For the first time ever I ventured up to London at the weekend to watch the London Marathon and to support all the boys and girls taking part. I went with daughter Lizzie and we met twitter friend Rowena Harding (@Rowenanews) and we stood at the 25.5mile mark on the Embankment for the best part of 5 hours madly cheering everyone past. Read our story below.
I’ve watched the coverage of the London Marathon for ages but have never actually been to see it live and so – partly as I took up running this time last year – I decided it would be good fun to go and watch it live. Rowena (who I know from twitter) was also going so we arranged to meet up and watch together. My daughter Liz also decided to come which was great too.
The initial decision to go was just to watch and maybe to see a couple of twitter friends go past – Barry Hipwell (@BimblerBaz) and Paul Taylor (@paulmonkey). Barry was doing his second London Marathon and was raising money for CLIC Sargent – his donations page here, and Paul was running his first London Marathon raising money for Addaction – his donations page here. Paul wrote a brilliant blog about his race which is well worth reading and almost makes me want to enter the ballot for next year 😉
I have to say that having been and spectated, that is just the side show. The main event for the crowds is to support and cheer on the runners who every man jack of them are undertaking a massive challenge to run 26.2 miles. Rowenea and the chap next to us were handing out jelly babies and harribo and screaming support at everyone running and walking past and Liz and I soon joined in. It is great to see the effect this support has on the runners and you can see how much it means when reading Paul’s blog.
We decided to go up to London by train. Being a 20 minute walk to the station we decided to drive to West Horndon (Essex) and get the train from there. Mistake. The train was absolutely jam-packed with people all doing the same thing. We stood the whole way. Alot of people got off at West Ham. We went to Fenchurch Street where we got our first taste of the crowds – absolute mayhem.
We took a circuitous route to Tower Hill tube station and then to Embankment. We eventually located Rowena who had already set out her stall (so to speak) with food and banners and a (frankly disappointing structurally) TwitterCheerSquad sign sticking out from the barriers. I had a go (I’m an engineer) at fixing said sign but didn’t make that good a job of it either 😉
We pitched camp at about 25.5miles on the Embankment on the right hand side at the traffic lights at junction of Horse Guards Avenue which was a great vantage point. Not long after we arrived the first of the elite athletes came by.
We watched the elite women come through, then the wheelchairs, and finally the elite me. Then it was the real speedy others and then it was a constant stream of the masses for the next few hours. Every runner possible seemed to be there and I was amazed at how fresh most of them looked after 25 miles of running. Some where looking less fresh and were walking or hobbling. One older chap went away on a stretcher which was sad to see.
There were serious runners and runners in costumes. Just about everyone was raising money for one charity or another and I can’t begin to think how much money is raised overall at the event. I guess if 36,000 runners each raise £100 that is £3.6 million and many people were raising thousands not hundreds. Amazing. The photos below are mainly of the runners in costumes as they were easy to select so enjoy looking at them below.
We stayed on station for a few hours until both Liz and I could quell the desire to pee no more and we decided to head for the Embankment loos (very nice but 50p a time). We had hung on for as long as possible as I was desperate to see and shout for Baz and Paul. I couldn’t be sure whether we had missed them so reluctantly we baled out and headed for home. In fact, Baz was probably not far off coming through but Paul would have been another 40 mins or so. Baz finished in 5:22:25 and Paul in 6:13:47. You can get the times for anyone running via the London marathon webpage here.
All in all it was an excellent day out and something I and Liz will remember for a good long time. I will definately make the effort to come out and support races and the London Marathon again as it is obvious how much it means to those taking part. You never know – it might be me you are cheering next year.
It was only after getting home that we heard the tragic news that 30 year old Claire Squires had collapsed near the finish and subsequently died. It is awful when this happens but we should remember that anything we do in life is not without risk and these things do happen unfortunately. This shouldn’t stop us from pushing ourselves and raising huge amounts for good causes at the same time. Donations in memory of Claire have been flooding in and at time of writing stand at an incredible £607,000. You too can donate at here just giving page here.
I managed to take over 2100 photos on the day which is some sort of record and I have uploaded a fair number of these into four albums on my picasaweb photo sharing website. Links to the albums are included below:
I have also included below a selection of the photos which are mainly of the fun runners in a variety of costumes. All photos open to slightly bigger versions on clicking into new windows .