Another Ultramarathon Running Blog

2017 London Marathon

At the start of the year London was going to be the ‘sub 3’ attempt but having successfully managed to achieve this a month earlier and then suffering a piriformis muscle strain (which still hasn’t fully settled) then this wasn’t on the cards and so London became a planned ‘fun run’.

I have managed to run over the past month to six weeks but not to properly train but strangely race results (for me) have been pretty good. With planned events building up to the GUCR, a 90% effort run was required and I elected to run in fancy dress with a return of the Hulk Hogan costume I used at Reading Half. My running buddy Alex Whearity was also taking part a week after Boston and elected to join me as my tag team partner also following the grown men in lycra theme by dressing up as John Cena. I think we replicated the ‘muscle men’ look quite well… perhaps not.

Cena & Hogan on their way to the start.

Paul Stout was making a return to events are his injury lay off and we travelled down to the start with Wendy Shaw who was also participating as a guide runner on the day. As we all had different start zones, we went out separate ways in London to get different trains to the start.

This year there were a mass Red and mass Blue start zones, then there was a fast good for age start zone where Alex was starting (below sub 3) and then I think the Green start was the slower good for age zone (3hrs and above) where I was situated having used a 3.00 qualifier I ran last year.

Alex and I had planned to meet up on the course despite different start zones and he texted me to say he was near the front of his start zone which meant I needed to get near the front of mine and bomb the first few miles otherwise I would never see him, no pressure at all! As the start zones congregate around mile 3, we had agreed to meet near the archway at mile 4.

With Andy & Tremayne

I lined up at the front of my zone and bumped into fellow ultrarunners Tremayne Cowdry and Andy Horsley and we chatted until the start of the race. Ahead of us was the celebrity zone. I did get a strange look from ‘celebrity runner’ Shaun Marsden (who was being paced by his buddy Sophie Raworth) who totally failed to recognise me, so at least my disguise (costume) was working.

Can you spot celebrity runner Shaun?

I think they probably should have filtered the celebrity runners into the field from one side as when the race started the faster of the slower good for age runners (people running around 2.50 – 3.10 pace) all sprinted off to get some clear road and most of the celebs were likely to get overtaken at the busy start.

After a pretty rapid first 5k (around 20 mins) I called Alex to find out how far ahead he was and we worked out I was about 30 seconds to a minute ahead of him and so I slowed and waited at the 4 mile marker for him to catch up as hundreds of runners passed me thinking… “yep fancy dress runner has blown up already”.

Cena & Hogan unite. Tag team domination!

We managed to meet up and ran the next few miles together, high fiving the crowd, pulling wrestling poses and still running pretty quickly. We were still running sub 7’s for the next 5-6 miles. Thankfully the fancy dress outfits were going down well and thanks to all the supporters who were out on the course and gave me a shout out along the lines of “Go Hulk”, “It’s Hulk Hogan”, ”Wrestlemania Brother!” and of course “Watcha gunna do when Hulk Hogan runs past you!”. I tried to wave, pose or acknowledge each shout out but did chuckle to myself when someone from the crowd gave me a shout, I turned round to wave and missed who it was, to then hear a “F**k you then”.

“U can’t see me”

It was a pretty warm day and I was getting hot dressed in a baselayer, cotton t-shirt, wig and moustache and took the opportunity to run through the showers on course. I had to flick some of the hair from the wig out of my eyes a few times (never expected to write that in a race report) to find my wig was sweaty… nice. I could feel my piriformis muscle pulling a touch but it wasn’t impacting my running, it’s just a bit of a pain that it hasn’t settled down yet.

To be honest, we were still running at a fairly decent pace and a bit quicker than ‘fun run’ pace. I had to stop at the urinals on the course around mile 8 or 9 and then lost sight of Alex. Any time you stop for a toilet break during the race then the amount of time you think you spend at the stop gets multiplied by 10 and I think I was there for a good 20 minutes! (Probably 30 seconds to 45 seconds or so). I re-joined the race and picked up the pace again and was still running sub 7’s in the hope of seeing Alex which unfortunately didn’t take place as I never saw him again.

As we hit the half-way point, the atmosphere at Tower Bridge was fantastic with lots of colour and noise from the supporters. This was definitely one of the best parts of the race. I went through the halfway point a shade under 1.30 on my watch and came to the conclusion that I was working far too hard for a planned fun run and decided to ease back. This meant that I started to drop back through the field as both the 3 hour pacers (green and red) went ahead of me.

Tower Bridge

Feeling a little more comfortable now, I churned out a few miles carried on waving to the crowd. I was also carrying a GoPro around the course and was capturing a few video clips which I will edit and post up later.

Jay Macdonald bumped into me around mile 20 ‘ish. Jay had a great run , he was looking good when he passed me but was working hard so fully deserved his sub 3 time at the end.

My pace dropped a bit from mile 20 onwards into the 7.20m/m range so the effects of the quickish start were probably catching up with me now and I was looking forward to ticking off the final few miles. As we know, during the latter part of the race the effort level normally increases to maintain the pace and I relaxed a bit which accounted for the slowing pace.

However, the crowds and supporters at the end gave me a lift. The crowds built up again as you head towards the finish and I have to say the final 2-3 miles was brilliant with a noisy, raucous crowd cheering on all the runners. Definitely up there in terms of atmosphere compared to the other couple of times I have run London.

Getting closer

I ran the last couple of miles enjoying the atmosphere of the race and then hit the final couple of turns to the finish. I glanced to the right to see myself being filmed on the large video screen running to the finish which was great.

An appearance on the ‘Titan Tron’ at the end.

I crossed the line in 3.05 something with a 1.30/1.35 split which was probably a bit more than ‘just a training run’ effort but I consciously eased off a touch before half-way so it wasn’t quite a maximum effort. To be honest, I wouldn’t have run sub 3 today in view of the lack of quality training over the past month or so even if I had tried.

I met Alex at the end who ran a 2.54 a week after Boston and we headed down the pub and Stouty and Wendy finished before making our own way back home.

For a mass participation event, the organisation was really good. It was busy (as expected) particularly on the trains to the start but everything seemed to run like clockwork from my perspective and we had no issues getting to the start, dropping off or collecting bags, finding toilets on the route or meeting up afterwards. Once again the crowds were brilliant which gave the runners a massive lift. Congratulations to the organisers and all the volunteers for making it a great day and well done to everyone who took part.

Depending upon the timing of the event each year and if I can still continue to bank a Good For Age time, then I would definitely take part again in the event in the future. With most of my events being low key marathons or ultras then it was nice to take part in a large, noisy event which is very well supported.

A good fun day out!

2 Responses to “2017 London Marathon”

  1. Howard Waller

    Great stuff Paul, that is top bombing at London M for a “fun run”. The disguise worked a treat as I was on the green start with you (Fetch buff looking down, on the right side of the guy with the yellow headband in your “With Andy & Tremayne” shot) and I didn’t recognise you! I saw the outfit alright though 🙂


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