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London Marathon - Kris White

Wednesday, 8th May 2013

Categories: Miscellaneous

Author: Peter Barry

Every year on a crisp and often sunny Sunday morning in April, you turn on the TV to find that over 36,000 people are running the London Marathon for various charities. Sitting on the comfy sofa, you say “I could do that!”

These had been my exact thoughts too for many years thinking that it was something that I would love to do for a good cause.

My mother passed away from cancer when I was just 15 and had been very well looked after by the North London Hospice within the last few months of her life. With this in mind, I was keen to contact the hospice to offer to run for them and raise money for a self funded local charity close to my heart. As a family, we had raised money for the hospice in previous years but this was the first time that I could give back personally.

After being welcomed with open arms and accepted by Natalie Gordon of the North London Hospice, training had to start soon before winter starts to close in.

You read various marathon blogs and training guides for the best preparation for the day but looking back, I don’t think anything can prepare you for what the day will exactly hold for you and how you will react to the millions watching and supporting you throughout the 26.2 mile course.

Training started with a number of local 5 or 6 mile runs around Trent Park, Southgate, Enfield and back through to Winchmore Hill. Steadily increasing one or two miles a week getting to a regular 20 - 23 miles per week. This was extremely tough throughout one of the coldest winters that I can remember. Snow, wind, rain and little daylight hours made the day after day task of training very tortuous.

The big day was getting ever closer with sponsors and donations increasing by the day from friends, family, work colleagues and current clients. I was overwhelmed with the generosity of some that I had not seen in 10+ years but were willing to give for my chosen cause.

The last month of training is the most important to build your stamina for the long period that you need to be on your feet. The mileage increased to 14, 16 and finally 18.5 miles with the last week resting and reserving energy. I felt good, ready to take up the challenge most wince at when you mention the task you have taken on. I had trained for a good 6 month period. I could do no more.
London Marathon - Kris White
The big day arrived with a not surprising restless nights sleep but was completely ready for what was ahead. The day starts at 6 am, getting your kit,  gels and handfuls of jelly babies into your bag to start the journey to Greenwich. The platform had several marathon runners all with their sponsored kit bags in hand looking tired and nervous. Strangely I did not feel nervous. Was this normal?

Arriving at Greenwich, I was met by a close friend also running for a charity close to his heart. By this time it was an hour before the start. The sun was beaming down. A beautiful day, not what I was used to after mostly winter training.

Following signs to the start you see all the runners entering what looks like a cattle pen. All crammed in to go through the start line. Due to the atrocities that had taken place the week previous in Boston, we all held a 30 second silence.  The nerves, if any were now gone.

Immediately after the start, everyone dived into the bushes after drinking so many fluids. Me included. Getting into a rhythm was  hard with so many people in front and around you. The first few miles were quite a blur. I knew my friends and family were at mile 9 with their ‘Team Kris’ banners and t-shirts on.

Arriving at mile 9 seemed very quick. Not really breaking a sweat or having to use any stocks in my pouch. I could see my friends and family from 100 yards away. Waving frantically and shouting my name. I stopped for a minute or so kissing my fiancé and high fiving everyone within reach. They seemed surprised that I was so calm and not  fazed by the whole event. I continued on and soon found myself crossing Tower Bridge. It was an amazing sight seeing so many runners all at once crossing the bridge and taking photos of one of London’s most well known landmarks.

Checking my stopwatch I knew we were close to half way pushing just over two hours in. I was ahead of my scheduled time. As we approached the huge half way banner, the  club runners were already heading towards mile 17 on the opposite side of the road. Quite demoralising. By mile 14 we had  entered the city district passing Canary Wharf, Natwest & The Heron Towers. Still thousands of people lining the streets and shouting your name printed on the front of your shirt.

I realised that my left foot was starting to tingle. Blisters were starting to form. I knew there was nothing I could now do to stop it. Arriving at mile 20, I quickly found ‘the wall’ everyone speaks of when running for so long. Left foot blistering, right foot feeling bruised from dredging the road for over three hours. I stopped to eat a power bar and a few jelly babies to boost my energy, had a stretch and was back running. The heat and lack of food was getting to me. I had taken in a lot of water and Lucozade. A third toilet break of the day was needed.

I had a message that my family and friends were at mile 24. The three or so miles I had until I saw them again felt like hours. My legs were starting to cramp, I was hungry and feeling like I was getting sun stroke. I came out of a long tunnel to see the mile 24 marker. Again my friends and family were there shouting and waving. After a quick hello and a hug from my 8 year old cousin, I felt re-energised for the last two miles.

800, 600, 400 yards to go, running past Buckingham Palace and finally onto The Mall. Huge crowds, music and cheering gives you energy you thought was long gone. Crossing the line I felt a sense of great achievement, relief and disappointment that it was all over. I had raised over £3000 for the hospice so I was not fazed by the pain that would follow over the next few days.

Heading to Central Westminster Hall where the North London Hospice were based for the day, I walked in to a cheer and a buffet of food that was very much needed after several hours of no food. After a quick massage, my friends and family arrived to congratulate me and talk through the amazing experience.

The days following, I was pretty sore. I’m sure I said, never again just after finishing.

I have signed up for next year.

My sponsor page will stay open for a number of weeks so if you would still like to donate to the North London Hospice the link is below.