The final part of my story…
The attached pictures give you an idea of my day. In other respects they don’t tell you much, because it was the most physically, mentally and emotionally gruelling and uplifting experience. There are so many people running that you weave sometimes – I actually ran 27 miles!
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The start is fun and the first few miles are in places where real people live and the atmosphere is wonderful. Lots of high fives from children and sweets. A memorable sign around 5 miles: “You’re nearly there! #fakenews” (just one example of a Londoner’s humour). You actually start to believe this isn’t going to be too hard – foolish whim that.
The Cutty Sark is beautiful and the crowds deep around there. The next few miles are ok but the sun came out on the approaches to Tower Bridge and we all started to feel the change. Tower Bridge is a roar and very hard to describe, so many people shouting your name is quite overwhelming. The chants have gone from a cockney ‘Goo-on Si’ to a measured ‘well done Simon’ now. Then you see the elite runners so close you can touch, but running the other way – they are literally miles ahead of you – how the hell do they do it?!
Heading down to the Isle of Dogs my energy was sapped and I badly needed the lift of seeing my family and the Barnardo’s team at mile 17. I faked good running form for a few hundred yards so as not to worry them and then felt deflated – still 9 miles to go. Canary Wharf was a cauldron of noise. By now my back hurt, my legs were gone and I couldn’t hear properly for some reason. I took some ibruprofen. And the crowds around Tower Hill were deafening – a surreal experience. I actually ran in the middle of the road to try to cut myself off from the crowds at some points because it was so overwhelming.
Around 20 miles I knew I was way off my pace hopes, I was just struggling to keep going. My goal was just to run every step from then, when every instinct was screaming at me to stop. Every mile marker seems to be further away somehow and by now there are lots of people walking on the side. Keep going.
Cannon St station at 24 miles was when I knew I would finish; everything felt so familiar now. 24.5 miles was where my family and the Barnardo’s team were, a second sight of them – a big boost and then onwards. Big Ben looking brilliant in the sunshine. A woman on the corner screaming “you’re so close now Simon, keep going”. Up Birdcage Walk to Buckingham Palace and then the joyful sight of the finish, one last, final effort.
Nothing prepares you for the crowds and the emotional side of the day. The training certainly doesn’t. For me it was, as you know, about my Dad and I know he would have been very proud. And we’ve raised over £6,000 between us for the charity that saved his life. So once again thank you for all the amazing support. I hope this gives you a sense of the experience. However physically sore I am today I ran the greatest marathon of them all in the City that I love and where my Dad was born. And that feels brilliant.
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