The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville


Mark is Rosa Miller’s nephew; this is his account of running this year’s London Marathon. He raised 3,800 for the British Heart Foundation and Surrey Blind Association (his father-in-law died of a heart attack and his father went blind overnight)...

So I ran the London marathon and managed to finish within my target of less than four hours. If you’re reading this then I’m assuming you’re either interested in how it went or suffering chronic insomnia....

Why do it!?

A number of reasons really - mainly because it sounded like an amazing thing to do, also I wanted to see if I could actually do it - and raise some money in the process. That’s it really.

The Prep...

I started in mid-December 2009 ramping up from my usual 3-5 mile runs three times a week. Every Sunday morning until the Marathon I added a mile on - up to 20 miles. The icy mornings in January and February were the most memorable! Often with no-one else in sight for hours; it was well below zero for weeks on end and anyone in their right mind would be under a duvet.

The practice Brighton Half-Marathon in late February was the mid point in training... a somewhat soggy affair!

The other part of readiness was nutrition - and what an industry there is around this! Found out I’m OK with energy drinks, quite like energy bars with extra caffeine but gels are not for me. Oh... and chocolate milkshakes are The Thing for recovery!

The Day (Sunday 25th April)

Up early ( and joined up with Reigate Priory running club members at Redhill to share a minibus up to London. Met up with a friend on the bus and the chat kept the nerves away.

Arrived with plenty of time and as recommended went straight to the toilets; queues weren’t too bad but got longer by the third time! This aspect of the morning was one you don’t see on TV... along with the general detritus of discarded clothing and drinking bottles littering the streets.

Blackheath on arrival was grey, damp and cold. I had been expecting a warm day given recent weather and we were all a little taken aback by the temperature. The pre-start sequence was toilet, banana, toilet, Vaseline, toilet, kit bag in to back of trucks, toilet... then in to pen 7 at the blue start. By this time the heavens had opened and we huddled around hoardings to avoid the diagonal rain. One of the strange memories in the waiting pen was the sight of hundreds of people bobbing up and down to keep warm as they either shed spare clothes or dashed to the sides to relieve themselves. The minutes ticked down then we heard the start horn... then we waited.

Eventually the masses surged forward, stopped, surged further and we ambled down the roads to pass through the actual blue start gate.

Miles 0-3... The first few miles were the most exuberant but frustrating. We walked then jogged on and off for about the first 20 minutes. Once the green start runners had merged in and eventually the red starters - with many a jocular boo and hiss - things got moving.

Miles 4-12... all about settling into the rhythm. The streets were full of enthusiastic supporters with many (children mainly) holding out their hands for a high-five. Unfortunately some runners mistook the St Johns Ambulance workers with Vaseline-laden outstretched hands as requiring similar slaps. A messy explosion of goo followed.

Miles 13-20... digging in and remembering this was what the training had prepared me for. I knew Ruth, Jill and the children were aiming to be at miles 13 and 23 so I kept an eye out for them. Ruth bellowed “MARK!!” as I ran past and I waved, shouted something unintelligible and managed a thumbs-up. Tower Bridge immediately loomed and was a spectacular moment. The atmosphere running down the landmark was hugely uplifting and that few hundred yards is an indelible memory imprinted on my mind from the day. The next few miles were tough. Docklands, Canary Wharf, Westferry and back to mundane steel and concrete of the redeveloped East London streets. Approaching 20 miles I knew things were going to get harder.

Miles 20-25.... they say a marathon is in two halves - the first 20 miles and the last 6. This stage is not about physicality, it’s all in the mind - you have to will yourself onwards and forget that your body is yelling “what the hell are you doing!?” Ruth and co were strategically deployed at mile 23 - halfway to the end now - and I needed that.

For much of the marathon supporters had been a massive encouragement - shouting my name (plastered in large letters on my chest) but now their support was crucial. Every call was an uplifting boost to keep going - and unlike some who had (understandably) decided to walk from 20 miles, I was determined to run a continuous race. Those who had slowed to a stroll now proved to be obstacles to weave around and like the start of the run, miles 20-24 were spent dodging around others.  This sucked up more time than I had planned for... and energy. By this time I had either run out of or was fed up with the energy supplements - the taste isn’t one you acquire, you put up with it.

The last mile and 0.2... Somewhat of a blur. I didn’t hit The Wall, it just got progressively more challenging. Approaching Big Ben and Parliament Square supporter numbers increased massively and now the crowd was deafening - but so encouraging. The mile markers stopped at 25 and new signs appeared - 800 metres to go, 600, 400... they seemed much longer.

The last stretch from Buckingham Palace down The Mall used up any latent energy I had, pushing to get under the 4 hour target. Then I was through the finish gate, punching the air at 03:58.

Mile 26.2-27. When people asked afterwards what was the worst part, for me this was it. I felt completely drained and disoriented, there was no fluid to hand and we queued for medals, the official photo, goody bag (with water!) and to collect our bags. I’d arranged to meet the others at the organised meeting points in Horseguard’s Parade. We had chosen Point “F” - which of course was in the far corner. My legs by now had seized up and after meandering through the crowds I collapsed (toppled actually) on to the gravel to await the rescue crew. I chatted with fellow recoverees in the warm sunshine exchanging snippets of immediate memories.

So I ran the marathon - and got the T-shirt ... imprinted on which the word which summed it up nicely...”LonDONE”.

Some stats.... Miles trained: 300+. Pounds lost: 16. Pounds gained: 3,800. Runners: 35,000. Memories: countless.

The next one? Maybe? Let me recover first!

Festival Edition 2010

Mark’s 2010 London Marathon