London Marathon 2014
Race Report: I travelled to London from Dubai and spent 72 hours before I flew back. Landing in Gatwick on Friday morning before Race Day, at 7:30am was quite refreshing and the excitement gets to you as you step out into the crisp fresh London air. It was still fairly chilly (8 degrees). I travelled to the Marathon Expo later that afternoon. The Expo was the same size as New York Marathon’s Expo and I knew that I would find bargains.
Be prepared to spend a little more than what you budget as you will find exciting new products and special offers on familiar brands. I bought some Skins recovery tights at 50% off and picked up some compression socks also at a decent price.
The idea, after returning from the Expo, for me was to rest and that is what I did until the start of the race. Saturday was all about having my feet up and carbo loading. I spent most of the day reading about logistics at the race and mapping my travel plans. I also went over my race strategy. Having 3 plans meant I was not stressed and was prepared for the unknown conditions the next day.
On Race Day, I got to the starting area around 8:30am for the 10am start. This gave me enough time to use the facilities and check in my bag.
I was in the correct pen with many folks who also had put down a sub 4 hour target time i.e. 3:59:59 so I felt comfortable. My training had gone well and I had tapered well so I was quietly confident yet anxious as to how the race would unfold.
London is not a PB race. I had been told this by many but I secretly did not want to believe this. However, I had decided I would not let the race frustrate me in case it didn’t go according to my preferred plan. Therefore having 2 back up plans helped.
My target pace for a sub 4 hour Marathon was 5:40 per km. I started slower due to the crowds but I was not stressed. In fact I felt blessed to be running a Major.
London is the best supported race of the Big 6. The crowds make it so. It is so noisy at times that you cannot hear yourself speak. Other times it is so noisy that you cannot hear yourself think, especially on Tower Bridge where people are 6-7 deep on either side. They make you feel like a rock star. I highly recommend you emblazon your vest with your name as random strangers will make you feel special for sure.
Unfortunately I never managed to hit my preferred race pace due to the speed up/slow down that lasted for the first 15 kms. After that it was very difficult for me to get into a rhythm. I did try at the 32km mark and managed a 5:35 and a 5:28 for 2 kms but then at 35km the cramping started rearing its ugly head.
I chose to slow down and not risk a complete stop by trying to hit my race pace, plus it was too late to do so by then. A slower pace was pretty much the focus for the 6kms that followed. The last km and 200m were all about saving face and plodding to the finish line as people just cheered you on. My finishing time was 4:23:53. I was delighted.
I went out to celebrate with some friends and was on a plane back to Dubai within 20 hours of finishing the Marathon.
Bottom line: London ought to be on your Bucket List if you want to run a Major. The crowds are incredible, the sights are spectacular and the organisation flawless.
Start time: 10am – depending on the pen you are assigned, it could take from a few minutes to up to 15 mins to cross the start mat. Fortunately its net time that gets recorded
Course description: Starting in Blackheath park, South East London, the course heads towards further East towards the Thames Barrier, where it turns westwards towards Rotherhithe. It then turns north crossing Tower Bridge and then heads East again. After doing the round in The Isle of Dogs, the course heads back towards Canary Wharf and hits Poplar High Street in East London. The route then takes you along the Embankment towards the Houses of Parliament and turns right towards Buckingham Palace and finishes on The Mall
Weather conditions: 10 degrees to 16 degrees. Sunshine with no cloud cover (sun felt hotter and harsher than Dubai)