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London Marathon 2009
by El Zombie (aka Tim Box)

For many years even before I started running I had admired those who ran the London Marathon. I would watch the live coverage on the TV and think to myself I wouldn’t mind having a go at that.

I started running with Wimborne 3 years ago when I was 50, having not run any distance since I was 15 at school. I applied for a London place through the ballot on two occasions and had been rejected, I was also unsuccessful to win a club place the first time. This time I was determined to get in, rejection in the ballots meant I needed to win a club place, so I completed 11 out of 12 RRL runs, marshalled Wimborne 10 and with my rejection I had 13 chances in the club draw. Looking at the odds I had to win a place, and I did. The look on my face at the Christmas party must have been, ‘Oh dear what have I done’.

There’s always a lot of support with Wimborne, Nick formulated a training programme, but being close to Christmas my plan was to start in earnest in the New Year. I had 16 weeks to rack up some miles. I struggled with training and picked up an Achilles tendon problem and thought I would have to pull out, but a few sessions with Nigel Eldred got me sorted. Sixteen weeks sounds a long time but momentum builds up and the marathon is only a few weeks away, Debbie, Helen and I had been out for some long runs to get some mileage in.

Marathon week was here and there was one last trip to Nigel, Saturday morning, then it was on the Poole Runners coach with Adie, Jerry and Andy (thank you Angie for organizing the coach and hotel, that made it so easy), I am so glad I was with them rather than left to my own devices. I would never have made it to the Excel or the start, I’m a country boy!

Saturday was collect your number, get some rest and out in the evening for a meal, we met up with the other Wimborne runners. It was an early night, I managed to get a few hours sleep but was woken at 3am by sirens  and  the noise of a big city. I was sharing with Adie he was in the land of nod. The alarm was set for a 5.30am breakfast and on the coach for 7am to be at the start for 7.30am. The atmosphere on Blackheath was starting to build as runners steadily arrived, there was music, commentary, big screens and the Toilets - the queues were enormous. Debbie, Helen and I met up at pen 8, Blue Start and within no time we were on our way.

The weather was beautiful if you were a spectator, but just too hot for me, I have never experienced crowds and noise to that magnitude, for 26.2miles people shouting at you, music from every pub, street corner, underpass, drums, whistles. I thought I was going to take in the sights of London run at a nice steady pace and get in around 4hrs 30mins. How wrong could I be it was 27miles of dodging and weaving around people, not risking taking your eyes of the road for a moment for fear of running into someone. As we passed 14miles the lead runners were coming back at 21miles.

Debbie pulled away from us as we entered  the Isle of Dogs, but we caught her up as we came up to 21miles, only 5.2miles to go, it was tough, my legs were heavy, Helen and I were shoulder to shoulder, Debbie was suffering with cramp and had dropped back. Birdcage Walk was coming up and I knew the Wimborne supporters were waiting, I was telling myself they’re on the right-hand side at the 600m mark. Where were they? I couldn’t see them, perhaps they’ve moved round the corner, not there either, oh well I’ve taken a longer time than I had expected perhaps they’ve gone home! I crossed the line just behind Helen who managed to find that bit extra. She was there at the finish to meet me, I think my first words were, ‘That was horrible I’m not doing that again’ I was absolutely exhausted, my legs were jelly, it was the most I could do to walk up the ramp to have the chip taken off, collect the goodie bag and drink everything in it, get a photo, collect my bag, and make my way to meet and greet with the thousands of others.

This is where I have rightfully earned the title of ‘El Zombie’ I can’t remember passing Cutty Sark (although it was behind some hoarding), London Eye, Canary Wharf, I did get a glimpse of Big Ben, and of course running within feet of the Wimborne supporters, who said they were screaming at me (I do apologise).

My initial reaction was of disappointment with my time 4hrs 52mins 27secs, but on reflection, the weather was far too hot for me, I drank 4.5ltrs that day. I came 17,835th out of 35,000+, 1339th out of 1813 in age.

Did I learn any lessons? Yes never say you are not doing that again, on Monday I was registering on line for 2010. I shall be in the next age group 55-59yrs. Should I be lucky to get a place next year my aim would be to take longer to build up my mileage and have a week longer to taper, and hopefully knock a few minutes off my time. Now I have had time to reflect on the weekend, it was a fantastic experience and a big thank you to all the Wimborne supporters.

Tim Box

 

 
 
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