Race Review: London Marathon 2017

Monday, May 1, 2017

I am very happy to share with you my thoughts on the Virgin Money London Marathon (VMLM) my first Abbott World Marathon Major of 2017. It has been a challenging four months of prep for one race, but it was worth it.  Thank you to everyone who reached out to me with best wishes in the week leading up to the race and then congratulations after.  It meant a lot to feel the love.

Race entry and fees: Hugely popular with runners worldwide, VMLM has a 1 in 19 chance of winning the ballot.  Most people opt for charity places or if you are fast enough, a'good for age' entry.  I ran with Plantlife who asked me to raise £1000 this year (it might change for 2018) after paying £50 registration fee.  I probably ended up spending £200 of my own money across the several fundraising events I organized.

Course and bogs: I was in the red start in corral 8 and bumped into Haydy walking to the same start zone so we chatted a bit along the way.  It was very organized and sign posted for bag drop in large trucks and starting pens in the main road.  Before checking my bag, I popped a handul of EnergyBits and pulled out a Bounce ball for a last minute snack.  The port-a-loos were arranged in little U shapes along the edge of the park, which made cueing much more organised.  Charlie and Tom came over to say hi and to alert us to the shortest loo queue on the world. Score! I ended up leaving my corral after the start of the race to use the loo last minute anyways and was really glad I did.

Queues for the loos
I wore my new Kalenji bum bag from Decathlon which fit four MyProtein energels, my phone, and a 500ml water bottle with Tailwind. There was plenty of water stations along the course at every mile from mile 3 to mile 25.  Lucazade, one of the major sponsors, provided sports drink  at miles 5, 10, 15, 19 and 23, as well as gels at two points along the way.  Port-a-loos were stationed at several points along the way.  I stopped at mile 8 for a quick pee (unlike Berlin when I stopped several times in a variety of locations).

Location:  The race starts in South East London in Greenwich and ends on The Mall by Buckingham Palace.  The 26+ miles winds it was through many of the streets north and south of the Thames.

Course map at the expo

Atmosphere:  This day has to be the one day of the year that everyone in London is happy.  People are friendly, chatting with strangers along the side of the road and on the Tube.  The  majority of the course is well-stocked with people cheering for friends and strangers alike.  Many spectators carry homemade signs and others hand out jelly babies to the runners.  It is truly an amazing day to be in London, whether you are running or cheering.  I am so grategul to have had James at Mile 20, my Team Naturally Run girls at Mile 22, and Advent Running at mile 24.  It made all the different to get to the finish line.
Crossing Tower Bridge. Nearly 1/2 way!
Goody bags and bling: The medal is substantial with good weight.  I might have missed a chance from Princes Harry and William giving me my medal, but I didn't think they would still be around by that point. My goody bag contained an apple, sweet and salty snacks, a few flyers about Virgin companies, plus a few drinks (water, coconut water, and a guava Lucazade).  The finisher shirt that came in the goody bag was a bit odd because it has an ice cream cone on it saying 'I licked it'.  I really don't get the reference.

New PB of 4:30:07
Snack attack! Oldland was more interested
in the snack than my presence.
Things to know if you want to take part next time:  I would say not to bother carrying water with you as there are stations nearly every mile.  But see how you do on your training runs to see if this is appropriate for you.  I noticed with this training cycle, I became really hungry on long runs and craved real food.  Next time, instead of gels, I would carry Clif bars or Bounce balls over the spare two gels.  Sabine suggested I have James hold a snack for me, and I am so glad I listened to her!  I would also encourage my supporters to carry a balloon or inflatable something so they stand out in the crowd.  I tried to convince James of this this year but he didn't believe me.  He does agree with me now that it is best to leave the dog at home at home because of the packed crowds and all the sugary candy on the ground.

Feeling like you are up for the challenge?  The Virgin Money London Marathon ballot opens 1 May 2017 and closes on 5 May 2017.  Magazines are posted in the autumn to let you know if you have won an entry.  Let me know if you are lucky!

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