Mud On the Road

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In Which I Blow My Own Trumpet, Loudly

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

     The London Marathon always brings tears to my eyes and this year the sight of all those runners in the London sunshine was particularly evocative given the devastation wreaked upon their fellow athletes, families and supporters in Boston less than one week ago.

     But the reason I find the sight of the London Marathon so personally moving is because I ran in the London Marathon in 2001 and the sight of it on the TV each year brings back all the incredible memories of the day.

     I remember deciding to take part; my abject dismay when I failed to gain a place in the ballot; that dismay translated to sheer joy when I secured a place to run for the National Autism Society with an undertaking to raise at least £1,200 (I raised more!); the training throughout the long, dark days of Winter; the knee injury which threatened but thankfully did not jeopardise my 'race' on the day; the extraordinary magic, spirit and atmosphere of the day itself.

     Though you are but a poxy 'fun runner,' the event organisers treat you like a pro: like a proper athlete, even if you happen to be wearing a red telephone kiosk or have come dressed as Mr Silly.

     You find yourself, as a result, thinking of it genuinely as a 'race'.

     I could have walked faster than I 'ran,' on the points of pain that my feet became, but running was everything. I was determined not to stop once and I didn't. I staggered in at 4 hours 44 minutes and 40 seconds. And I felt like a hero.

     I even overtook a real hero, Olympian god Sir Steve Redgrave, on Birdcage Walk, in the run-up to the finish.

     True, he had stopped to be interviewed by Sky TV at the time but, still, I came in ahead of him.

     Taking part and raising the money I did, combined to make the Marathon far and away one of the best days of my life and certainly the proudest.

     But the reason it moves me to this day is the sight, sound and memory of the crowds of well-wishers who line the route and cheer you on, every inch of the way.

     Total strangers, shouting out their encouragement, clapping you, cheering you, waving, calling out, 'well done,' urging you on.

     No-one had prepared me for that. It choked me up frequently on the route itself.

     And there they were again today.


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