Nine members completed this year’s London Marathon. You can read reports from several of them below the results.
Results for club members:
Dave Jelley 3.10.21
Dougie Scott 3.12.28
Lee Stanley 3.19.58
Kari Munro 3.41.03
Wendy Marks 3.47
James Stuart – Mill 4.29.34
Sarah Bromily 4.35.59
Christine Cooper 6.21.06
Kim Holden 6.22.22
Report by Dave Jelley
The day started with my sister convincing me that she could drive me to the start. After an argument with a bus in Lewisham and some hairy side street driving, I was relieved to find that there were plenty of toilets at the green start!
The green start is always interesting because you wait in line with a variety of Guinness World Record Holder wanabees. I had a very strange conversation with an Irish post box…he explained, in a soft Irish accent, that it isn’t wise to try and train in a post box on a treadmill… because you can’t see your feet.
As the seconds ticked away before the start, I recalled my first London marathon 20 years before. I was in pen 4 in the blue start. The start gun went off and it was a full 6 minutes before I reached the start line. With no chip timing then, it was left to the individual runner to say what time was on his or her watch. I finished in 3.01 on the London marathon timer, but I never really thought my own time of 2.55 counted. Chip timing means you can relax much more as you wait to cross the line.
The start is predominantly downhill for the first 4 miles and it’s easy to go a bit too fast… I’ve done the race 14 times and… I went a bit too fast!
At 4 miles I pulled myself together to try and settle into my race plan of running 7.15 miles. But maybe it was my crazy light Nike 4% shoes, but I could not slow down enough. Half way was 1.32 by far my fastest half for a while, so clearly I was not going to keep up that pace. Sure enough around mile 20 my stride shortened and even the super shoes couldn’t stop the mile splits from lengthening. At some point I met Doug Scott who was having a rough patch. Not much you can say at that point, I just had to wish him well and plod on. I realised although I had slowed, I was still feeling reasonably OK. I had dreamed of zooming down the embankment feeling light and easy. But, the reality was a slow trot in towards the finish. My family and friends are always at Birdcage Walk, which is fantastic, except I get so emotional I can’t breathe for a few minutes, by which time I’ve turned into the Mall and any chance of a dramatic sprint has gone. Anyway I was really pleased with 3.10. My niece ran her first one and did 3.45 and of course huge congratulations to all the other Ripon Runners. Thanks also for anyone who sponsored me.
Report by Lee Stanley
After a couple of years unsuccessfully entering the ballot for the London Marathon I was fortunate enough to get the Ripon Runners club place.
So first marathon, training done, travel/accommodation etc sorted – get there fit and enjoy the day was the plan. Making a long weekend of it and sharing the experience with the family being a huge bonus.
Race day – turn up , park near the village hall, get your number pinned on and off you go – well not quite!
If you have done London before you’ll know you need to pick your number up in person by 5pm on the Saturday before – so at least an overnight stay in London. Registration is at the Excel arena and combines with a running show.
Rail Travel on Sunday in the city is free if you show your number – in reality you just follow the crowds to your coloured start zone.
Organisation is very good with three separate starts and waves within each – all converging by around the 3 mile marker . Water every mile, sports drink/gel stations etc are the basics but the crowds, support and noise are the most overwhelming feature! Tunnels offer rare moments of calm (amazing how many runners walk in a tunnel!!).
At the finish , collect the rather weighty medal and t shirt etc before getting your bag back. They had 40,000 plus to sort out and yet somehow handed me my bag without me even saying a word!
Meet up with friends and family in designated zones after – in my case Dougie and then a black cab onwards!
The actual running – it went pretty well really, family on the course cheering me on helped – maybe easing up a bit in the last couple of miles to try and soak it all up – it could be a once in lifetime experience!
Brilliant performances from fellow Ripon Runners, some also doing London for the first time – others raising lots of money for very worthy causes.
The 2020 official ballot is open now – huge thanks to the club for the opportunity this year!
Report by James Stuart-Mills
I’ll start by saying thank you to Ripon Runners for a place in the London Marathon – what a fantastic experience and to hear the “come on Ripon Runners” all the way round!
We stayed with friends in London so I had an easy journey once I’d squashed onto a train. The organisation was great but I didn’t see any other RR vests, so I was on my own in the blue zone. No matter, there was a great atmosphere and we headed off pretty much on time. The Cutty Sark came along very quickly and tried and failed to see my brother in the crowd – an unbelievable amount of people and noise! I was doing fine at Tower Bridge, on plan but feeling that I wouldn’t be enjoying the experience by mile 23 at that rate, so I eased off and started making the most of event – where else do you get so much cheering? I wondered if the people coming back past at that point had maybe started earlier than me…and then saw and waved madly to my niece, so I cheered up and pushed on. I expected Canary Wharfe to be quieter but it was getting crazier and louder all the time. I took a bit of a slow period from the Tower to the Embankment, made the most of the support, food and drinks, and then did my best along to Buck Palace and The Mall – I’m sorry but I’ll struggle to top the last few yards to the finish – superb (although I look a bit miserable in the photo)! It passed in a blur and then I’d finished, collected a very chunky medal, and met up with family and friends. Then sustenance, mainly liquid, and then home! I finished in 4.29, far from my best, but I’d decided by Tower Bridge to enjoy the whole thing and save PBs for other days at other places.
I did say that’ll be my last road marathon but there’s always the ballot….
Report by Christine Cooper
Whilst I have worked my way up to half marathon distance, a full marathon was something that I dreamt of but never really felt that I would do. I decided a couple of years ago that I would enter the ballot for London and leave it to fate. I imagined that I would enter the ballot every year for five or six years and may be eventually get a place. I had overlooked the possibility of gaining a club place!
I was determined to give this my best shot and training started on Christmas Day with a parkrun at Catterick. I followed a Hal Higdon programme with four runs a week, compared to my more usual two or three. At the end of week 7, I ran Exeter half and smashed my PB, which sent my confidence soaring. I still couldn’t see how I could double that distance, but put my faith in the 18 week programme. I managed to stick to it for 9 weeks before my IT band complained. This was a huge psychological blow as my longest run was the half marathon, but I told myself that dealing with injury was part of the challenge and allowed myself a few days rest, encouraged by Lena Conlin’s advice not to be a slave to the programme. I recovered enough to do a 15 mile long run, my distance PB. However, at the very next short run the sciatic nerve was problematic.
The marathon distance presents new uncertainties to the novice in terms of realising the importance of fuelling. I had used CLIF shot blocks, glucose tablets and Lucozade Sport during my 15 mile run and felt I needed to rehearse again in another long run. By this stage I was anxious that I would not make it to the start line and this became my priority. I missed the next two long runs before rejoining the programme at week 13 to run 18 miles. This was a strong run and I felt that if I didn’t manage anymore long runs, then this would have to be good enough. I was having regular sports massages and the problem was identified as my periformis, I stretched and rolled like mad, to reach the start.
Rod and I stayed with our daughter and son-in-law in Chelmsford, so race day started at 5:45am. We took three trains to reach Blackheath and the blue start. It was overcast and the wind across the common was cold, I told myself that in a couple of hours I would appreciate the cool temperature! It was a slightly eerie atmosphere as people were not talking to each other, everyone was focussing on their individual preparation. I was in the eighth and final zone to leave, which suited me as my normal race strategy is to start at the back. The empty common was strewn with abandoned warm clothing.
I knew that many people were tracking me on the app and thought of them and their support as I crossed the start mat. I expected to see my family at mile 5 so was delighted to see Rod shortly after I crossed the start line, he looked perished as he waved wearing a Mike Hernandez “Michael Jackson” glove, which made me smile and remember my friends at Ripon Runners.
I recognised the 3 mile point, where I had quite deliberately stood to cheer my sister in 2014. I chose this point as that was the furthest I had run at that time. It is also the point at which the red and the blue start groups merge, so the road became busier. The signs also became cheekier, “You make Brexit look fast” was one!
I looked at my watch when I crossed the 5k mat at 40 minutes and imagined my friends logging my progress.
I spotted Rod and our son-in-law at mile 5, they shouted that our daughter, son and daughter-in-law were a few hundred feet further down on the right. It was amazing to see them all there. My race plan was to stick to a 13 minute mile for as long as possible, with a “sense check” at 5 mile intervals. I was pleased to be ahead of my 1 hour 5 minute target, but not too far ahead. I felt the pacing was sustainable, whilst also being aware of the “great unknown” beyond mile 18. Two long runs was not the preparation that I wanted, but it was all I had so I was preparing myself for anything.
As I was approaching the 10k mat, I realised this would be the next point that people tracking me would connect with me. I put a little spurt on to ensure that I crossed before 80 minutes. I imagined my friends in Yorkshire commenting that I had maintained my pace.
We took a right turn and there was Cutty Sark, the view took my breath away, it was a total surprise as I wasn’t keeping track of where I was on the route. My thoughts then turned to my sister and brother-in-law who were due to appear at mile 7. I couldn’t quite remember the exact mile, but when I hadn’t spotted them by mile 8 I became anxious and deflated; by 8.2 miles I was angry, Gill is a seasoned marathon runner and I felt that she should understand the importance to me of having them in place. I seethed all the way into mile 9, before coming to my senses and realising that it was more probably the case that I had missed them. It worried me how negatively I had reacted at such an early point in the race and whether I would be up to the mental challenge that inevitably lay ahead. I then turned my attention to my 10 mile sense check, I wanted to be there in 2 hours 10 minutes, the Garmin said 2:08:57, happy days!
I started looking for the family again, they were due at the 11 mile point in Rotherhithe outside The Brunel pub. It was very noisy and there was a drag Queen on the roof providing commentary on the runners. My family strongly recommend this viewing point. This time I hugged them all, my daughter told me that I had been on telly twice and that one shot zoomed in on me. This was a tremendous boost, as I received the “virtual support” of all the people that had said they would be watching out for me. I really hadn’t thought anyone would spot me, this 10 seconds of fame was such a boost. The family confirmed that my sister had been at mile 7 but she had missed me. I realised then that this would have been far worse for her than it was for me, as she watched the sweeper bus pass.
My focus turned to Tower Bridge; again I turned a corner and gasped at the view, the noise was incredible, I took the time to look at the crowds on both sides of the bridge and savoured the moment. At the end of the bridge, we turned right and ran against the tide, I spotted two Harrogate Harriers before I reached the halfway point, they were already beyond mile 22. I shouted encouragement out to them but also chuckled that just like the Summer League, Ripon were coming second!
I was pleased with my half marathon split time of 2:55, slightly slower than most of my nine half marathons, but still under three hours. I briefly wondered what my finish time would be, obviously it would be over 6 hours, but how far over? Was sub six and a half a possibility? I pushed this out of my mind and decided that I needed to tackle this one mile at a time.
I ran past my family again at mile 14, the 15 mile sense check was 8 minutes behind my 3 hour 15 target, the inevitable slow down had started and I had the docklands stretch ahead; I prepared to dig deep for that section. I knew the family were due at mile 18, by which time I would have a distance PB. Then at the mile 19 Lucozade station I was due to meet Billy, a friend of Fiona Hernandez with the promise of a hug!
I thought of my virtual support again when I crossed the 25k mat, the mental arithmetic was tough but I calculated that I was 14 minutes behind. At this point I decided to look at lap times rather than elapsed time. My focus switched to continuing to do my best, but not allow myself to get hung up on the times. The most important thing was to continue to enjoy the race and to finish. With my head straight again, I concentrated on my posture and breathing, then suddenly I spotted my sister and brother-in-law. I hugged her and told her that she had made me work hard for that. As I ran off, they said they would see me again “on the other side”, whilst I understood what they meant, I had no idea what distance that would correspond too. I ran past Mudchute station on the DLR and realised this was the furthest point out and I was now on the way back. Gill and Dan reappeared at mile 18, she had bought herself a coffee and offered me a slurp, it was delicious! She saw how much I was enjoying it and asked if I wanted to take it with me. This wasn’t in my nutrition plan, but it felt so warm and tasty, I also thought the caffeine would give me a boost, it wasn’t until the end of the race that I remembered Gill always drinks decaf! When the coffee was gone I opened a bag of mini-cheddars, the savoury taste was so welcome.
I met Billy for a lovely hug at mile 19. I was sick of Lucozade by this point, but Billy was determined that I wouldn’t leave empty handed and thrust a bag of jelly beans into my hand. This interaction with a man I had never met before was a wonderful London Marathon experience.
I was feeling great as I ran on towards the water station at mile 20. This is manned by London Fire Brigade and every year my university friend, Gill is one of the volunteers, she has worked for the brigade since we both graduated in 1984. I imagine that other runners may be struggling by this point, but I was having a ball. Gill came from behind the barrier and walked with me, she spotted the 6:15 pacer and told me that I was doing really well.
As I left Gill, I remembered Ray Johnstone telling me that this was where the race really starts, I felt good as I realised that I definitely had 10k left in the legs. I ran on towards Tower Bridge again, looking forward to the crowds building up again and to seeing the famous landmarks. I spotted my family at Tower Hill, but didn’t stop running. I looked over the river and saw The Shard, then ran along Victoria Embankment. The river turned and I saw the London Eye and ahead of me the Palace of Westminster, I tried to savour every moment as I realised I had almost finished. At 25 miles, all eight of my family had grouped together, they were beaming at me and I realised that the next time I saw them would be on the other side of the finish line. I high-fived them all as I ran past and my son-in-law presented me with an orange balloon. As I ran, I looked at the balloon, it read “dreams come true” and I knew that I would carry this across the line as my dream really did come true. Birdcage Walk was over all too quickly and there was Buckingham Palace, I gazed over and in my mind waved to the Queen! The Victoria Memorial was gone in a flash and I was on The Mall. Before the race I had anticipated that this would feel really tough, but it didn’t; I felt totally elated, but also a little sad that it was about to finish! I crossed the finish line and stopped the Garmin, I had no idea what my time would be, it was 6:21, yes sub six and a half hours, the icing on the cake!
As the medal was hung round my neck I started to take stock. What a result; I had thoroughly enjoyed the race, I had been lucky, no injury flare ups, the shoes were comfortable, there had been no chafing issues and the weather had been ideal. Yes, my quads and hip flexors were weary, but all in all, it had not been as hard as I had expected. I’ve certainly had much tougher races. The hardest section of the marathon for me was between mile 7 and mile 10, not something that I would have forecast before the race, but my support crew, both on the ground and the virtual crew tracking me from across the country had done an amazing job at making this once in a lifetime marathon experience unforgettable.
Report by Kim Holden
Having seen the wonderful reports from my fellow club mates I thought people might be interested in our experience of the day.
As many of you may know via Facebook I ran as a guide and support runner for my husband’s cousin Helen Williams at the London Marathon. Helen was born with cerebral palsy but has never let that define her. She loves running and has represented GB in the Special Olympics winning gold and silver medals at 100m and 200m. She has a T36 para athletics classification but despite this was still expected to gain her place through the ballot or with a GFA time. This would mean sub 4 hours! However, my husband pointed out the error of their ways and they offered her a place for herself and a support runner which she very generously gave to me :)
On the day, Helen’s club, Les Croupiers, had got together with a few other welsh clubs from the area to organise a coach to take us to the start, but this meant us being there 3 hours before we set off to run. Not ideal for Helen on a very chilly morning. Firstly, we went to the Guinness World Records tent to collect my orange guide bib. We had a very enjoyable time in there chuckling at the sights around us – a man wrapped in bandages with scissors though his head, a woman wearing 46 t-shirts which the adjudicator had to count layer by layer, and someone carrying an ironing board complete with iron. Eventually, we decided to leave as it was getting very crowded and were again out in the cold with Helen turning blue. Having spotted a very welcoming looking, almost empty, marquee we wandered over to beg entrance. Initially we were turned away but then they let us in to savour the delights of their breakfast buffet, comfy chairs and beanbags, and huge TV to watch the start of the race. It was for invited guests only…
Helen was desperate to get a PB to make her Mum and her club proud. Two years ago in London she did 6:49 and the same again in New York, where she ran with an injury after falling the day before. She wanted to get 6:30 and I just hoped we could keep her going at under 15 minute milling in order to deliver her dream. One of her issues is that she has to have a very strict low fat, low sugar diet in order to control her epilepsy. This means she can only take water from the stations on the way round and her food has to be carried for her and given in small aliquots along the way. We managed all of this very well between us and actually came in in 6:22 with our last mile at almost the same pace as the first. Her delight at this had me in tears going up the Mall as she waved to the Queen.
We had a really special weekend. If ever I believe I can’t do something I will think of Helen and her will and determination to reach her goal. She is a truly inspirational athlete.
Report by Sarah Bromily
I ran the London Marathon on Sunday and once again it was a glorious race. It was tough in the latter parts, as always, especially as I never train beyond 13 due to an injured hip but the atmosphere and course again was wonderful and worth it! I ran for a charity, Visually Impaired Children – its quite a small charity and virtually all of their funding comes from runners raising money via this race. It thus does an immense amount of good.
I set off comfortably and passed the half point at 2:02 feeling good and my hip held until 15 until it decided to give up (as usual…one day it may surprise me and go to 16!). Having worn my Harrogate Harriers vest (I have lost my Ripon one – eeek!) it was great to hear probably the loudest and happiest shrieks on the marathon course from a Ripon Runner at mile 23 shouting ‘Harrogate’ – it was lovely to hear and I hope you enjoyed it too.
At around 18 when it started to become tough an angel appeared in the form of someone I used to run with in Ian’s old Friday night group in a Harriers vest. We finished it together – it was a blessing to meet him.
Whenever running in the tough zone of a marathon I always say never again. Later, after completion I always seem to forget that and end up forward booking onto another. The problem is this year, I found myself booking onto races the night before I had even done it. Oh well…..
Thanks Ripon for all your support.