Virgin London Marathon 2012 – Race Reports

With the success of this years London Marathon behind us, we have 3 reports sent in from club athletes who took part.

Following this year’s race, club member, David Daniels, had enough energy remaining to send in this report.

After completing the 2011 London Marathon in a PB 2h 50m 01s, convinced I had ran the race of my life, I vowed never to do it again.  But then two things persuaded me otherwise. Firstly, the rumour – falsely as it turned out – the 2012 London Marathon would follow the same route as the 2012 Olympic Marathon, and secondly, people would always go on about THAT 1 second and I had to dip under 2h 50m in order to quieten them.

The build-up to the race was nothing short of abysmal, with some training weeks consisting of nothing but a long run on a Sunday. And in total, I must have completed 30% of the scheduled training programme. But on the plus, at least I would have fresh legs for the race.

Conditions on the day were absolutely perfect for running, with the slight, chilling breeze soon forgotten as the race got underway. And like scenes from the Tour De France, hordes of spectators were standing on the road, giving way at the last possible moment as the runners streamed past. The atmosphere was unbelievable from the 1st mile to the last, and for those retailers selling klaxons, whistles, cow-bells and the like, they must have made an absolute bomb prior to the event. And how could I forget the countless steel drum bands dotted around the course. If that style of music isn’t to your taste, then I suggest you give this race a wide berth.

As I mentioned earlier, training leading up to the race had been poor, and I went into the event with a dilemma. Should I play it safe, and go for a time of 3.05 – 3.15, or simply go for it and live with the consequences. Listening to words of advice from various people, and not wanting to have any regrets following the race, I made the decision to give it 100% and aim for sub 2h 50m. Surprisingly, by the time I reached the half-way point I was still on target, but then at Mile 14 the first minor hiccup of the race, struggling for all my worth to open a damn carbo-gel ,whilst carrying a bottle of water and still trying to maintain my race pace. Alas, the pace lost out and from that point on, my 5k split times got steadily slower.

Having learnt my lesson earlier, at the second gel station, at Mile 21, I decided to pull over to the side, open the sachet with my hands this time (instead of my teeth) and take on a few sips of water. Then it was off again, counting down the mile markers and trying to maintain a steady pace.

Mile 22 check.

Mile 23 check.

Reaching the 24th Mile marker I glanced at the race clock (2h 40m or thereabouts) and I quickly thought to myself, ‘could I get under 3 hours if I walked from here’, but then just as quickly, I pushed those negative thoughts aside and told myself, ‘No walking. It doesn’t matter how slow the pace is, just keep running’. And that’s what I did. For the first time out of my 10 marathons, I never once walked during the final stages, and looking back at my race data, even though it felt like I was walking at times, I was still averaging 7min mile pace.

Crossing the finishing line was a moment of sheer ecstasy. It never mattered that my time was slower than last year’s, for me, given the poor build-up and how I’d mentally fought the inner demons during the latter stages, THIS was the race of my life.

Will I do it again next year? Definitely not.

But in a few years time? Maybe (if my legs are still holding out). But I would recommend it to anyone out there who fancies running a marathon. It’s not cheap (it probably cost me £300 for the whole weekend) but you can’t put a price on the emotions you feel as you run up The Mall and cross the line, proudly knowing you’ve just finished the best marathon in the world.

Many congratulations to all my fellow club members on completing the event, sincere thanks to everyone who supported me, before and during the race, and best wishes to those about to compete in the Sunderland and Edinburgh Marathons.


ps. many thanks to Blyth running club (and in particular, Ralph Dickinson) for organising a terrific coach trip to the event.

Next up Rob Wishart sent his account of the experience

Rob Wishart – Race Report

Always wanted a crack at London marathon but had no joy in the ballot…. But then I scored one of the club places!

For training, luckily I like long runs. Also did “marathon pace” on treadmills (and borrowed one of them Garmin things for the race) and the occasional club session for speed. And ate pasta, drank water. I was ready!

Went to London on a coach trip organised by Blyth RC, Davy Daniels also on tour.

On the day, set the Garmin to 6.50 minute miles, that’s a 3hour target. I hadn’t mara’d since 2009, with a pb of 3.15…. but I felt good and aimed high.

Looking around at the start I saw Sam Collier who got the other club place. First mara for her, must have been nervous! I’d done 3 but kept seeing “real runners” and thinking I was out of place.

My usual mistake is zooming off too fast and struggling later. But London’s as busy as the GNR, sometimes on narrower streets….so luckily the crowds kept my speed in check. When I did get more space, I was soon well over 2 minutes ahead of the Garmin, woops. After that I calmed down and was pretty consistent!

I carried some gels and shotbloks (posh jelly babies) and they either kept me strong or did no harm. I’ll use them again anyway! Another thing worth doing is putting your name on your vest, plenty of cheers for you, yes YOU from the watching crowds!

The miles and clocks passed by, I knew if I kept going then it’d be a massive pb. Of course it hurts! But this was London marathon, big chance so no giving up!

Past Buckingham palace and a “fast” finish… on telly just after Jamie Cracknell (though I’ve beat him on chip time ;-) )
Got my sub3, in fact it was 2.58.34, new pb by 16 minutes! Woooooooooo!

Mark Hall and Davy Appleby were also kitted out with new t-shirts and medals, all TBHs had done well!

Finally Cath Willis sends her story

Cath Willis : Race Report

Marathon training kicked in around November time, in an attempt to take advantage of the miles I had in my legs from my disappointing marathon appearance at Liverpool back in October 2011. Disappointing in that my head was never really in it on the day, and the course was also a bit pants (sorry Liverpool). My future husband became a marathon widow, where he lost me most weekends. Saturday nights were dedicated to early alcohol free nights and Sunday mornings spent waving me out the front door… marathon training was now the routine and the routine was firmly pinned up against the fridge door.

Training in my mind, had gone pretty well – for the first time ever, I managed to complete training pretty much injury free. I kept in with my sessions down the club. I got a new running partner on Sunday mornings. Whilst I was putting in 18-20miles most weekends, John JH was aiming for much further with an even longer race in mind, but that’s another story we’ll be able to read about in June time, isn’t it John? ☺ We would talk about Take Me Out from the night before, his hectic social life of a Saturday night most weeks (where I had none), gossip from TBH HQ and what was on the ASDA shopping list to while away the miles on an early Sunday morning, often along the paths north and south of the Tyne or through Derwent.

Suddenly, that was it – I’d made it to the almighty taper. The race was nearly here. And then on cue, the dreaded taperitus kicked in – the niggles started, the lead leg effect kicked in, the feeling I was a beginner again – and I got a cold. Topped off what with my physio thought could be an abdominal strain, I had almighty pain in both hip flexors. The mood swings kicked in, my marathon widow now got the brunt end of my bad moods and the repetitive lines of “I’m not going to make the marathon”… but multiple physio sessions and one massage later, we were on the train to London town!
Nerves kicked in at the Expo – non stop talk of marathons, race day preparations, Liz Yelling’s live on stage interview, kit tips, weather conditions, start line itinerary and what happened at the end.. oh my god, I was at the LONDON MARATHON – and it was happening, in less than 24 hours.

I slept fine on Saturday night, which was the start of my race day nerves – you’re not meant to sleep well the night before!!! The alarm had gone off at 5.50, porridge by 6.15am and bag packed with BBC News and an interview with Elvis at the green start – my start – the next rush of nerves, oh my god – I could be overtaken by Elvis… I just cannot let that happen. I got to the start early and laid out my seat in the sunshine for the next hour or so, a bin liner packed for the forecast showers – which incidentally didn’t arrive.. and awaited the arrival of the Z listers… Arg from TOWIE, Gordon Ramsay with his entourage, Will Young, with newly pruned full face beard for disguise, James Cracknell…

After a delayed loo stop (I was nearly all lost in the moment of being at the London Marathon!) in the worlds longest portaloo queue, the bag was on the bus, I was in my bin liner and ready to go. The green is the smallest of the starts, and I was literally about 10sec away from the start line in pen 3 – and off we went, I was giddy with excitement – I knew I’d done my training, the day was going to go as well as it could do – it was all to find out and I just wanted to get going – I was actually doing the LONDON MARATHON! OMG!

From the very start, the crowds lined the streets, there were street bands, steel drums, singers, dj’s mixing, pubs open early with speakers blaring from the windows and just screams every direction… I kept an eye on my pace and an eye on the minutes ticking over, to keep track of when to take on energy but other than that, I didn’t think about the miles or the time… the first time I realised, my watch was on 2 hours. It was then I thought, I’ve been running 2 hours and I haven’t actually noticed – the crowds take your mind off it all. Not to mention the charity fund raisers, in fancy dress – I saw Bagpuss, a bride, an elderly man in a mankini, a guy in a morph suit, 2 guys handcoughed together to mention but a few. I remember at about 10miles I was starting to cook in the heat, the rain hadn’t turned up as hoped, but instead blue skies and blazing sunshine. I could definitely feel my heart rate a little more than I remembered at the start when I set off at this pace. I kept going, it was just heat – if I stayed hydrated, I could do it. The 8 min mile Runners World pace team came up from behind, which based on my deliberately slower pace in the first few miles, I had expected to be way out in front. Their pace infact, seemed a little too quick for me though, about 7’55. I decided to drop them and eased up a bit to get back to 8min miles.

Andy was going to be on Tower Bridge and I got into position to make sure I’d be running on the side to spot him – amazed, we actually did see each other for a brief second, he took my picture, I gave a wave and carried on by – it was a great boost, to know he was in the crowd and I was chuffed I had spotted him! That lifted my spirit.

Around mile 20, my little toe was rubbing, my feet felt as though I had sandpaper in my socks and I was definitely warm. I was determined to stay on pace though, at mile 20 I was still consistent around the 8min pace. This was going too well! I stumbled on a water bottle, I was cut up more times than I can remember and had a fair few elbow jabs. But at no point was I going to stop, I had done my training, I knew I could keep this up, I had no reason to stop and I wasn’t going to. When the pain started, I just thought about the training I’d done and I wasn’t going to waste it.

Mile 23 and this was it – the last energy intake was done and now all was left was to battle to the end. The feet were starting to burn now and blisters had well and truly formed. I then felt an almighty bursting feeling in my left toe – as though a water bomb had just gone off at the end of my toe and a huge shooting pins and needles type pain went all along the outside of my foot. I looked down and there was blood in the corner of my shoe. I figured if it had been serious, I would have collapsed by now or mechanically, my foot would have stopped working. Bah, 2 miles isn’t far. I’ll live.

Nutrition wise, everything had seemingly also gone to plan and the dreaded wall never appeared. Timings had worked out and the frequent water stations every mile were just the trick to keep me on track. It was a warm day and I was conscious to keep the body temperature down. Though having done Edinburgh in 2010, when it was 25deg was some comfort. If I could survive that, I would be ok coping with 13deg or so.

I just wanted Big Ben to appear now, I knew at that point we’d be turning off Embankment and heading to the Mall. This section felt the longest, it was certainly the loudest however, with crowds 8-10 supporters deep. I kept telling myself of the runs, my marathon widow (Hi Andy, remember me!?) and even better, with the distance left I was within reach of a new PB – the smile appeared and I took in the sights of the Mall and remembered how it looked on TV last year – and this time, I’m in it and I’m on TV!

Over the line, I stopped and my body shut down, the steep roller effect kicked in and it just felt like everything drained out through my feet into the ground – I cried a little tear with the relief of finishing, the elation of getting a new PB and the dread of wondering what I’d find when I took off my sock.

I took 2’23 off my previous time with a new PB of 3’34’16. I had consistent splits pretty much throughout, to about 22/23 miles, which I was even happier with! In all, I think it went as well as it could have. WHOOP! And I’m pretty sure, Elvis didn’t go by me. Result! It’s true that you cross the line and say never again. But I’m already pondering the idea of London again next year.

Congratulations to my fellow marathoners who all scored magnificent times and their own personal achievements on the day, I reckon we’re all winners!

Tyne Bridge Harriers Race Results:

David Daniels 2h 53m 27s

Rob Wishart 2h 58m 34s (PB)

Mark Hall 2h 59m 30s

David Appleby 3h 06m 25s

Catherine Willis 3h 34m 16s (PB)

Samantha Collier 5h 44m 07s

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  1. Nice one DD – I still think your long Sunday runs to the start line of a 10K race really paid off for you.

    1. I know. I don’t know why it isn’t recommended in any of the running books. 18 miles steady run, and then a 10k race. Perfect preparation.

    • Big Ron on 25th April 2012 at 12:25
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    Great report David, you seem to have gone through all of the emotions imaginable during the race. I, for one, have never fancied the marathon, if I ran a half marathon and they said at the finish that I had to run back to the start, I think I would give up running. Now you need to concentrate on that 10K time……………

    Finally, a huge “well done” to all who ran on Sunday.

    • Apples on 25th April 2012 at 12:39
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    Great report DD, I have never experienced crowds like those on Sunday. It was the most fantastic race to be a part of. I for one will be back next year. Despite my capitulation I think I still got a Good For Age time.

    • Paul Hilton on 25th April 2012 at 12:44
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    David as well as running the race of your life , Dave Wakefield from South Shields Harriers has told me to thank you for the support you were giving him at the 16mile point when he was suffering from cramp and I announced about this to the club last night.

    Your a great runner and a fantastic ambassador for TBH and hurry back to the club soon as your a big miss !

    Well done all who ran in the London.

    1. I’m glad you stopped where you did Paul, as I was starting to fill up haha!!

      That’s something I forgot to mention in my report. I passed several North East runner’s in the race (although several passed me too boo-hoo) and it’s a great boost when you wish each other encouragement during the marathon. Club rivalry is put to one side and the true spirit of running comes to the fore. Just because we wear different coloured vests, we’re still all runners, sharing the same passion.

    • kenny mac on 25th April 2012 at 14:49
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    Well done everybody who took part, some fantastic times, mention must go to Stevie Cairns who did 2.39.57 in the VLM. Steve has just had his forms signed and returned from his Northern Irish club and he is going to be first claim for Tyne Bridge Harriers in the very near future.

    Great times ahead for TBH.

      • Double D on 25th April 2012 at 15:04
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      Apologises to Stevie, and also to Mr Run Geordie Run (aka Mark Allison), on their omission from my report. As an aside, Mark is featured in the new issue of Runners World, under the heading ‘The Fundraiser’, one of the heroes of running in 2012. A very moving article.

    • Danielle Rutherford on 25th April 2012 at 15:37
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    Amazing reports – well done to everyone who ran! I’m considering entering the ballot myself for VLM2013 :) TBH are a very inspiring bunch!

    • caballo tonto on 25th April 2012 at 16:08
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    Just to say I enjoyed reading all reports. Congratulations to all of you. What fantastic achievements. Don’t worry about Elvis, he is probably still slippin’ and slidin’ (or was that someone else?).

    • Apples on 25th April 2012 at 17:02
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    Two more great reports from Rob and Cat. I don’t think I can reiterate enough Cat, DD and Rob’s comments about the crowds and atmosphere. If you get a chance you have to experience this race. Special congratulations to Cat and rob for two fantastic PB’s.

  2. Great day, excellent report Cat…really captured the excitement and effort experienced completing the VLM. Rob W came bounding past me on the final stretch of the embankment, bouncing along like tigger. I too will be back again next year (without the kids this time..sightseeing is not ideal preparation prior to a marathon).

    • Denise on 25th April 2012 at 19:03
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    Well done to all TBH runners who ran this marathon and congratulations on your achievements. You are all a credit to the Club. Thanks for the reports – inspirational stuff! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your experiences.

    • Diane on 25th April 2012 at 19:59
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    Brilliant reports.

    • John JH on 25th April 2012 at 20:29
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    Well done to you all, excellent running and some great reviews of the day. Thanks for the mention Catherine, I’ll put my side of the story out one day. It’s been a pleasure being part of the newest and most popular Sunday morning fun-run group (how many members do we have now?). Really pleased all the training paid off with a PB. (btw: the current world record holding Elvis costume (2hr40) is for sale on ebay if you’re interested)

      • Cat on 25th April 2012 at 21:23
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      haha, i think we need to work on our numbers for the Sunday run, John :)

    • Sean Kelly on 25th April 2012 at 20:40
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    Heroic performances from all of our athletes. It was v exciting checking your time updates on the VLM website. Even though I’ve been knocked off course slightly in my preparation for the Edinburgh Marathon, seeing what DD and Mark did with less training than they would have liked, gives great hope and inspiration. DD’s performance illustrates the power of the mind when tackling 26.2 miles. Congratulations to every one of you.

      • Cat on 25th April 2012 at 21:24
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      Cyber stalkers! I got back to the hotel room to find a full run down of everyone’s progress, before i could even check the VLM website :) the support was appreciated though, thanks! :)

    • Chris Hughes on 25th April 2012 at 22:34
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    Fine, fine, fine words. Do all TBH race reviewers work for ‘The Guardian’ on their weekends off.

    • Big Ron on 26th April 2012 at 07:57
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    No likely…….!!!!

    • david rowe on 26th April 2012 at 08:24
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    3 great reports, if they don’t give you the insperation to go out and run your first marathon then nothing will. Well done to everyone.

    • Simon Pryde on 26th April 2012 at 10:03
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    Good reports, good times, happy days! Well done!

    • michelle on 27th April 2012 at 12:37
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    great to hear all your reports! amazing achievements from all of you showing true guts and determination….brilliant

    • Kev jeffress on 28th April 2012 at 20:10
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    Excellents reports everyone, and fantastic running, really well done. Reading these reports really getting me in the marathon spirit

    • Brother Louis on 30th April 2012 at 15:44
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    Wonderful reporting and even better running by all. I’m very impressed, congratulations to you all. Can’t help feeling that there was a touch of the Sir Steve Redgrave about DD & Cath’s reports therefore I fully expect them to be lining up next year ;)

    Well done!

      • Double D on 30th April 2012 at 16:35
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      I hear-by swear, if i run next year’s vlm it’ll be butt naked (apart from race number of course).

        • Brother Louis on 30th April 2012 at 16:48
        • Reply

        Make sure you pack some vaseline!

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