London Marathon has always had a special place in my heart. An event that is so special to bring people together, and one that I have so many amazing memories from. On 2 October 2022 I ran London Marathon for the 10th time (in person), and still continue to have firsts. It was my first time running London Marathon in the Green Start, and it was the first time with an Official World Record “attempt”.
My London Marathon journey dates back to 2011. It could have dated back much earlier as I entered the ballot half a dozen times before, or more. Back then you used to get entry if you applied and missed the ballot for 5 years in a row, but I did not know this at the time. So despite applying for more than 5 years, I missed the ballot once. This just isn’t sustainable any more because of the numbers of people that apply and miss the ballot each year.
After years of attempting to gain entry to London Marathon, which at the time was the only Marathon on my radar, I decided to run for Charity, and I decided to run for Save the Rhino. When I secured my place I was asked if I wanted to run in a Rhino costume, which I did not know about at the time, but of course I said yes. Then in 2013 I got my first (and only ballot place) so far. I must have entered the ballot close to 20 times and it really is so random, some people get in first time and multiple times, other people miss out. But keep entering because you have to be in it to win it. In 2013 I ran a Good For Age time. I needed sub 3:10, and pushed hard to get 3:08:53, which remained my PB until 2021. I was over the moon, only to find out that after the event they changed the GFA time to 3:05.
In 2014 I was very lucky to get a place on the Official Pace Team. I ran the 5:14 team, which at the time was the slowest group. In 2015 I paced 4:30, before finding my happy pace at 4:00 in 2016, which I paced in 2017, 2018, 2019. I was due to pace again in 2020 but obviously the marathon was cancelled. I have always loved pacing London Marathon and have so many memorable moments helping and supporting thousands of runners to their goal times. I always leave with a sore throat from cheering and shouting to those around me, and this is something I would love to do forever.
In 2021 the pace team did not return, and I ran for Cancer Research, beating my PB with a 3:04 (which I beat again a few months later). This was a Boston Qualifier and the start of another Journey. Then with the return of the pace team in 2022 I had hoped to return to the team. I’ve always given a lot to make the experience of others great, supported and motivated, and always delivered on pace. Unfortunately I was not selected this year which was a disappointment for me, but I am pleased to see other pacers on the start line that I had helped support in the past, and wish them all the best.
I already had a place running with Cancer Research again. I haven’t hit my fundraising target, so I wanted to do something different. So I asked for costume ideas, and I spoke with Cancer Research who advised they had the shoe costume. So this is where the madness started.
I ran in the shoe for the first time at the Big Half. It is heavier than it looks, and awkward to run in. But the biggest issue is how hot I get in there, as it is very enclosed. I can see that the shoe used for the current record has a much bigger opening, tilts back more which gives more space for the legs, and looks lighter. I finished the Big Half off pace for the record, so this was always going to be a challenge. I thought it was still possible as it was a hot day at the big half, and with the temperature drop and rain expected on London Marathon race day I thought I would be able to stay cool.
London Marathon 2022
After getting myself and kit ready, I knew it would be an early start on race day. I also had to check in and verify my costume early at the Guinness World Record tent, so I really didn’t want to miss this. So I set off at 05:30, wearing my costume, ready for the day.
I arrived early to Green start, which is much smaller than the Red and Blue starts. Because I was so early there were not any toilet queues so I made the most of this before verifying my kit. It is funny how widely the records are interpreted. The guidelines are very strict, but there are some costumes that stretch this boundary making the costume far easier to run in, whereas others just look so tough.
It was great catching up with some of the other record hopefuls before the start, and it wasn’t long until we got started. I didn’t know what pace I could realistically run. I needed to average around 8:45 for the record, but thought 8:00 min miles would be possible. So my plan was to run the first mile at 8:00 to see how it felt and adjust accordingly.
The first mile was perfect in 7:56, but this was not going to be sustainable, so I backed off slightly running the next few in around 8:20. I reached 10k on track for the world record and I felt good. But where was the rain promised, and where did the sun come from. We started with a cloudy cool sky, but after a few miles there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and I certainly wasn’t getting any breeze in my costume. I was hot and dripping by 5k, and my temperature was increasing continuously.
I had tried to pull the straps tight so that the shoe lifted slightly and wasn’t banging my knees, but from around 10k it was lower and I had to use my arms to hold it up which made it harder to run. I had strapped my gels to a hydration vest as I could reach my shoulders, but with the small arm holes and costume, once my arms were out I could not access anything on my body, and was very restricted.
I carried on until about 9 miles where I was getting really overwhelmed with the heat. I slowed slightly and managed to get to the half way point on track for the record, running 10 minutes quicker than the Big Half. But a mile or two later I knew the record was off the table. I had only reached half way in time because of the earlier faster miles, and I just didn’t have it in me to speed up. By this time my legs were very tired. I’m used to running multiple marathons, but my legs were feeling it, and I think this is to do with the heat, and the amount I was sweating, so I lost more salt than I usually would.
Once the record was not going to be possible I slowed down. I wanted to keep moving and not stop running, and frankly I wasn’t interested in finishing just off the record. As the time went on I think it was sensible for me to slow as I continued to feel hotter and hotter and I honestly think if I held the intensity there would have been as much chance of me getting the record as me passing out from the heat, the latter being the most likely ending.
So instead I tried to engage with the crowds, but I must have looked a hot sweaty mess. The screams of “shoe” will never leave me, the dad jokes about shoes people said as they passed me, the support all the way was just incredible. I saw so many friendly faces as I was running, and I am very grateful for the support. I ran my first marathon as a Rhino in 2011, so on my 10th London Marathon it was great to run in a costume again. Today was not my day, I was just too hot and my legs couldn’t pick up the pace, but the reality is I didn’t enter for the record. Yes, it would be nice and it would help raise more awareness for Cancer Research, but I hope I did that anyway just be finishing in the Cancer Research shoe.
110 events marathon plus, 95 marathons, and my 10th London Marathon (plus of course my 2020 virtual London Marathon). After all of this, London did not disappoint, this is another memorable one. Huge shout out to Julie who ran many miles with me at the end. I honestly have no idea how many, but I was struggling, and she kept me going giving me water. We passed many people who were supporting me, and I was so grateful.
I always love seeing my family in St James Park around 1k to go. London is the one race they love to come and support me and i always look out for them. I was so pleased to see them, even if i was an hour late.
Sometimes your body can keep going until its done, and that is what happened to me. I carried on over the finish, I always feel bad for those who stop just around the corner of the finish line. I kept going and stopped. When I stopped some volunteers came to see if I was OK, probably as I looked terrible. But I was OK, walked on and got my medal. But at this point I just felt so overwhelmed with the heat that I asked someone to undo my straps so I could take to costume off, then I had to sit down, almost immediately I was sick. This is just the second time I have been sick after a marathon, the first is when I became dehydrated at the end of Berlin Marathon 2014. After 5 minutes I was fine, I just needed to be left alone and to cool down.
Dehydration, overheating, I’m not sure exactly what it was, but I kept going until the very end. Now I still have a fair bit to raise for Cancer Research, so please can you help: Donate, share, and give me ideas about what to do next. We all know someone impacted by Cancer, I want to make a difference.
Well done to everyone who took part in the London Marathon. How was your day? I would love to hear all your stories. Why did you run, did you achieve your goal, will you be back?