London Marathon – a typically British event
It has been going for years but 2021 was my first experience of the London Marathon live.
First let’s get this clear. I didn’t run it. All marathons are unfortunately around 20 miles more than I fancy. Anything much more than a 10k and the challenge becomes less fun, more slog for me. But I fully respect those who do take up the test.
So I did what all newbie spectators do and headed straight to mile 25 out of 26.2. Yes, I was one of those fresh-faced cheerleaders on the sidelines that bedraggled marathoners just love seeing a mile out from the end of their torture.
Mile 25 covers the Embankment area of London. Positioning myself here is not without drama. This is crunch time for many participants and crunchier still for their limbs.
I witnessed a strong looking runner trip on his tired legs and fall in front of me. It was a nasty fall which left him with blood streaming from a cut head. He was eventually attended to by some of the many paramedics dotted around the course, head bandaged and led away presumably for a few concussion checks.
There is grimacing, gutsy looks and a collective belligerent desire to keep moving, in whatever form that looks like. You see plenty as you cover particular sections on foot.
There are the runners stepping to one side to stretch out a calf muscle. There are tear-filled reunions with families who are using apps to track their siblings’ progress from the sidelines. One guy sped past me with a remarkably long mobile phone selfie stick hooked up so he could film his friend above people’s heads.
A clear winner is kinesio tape. It is staggering the amount of this stuff on show at the London Marathon. Shoulders, knees and arms – patching up injury niggles is the name of the game over such long distances.
Fancy dress marathon running in particular seems a very British affair. We embrace fancy dress and don’t care who knows it.
I often think the term ‘fun runners’ is a touch disparaging. Everyone tends to run for fun in some way. Inventive outfits are often donned by charity runners and the colour certainly brings smiles to spectators.
In the space of a few short hours, I spotted at least one person in a giant yellow star, a couple of rhinos, and a bloke in just his pants. Then there was a pint of Guinness, an Aston Martin F1 full team outfit, and the odd dinosaur.
Then there is the wall of cheers. There is a clear roar as you approach Westminster on foot, coming from hundreds of spectators lining the corner of the street. These are proud times for the marathoner as they’re preparing to enter the Mall and final run-in towards Buckingham Palace.
This year’s event, coupled with a virtual London Marathon, saw the whole day pull in an estimated 80,000 runners. Those keen to give it a go for 2022, should head for the ballot.