Another Ultramarathon Running Blog

2018 London Marathon

A brief blog post to post a ‘record’ of the recent London Marathon event. Running a big city marathon has its enjoyable aspects and less enjoyable aspects and this year reminded me of both. I’m not going to write a race report for a marathon as such but have collated a few notes and observations below.

  • I know I’m not in marathon PB shape with a complete lack of speedwork this year so ran this as a good hard training run.
  • Whatever time I ran I was going to be a little disappointed as it won’t be a PB.
  • I eventually finished in 3.15 which was where I expected to be, so no real complaints at all.
  • I didn’t enjoy this as much as previous ones and felt myself going through the motions a bit. With charity fund raisers running for a good cause, fancy dress runners getting involved in the spirit of things.. I felt like just an ordinary runner with no real purpose at this event as I wasn’t chasing a time at all.
  • The train journey to Blackheath was horrible (as ever), one train cancelled, packed train carriages where people kept trying to get on and squeezing people further. Getting to Blackheath is the least enjoyable aspect of the day.
  • I started at Wave 1 Blue (with a GFA qualification) but even then found myself constrained and I couldn’t settle into a rhythm with so many other runners around which is one of the disadvantages of a mass participation event.
  • I was clipped twice by people trying to weave in and out and barged once by another runner cutting across in a desperate attempt to get to the drinks station. Another disadvantage of a mass participation event.
  • I avoided pretty much every official race photo as I can’t quite get my head around the request to pay £20 per photo or £100 for the package at the end. I realise I’m not the customer they are seeking sales from i.e.more first time marathoners or charity runners happy to pay for their moment. I just wonder how many additional sales they would get if the prices were a little more reasonable (I often buy photos for blog use for example).
  • Running in my Hoka Conquest 3’s was uncomfortable due to a pain in the soles of my feet which didn’t settle down until half way. Whether it was something to do with a firm shoe on tarmac or not I’m not sure. I’m recording it here so I remember this next time.
  • The weather was hot. Whilst the reported temperature was mid 20’s, if you consider the volume of runners (40,000) and supporters (800k?) and the city streets absorbing the heat, it was hot at ground level and I was using my water supplies to wet my buff and cool my skin as well as drinking when needed.
  • Despite running within the top 10% of runners (I finished around 2,500th out of the reported 40k runners) this is at point where you expect everyone to run and there were quite a few people walking from the halfway point which was a testament to the weather I think.
  • The occasional person hogging the blue line (the race line) when they were really slowing or walking was mildly irritating.
  • I heard the stories afterwards about water supplies running out. My observations were as follows; there seemed to be more stops than normal which was good; I didn’t feel the need to grab water at every single water station (perhaps every other one); I did witness a lot of ‘waste’ with runners grabbing a bottle taking a sip and then throwing it away so whilst I can’t comment on the level of supplies (as I was nearer the front than the back) then I would suggest that runners should share some responsibility to avoid being wasteful.
  • The volume of litter (bottles, cups of the floor) is undoubtedly a trip hazard even where I was running.
  • The crowd were amazing, very well populated, very supportive and very vocal. A real highlight of the event.
  • The marshals were superb, numerous, encouraging and all doing a fine job, thank you!
  • My personal highlight was seeing Mo Farah close up (as he was coming back the opposite way for me). I was running to the outside of the road so had the chance to give him a shout of encouragement right up close within a few feet of him.
  • Alex W had a superb run finishing in 2.52 although I hope the effort is still not in his legs for the TP100 whilst Barry M ran a very controlled run finishing in 3.16.
  • I faded a bit in the second half and my legs felt heavy. This may have been the heat or effort at the Crawley 6 hour race a couple of weeks ago or both, it matters not as a training run so whilst I felt a bit constrained in the first half when I had more space in the second half then I couldn’t take advantage of it!
  • I did witness a few collapsed runners who were being attended to by paramedics so thank you for supporting and looking after the runners.
  • A runner also managed to trip and face-plant right next to me at the 22 mile mark so I stopped briefly to help him up and walk with him a short while to ensure he was ok.
  • There has been quite a bit of discussion about the Good For Age changes (i.e. gender parity, tightening of time limits and reduction of time limits until race capacity is achieved). I’m pretty relaxed about it really, due to my venerable age I’m still several minutes under my age standard (when fit and in better shape of course) so probably have a good chance of achieving this again. However, if the limited places are oversubscribed and awarded to fitter/faster runners then isn’t that the point? This was my fourth London so I’ve had plenty of chances to enjoy the event.
  • I definitely won’t enter next year (other planned races around this time helped make this decision)
  • If I run it again, I think it may be in fancy dress as I’ve enjoyed the crowd interaction when doing it as a ‘fun run’.

PS -“The Hat” is nearly dead. It’s tired, broken and now held together by (duct) tape and definitely in need of throwing on the scrap heap (hmmm.. that sounds much like it’s owner).

Alex, Barry & myself in the pub afterwards.

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