Richard Slack was lucky enough to win the ballot for the Claremont place in this year’s London Marathon. I think it is fair to say that he did us proud and he has sent the following report:
London Marathon 28 April 2019
To begin, I am so grateful and felt very privileged to be drawn for the Claremont club place in this iconic event. This also meant that both Marie and myself would run the London marathon in 2019 as Marie had been successful in the public ballot.
Whilst pretty chuffed to have a place, I really wanted to do my best for myself and also the club, so as from December I followed a good training regime. As part of this, I got used to a bi-weekly Friday run from Durham back to Gosforth (18 miles or more depending on route and quayside extension) as well as doing the North East Marathon Club Ashington Woods lapped marathon. This helped ensure, but no means guarantee, that I would be somewhat prepared for the physical and mental hell of the final four to six miles on race day.
Marie and I travelled down to London on the Friday and went to the Expo to sort out numbers. Saturday was a quiet day with a gentle loosener parkrun at Finsbury Park. Saturday night lacked the normal wine fuelled carb loading for me restricted to a just a gentle glass of red wine, purely to calm the nerves. Sunday morning dawned cloudy and cool – fantastic for the race – and not the oven of the prior year. Up early and off to Blackheath for the Blue start getting there around an hour beforehand. All really well signed and marshaled with an atmosphere of mild trepidation with nervous smiles abounding. Come 10.28 I set off proudly in my Claremont Sky Blue, with Marie following around 10.45 as part of the zoned wave start. Roberto had told me about the crowds – he was right – throughout the route the support is unbelievable with massive walls of noise at key points especially at The Cutty Sark and Tower Bridge which sounded like Newcastle winning the league (except that of course will never happen!).
I can say, that the first 20 to 22 miles I really enjoyed and ran a good tempo keeping to around 26 to 27 minute parkrun pace. My strategy to get under four hours. Whilst all my training had largely been on my own, running with a crowd, as we all know, really kept me going and helped maintain the pace. The drinks and gel stations were always a welcome sight coming pretty regularly through the entire course, topped up with peanuts and bananas. The one unknown was running on a sticky road surface after the Lucozade drinks! The crowds continued to be immense through the return leg in Canary Wharf heading at long last for the Embankment at around 22 miles. Still feeling pretty ok at this point, but knew that my legs were beginning to occasionally cramp. Then on 23 miles I felt my left hamstring really tightening up followed by the inevitable big cramp. There I was with a time of under 4 hours well in sight, stood by a bridge with a marshall asking if I needed the St John’s tent. No way! I gave my hamstring a bit of a telling off (polite reporting phrasing), relaxed, took a few little steps and much to my delight carried on at a manageable pace for the final three miles without further incident.
I can’t really remember much about those final 3 miles running by the Thames and round towards Parliament and Buckingham Palace – it was all a bit of a blur by then, however, the finish in sight after the final turn was just sheer pleasure and relief. No sprint finish, just keep on running in the spirit of my whole run strategy. Delighted with a time of 3 hours 48 minutes, well inside my goal, but more importantly that I had massively enjoyed the whole experience and felt really proud in my Sky Blue Claremont standing at the finish area.
Marie too had a great day and run with a time of 4 hours 56 minutes as well as the other Claremonters lucky enough to savour the London Marathon run in cool conditions. Well done to Catherine, Jonathan, Mungai and Marga.
Post race recovery, not mentioned in many running magazines or training plans followed and had been in my mind for some time in the latter part of the race. A bottle of champagne, pork pie with nice blue cheese (and water admittedly). All set up for a curry with Marie in London to end the day off. Sure that could catch on with the elites one day!