I ran the London Marathon in April 2007, a decade ago. As a non-runner all my life, my decision to run – in a marathon of all things – was taken after two incidents. The first occurred on Marathon day in, I believe, 2005. Having had a standard boozy Saturday night in a forgettable South West London venue (I have forgotten where), culminating no doubt in sambuca shots and a chicken kebab at around 3am (again, I forget the particulars), I slept for the morning and emerged, blinking, unsteady and shaking at around 1pm to forage for provisions and coffee. A woman coming down the street towards me was also unsteady and shaking, but she had a shiny gold medal around her neck. 1pm and she had run 40k and all I had achieved was to sleep off a raging hangover.
The second incident was when I went to watch my brother run the London Marathon in 2006. Quite simply, anything he could do, I wanted to prove that I could do, despite the fact that at the time I could barely run for the bus. It was a tough year: by summer 2006 I could do 5k, followed by 10k in the Autumn and then a half marathon in January 2007. I ran to work with my flat mate, from Battersea Power Station to St Paul’s, past MI6 and Westminster, arriving in the office exhausted by 9am. It was going ok: the half marathon, my friend Kate and I completed in 2 hours 10.
Then there came the excuses. Nerve damage in my ankle, busy at work etc etc. The day itself, 22 April 2007 was over 30 degrees, which was tough after the cold temperatures that we were used to in training. But, I finished. It wasn’t a stellar performance, in fact my brother ran it again but I didn’t see him for dust and he had to wait at the finish line for 1 hour and 47 minutes for me to stagger over. Anyway, the great Haile Gebrselassie didn’t complete the course that year and I did, which is a small but important victory that I cling to when I recollect my short-lived running career. I couldn’t ascend or descend stairs without a handrail for a week.
I haven’t done it again, have barely run…