Category: Marathon 2007

Virgin’s First Time

And welcome to all of you who’ve come here via a search engine; prepare for disappointment.

I know a lot of the regular audience for the blog are involved in writing, though I don’t know how many of you, like me, run; anyway, this is one of those occasional posts about running.

The London Marathon has, for a number of years, been officially known as the Flora London Marathon (though it was rarely spoken of as such), because of the sponsorship provided by a leading spreadable product. Prior to that, if memory serves, it was sponsored by Mars, the ever-popular chocolate bar. Nothing, it seems, symbolises health and a stern training regime so much as sponsorship from a foodstuff containing a proportion of fat.

That used to be the case, anyway. As you can see from the logo, and may have inferred from the Google-baiting title of this post, the 2010 London Marathon is being sponsored by Virgin – a firm whose interests are strangely scattered, from credit cards to cola. No, I don’t quite understand it either.

Anyway, if you’ve applied for a place in the ballot for the 2010 Marathon, the decisions are apparently in the post. However, since the UK postal service is currently being affected by strikes (many people have inevitably noted that it’s hard to tell the difference), the mailout of the YES and NO notifications has been a bit delayed. But Virgin will apparently be e-mailing people this afternoon to let them know.

If you don’t get a place in the ballot (which is the scheme whereby enter a lottery-style system to see if you get a place, and then pay for it), there’ll of course be a vast number of charity places available; those of you with unnervingly long memories may remember that I ran in the 2007 London Marathon for just such a charity.

For reasons which kind of escape me in the cold (well, currently more like grey) light of day, I’ve entered the ballot for the 2010 Marathon, and so I should be receiving an e-mail today to let me know if I’ve got a place. If I haven’t – and I think the odds are pretty slim – then I have, for the sake of my own sanity, vowed not to see about a charity place; in all honesty, the hassle of trying to make sure I reached the target for sponsorship was more of a burden than the physical act of training for, and running, the marathon. So I won’t be doing that again.

No, definitely not. Uh-uh, nosiree. Not doing that again.

Oh no, I’m “protesting too much”, aren’t I? Uh oh…

EDITED at 3.58pm to say: Just had the e-mail to say I didn’t get in through the ballot. And that, as I say, means I won’t be pursuing any other means of getting a place. That’s what I said, and as we all know, what I say goes. Granted, it usually ‘goes’ by the by within minutes, but let’s try for some kind of certainty for once…

Finishing Line

All right, this is the last time I’ll mention it, and I’ll be removing the widget from the column to the right at the end of the week, but if you haven’t yet sponsored me for the London Marathon (which I did finish, honest), please don’t hold back from doing so.

There’s a link on the Justgiving widget to the right, which takes you to my sponsor page – recently revised to provide a picture of me actually running – where you can sponsor from the comfort of… well, wherever you happen to be at the moment. I hope it’s comfortable, anyway, that’d certainly help you be in the right frame of mind to donate.

Many, many thanks to those of you who’ve sponsored me already – I thank you, and Phoenix House, the charity I did it for, thanks you too. You are on my ‘nice’ list.

Won’t mention this again, I promise (which, for some of you, might be such welcome news you suddenly feel like donating money)…

LINK: New and Improved

Well, as promised, I’ve updated my London Marathon sponsor page, to reflect the fact I’ve actually done it.

Please go here to sponsor me – it’s not too late…


London Marathon 2007

So, then, this is what I’ve been going on about for months. It took place last Sunday (22 April). This is going to be a fairly self-indulgent and lengthy post, really, so be prepared.

It was, as you may well know, the hottest London Marathon in its history,and apparently over 5000 people needed treatment by the medical folk on the route, but I was lucky in that I didn’t need a stretcher or anything like that. I was rather lacking a stretch, though – all right, I’ll explain.

As you may well know, I live in East London, so it shouldn’t have been a problem to get to Greenwich. It was, though, as the DLR broke down and was suspended – as this press release concedes, though I’d dispute the claim staff were on hand to help, they were notably absent at Canary Wharf.

Anyway, I, like many other people, had to go to another station and get another train, all of which ate up my cleverly-and-indeed-thankfully-included extra time, and so I arrived at the park in Greenwich at about 9.40, five minutes before the start.

I pinned on my race number 43842 (for just one day I was not a free man, I was a number), slung my kit bag onto the truck allocated to take it to the finishing line (handy), and started to make my way towards the Red Starting line. It was, by then, gone 9.45, and so I had to join the end of the crowds without time for a proper stretch. Yes, that was bright.

Anyway, I got under way at a steady old pace, and was chugging along okay -quite emotional over London Bridge (doesn’t matter how often I see the landmarks of this city, they always fill me with a childlike glee), and even felt all right at the point where the course loops back on itself and you take the psychological hit of seeing runners coming the other way, knowing they’re about eight miles ahead of you (rather demotivating, so I tried to look away).

As I drew close to Canary Wharf, though, I … well, I guess I hit ‘the wall’, though it felt more like a blood sugar crash (prior to training for the London Marathon, a frequent occurrence in my life, after breakfasts of waffles and maple syrup), so I stopped running, and walked a bit. Still pretty speedy walking, and I wasn’t breaking either of my rules for distance running (no stopping, no slashing).

I’d completed the half-Marathon in March in just under 2.5 hours (and that involved running in strong wind and hail), so thought that I should be able to complete the full thing in something like five hours at most. Maybe it wasthe heat, maybe the walking wasn’t as fast as I thought, but as I came past the Tower of London on the home-ish stretch, it was well over five hours,and obvious to me that I’d have to get a move on to finish in under six hours. Hmph, but better than not completing at all – a reality for many runners who I saw being helped by the St John’s Ambulance people. So I tried to get a move on.

And get a bit of a move on I did, past the ever-increasing crowds (whose shouts of encouragement to others made me wish I’d had room to put my name on the front of my running vest as opposed to the back), through the frankly surreal Blackfriars Underpass, where the hundreds (thousands?) of discarded Lucozade Sport sachets created a weird grotto-like underlighting, and on to the Embankment, along to Big Ben.

I’d been listening to comedy stuff most of the way round – a good distraction from niggles and twinges and the lazy voice at the back of thehead reminding me of how I don’t actually HAVE to run a marathon – but as I came to the Houses of Parliament, I pressed the button on my music player to switch on my favourite running accompaniment: ‘Two Tribes’ by Frankie Goes To Hollywood (the Annihilation Mix, I think), and I got my second wind.Well, 79th wind, maybe, but you know what I mean.

And so I chugged round the last mile or two at a good pace, even overtaking some people, which was a bit of a boost for my ego, and then I turned the corner in front of Buck House and saw the Finishing line, about 200m ahead of me. It’s often hardest when the end is in sight, and this certainly felt like the case here, and the last few weary steps felt a bit like that thing in dreams where you’re trying to run away but can’t, but I knew I was moving as I could see it on the big screens by the side of the Finish.

Then I was over the line, and they removed my timing chip (it was laced onto my shoe, and means they can track when I passed the start and finish lines) and gave me a medal and a goody bag and then I realised that oh my goodness me I really had done the London Marathon. A full third slower than I’d hoped, but it was done nonetheless, and I felt really rather emotional about the whole thing. Which had taken me 5 hours and 52 mins. Crikey.

And then the love of my life met me in the Runners Meet and Greet Area and hugged me and kissed me and said she was proud of me and took me home for a cup of tea and a large slice of chocolate cake which she’d made specially…but that’s a tale for another time, if ever.

So, in short order, the smiley and frowny aspects:


  • Finishing it. Growing up, I was more cerebral than physical (not that you’d know from my online nonsense), and so running the London Marathon is something I would not have foreseen myself doing. So that’s one in the eye for my past self, or something.
  • Not getting seriously injured or anything like that – sunburn on my forehead, yes, and some definite chafing of my thighs, but my nipples remained resolutely un-frictioned.
  • Finishing, I later found out, mere seconds behind Floella Benjamin,one of my childhood TV icons. Didn’t see her, didn’t talk to her, didn’t even know about it until the next day, but it amused me nonetheless.
  • The atmosphere. The cliché is true, it’s a very jolly event, with people lining the route, and music blaring from pubs and bands by the side of the road.
  • The woman who was in front of me for several miles having her name on her T-shirt, and that name being the same as that of my beloved, so that members of the crowd would shout out her name, and remind me of who was waiting for me at the end of it.
  • My friend Chris running alongside me for 200 yards when I failed to spot him and his family. Oops, but it was great to have a familiar face keep pace with me. Thanks, matey!
  • The medal. It’s a sturdy thing, and something for the grandkids to flog on eBay when I’m wormfood.
  • The chap dressed as Indiana Jones who was being ‘pursued’ by a boulder all the way round. I saw him and wondered if it was some kind of reverse Sisyphus thing (see, even at 20-odd miles my mythological knowledge remains as good as that of … er, Indiana Jones), and then realised what it was. Very classy.
  • The lady in the crowd who handed me three jelly babies just at the time I needed it most – when my blood sugar levels had dropped like a stone.What a nice sort she was.
  • The kids in the crowd who stuck out their hands to be ‘high-fived’by passing runners. Even, to my great and utterly immature amusement, by the man running for a leprosy charity.
  • The priest outside the Catholic church in Greenwich who sprinkled water on us as we passed by. I resisted the temptation to fall to my knees, screaming ‘aaaaaarrrgh! Curse you, Nazarene!’, as he was smiling in a frankly chummy fashion.
  • St John’s Ambulance folks for being there when needed. Not by me,but every time I passed a prone person on a stretcher under a space blanket,I knew that it could easily have been me…


  • The chap who died shortly after completing the Marathon. Young man,and a fitness instructor, I hear, which must have meant it was even more of a shock for his family. That is very nasty.
  • DLR, obviously, for screwing up on the day as they did. Doesn’t bode well for the Olympics, does it?
  • Taking as long as I did. Ah well.
  • The bloke carrying round a cross. Just plain creepy, I felt – and I think having bottles of water strapped to the underside of the horizontal bar rather undermined the point, to be honest.
  • On which theme, the people outside churches who were shouting at us as we passed by. I think they were exhorting us to stop, and redirect our efforts towards God, or something. Which made me wonder why they didn’t stop shouting at strangers and go and help in a soup kitchen or something, but there you go.
  • Discovering – the next day – that I’d been slower than Nell McAndrew. I’d been expecting that, as she’s a known runner, but I was slower than Nell when she was running the Marathon WITH HER MUM. A good 20 minutes slower than them, I gather. Boy, that looks bad, doesn’t it ?
  • Realising from the T-shirts of my fellow runners just how many charities there are. I can’t help but wish there were fewer charities because they were not needed…

Which brings me to the inevitable end point of this entry, and one you’re probably sick of me making by now, oh good and faithful readers, but I think you’ll understand if I say it once more with feeling: if you haven’t yet sponsored me for the Marathon, please, PLEASE think about doing so – there’s a totaliser (like on Blue Peter) on the right hand side of this page, and if you click on it you can go straight to my sponsor page (which I’ll see if I can update to reflect the fact that I’ve completed it), which is all safe and secure and saves me hassling you for money in person.

If you need proof I did it, of course, drop me a line at, and I’ll be happy to send you a thumbnail of me with the medal, just after I’d crossed the finishing line. But do be aware that such a request does mean you have to sponsor me at least £10, for doubting me in such a cruel and hurtful way. Sniff.

So, don’t make me cry – sponsor me…. Ta!

Look at my widget. You know you want to.

Well, the niftyish box in the column to the right is the Justgiving Widget, and provides an ongoing update as to how close I am to raising the target amount in sponsorship for the London Marathon.

Clever techie stuff, yes?

Anyway, with just over 5 weeks to go, I’m not too close to the target of £1500, so if you’re reading this and haven’t sponsored me yet, please consider doing so…


Marathon Man

What’s that, to the left? Why, if it isn’t a picture of me running a half-marathon last year. What’s that you say? Half-marathons are easy? Well, funny you should say that…

I’m running the London Marathon on April 22 this year, in aid of Phoenix Futures, the people for whom I’ve previously walked on hot coals and glass (yes, yes, I know). They’ve very kindly given me one of their few ‘golden ticket’ places, so I want to repay their kindness by getting them lots of lovely money to help them with their good work.

So if you can help, I’d be very grateful indeed. You can sponsor or donate online here, which is totally secure and safe, and you can give even more with the magical Gift Aid tax-thing.

If you have any questions at all, please drop me a line at – and yes, if you want to come along and cheer or jeer, you can do that..

I’ll be referring to this a LOT in the next couple of months, as I really want to reach (if not exceed) the target I’ve set, so don’t be at all surprised if this isn’t the last blog entry on this. I’ll add a link in the column to the right as well, and indeed I may be adding some kind of totaliser-gadget to this page as well, so we can see how much money has been pledged, like the Blue Peter appeals which they used to do when I was young (and still do, I think).

Anyway, please sponsor or donate if you can. I promise all of the money goes to a worthwhile cause – I’ve been lucky enough to meet one of the people who Phoenix have helped, and even to a hardened cynic like me, it was incredible to see how pleased he was that his life had changed, and that instead of the drugs ruling his life, that he was now back in control of his life, and proud of the direction he was heading.

So please help if you can. Thanks!

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