London here I come

So the London Marathon. It’s funny because whenever I tell people I’ve never run London they’re always quite surprised.

I mean I guess it is a bit odd. I’ve run eight marathons.I’ve run Paris, Berlin, Boston, Tokyo… I’ve run Bournemouth, Chester, Liverpool and Cheddar Gorge. But not London. And it’s not just non-runners (“yes there are other marathons out there than London”) but runners who know me. Apparently it seems like I’ve run London. But I assure you, I have not.

have had a place for the last few years though. I’m lucky that I’ve got Good For Age so can avoid the ballot. Yes, the male and female times are unfair when you compare them. My sub 3:45 time goal is nothing in comparison to a sub 3:05. It just doesn’t seem right. But those are the rules and I’ve been able to get a place.

It’s a very cheap marathon, all things considered. There are UK-based non-marathon races that are more expensive! It’s around £35? Which I guess is why I’ve deferred a couple of times and ultimately never done it. The GFA is fairly achievable for me (without meaning to sound arrogant, it’s the truth) and the cost of it means I can be a bit blase about it (for now anyway). Tokyo cost an arm and a leg with minimal money recuperation if I was to bail on it, so come hell or high water I was doing it. When you add in a holiday to the scenario, the pressure somewhat mounts exponentially I can tell you.

London has always been a marathon I want to do. It’s one of the Marathon Majors, which I’m trying to tick off. But even before I knew about the Majors it’s one I wanted to do. I think every British runner who runs marathons wants to do London (or at least has considered it) at some point. It’s iconic. It’s our capital. It attracts huge crowds – crowds of people who may never have run, have no idea how far a marathon is and are just out to have a fun day cheering. It’s a tradition on the television… Brendan Foster, Paula Radcliffe and all the fancy dressed fundraising heroes. It’s part of our culture.

I applied last year and got my place (there is no ballot for GFA) and quietly wondered if I would do it 2017 or 2018. As my training for Tokyo didn’t go as well as I wanted I put to bed the idea of doing another marathon in 2017. Long runs were a drag. I was dreading the actual marathon and not looking forward to the trip (yay let’s go eat noodles on my own!).But then I went to Tokyo, thoroughly enjoyed myself and had a whale of a time at the marathon, exceeding my expectations in so many ways. And the marathon bug was ignited again. Before Tokyo I told people I wasn’t going to do any more marathons for the year and they laughed and said “yeah right”. Well I’m a joke of myself I guess.

Like always, I say I’m going to do London but it’s never a guarantee because I’m such a pathetically frail runner. An injury or niggle could creep out of the woodwork and knock me down. But providing things go smoothly and I try to be just a little bit sensible, then hopefully I can turn up to London on April 23rd uninjured. OK not in the best shape of my life, but ready to see what all the fuss is about and finish with a smile on my face.

That’s the plan anyway.

Have you ever run the London Marathon before?

What races are on your bucket list? 

Do you agree with the GFA timings?

14 thoughts on “London here I come

  1. London is a fun marathon! I was lucky enough to get a ballot place on the second try for 2016. The crowd support throughout the course is brilliant! I found it a bit crowded at certain points though. But it’s home and the cheapest marathon I’ve done and got to sleep in my own bed the night before.
    It seems strange that London, New York and Boston have different GFA qualifying times for the same/similar age groups. I’m curious to know what criteria they use. I would love to have a GFA time though.
    My bucket list race is Comrades – “The Ultimate Human Race”. I’m considering it for 2018. Are you planning on doing an ultramarathon?

    • Ahh it sounds fantastic! I’ll be heading down early in the morning so I’ll get to sleep in my own bed too. I’ve done that for Bournemouth and Cheddar Gorge and it’s such a lovely thing 🙂
      Yes! Comrades is on my list too.
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  2. This has reminded me that I need to defer my place ha. I’ve done London 3 times on GFA and this year, I just wasn’t feeling it so will just be up spectating. But I like the option that I can defer and it doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg. I think the GFA for London is pretty relaxed really for women when you look at some of the other times for the majors, and no matter what the physical differences between men and women are, achieving a 3.05 is DEFINITELY harder than a 3.45.
    I’ve found I like the crowds for 20ish miles and then I hate them. I struggled a lot with the last 10k last year and literally I wished they would all be quiet and go away; I’d switched on my music to zone out and get me through the last bit and they were so loud I couldn’t hear it and had to give up!
    However, the expo is great, the general vibe is great and I definitely always get home and re-watch the whole thing on TV…and it gives me the shivers every time. I also always see loads of people running/spectating that I know and don’t expect to see which is an added surprise.
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    • That’s interesting you say that about the crowds. I guess it’s good for a few hours and then the novelty might wear off. I use Aftershokz headphones so I imagine it’s going to be tricky to hear any music through them as they don’t go in the ear!
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…Caffeine and meMy Profile

  3. Yay! As a Londoner I did used to just assume that “marathon” meant “London marathon” but that’s definitely not the case! I did London in 2015 and it was a great one as while its overwhelming how many people run it after the first few miles it definitely didn’t feel like a huge race and the big crowds were amazing. As a ~5 hour runner I find bigger races a lot easier as there were a lot of people finishing around that time. I’d love to do it again one day!

  4. I think I must be the only runner in the UK who doesn’t want to run London- I would rather run one somewhere new to keep my mind more occupied. I have always liked the look of Berlin, or one of the Disney marathons, but no plans at the moment! Plus the crowds in London just look way too much really. And the start pens look awful- you have to be there so early before it starts- to me it all sounds very stressful! But good on you (and less stressful than travelling around the world for one)- you need it for your super cool majors medal! I’ve never looked at the GFA times- unless I was suddenly 70 or something I think I’d have no hope of getting to them- I hear them talking about it on MT but never really processed what it means.
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    • No I completely understand your reasons for not wanting to do it. There is something lovely about a smaller marathon anyway. You feel a bit more like a superhero because you’re one of a few doing it and the few people who support it can cheer directly for you (if they do cheer!).
      Berlin is a fantastic race, but it is still busy and you’re never alone running. There are 40,000 runners! I only remember having to wait about 30-45 minutes in the pen as the hotel was nearby. With London it *is* going to be stressful in the morning…but I just have to do it like you said 🙂
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  5. This is really exciting, I’ve got everything crossed you remain free from niggles between now and London. You’ll love it!

    I’ve completed (I wouldn’t call it run) London three times in 2006, 2008 and 2016. I’ve also not made it to the start line in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012. Had London cost as much as Tokyo to enter I suspect I may not have deferred so many times.

    The Royal Parks Half has been on my bucket list for 10 years. Hopefully I’ll get a place next year.

    Although the male standards are definitely more challenging, I actually agree with the GFA timings. I assume that the race organisers want a more even male/female runner split so make the female standards less challenging. For example in 2016 32,272 men finished and 20,880 women finished.
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    • Ahh the Royal Parks is on my list too! I’ve never actually applied. I’m always too scared because I worry by the time it comes around I’l be injured. I tend to prefer booking marathons ahead of time, but any other races I don’t really for fear of the dreaded DNS.
      Yes you could very well be right about the weighting of the times. It’d be interesting to understand how they do the ballot as well!

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