The booklet the London Marathon authorities sent included a map of the route with a little pint glass marker at every pub along the way (which was a logistical godsend for me)–you’ve really gotta love the British…they even put a can of London Pride in the starters’ goodie bag. However, it occurred to me that the route was fenced almost the entire way to keep the riffraff away from us elite athletes; I wrote to a number of these pubs asking if I could call in an order from about a mile out to be brought to the kerb and I’d put together correct change and gave them my bib number. The Lord Nelson (Isle of Dogs, about 16.7 miles from the start) was the first to respond closely followed by the Porter’s Lodge (Monument at about 23.5 miles) both offering to comp me the beverages; then the Angerstein Hotel came through soon after (another free offer, as bogus as the one at the Porter’s Lodge, at 5.3 miles) and I stepped up the search for someplace in the range of 8-14 miles. Sweet: this was shaping up to be the best marathon ever…or second best after this one.
My original plan was to take the World Record for fastest marathon dressed as a nurse, then this jackoff did it much faster than I possibly could (whilst flaunting the “dressed as a nurse” bit). Then, fastest marathon playing a ukulele was rejected by the Guinness people as “too specific,” whatever that means. A friend in Georgia then asked, “if you want to do something absolutely ridiculous and somewhat memorable, why don’t you just go as yourself?” Brilliant in its simplicity, as indeed so am I, that is exactly what did.
Preparation for this event–I don’t think it appropriate to call a 50,000 person clusterfuck like this a “race”–involved all the normal endurance practice: slowly ramping my weekly long runs to around 20 miles, doing some of these with 4-6 beer stops, and carrying a bit of training weight in the form of a cold can of Carling throughout (although some of this was sacrificed en route in the name of the 100/100 Challenge).
Since a lot of the training runs came at the end of the workday in the lousy winter weather so that I was forced to carry a towel and dry clothing and a heavy coat on most trots, I was already prepared to carry a light backpack with a couple of dry t-shirts and some extra Vaseline for my nipples; I also packed the 100th Carling, a cuban cigar and lighter, a bunch of oat cookies, and my mobile (to phone the pubs). One thing that might have helped would have been to include a few runs directly into crowds trying to exit busy subway stations which would have prepared me for the first two or three miles of the crowd.
Okay, enough whingeing about the big race logistics. Once you decide to just enjoy the day as a day out, the London Marathon can be fantastic. It is, more than anything, a fundraising machine but there are some compelling and even heartbreaking stories enacted before your very eyes (these are covered in great extent by better writers in less smart-arsed venues, but try to find the one about the paralyzed woman in the mechanical suit or any of the ones where a loved one ran in memory of the recently departed).
My own run was interrupted to make calls to the ostensibly free beers and, of course, to make stops in pubs for pints. These have been covered on this blog already (links to the names):
Then, at the 25 mile marker I lit up a Cuban, pulled out Carling #100 of the 100/100 Challenge, and ambled along to the finish.
The weather was perfect, sunny and lightly breezy despite the dire warnings from the Met Office of 30 mile headwinds and torrential downpours. Most folks were pretty civilised and I don’t feel at all bad about my splits (a bit embarrassed, but such is my day-to-day existence). Keep in mind that these include the beer stops (a couple of which were inordinately long) and that there were 37,000 folks in the narrow roadways (I could touch at least two people without stretching out my arms full length nearly every step of the way):