character and the noise is phenomenal.  My time of 4:40:50 - my slowest London course and second slowest marathon to date, didn't matter. I had shared the experience with thousands more once again and somewhere it felt different again.


Finally with my finishers medal and with Julie in the finish area

My day ended with the train home - still adorning my medal.  A fellow runner was sat opposite me having completed his first ever Marathon and his fiancée having managed the challenge of getting round London alone.  Matt had run for Action for Children - (formally NCH) - a charity I ran for in 2004 and 2006 and still support personally.  He too had not faired so well 16 miles onwards but was inspired by the crowds and has raised over £800 when going to print

With Sandra and Aunt Val after the run

Epilogue

On the Thursday I managed to find out who the other cowboy was.  A chap called Rik Vercoe had broken the cowboy record  - with a time of 3:09:09.  The good news is I hadn't therefore bust a gut to find I had still not got the record!  He has also run over 100 marathons so makes me look an amateur!    Congratulations to Rik.  I will not be attempting to beat him as I can't run that fast in shorts and t-shirt


(http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/mthomas86).  It made the journey home conclude the day on a positive - as well as the numerous messages from friends and family when I posted on Facebook and Twitter.  Bring on 2015!



A few from the other side of the barrier!


Armed to cheer as well as promote the Hull Marathon

There on in it was a matter of shouting out names as people headed through and yelling as loudly as I could across the Highway when I did spot someone I knew.  Even spotting my own club mates was hard as not all of them had a Beverley AC vest on.  I managed to spot an East Hull Harriers runner who was attempting the world record as a cowboy (now where have I heard of someone doing that before -see 2012 and 2014's reports!) and Darren, Laura, Sam, Jackie and Joerge (all Beverley runners) at the halfway point.  Some heard me shouting their names as loud as I was able, others were oblivious due to all the other shouting.  Having run through the section myself numerous times oblivious  to friends shouting at me, I can understand why they didn't hear.  Around the 2 hours point Debs Brant appeared - though looked to be struggling a little and I discovered afterwards that she'd had a fall in the morning and discovered she'd a broken toe the day after the marathon.

The runners were still going through the halfway point as the elite men came through on the return, with Paula Radcliffe not too far behind and getting a huge cheer as she passed by, surrounded by a number of elite club runners who most probably found it surreal to be running with such a legend.  I spotted another Beverley runner next - Aubrey, before Dougie appeared still on target to break 3 hours.  Somehow I missed Jenson Button again!  Then I spotted Rob Andrews - aka Marathonman and considering it was the 370th marathon in as many days, he was well on target for around 3:15! He was wearing the kilt that has become part of his trademark it seems.  I have instantly decided the guy is a legend and inspiration.  He watched the London Marathon in 2014 and was himself inspired to run a marathon.  He was previously an athlete so had a good level of fitness but proceeded to run his first marathon the day after the 2014 marathon.  He then ran one every day since and broke the world record when he passed number 367.  I have never (yet) run two marathons over consecutive days (7 days is the smallest gap for me) and was chuffed to have seen him, albeit briefly.


Left - Paula Radcliffe comes through nearing 22 miles (picture thanks to