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I’ve been writing about it and going on about it since the start of the year, and just over a week ago was my first marathon of the year and none will be more grand than this one, the 35th London marathon. At the top end the 3 fastest marathon runners of all time were racing each other, Paula Radcliffe was bowing out of London and Olympic hero David Weir was on the start line again. To mark 35 years, there was a #handinhand campaign which referred to the joint winners of the 1981 inaugural London marathon who crossed the line hand in hand and there was the usual wonderful vibe among runners.


As all marathon runners do, and as is part of my usual race day preparation, I laid out all my gear the night before. For the first time, I was using race clips instead of pins for my number, but apart from faffing with that, I was all set and ready for an early start.


I did not sleep well that night. I had endured a cough and bug for the week leading up to the race and spent the night feeling poorly and sorry for myself. On marathon day morning, I awoke at 4.30am, made coffee, scoffed some of the breakfast I had ready-made the evening before and left the house by 5am. I arrived at Basingstoke train station shortly after 6am to catch the 6.16am train. Travelling from Bournemouth to London at weekends is a nightmare and takes so long (and would be so late) that I always choose to drive half way and then get the commuter train. I have friends in Basingstoke and met up with a number of friends that run with my brother at the Sherfield Park Running club. We shared running tales, talked strategy and helped distract each other.

At London, we (three of us remaining) headed off in different directions to our different start areas and we got the tube then train to Maze Hill station for the Red Start at Greenwich. (Note to my lovely sports massage therapist – look at my water bottle!)


Unusually for London marathon, it was bitterly cold and drizzly. I say ‘unusually’ as every single other time I have run London, it has been a scorcher where I needed sun cream, and cover for my head. We changed, soaked up some of the atmosphere, exchanged some banter with fellow runners, watched the elite ladies and wheelchair starts on the big screens in the park, then headed over to our start pens. Many people use bin bags to keep warm and then discard them at the start, I opted to wear a high visibility base layer than I never wear anymore. When you throw it away to the side of the road, it gets collected and sent to charity organisations which is excellent in my book. We had some banter with other runners, huddled together and had some fun as the pen filled up.



Then as the start time grew nearer, we talked less and got focused. Having not slept, I saved and then drank my coffee all at the start line. Those that know me also know I do not drink coffee very often. I have to ration it as it makes me more peculiar than I usually am. I drank a lot of coffee and cream and started to feel very fired up as it mixed with pre-race adrenaline. The start gun went off, we crossed the start mats, I started my watch timer in sync with a million other bleeps going off around me and we were off.

I got boxed into a group who were tailing the sub-three hour pacer runner. I was so pumped up that I did not slow down. Before I knew it, it was mile 8 and I was still running with him and not feeling tired at all. I only got back running properly last September after a couple of years of illness, injury and fatherhood, and had only trained a 3:15 schedule, so I considered that I may suffer a bit later on if I kept up the pace, but chose to press on as I felt so good. We bombed over Tower Bridge, I saw some friends and loved the amount of noise there made by the charity cheering teams and started to assess what I was going to do as I was nearing the half way point in the coming mile or two.


I decided to ease off slightly and let the pacer go, but worked out that even if I ran every mile from there onwards slower than I had trained, I’d still finish in a time far faster than I had trained for; this was good. I spent the next few miles using various psychological strategies to encourage and support myself as my legs began to hurt from mile 16 onwards. I have said it many times before, the marathon has two halves; the first 20 miles and then the rest. Once I hit 20 miles, I was feeling tired but knew that I could easily keep up the pace I was at and so I chose to cruise home rather than push any harder. That’s what I did. The last 5 miles were painful, but also incredibly enjoyable and uplifting…

The guys who work for my chosen and favourite charity, the BAAF, were at mile 23 and cheered me on and managed to get this photo of me. I look more enthusiastic than I feel:


They have been a great charity to be involved with and I have had ongoing correspondence with them since the marathon. I will be a lifelong supporter of the BAAF, will be wearing my BAAF vest at all my other races this year, and hope to raise funds for them on an ongoing basis.

The final few miles, I was buoyed at the prospect of seeing my wife and of course, my darling children (3 year old son and 2 year old daughter)….. 278226_193589503_XLarge
They loved their day out. They got to travel on a train, they got to see London, they got to hang out in crowds waving mini union flags. Most importantly (to me, really), they got to see their Dad running in London marathon. My charity had very kindly given me two grandstand tickets for my Wife and her brother to come and watch the finish of the event. My children, both being under 4 years old, were permitted in for free too. As I came around the final stretch of the mall, past Buckingham Palace and onto Birdcage walk, in the midst of all the noise was the cry of “ADAAAM” from my brother-in-law who had my son on his shoulders. My wife saw me and we smiled at each other and my children saw me and waved, it was wonderful. Just wonderful. It spurred me on to charge up to the finish line.

And then crossing the line…


I completed the 2015 London marathon in 3 hrs and 7 mins, I was very pleased with that. The time means that I am officially ‘Good for Age’ and can expect to get automatic entry in the major marathons of the world for the next couple of years, so there won’t be much let-up in my plans going forward. I’d love to shave those 7 minutes off my time, eh? Here are my stats on the official London marathon app on the day:

After the finish, I picked up my finishers bag with my medal and t-shirt in, went and changed out of my wet clothes and waited for my wife and children to join me. They were so excited! We got to walk back to the train station past the race, over the Millennium bridge and pose for one more photo.


We celebrated that night and then the next day, we headed off on a short holiday, my kids wearing these t-shirts.


London marathon is very special. I had a great event and am now focusing on the next one; Edinburgh marathon is just 4 weeks away and I am not sure my legs feel all that enthusiastic about it right now. But I’ll explain more about that later this week…..

As I wrote on my Facebook page last week; the experience of competing, training hard and running marathons is described best for me by Henry David Thoreau, whose words I’ll leave you with today:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Love that.

Finally, for those interested, here is the Garmin data for my race: