Wimborne Athletic Club

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London 2009 – the snail’s report

Was it going to be third time lucky in the London Marathon, mused the club snail, idly munching on another piece of lettuce. Hmm … let’s see.

Ballot – successful – first time ever.

Training – tick – not too bad although could have done with a few more long runs.

Maintenance massages – tick (thanks Nigel Eldred!). 

PBs set in training – one or two.

Injury free - tick.

Training companions – tick – Debbie Whittle and Tim Box – well matched and both fit. 

Strategy – sorted – 10 minute miles and let’s see how we go.

Maybe looking good for a slowish PB? Well – that was the plan …

On the day - we lined up with a fist full of pacing bands (so we could hedge our bets as we went round!) and crossed the start line fairly quickly – inside 15 minutes. However, although we had been well placed in pen 8, a last minute ‘comfort break’ (which we figured was a smart move to miss the crowds!) after the race had started, meant we lost a lot of ground to the slightly slower runners behind us, and we hadn’t even covered 10K in the first hour. A lot of time and effort was spent weaving around and although we were still quite comfortable most of the race, we remained behind target times all the way round! In fact it was a ‘busy race’, with few natural breaks in the running throng to let us spread out a bit and stretch our legs. Although the sun wasn’t quite so hot as 2007, its effects were none the less felt and it soon became apparent that we weren’t going to break the tape - or any other records on this occasion!

Although we had planned to run together, Debbie became separated from us and thinking we were in front of her, steamed ahead, only to be caught out by severe calf cramps in the closing stages, making a time inside 5 hours well nigh impossible. Tim, however, was determined to dig deep and although he later admitted it was the hardest thing he had ever done, was rewarded by a time of 4.52.00, only marginally behind yours truly, the snail.

Although well down on the time I was hoping for I actually felt fine at the end and a deeply frustrating feeling of could/should have done better … Hats off to the serious WACers though who really showed us how it was done! Well done to you all!

PS Was it worth it …? Oh, come on! Speaking personally – I wouldn’t have missed it for the world – PB or no! For me, the whole occasion is worth every second and every mile of the training.  It’s got to be the ultimate feel good occasion that really shows us Brits at our best, either as spectators or runners. Here is another runner’s thoughts captured by Runners’ World:

The most humbling moment for me was at the beginning.  I was at the back of Pen 8, waiting to start when I got chatting to a Prostate Cancer Charity runner next to me, who said he was dying.  He planned to walk with the help of morphine doses administered by a nurse who would meet him at various points along the course.  He had a lesion in his hip and the cancer was in his bones.  How could I possibly complain of any ache or pain after hearing that?’

What can you say after that except - Virgin London Marathon April 25th 2010 – here we come!

PS The ultimate disappointment on the day has to be – the finisher’s medal … I’ve had better things fall out of a Christmas cracker!!

Helen Allen


London Marathon WAC times:
Jerry Shield – 2:55
Adrian Mead – 3:09
Craig Dixon – 3:17
Andy Horsley – 3:20
Andy Porter – 3:37
Becky Wood – 3:43
Rich House – 3:57
Nigel Eldred – 3:58
Paul Grist – 3:59
Helen Allen – 4:51
Tim Box – 4:52
Debbie Whittle – 5:06


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