From London to New York (via a lot of Gloucester!)
After the oddity of seeing David run the London Marathon in 2003 and actually missing the experience I decided it was time for a new challenge in 2004. I'd done London so how about running the biggest Marathon in the world - New York?!
This was great - it was in the November of the year so plenty of time for training after the year off Marathon training. Alas - all the best plans etc….
….David successfully gets into the London Marathon through the ballot. At this point I'd already made enquires about a place for New York and semi committed myself to the event. It was therefore annoying that David got into London as, if I didn't run to, he'd have done more than me and that wasn't allowed - I started the Marathon running between us after all!! (Not that there's any brotherly competing here!!)
I suggested we do both London and New York to resolve the issue. David agreed - after a bit of consideration. After all - it was a better publicity angle for sponsorship - which was a challenge with a combined target of £6,000. We signed up to support NCH - Action for Children (now known as Action for Children). David had supported them in 2003 as I had done with the parachute jump in the same year. I also decided it would be good to support another charity to the first two marathons.
As ever, I acquired a haircut for the Marathon from KCK's in Gloucester (now Be hair). The London design was the NCH logo on the back of the head in white, with red hair.
Having had three dry Marathon years, it was inevitable it would rain sooner or later, being London's always in April. However, I don't think we anticipated a downpour! The one saving grace was it didn't rain before we began - so at least we weren't soaked to start.
Gearing up for our third London Marathon
Why would I smile at the prospect of running 26.2 miles in under 4 hours?!
After starting together in 2002, we split up third year as David was on the Blue start and I at the mass field - the Red start. The support group split up too at this point to ensure we both had a departure crowd. I had set myself a four hour completion target - with some extra sponsorship resting on that four hour threshold! Despite this, I seemed very happy!
No sooner had we crossed the start and the rain descended. It was light at first and nothing too bad - but it quickly got heavier. Amazingly, once you're running and wet you don't really care. At least I wasn't getting sun burnt or too hot. However, for the supporters it was miserable! We had a record 13 supporters at various locations (well 14 if I add the NCH fundraiser). It was the first time David's children, Josh and Kaitlyn, had come up to see their Dad run - so it was a shame the weather wasn't so encouraging!!
Josh not so impressed with watching in the rain - Kaitlyn likewise in purple coat in left corner!
Cousin Deb sees the funny side
Despite all the supporters, they missed me with the camera as my cousin's boyfriend, Matt, ran the battery down before I turned up! At least I got an official shot on Tower Bridge - showing how wet it really was and I wasn't even half way at this point! They did, however, get a picture of David with my camera! (and a running phone box amongst other things!)
cousin Deb seeing the funny side!
By the time I reached what was to be the second support point, the kids had had enough of the rain and headed off after seeing their Dad - who was way in front of me! However, I had the unexpected surprise of my Housemate, Liz, appearing at mile 21/22 - which was encouraging. However, it wasn't enough to get me to the end in sub four hours. I'd avoided the toilets for once and ran the whole route, but took 4:04:12. Still, it was a PB at the time.
David had also got a pb of 3:hrs 19 mins - a time he's not since beaten. (Not that I have even got close until 2012). Despite the weather, the crowds were still fantastic and a huge thanks to the 13 even wetter supporters!! (Jo and boyfriend not in picture)
After mile three the crowds were great. Around ten thousand of the thirty-seven thousand runners are from outside the USA, so it's an international affair and I felt an extra buzz running from the UK. The bulk support group were at ten miles as arranged - an achievement as we'd kind of arranged it blind (i.e. never been there and didn't know how deep the crowds would be etc). I grabbed one of the union jack flags from them to tuck in my shorts so I'd get more cheering from the British supporters - which worked.
At halfway I was going well - 1:43 and a bit - an incredibly good half marathon pace - but I'd peaked too soon as I crossed the bridge from Queens towards Manhattan I started walking! Tat the time, the only occasion I've ever peaked before mile 20. I came through Queens and as I came off the bridge into Manhattan the crowd lifted me and I found a new boast for around two miles. However, as this was halfway up the long four mile straight of First Avenue, I hit the wall again! It seemed a combination of the heat, lack of the usual breakfast routine and sleep deprivation were taking their toll.
Soaked and not even halfway on Tower Bridge
David at around mile 14 - before my camera died!
The support group and runners - back row from left - Dave, Steve, Liz, Lesley, Matt, Lucas, Deb front row from left - Sally, Laura, Adrian, Val (our aunt who accommodates and feeds after and before); with Kaitlyn and Josh at the very front and Sandra behind the camera
Radio interviews and Olympic Games
In between London and New York, my local radio station, BBC Radio Gloucestershire, ran regular interviews on my training and progress. They'd done a live link to the London Marathon on the day, as we prepared to start, and Richard Atkins did some regular interviews. Sadly, I failed to get copies of any of them.
One of the highlights was the day Richard did his interview and I then went straight off for a run. 40 minutes later, as I approached the house, Richard was leaning against his car outside. I was intrigued as I thought we'd finished the interview - so asked him if he intended to do a bit with me genuinely after a run. "No" came the reply, "I have left my keys in your flat!" Good job it wasn't a two hour training run or raining is all I could reply with!
The other summer highlight was the Olympic Games in Athens. This inspired me to run a personal best one evening when I was limited for time to do five miles and get home to watch Paula Radcliffe in the 10,000m. Unfortunately, it wasn't Paula's games - and I remember feeling gutted when she pulled out of the Marathon too. It was therefore with anticipation that she decided to join Dave and I and take part in New York!
After my first ever summer training for a Marathon, it was the usual hairdresser trip for the Marathon cut. The New York look consisted of NYC at the back, the NCH logo and a Union Jack flag the opposite side.
We travelled out to New York on the Thursday to run Sunday. A total of 19 travelled out including ourselves - so more supporters than we had in London. Several of them used it as an excuse for a holiday, including my cousin, Sandra, for her 21st. My younger brother, Pete, joined us to watch us for the first time. It was almost like the Meagor's on vacation! We even had a radio interview with GWR whilst queuing to check in in the airport.
After some time to sight see on Friday we registered on the Saturday and David and I had a bit of time together - which is in fact rare! Having changed room a second time at the hotel, we crashed out at 11ish that night - as we'd be up at 5am!
New York Haircut - patriotic?
On top of the world - almost! Viewing New York by night from the Empire State Building
The morning of the run was a disaster really. I'd been woken twice in the night for a live radio interview with BBC Radio Gloucestershire for their morning show (I was on at 8am UK time, so woken at 3am, but they'd had to change my time slot so rang twice to tell me.); and a third call for a live link to my home church in Tewkesbury for their morning worship, which ensured I was at least up on time. So I hadn't slept brilliantly - though I rarely do the night before I run. The Hotel also refused to do us an early breakfast so we'd planned to get some at the start as we'd be there nearly 3 hours before we ran. However, this was not to be the case. We sat on a bus for ages waiting to get to the start and ended up having two and a half bananas for breakfast as we'd arrived only 45 mins before the race began! We wished each other luck and headed to our respective start zones. David was starting on top of the Veranzo Narrow Bridge while I was on the lower tier start line.
The adrenalin kicked in as usual and we felt ok at the start. However, despite it being November 7 - it was warm and hit 19C during the race - which was double the temperature a couple of days earlier! This did have a negative effect, coupled with the long straight stretches on the route. The first three miles you hardly see a supporter as you run over the Veranzo Narrow Bridge off Staten Island into Brooklyn. You get an amazing view out over New York from here - but realise just how far you have to run!
Going well with my union jack helping get extra cheers from the Brits in the crowd!
I ran/jogged most of the mile 19 to 23 stage - forcing myself to run from 22 as I was expecting to see the support group - which I did at exactly 23 miles. That was a needed boast. Yet, more staggeringly, David appeared behind me just afterwards!! I was amazed as I was flagging and he's usually miles in front of me at this stage. He told me he'd had severe cramps , but he then kept going as we passed the Central Park entrance and mile 24 - and I stalled for another drink! What seemed a lifetime later - but about 17 minutes in reality - I made it across the finish line and found I finished just forty seconds behind David!! The irony being had I kept him in my sights when he passed me I'd have beaten him as he'd crossed the start line two minutes earlier than I had!!
Hallelujah - the finish line at last!
Once we'd received our medal and goods, I found the others - eventually. A task in itself. We'd also heard the fantastic news that Paula Radcliffe had won the women's race - which was great after the unfortunate result in the Olympics games.
To conclude the weekend trip, we met up for a meal with the fan base that evening to celebrate our "success" (I use the word loosely as it was David's worst Marathon result and I'd finished 25 minutes behind my target). A huge thanks to the crew that joined us, it was great to have so much support for the run!
The Meagor's in New York - Ange, Dave, Lucas and Pete, after finding each other at the end by Central Park
The New York runners and support crew, round from left: Lowenna, Lesley, Dave, Lucas, Nick, Deb, Matt, Sandra, Vanessa, Ange, Pete, Laura, Adrian, Gemini with Carla not visible!
Media Coverage 2004
In addition to the featured items below, we had articles in the Somerset Standard, Somerset Guardian, and interviews for GWR FM, Severn Sound and BBC Radio Gloucestershire did a series of interviews with me starting the day of the London Marathon leading up to and just after the New York Marathon! (Including a live interview when I was in New York!)
Cotswold Journal - 8th April 2004
The Citizen - 17 April 2004
The Citizen - 12 November 2004