More than just one of the top six World Marathon Majors, the Virgin London Marathon is a celebratory sporting event that attracts elite athletes, enthusiastic runners and costume-wearing charity fundraisers alike.
The Virgin London Marathon was on my personal running bucket list and this year was the year it was going to happen for me. Do I have marathon fever? Not exactly. But as a runner I have my race goals and completing all six world major marathons is what I aspire to.
Arriving in London a few days ahead of the race is always a good idea. We had the opportunity to acclimatize to our five-hour time difference, take in some famous London sights and mingle with the locals. It felt great to be a tourist, live in the moment and enjoy this world famous city. I’ve been to London several times over the years, and honestly, it’s a destination I never grow tired of. So much history everywhere and lots to see and do – the list is endless! What I found personally amusing is the fact that Londoners are surprised to hear internationals coming to their fair city to run in their marathon, completely unaware that it’s one of the most sought after marathons in the running world ( and very tough to get into I might add!).
Leading up to race day, every runner usually has three different times in mind when they start a race: a time they say they’ll be okay with, (a tad disappointed), a time they’ll be moderately satisfied with, and a time which will bring on delirium. In my case I incurred some injuries just weeks prior to the marathon, which defined a new category- venturing on the edge of the unknown.
London was not going to be my race and I went to the start line with no expectations at all but to finish, even if it meant walking the entire distance. In retrospect, it’s funny how life can throw you a curveball. What was expected to be a disastrous run ended up surprisingly on the ‘delirium.’ I ran a sub four-hour marathon, pain free, and without hitting the dreaded wall. Needless to say, I was blissfully content.
Running the London Virgin Marathon in the company of thousands of like-minded people was a very uplifting experience. From a runner’s perspective it was well organized and backed with some incredible support. During a race you can’t help but capture certain fragments of scenery or special moments in time that get lodged into your brain. These were some of my personal observations along the way:
• Ever changing race weather included sun, snow, hail, and rain, all in a matter of minutes. Expect the unexpected in London.
• Overwhelming charity support by local runners was evident by logoed running shirts everywhere. It was heartwarming to see runners ‘efforts in giving back.
• Quaint, narrow cobblestoned streets winding through residential neighborhoods
• Big bands, piped in reggae music and bagpipe players in full dress greeting us throughout the course
• Spirit of local neighborhoods bundled up to cheer on the runners on a frosty Sunday morning
• Abundance of historical churches with unique facades dotting the course
• Running by London’s famous landmarks including London Bridge, Big Ben, Parliament buildings and Buckingham Palace as we approached the race finish
Visiting this iconic city is always a special treat for me and combining it with running this renowned course was icing on the cake. Someday I won’t be able to do this anymore but today is not that day. ☺
Virgin London Marathon registration – for Canada and USA
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