Is this already overdue? Just when you think that a busy life will make this year feel longer, four months have passed and you aren’t sure where they went. Further, I consider whether this means the hard part is behind me. Than I am reminded that I still have to do a marathon in South Africa. Speaking as an Englishman who found Paris unbearably hot, I will melt.
Far be it from me to complain, while seventy people in the UK alone are diagnosed with a form of blood cancer every day – these people are all looking for their perfect match, while time ticks away. All the difference is made simply from being a name on a register – a bespoke cure on a proverbial shelf. For me, it is and always will be, a cause I am happy to give up my time for. The importance of being a part of this is far understated: if you are 16-30 years old and interested in finding out more about the register, visit Anthony Nolan’s page here. Alternatively, if you are 18-55, you can still go to DKMS here.
I have historically been a fairly cynical human person, afraid to ask too much from, or of, other people. Last year I took part in ‘Strictly Bicester’, an annual charity event in Bicester, training up to 24 local beginners to dance in a competition in a mere 8 weeks. The prospect terrified me, but not as much as having to ask people to donate. I feel guilt – knowing that people work and support and provide for others, and to then give money to a cause that I feel strongly about. So, the weekend before London, the lovely girls at Phoenix Hair Salon in Bicester (no shame in name dropping) hosted a charity hair-cutting day: giving up their day’s earnings to cut hair, sell cakes and put up a fantastic raffle. Over the course of the day we raised an astonishing £1000; more than I ever hoped for. On one hand, it felt warming to see so many strangers take a vested interest in our cause – on the other hand, I met an older gentleman who bartered a donation in exchange for my vow to walk a 100-mile race next year. Sooo, now I have to do that. Swings and roundabouts…
The London Marathon is like Christmas for running. An absolute delight of a day out – if you aren’t the spectators trying to navigate the str
eets and subways. Following a chance encounter with Paula Radcliffe at the marathon expo while collecting my number (I didn’t act like a 12 year-old girl meeting Harry Styles AT ALL), myself and the fantastic support crew who had come in with me made our way back into London: with my twin and a friend to go out drinking, and I to find somewhere close to eat and sleep early. Jokes on him, I felt great when I woke up at 6:45am…
Marathon morning was nerve-racking as always. I would love to be the guy who turns up early to be at the front, but I dread the awful anticipation of waiting around – anyone who knows me will tell you I never get anywhere early, and this was no exception. 09:45am, after a pitiful breakfast and a whole lot of nerves, I arrived at the start line to an air of nervous excitement, joviality and camaraderie. Having to walk for half an hour before crossing the line is fairly anticlimactic as starts go, but before long we crossed the start line and… ran alongside a rhino for an uncomfortably long time. In fact, it’s hard to find anywhere else in the world where you can run past a rhino, aeroplane, fridge, telephone box, knight and gorilla in the space of a few miles.
I have always loved London, that is no secret. I have a lot of fond memories in the city, and I challenge any good millennial not to be drawn in by the bustle of life, no matter the time of day. But you ask many what London is, and they think of the West End, The Shard or maybe even Shoreditch and Camden. But running through Greenwich, Deptford, Poplar and Bermondsey, all places on the doorstep of a popular landmark or area, it is absolutely fascinating to see a different side to London: all untouched by tourism and hidden in plain sight. More than architecture alone, people make marathons. Four marathons down now, and what made London so great is the culture of togetherness. Never in another city, have I seen so many keen spectators turning out for the sole purpose of being there and enjoying the marathon – in Paris we barely disturbed brunch for most. People, who deferred their Sunday laze to come down the steps of their family townhouses to watch thousands of people make a poor life choice. But the people of London, and more importantly those who made the journey in, are the essence of why London will be the most enjoyable experience of my life. I could not thank Anthony Nolan enough for the support, guidance (and free food!) they provided leading up to and on the day; being pampered afterwards was the cherry on the cake.
This weekend I have to slide into ice water, climb lots of high things and wreck my essential joints for two days running, in the first Tough Mudder Obstacle Races of this season near Henley, Oxfordshire. All I can say is, I’m looking forward to a cider waiting for me at the end.