22nd September 2019
Elmo Runs London for CFC
What a fantastic day. Stunning weather, the organisation was flawless, fabulous route through the London landmarks, amazing atmosphere from one of the largest crowds in London Marathon history, and the prospect of raising some money for Cyclists Fighting Cancer.
Preparation for this year’s marathon was unconventional, and for anyone that wishes to follow my training strategy it includes: gaining an entry somewhat late – December I recall; do no training for three months then follow with vigorous swimming sessions mixed with practically no running, repeat for another three months; have your wife and daughter select an amusing but mildly challenging running outfit, then obtain it just prior the event – it coincidentally arrived on 1st April; finally, warm-up the evening beforehand with some track cycling in the velodrome – avoiding braking any limbs. All set.
The Blue start area had changed this year with the men’s elite runners being immediately followed by championship runners and then club runners. Having been allocated pen four – allotted for sub-3:30hrs runners – it was conspicuous that today I wasn’t going to stay with the authentic athletes around me for long. Whilst I crossed the start line just three minutes after Mo my dreams of catching him had been crushed.
Having run continually for hours I arrived at the two and half mile point where we meet the crowds coming from the Red start, this hotspot always has good rivalry with plenty of audible derision from each route. Pace was ok at 7 minutes per kilometer – a sub-5hr finish! By the four mile marker the speed was slowing, and then the inevitable walking started. It was going to be a long day.
Passing through Deptford the mind started wandering. Reminiscing back only a few weeks previously I recalled how I was all set to postpone my marathon participation until 2015. Bizarrely, why then had I not taken the prudent course and was at this moment very slowly approaching Rotherhithe dressed as six foot character from Sesame Street? It was certainly a great disguise for the fact I hadn’t done any training but mostly I think it was the big four fingered hands that persuaded me it was a good idea, just brilliant for acknowledging the millions of spectators that had had obviously turned out to see Elmo.
It was pure fun. High-fiving, pats on the back, hugging – where requested, stopping for photos and selfies, and this was just other competitors. The crowd lining the whole course were just incredible, there were shouts of Elmo from every direction for the whole duration, I tried to wave to them all. A few times we were able to whip a good frenzy with some Elmo chanting – probably coinciding with where the pubs were!
Normally it is a massive struggle for supporters to spot individual runners in the masses, but fortunately, not today and it was great to bump into – not literally – my wife and daughter at three different locations along the route. They’d been lucky enough to have a prime vantage point to watch the Elite runners earlier in the day.
The routine from mile five to fourteen had been about 50% walk 40% run and 10% stop for photos, I walked round the Isle of Dogs, and then managed to slowly pick up the pace from mile twenty.
The final miles along the Embankment and Birdcage Walk were amazing. With a mild increase in speed, and to the delight of the crowds I was overtaking many of those around me; so apologies to anyone who ever been beaten by a giant furry costume – which does include me having once been passed by a big yellow chicken in a half-marathon. The over-exertion did have a price though as the second I entered the mall I hit the floor retching – the finish was 150 metres away.
Fortunately, having not deposited anything outside the Queens pad and after a few minutes to recover I gently jogged down to the finish line; six hours forty nine minutes out on the course with an estimated 30,000 runners having passed me. Even the marshals were amused as they struggled to get the finishers medal over Elmo’s head.
Underneath the Elmo smile was a big grin for the whole day. Due to limited visibility I’d had a few close shaves throughout the day but had avoided hitting anyone; did nearly go straight on at a couple of turns. Having previously wandered around the Sahara I knew to be respectful but not fearful of the heat, maybe not everyone’s cup-of-tea but with plenty of water and a couple of jelly babies it was fine. The only war wound I have suffered is a blister on my nose from the head strap so I look more like I’ve gone a few rounds in the boxing ring rather than run a marathon.
Thank you to all those people that sponsored me prior to the marathon and who texted on the day, and the many who have since been entertained enough to pledge money to Cyclists Fighting Cancer. It’s not too late to donate…
or Text ELMO55 £5 to 70070