London Marathon weekend – how can we possibly describe our London Marathon experience in just a few words? There is just too much to say about this truly iconic race and everything that comes with it. We both had the best time this weekend – which actually started on Tuesday at the TAG Heuer Taper Run and carried on through our Friday session at the Running Show, Saturday parkrun and of course Sunday – race day itself. It’s all been brilliant but race day has to take centre stage. We recently wrote about dedicating each mile in the marathon to someone who has inspired you or who you care about to help you get through the bad times and to encourage you to keep running. We didn’t have any bad times on Sunday but we thought that a good (and succinct) way to celebrate this years London Marathon would be by dedicating each mile to someone or something that inspired us along the way. Here are our 26.2 reasons why the London Marathon is the best city marathon of all.

Mile 1 –  House Guests

As always over London Marathon weekend we had a number of house guests who we get to share the whole experience with. This year we had Jim, Ruth, Jack and Sophie join us. You were all such easy and thoughtful guests. We miss you now you’ve gone. We’d like to thank you all for making this one of the best London Marathons ever.

Mile 2 – Runner’s World/New Balance Pace Team

We were both fortunate enough this year to be part of the Runner’s World London Marathon pace team. Cam was pacing five hours and Jacquie, along with Donna, had the six hour bus. We really enjoy pacing and sharing our experience with other runners. (A special thank you here to Donna from Jacquie for such an amazing day). It was good too, as part of the pace team, to get the opportunity both at the TAG Taper run and on the New Balance stand at the Running Show to answer runner’s questions and give advice for race day.

Wearing a pacing flag on race day morning attracts happy, anxious and excited runners alike. Chatting to them while waiting in the pens, hearing their stories, sharing the excitement and hopefully alleviating fears, is always a privilege. The pace team as a whole are very supportive of each other and we get the best cheers from the crowds as we pass by. Such a brilliant experience.

Mile 3 – New Balance Shoes

As pacers we received New Balance kit to wear on race day including a pair of the Fresh Foam 1080’s London Edition. They came in what was described as ‘Neon Emerald’ and were pretty hard to miss. We found them extremely comfortable to run in for the 5 and 6 hours that we were out on the course. A good addition to our collection. NB. Not to be confused with the new green Nike Next% – not yet on general release but worn by Kipchoge and Mo Farah for the race on Sunday.

Mile 4 – Perfect Race Conditions

After last year’s hottest London Marathon on record it was a relief that this year’s conditions were almost perfect for racing. In the week leading up to the 2019 event the Met office had been predicting strong winds and heavy showers. On the day it turned out to be cloudy with a light breeze, some fine rain at times and a high of 15 centigrade. Though cold in the start pens, the temperature was comfortable for running and the lack of sunshine did not dispel spirits.

Mile 5 – Atmosphere in race village

The journey to the start is an experience in itself. We boarded the underground at Chiswick Park en masse with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. The excitement grew at each stop as more and more runners joined the train. There was a bit of a melee at London Bridge with hundreds of  runners going in all directions to board trains but we all made it safely to Blackheath. Here we had to say our goodbyes to friends and with lots of hugs and well wishing head off to our own start areas. We were both in the blue start but connected to the others via a big screen and organiser’s commentary. Time passed quickly as we chatted to other runners, started to get our pace groups organised and watched the earlier wheel-chair and women’s elite race head off. Then it was time for the men’s elite race and mass starts. Pacing five and six hours meant that we were some of the last to leave. These were emotional times with tears from some of the first timers on the realisation of the enormity of the task and the joy of being one of those people on the TV screen that were actually going to run the London Marathon.

Mile 6 – Youngest Female Winner

Mile 6 goes to 25 year old Brigid Kosgei from Kenya, the youngest ever winner of the women’s elite race. Brigid finished in 2:18:20 and did so in the year that had the highest number of women finishers ever.

Mile 7- Exciting elite men’s race

Despite all the hype, perhaps there was never any real doubt as to who the winner of the male race would be. Eliud Kipchoge showed his class once again finishing in 2:02:37. This was a new London course record and the second fastest marathon time in history – second only to his own world record time of 2:01:39 set in Berlin in 2018. What an honour to be running in the same race.

Mile 8 – Passengers on Pace Buses

Marathon pacing is a real privilege. Runners put their faith in you to get them around the course in the time that you declare. During the early part of the race you build a rapport with your group – getting to know something about the runners around you and their hopes and fears for the day. All too often sights have been set unrealistically high and slowly the group splits up. You often pick other runners up along the way but there is always some sadness for those that you have left behind. It’s our experience that people remain grateful for the time that they’ve spent with you – even those who you pick up on route and maybe you just get through a few miles together. Mile 8 is dedicated to all the people we ran with on Sunday on the 5 hour and 6 hour pace buses – whether it was for one mile or twenty. Thank you for spending that time with us. We hope you enjoyed your day.

Mile 9 – Pembroke Athletica Support Team

We are fortunate to belong to a small, inclusive running group that has materialised out of our Richmond parkrun coffee crew. Regular readers of our blog will already have heard of Pembroke Athletica. On Sunday they were truly magnificent. A number of us were running, some were out on the course supporting, others were volunteering and the rest tracking and messaging to keep everyone informed of our own progress, that of other friends and providing updates on the elite races. And they stayed involved to the bitter end!

Mile 10 – Watching other runners and their supporters

One of the things that makes the London Marathon so special is the support on route. You are never far away from a few words of encouragement and in some areas this is coming from crowds that are four or five deep. At London these people are very generous with their support. Even those waiting for someone special have time for the other runners but some of the best moments during the day are when that someone special comes along. This is often the same person that the supporters have said good-bye to that morning, the person they see every day at home without much ado but dress them in running kit and put a London Marathon race number on them and suddenly when they turn up everyone goes completely crazy. In a few fleeting seconds it’s all over but that shout, cheer or hug will get the runner through the next few miles. Well done to all the supporters. Mile 10 is for you.

Mile 11 – Entertainment on route

Along with the supporters the London Marathon route is famous for its entertainment spots. Whether it is steel pans, dance music, opera or even the Morris men – it all helps to pass the time and distract from the pain. A particular favourite this year was the live music truck just after Tower Bridge where we (Jacquie and Donna) danced along with supporters to a rousing rendition of ‘River Deep, Mountain High’ (Jacquie with a close eye on her watch). Thank you to all the entertainers and ordinary people who played music from their own homes – all helps so much. This mile is for you.

Mile 12 – Cal and Ciara

Talking about support on route, one of the biggest surprises for us on Sunday was to see Cal (son/brother) and his girlfriend Ciara amongst the crowds on the embankment – their mile would more accurately be around mile 24. They had been watching the start of the marathon at home on TV and decided to come out to see it for real. Ciara moved to London from Dublin at the beginning of the year. Not previously a runner she had succumbed to the family vibes, started training and had run her first parkrun the day before at Richmond. She said that she enjoyed it.Cal has been very involved in the development of our blog and currently holds the title of Blog manager. He has run a number of parkruns, 10k races and half marathons in the past and has joined Pembroke Athletica for The Green Belt Relay and Endure 24. After the race I detected a definite interest in both of them to run more. The possibility of an appearance in Valencia in December was even mentioned. Experiencing the London Marathon first hand can be dangerously inspiring! The ballot for 2020 is open.

Mile 13 – Reading Road Runners (representing running clubs supporting the marathon)

Again on the Embankment we came across a group of supporters who we know from previous races who belong to Reading Road Runners. Dean in particular we’ve known since the early parkrun days when New Years day involved racing around the countryside trying to get between disparate parkruns in time to run three in a row. Now there is usually one just around the corner. Many of the running clubs have cheering points or volunteer to marshal the route on race day. Some of these runners would love to get the chance to run the race itself but can’t get a place. It’s brilliant that they chose to get involved in someway and enjoy the day. We are very grateful that they do.

Mile 14 – Pacers/Marshals

All along the route there was mutual respect between those who had given their time to help make the day a success. A very common interchange was “Thank you pacer”, “Thank you marshal”. I think the marshals had a much harder job without any of the glory. Thank you marshals – mile 14 is for you.

Mile 15 – Friends we missed

Despite the day being full of friends and family there were some friends who we have come to associate with the London Marathon weekend that we didn’t get to see. In particular our Comrades friends Ally, who ran an incredible 2:40, Sam, Jeane, Ed, Pete and James. It wasn’t quite the same without you lot. Hope to see you all again soon. Mile 15 is for you.

Mile 16 – Thanks a billion

Love it or hate it the charity aspect of the London Marathon is huge. Since its beginning in 1981 marathon runners have now raised over 1 billion pounds for good causes. That has to be worth a mile!

Mile 17 – Church Bells

Mile 17 goes to the Church Bells ringing out all over the Marathon course on Sunday morning but in particular those of St Magnus the Martyr near London Bridge. They were a joyous and calming sound and certainly lifted the spirits.

Mile 18 – Stephen Lawrence

Stephen Lawrence was 18 years old when he was murdered in 1993. This year London Marathon put a special mile marker at mile 18 to celebrate his life. “Because of Stephen we can” was designed by young, London based architects and incorporated brightly coloured plaques with quotes from young people describing the personal impact that Stephen’s legacy has had on them. A powerful and motivational image at one of the toughest parts of the course.

Mile 19 – Run Mummy Run supporters

We first came across the Run Mummy Run group on a recent trip to Cyprus where we paced the Limassol marathon. Run Mummy Run is an online running community of like-minded women encouraging each other to be fitter, healthier and happier by sharing their love of running. They are an incredibly supportive and vocal bunch of runners at the best of times but their cheering point just before mile 19 on the course was phenomenal. Run Mummy Run – this one’s for you.

Mile 20 – Martin’s fifth major

Martin has the difficult job of living in a house where having done “only thirty marathons” he considers himself “not really a runner”. This was Martin’s first time running London. He was meant to run last year but had to pull out at the last minute with an injury. At one point recently it looked possible that he would once again miss out because of illness. All the better then that he did actually get to run and enjoy the day. Martin was running, this his 31st marathon, for the Notting Hill Housing Trust. This was also his fifth major and hopefully he will complete his Six Stars at Boston in 2020.

Mile 21 – Run Dem Crew cheer point

You would have to be well and truly in the zone to miss what is happening at mile 21 on the London Marathon course. It is here that the amazing Run Dem Crew set-up shop to cheer, not only their own members, but every single runner who is taking part in the event. With loud music, confetti cannons, motivational signs (including large head shots of all their runners) and huge amounts of exuberance they make every one feel special as they go by. If anything can give a runner the extra energy needed to complete the marathon at this point Run Dem Crew’s cheer point can do it! Keep on doing what you do best Run Dem Crew – this is definitely your mile!

Mile 22 – Mark’s run for Andy

This time a year ago was a sad time for Mark. His friend Andy had died unexpectedly the day before the London Marathon after suffering a heart attack connected with his Diabetes. A difficult decision had been made on the Saturday to switch the life-support machine off. Mark was running this years London Marathon to raise money for Diabetes UK and Andy’s wife and daughters were there to support. Mark wanted to run a course PB in memory of his friend – not such an easy task when he had raced the 56K Two Oceans Marathon in South Africa just the week before. It’s amazing what the mind can do when required. Mark ran a 2 minute PB and is now perilously close to entering the world of multi-marathon running. Mile 22 is for Mark and all the other runners who ran for a charity close to their hearts.

Mile 23 – Jain’s first London marathon

We first met Jain at Richmond parkrun in 2015 and she has been a active member of Pembroke Athletica from the very beginning. Jain was a 10k runner and triathlete at the time of meeting but she quickly caught the marathon bug and has now run 42. As with Martin this is her fifth World Major – she earned her place at London by volunteering in previous years. Always incredibly supportive of other’s endeavours it’s brilliant to see her enjoying her day out in town and we wish her luck with her next adventure – the Vancouver Marathon this coming weekend!

Mile 24 – Tim’s PB

Tim was running his third London Marathon, and fourth marathon overall, for the Pseudomyxoma Survivor charity. This is a rare cancer that his father has survived. Sunday was special for Tim because his dad was there to support him – and to tell him how proud he was of what he was doing. I think a few tears were shed. We first met Tim earlier this year in Limassol when we were pacing the marathon and he was pacing the half. I’d like to think that meeting us and hearing about the times we ran encouraged him to run a bit faster! I’ve heard mention now of 26.2 being his new favourite distance and having even faster targets in mind. Well done Tim – we are dangerous people to know!

Mile 25 – Bob’s first marathon

Bob is another member of Pembroke Athletica whom we recruited at Richmond parkrun. We consider him a real success story. He started running at parkrun in December 2016. We knew he was hooked when he turned up to run on New Years Day! Next it was 10k, then a half marathon and very quickly a marathon place for London last year. However, again due to injury Bob had to defer but we think it worked out for the best. Age 60 yrs is a good age to run your first marathon. We were really impressed with Bob’s dedication to training, which regularly involved doing a couple of laps of Richmond Park before joining us for coffee on Saturday’s after parkrun. On Sunday he ran to raise money for London’s Air Ambulance Charity – a charity with which he is connected. Congratulations Bob – we take your question ,”What have I got myself into?”, as confirmation that there are more challenges to come.

Mile 26 – Post race Celebrations

The marathon wouldn’t be complete without the post-race celebrations. These started at the Pace Team reception in Hearst House with a few glasses of Prosecco and continued in the Punch and Judy in Covent Garden where we wisely ate some food and drank some more wine. It was lovely to be joined by Robbie and Kim. A perfect end to a perfect day.

0.2 Miles – Our smallest supporters (and their handlers!)

This leaves us with 0.2 of a marathon left (or more like 0.6 in actual running distance) which we have dedicated to two of the smallest members of our support team, Adi and Wilson. Pretty sure that Wilson, a rather characterful sausage dog didn’t have a clue what was going on as he stood on the Mall but Adi was much more clued up and even blew Cam a kiss. Thank you both for helping to make this a really amazing day.