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.
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!)
Lucas coming through mile 25 on the Embankment
With Sue Brisco
Below - Lucas with
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.