London Marathon 2019 by Ken Beak

My London marathon.

This journey began for me when I was lucky enough to win the club ballot place. I still have the piece of paper Ceri drew out of the hat! Now with very sore legs and a big smile I reflect on an unforgettable experience.

The preparation for this event consumed my thoughts and the nearer it came to the big day, the worse it got! How many times can you check you have shoes, socks, shorts and a vest! I didn’t have the best nights sleep but that’s normal for me before a marathon given the months of preparation for this one event, and I consider myself very fortunate to have got through the training to plan and without injury.

It was a massive relief to get to the start line, buoyed up by the good wishes from everyone. The massive organisation to cope with so many runners is so impressive and everyone is cheerful and helpful. I’m very happy surrounded by runners. The positive energy and camaraderie is unique! I started at Blackheath with Elaine and Richard and it was quite chilly, but we were all grateful it wasn’t as hot as last year! It took 20 minutes to reach the start line with a lot of “al fresco” urination going on! The view from the other side of the mesh fence must have been interesting and I applaud their ability to find the necessary equipment in chilly conditions!

Music is blaring as the start is reached and I was surprised that it was easy to hit a good pace straight away. It felt so good to actually start running. The crowds cheering you on produced a level of noise that stuns you, and this continues and ramps up as you progress through the entire course. The support from complete strangers is uplifting and inspiring, and I couldn’t help high fiving kids sticky little hands in the first miles! It is a memorable moment when the other start waves merge as you see them and run alongside before they filter in, but then it does start to get congested. Plans to embarrass Kipchoge start to evaporate! Concentration is required to avoid discarded water and Lucozade bottles (the road became incredibly sticky after these drink stations!). The iconic sights of London, the Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge and monster modern glass buildings combined with the music and support of cheering crowds carried me relatively comfortably to 17 miles and it was great to see Jo, Joy and Dave at mile 12 (although I missed them at mile 23! Sorry!) Stay on the right Joy said and I didn’t dare argue! Fatigue and a congested course made it hard work keeping pace now and it was time to dig in and get to the end dodging around wilting competitors. In the final miles it helps to break the race down into Parkruns, so 2 to go! Then came the sobering sight of a collapsed runner being shocked with a defibrillator and this put efforts in perspective and reminded me how important it is to be sensible in these extreme activities (unless you’re called Les!). A couple of miles to go and the next target was to see the famous Harriers shirt on a stick with the awesome Brian, Rosie, Graham and Sally at mile 25. What a boost and very emotional to see friends cheering us all on. The last mile seemed to go on forever but the finish was amazing and I felt very privileged to be able to take part and achieve a lifetime ambition. It wasn’t a PB run but I had such a great time. Thank you Ryde Harriers for the opportunity to take part in this iconic race! The experience was everything and more than I expected.

At the risk of turning this into a weepy Oscar speech I must also thank Jo for her amazing support, and my friends for training with me, especially Elaine who has endured injury, pain, rain, snow and significant headwinds for hundreds of miles on the beloved cycle path with me, and it was the icing on the cake that we were able to run and finish the marathon together.

VLM Results:

Adam Tuck 3:07:04

Richard Melville 3:33:43

Elaine Parry & Ken Beak 4:04:10

Mark Wright 4:39:01