27 Apr 2015

The 2015 London Marathon

If I'm around in London in late April I usually try to go along to the Marathon, as the atmosphere always blows me away - and it's only a short tube ride away. Almost instantly I feel tearful - in awe at the effort and commitment of the competitors, and this year was no exception. I arrived at Temple station at 11.45am and headed immediately up to Waterloo Bridge, where I was early enough to get a great spot from where I could watch and capture the action. My eyes streamed immediately, partly from the wind (it was a particularly chilly day which was great for the runners, not so much for the spectators), and partly from emotion.

 The first competitors to pass beneath the bridge below me were wheelchair racers and blind runners - mostly Japanese women, it seemed, with guides. They were followed by the elite racers - Kipsang and Kipchoge neck-and-neck at that point, and eventually a stream of thousands of ordinary people of all shapes, sizes and ages, who had all no doubt spent the last few months training hard in addition to continuing on with their normal lives. In amongst them - or rather at the beginning of these normal runners - was the incredible Paula Radcliffe, running her last ever marathon, her world record still intact twelve years on. We knew she was approaching as three helicopters circled above her throughout her run. She received massive cheers from everyone along the road, and a huge smile seemed fixed on her face.

I stayed up on the bridge for hours, watching the marshals hurriedly usher people across the road between runners until the road was a constant, brightly-coloured flow approaching Mile 25. I chatted to some of the people around me and helped to look out for their friends and family (we saw a couple and shouted and waved madly).

Eventually I got too cold up there and headed to the balcony of Somerset House to get a different view, before going back to my usual spot, between Waterloo Bridge and Temple, along the barriers that keep the spectators out of the road.

From there I joined the rest of the crowd in cheering and encouraging runners - especially those with their names visible. As usual I was overwhelmed by the incredible effort people had made - particularly those with uncomfortable or ridiculous costumes, such as the rhinos. One man was even wearing a Dr. Who Police Box. Some looked as if they were in excruciating pain, others in a complete daze, while others beamed and grinned as you called their name.

I hoped that the crowd's presence made a difference to the runners and helped them along. Emotional runners hugged friends and family in the crowds.

The presence of the charities was massive too along the sidelines, and they - along with the runners' shirts - reminded me of the enormous amount of money that would be raised in recognition of everyone's efforts. As a recipient of medical treatment last year myself it felt more touching to think of the massive impact that this makes to the success of the charities and their breakthrough research and how peoples' live are improved as a direct result of this and similar events.

I used to come away thinking that I'd have to take part the next year, but that urge seems to have gone now. But I will continue to go back and take pictures of, shout encouragement at, and be in awe of this amazing collection of crazy people.

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