My Virgin London Marathon


Five days on I’ve got around to posting about last Sunday’s Virgin London Marathon – a race I ran in aid of Action Medical Research.

The marathon is like no run I’ve done before – the atmosphere is superb with people lining the entire route offering cheers, encouragement, drinks, food, music and entertainment. The weather was kind – not too hot, but good for spectators as well.

I finished in 4 hours, 38 minutes and 4 seconds – which was about what I was expecting to run. The first half of the race went really well – I passed 13 miles in exactly 2 hours. But then at 16 miles as the route headed down to the docklands area, I really started suffering from bad cramps. My pace chart tells the story:

Once I’d sussed that this was about being dehydrated as well as fatigued I drank lots of lucozade and consumed as many jelly babies, banana pieces and energy gels as I could. Miles 16 to 20 around the tall buildings of docklands were miserable – with a few thoughts about not completing the race, but as I hit 20 miles and began to head back towards central London, I knew I could make it around the full route.

There was no way I was failing to complete the marathon for the sake of the 6 miles left to run, so it was a heads-down keep going approach – although the last 3 miles were incredible with noisy support from thousands of spectators lining the route along the Embankment.

Running the last few hundred metres past Buckingham Palace and heading down the Mall to the finish was a great feeling – the tiredness and cramping faded away in one last rush for the line!

As well as being about completing a long-held ambition to run the marathon distance, the race was about raising money for a great charity, Action Medical Research.

So far my race has raised £2634 – thanks to my sponsors Public Sector Forums, friends, family and work colleagues. That’s a great total and more than I had ever expected to reach.

I’d also like to thank my supporters on the day: my parents, Jenny and Amelia Benson, Jo and Olly. Their presence along the route kept me going and gave me mental high points to look forward to throughout the 26.2 mile route.

But most of all I must say a massive thank you to my wife Jo and boys Oliver and Toby for their support – both on the day but also during the long winter weekends when I was out trudging through dark wet forests putting in the training miles. I couldn’t have done it without their support and I am very very grateful.

Having done the marathon last week, I’m racing again on Monday at the Whitstable 10K, and then I’m looking forward to keeping fit with running and BMF, but without the pressure to run ridiculous distances every weekend!