In my very first piece of writing for this blog, I declared no one does the Grand Gesture like London. I not only stand by that statement, I offer another proof. The London Marathon. As a runner, I am qualified to state that the London Marathon is the best, THE BEST race in the world. The landmarks, the crowds, the volunteers, the finish at Buckingham Palace. It is 26.2 miles of honour and glory.
I ran it two years ago, and loved every step. The half way mark is Tower Bridge. The magnificence of the structure alone is enough to inspire. I looked up at all the people and tossed them as many kisses as my tired body could manage. Bands played, people held up hilarious signs, most of them alcohol-related (it is England, after all) and the famous British reserve transformed into deafening enthusiasm; a tactile wall of sound at the end. I finished in exactly the time I had hoped (3 hr 59 min) and vowed to make marathon running a lifestyle choice. But as the adrenaline high waned, I realized that this had been a once in a lifetime experience. If only because I can’t ever have a more perfect run. And I want to preserve that memory, that feeling, forever. This isn’t to say I won’t run another one, somewhere else, but London 2013 is untouchable.
So now I am a spectator. A spectator wracked with longing and envy. But plenty of cheering power. And I have the perfect spot to watch. Certainly not going to divulge where, but was very happy to see that a little space was ready and waiting in exactly the right place for me again this year.
This year. 2015. 35th Anniversary of the Marathon. Runners finishing hand in hand. And Paula Radcliffe. Elegant, amazing Paul Radcliffe. I was lucky enough to meet her at the Battersea Park Race for Life, years ago. She was stunning. And gracious. Yes, I do rather adore her. And I saw her. We all saw her. The explosion of sound when she flew by was impressive. I felt part of an important moment in history, London history anyway.
But we all cheered everyone. Especially those who seemed to be struggling. Or smiling, Or waving. Or, well, running. Because that is what it is all about. Running. In the most beautiful city on the planet.
If you can, lace up the trainers and have a go. If it really isn’t for you, then come along next year and shout your lungs out. And bask in London love and glory.
And yes, despite what I have said above, of course I am tossing my name into the ballot for 2016, today. If nothing else, those consolation training tops are mighty useful.
If you are reading this before 17:00 GMT on 8 May, 2015, and fancy a go, here is the entry site: https://www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com/en-gb/how-to-enter/ballot-entry/
For all other information about the London Marathon, visit their website: https://www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com/en-gb/ or follow them on Facebook and Twitter @LondonMarathon