The Step Forward Blog
11 weeks ago this Sunday morning; I was sitting in a park in Greenwich doing some serious people watching. I saw a girl queuing up for a portaloo on stilts (the girl, not the loo), a giant apple, a Lucozade bottle, a monk, several people dressed up as toilets, a giant tiger, a hairy caveman and a very brave man wearing nothing but trainers and a leopard print mankini. By the end of the day I had even more sights to add to the list – bleeding nipples (not mine), comedy signs (“Run, total stranger, run”), my friends and family manning a jelly baby station, and the best sight of all, the sign in St James Park for 800 metres to go.
If you haven’t done the London Marathon … do it! You can do it! And there is no better way to experience London at its most friendly, exciting and atmospheric. As I started out I kept being puzzled as I could hear people shouting my name. I assumed there must be another Jane running near me, until I remembered that I had my name on my vest. I hope everyone who cheered me and the other 37,000 runners on were rewarded by the smiles of gratitude on our faces at every encouragement.
There are for me two iconic moments of the London Marathon. The first is crossing the river at Tower Bridge. You literally turn the corner onto Tower Bridge into a wall of sound – the bridge is filled with TV crews, cheering supporters with signs, sweeties and shouts of support. It revives you enough to get you over the half way mark and out into the bleak circle of the Wharf.
About ten miles later is the second point that I had in my head for the previous 24 miles – the Blackfriars tunnel. It’s the only place on the course where there are no spectators, and as you enter the dark tunnel it feels like a surreal dream world, with runners around you stopping to walk, stretch, wee (mainly the men) and generally have a moment. The tunnel is really dark, and the floor is covered in discarded sports drinks and gels. It lasts for barely five seconds until you’re suddenly out the other side of the tunnel with the 24 mile marker in sight and a pretty good idea that you’re going to make it.
From then on in the crowds pull you along with the strength of their support and the camaraderie between all the runners is so high. Even so, I was barely sure that I would ever get to the finish until with one stumbling step I lifted my head up to see that 800M to go sign. I managed to up the gears from a shuffle to a run (though not quite a sprint finish) to make it over the line with a big big smile.
Six weeks later I’m still smiling with the feeling of having taken part in such an iconic event. A massive THANK YOU to everyone who cheered me on, offered me jelly babies, gave me water and especially to everyone who sponsored me and supported Step Forward on 22 April.
Don’t forget you can still sponsor Jane at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/quickstepper