Virgin London Marathon 2013 – the review of Yu

For the 2014 race, please click the following:


Notice the comically high starting pen number. Grrr!

It’s been two days since the Virgin London Marathon and I’m having a well-deserved rest after Sunday’s antics. Below is my race report, along with a write-up of the expo and some post-race thoughts. If you would like to just read about the race, skip right to “Race Day”. Enjoy! More photos will be added once the official photographers have uploaded everything for me to purchase.

The Virgin London Marathon Expo

What may come as a surprise to many is that some of the world’s larger races have an expo that you must attend to register and claim your running bib and timing chip. The cynics amongst us will probably go with the expos existing only to sell stuff to runners and to act as further advertising opportunities for sponsors.

London’s expo is held at the ExCeL centre, which isn’t the easiest of places for me to get to. The original plan was to visit the expo on Saturday when Lis and I arrived in London. Various people had warned me that the Saturday is incredibly busy, with over 25,000 runners visiting due to other commitments or having to travel to London specifically for the race. I decided to take the afternoon off from work and visit the expo on Friday for a whistle-stop tour.

I arrived at the ExCeL Centre after multiple changes on the DLR system and my sense of excitement for the London Marathon began to kick in. Runners of all shapes and sizes were everywhere and there was a buzz in the air to get everybody fired up for Sunday’s race. I joined the very short queue for my race number group and was swiftly processed before moving on to another queue to collect my timing chip. Everybody asked if it was my first time, wishing me well and told me to enjoy the race.

Immediately after registration was a huge Adidas official merchandise store. Here, runners were able to buy race souvenirs, race kit and even new shoes. I definitely wanted to get an official race track jacket as a memento; a little pricey but it fits like a glove and looks the business without being over the top.

Beyond the Adidas area was the rest of the expo with exhibitors, both big and small. I had a chat with the guys at Sports Tours International about the costs involved in a marathon tour to Tokyo. I was pleasantly surprised because it wasn’t that much more than a trip without the guaranteed marathon entry; one to keep in mind for the future, perhaps.

I made a beeline for the Sweatshop stand, hoping to find a Marathon Talk t-shirt in black; sadly, they only had the garish blue and pink/orange option. Marathon Talk has been a huge help on my long training runs and I love spotting others with the famous 26.2 t-shirts at various races and Parkruns I attend. I did spot a Nike Oregon Project t-shirt, with the phantom logo made famous by Alberto Salazar’s boys. I opted for the grey version with a fluorescent yellow phantom and decided this would be my last purchase at the expo! My old university buddy, Kevin Yates, attended the expo earlier in the week and warned me that it was possible to spend a lot of money if I wasn’t careful – he wasn’t kidding!

Earlier in the week, Graeme Hilditch (author of a training book I have) said he would be present at the Brooks stand. I was hoping to get his autograph but he was busy fitting people with new shoes, so sadly an opportunity missed.

I visited a few more stands including Men’s Running Magazine and Athletics Weekly before deciding to head back to Birmingham before rush hour. The crowds started to swell as I headed back to the DLR station; I can only imagine what they would have been like on Saturday!

I enjoyed the expo overall and it reminded me of the Running Show that Elsa and I attended back in November. I only wish that I had more time to really have a good look at everything. It is open to the general public and there are some bargains to be had, so definitely worth a visit if getting to ExCeL isn’t too much trouble for you.

Race Day

Pre-race nerves finally decided to manifest on Saturday night, so I only had 2.5 hours of sleep or so. Thankfully, I’d slept reasonably well in the week leading up to Sunday so I had a buffer of sorts, though this was still less than ideal. I had my breakfast of fruit bread with marmalade, washed down with beetroot juice. People often ask me if the beetroot juice makes a difference; it’s one of the super foods that actually has conclusive evidence of its benefits. I packed my stuff together to put on the luggage truck, leaving my hotel in Covent Garden to head over to Charing Cross Station for my train to Black Heath.

There were several runners on the streets with red bags like mine so I just followed them. Runners are able to use public transport in London for free until 5pm on race day, so I hopped on my train to Black Heath without charge. The train was full of runners, with one regular commuter having to do a double take as he boarded, unsure of what was going on around him.


Free travel for runners? Yes please!

The journey to Black Heath took 15 minutes. Marshals met us at the station and pointed us to the blue start with its familiar hot air balloons seen on TV every year. As I approached the entrance, a Japanese news crew came over to start interviewing me! I apologised and explained that I was British, all in Japanese; I have no idea whether they’ll keep the footage but it did make me smile because amongst some friends, I’m known as “Japanese Andy”, thanks to a fascination with the Land of the Rising Sun. I was pretty early but the park was already bustling with fellow runners. I had a walk around to familiarise myself with the key locations, like the toilets, the luggage trucks and the starting pens. I sat down next to a lovely older gent called Hermon and struck up a conversation with him. He was from Norway and at the age of 72, he began running marathons at age 50 and had previously completed 74 of them! This was his third London Marathon and acquired his place through a similar company to Sports Tours International, costing him £100 but for a guaranteed place. This wasn’t a bad price I thought for the peace of mind that you would be able to run. I bid him farewell and wished him good luck once the organisers told us to start loading our bags on the trucks and to begin heading to the starting pens.


This is where I was interviewed by a Japanese news crew

I’m going to get on my soapbox here and get something off my chest. I hate being held up by slower runners in front of me because it disrupts your rhythm and could be the difference between a PB and missing a PB. I originally applied for my ballot place with a time of 4:10, which was a realistic performance based on all the factors and variables at the time, most notably my then 1-year-old half marathon PB. A year is an incredibly long time and with the right training, my fitness levels have come on leaps and bounds, with a realistic 3:30 finish on the cards. Back in November, I contacted the race organisers with a request to change my finish time to something closer to 3:45, attached with evidence of my new half marathon PB from the Great Birmingham Run. I received no response and put it to the side until closer to race day. I decided to place myself at the front of my start pen, 8 out of 9, with further salt rubbed in my wounds from the announcements over the PA system asking runners not to try to jump to faster pens, with nothing annoying runners more than “slower runners getting in the way”… Speaking to the runners immediately around me, they said they had all put times of 4:20 to 4:30 on their forms, so it was likely that I’d have to fight through at least 3 start pens to get to a decent rhythm.

Anywho, I enjoyed the company in pen 8. There was a lot of banter amongst us, with some having run before and some newcomers like me. The wait took an eternity and after a botched 30 seconds of silence in light of Boston’s tragedies, we were briefed to start shortly after 10:15 or so. The marshals walked us to the start and with 100m left to go, we were told to start running and that we did!

I started off smooth, but very quickly found myself getting caught up in the crowds ahead of me, causing my pace to drop to 8:15. I found a fellow pen 8 starter that was also aiming for 3:30 so we stuck together for a while but due to the congestion, we had to take evasive manoeuvres and began our battle to dodge and weave. All marathon training guides hammer into you that you need to conserve your energy during the early miles and dodging and weaving is huge no-no. I had no choice but to do this if I wanted a time less than 4 hours, so I took a gamble that my fitness would be able to compensate for a first half littered with surges here and there.

I hit mile 1 with my GPS watch syncing up perfectly with the marker, so my dodging didn’t have any ill effect just yet. It was a bright, sunny day and the positive weather really helped to draw the record-breaking 700,000 strong crowds out to support us all (500,000 came out last year). It wasn’t so much the ambient temperature that was taking its toll, rather the direct sunlight with no cloud cover. Despite the sun beating down on me, I was still feeling fast, but stressing out due to the hoards around me and I knew I had to make some progress by mile 2 to stand a chance.

The early parts of the London Marathon course were nothing spectacular, passing through mostly residential areas. You’ll have to forgive me if I don’t have too many details because I was more concerned about not causing a massive pile up in front or behind me!

I hit mile 3 and my GPS watch reported that I was roughly 50m out. This was a huge worry so early on in the race and I began to wonder what my likely total distance would be by the end. Another issue quickly approaching was that of the runners from the red start, now on the other side of the dual carriageway that would be joining us in less than 800m! It was hard enough fighting through the blue start runners for contention and I wanted to cry at having to do it all over again.

The two groups merged and it was as if somebody had slammed on the brakes, with a jolt as the pace dropped. I had to take corners and turns even wider than before and this had a huge knock-on effect with my mile splits, with the 4th mile marker appearing even further out of sync with my GPS watch.

The next few miles were largely forgettable. I arrived at the Cutty Sark and didn’t even realise I’d reached the first sight on our tour of London due to how many people there were around me. At around mile 7 or 8, I did have to pull out of the race quickly to empty my bladder. Being ushered into our starting pens an hour ahead of actually running, I had a tiny niggling feeling that was just enough to annoy but wouldn’t have caused any problems if I continued on; it was more for comfort rather than anything else. I joined a guy against a secluded wall and we both joked that it wasn’t our finest moment, quickly re-entering the race after finishing our business.

My memory is a little hazy until halfway. At some stage, I bumped into a runner from Kings Heath Running Club and had a quick chat with him, mentioning that I knew Mike Green and Sean Whan. Somewhere else in the first half, several runners and I decided to jump on to the pavement for a few minutes and skip right past the crowds for some temporary relief. I was hoping this would act as a slight shortcut to bring my total distance back in line with the mile markers, but it seemed to have no effect.

Water stations were found at every mile (after mile 3) and Lucozade was handed out every 5 miles. This was great because you could almost grab a bottle on a whim without too much planning required, unlike in a half marathon where you may only have 2 – 3 drink stations to rely upon. With the temperature quickly rising, I began to pour a lot of the water over my head and on my hands to keep me cool. It was amazing how only a few degrees of additional warmth could make such a difference.

My pace was still off and I started to lose the will to fight. Thankfully, I’d caught up to the 3:45 pacers but I had no idea which start group they were from because the 3:56 pacers kept floating into the group! Trying to break through the crowd following the two different pacing groups was near impossible and I gave up trying to hit my original schedule, instead opting for a sub 3:45 finish. I had made up a good 5 – 10 minutes and I was on target for a 3:39 finish, so long as I stuck with the 3:45 pacers.

We began to approach Tower Bridge, which many regard as a beacon of hope because it’s near the halfway point. All of the training guides I’ve dipped in and out of have all strongly recommended that you need to stay calm and controlled until halfway; great if you’re in a good pace group or in a race with plenty of space to manoeuvre around others. The sun was now starting to reach its highest point in the sky and there was no hiding, so the race was definitely going to become tougher from this point onwards. Tower Bridge also presented one of the only major inclines on what is otherwise a very flat course.

London Marathon

Runners and spectators at Tower Bridge

The crowds at Tower Bridge were amazing, with both sides possibly 8 – 10 people deep. The noise everybody made was incredible and really helped to push those starting to feel worse for wear. My pace was still decent at this point, hovering between 8:12 and 8:15 minutes per mile, with people around me now running at a much closer speed to my own. Passing through Tower Bridge, I heard people shout, “Go beetroot!” and it turned out to be Iain and Elsa! I wasn’t expecting them to spectate at Tower Bridge, but they managed to find a really good spot just after the bridge and before the corner where we all ran right towards Canary Wharf. The boost I had from seeing them was huge and really lifted my spirits after attacking 12 less than ideal miles.

When you’re starting to tire, the mind can play tricks on you. People were consistently shouting “Go Andy!” and “Keep going, Andy, you’re doing well!” I had to continuously look down at my vest to reassure myself that I didn’t have my name on display. I turned around and there was a charity runner with “Andy” printed on his vest that must have followed me from about mile 7 onwards – mystery solved! I just imagined they were cheering me on to reap some of the benefit.

The road started to widen up between miles 13 and 15, but this benefit was short-lived. The 3:56 and 3:45 pacers continued to cut into each other’s paths, not helping the crowding situation with both groups and their mismatched paces contending with each other. The water stations were easily missed if you were on the wrong side of the road because it was physically impossible to navigate to where you wanted to be. Plenty of runners simply barged their way through, not necessarily because they were thirsty but because they needed some water to cool themselves down with. I don’t remember exactly where, but I almost tripped on a stray bottle of water on the ground; it was impossible to see where my feet were going and one poorly placed step almost had me going head over heels. Thankfully, I still had enough of a reaction time in me to regain my balance and prevented a huge pile up of runners; had this have been much later in the race, I don’t think I’d have been quite so lucky.

I began to see a few of the faster club runners coming through on the opposite side of the road, most likely finishing with a time of 2:30 to 2:40. Kev would be about 3 miles away at this stage so it was unlikely I’d see him coming through.

Looking at my mile splits, I have no idea what happened at mile 16 to churn out my second fastest mile of 7:57. The elevation is pretty much flat and I don’t recall the crowds being any better or worse than before. Perhaps the density of runners started to die down and I was free to open the throttle up a bit. Sadly, this looks like the beginning of when the fatigue of fighting in the first half would come back to haunt me because the splits all became progressively slower.

I really enjoyed the Docklands and Canary Wharf area of the course. I no longer had to worry about people around me, with everyone more or less running at the same pace. For the first time in the entire race, I was now also able to follow the blue line to try to help bring my total distance down. I was now roughly 0.4 miles out with every mile marker, so not a game breaker but I knew I would definitely finish having run further than the prescribed 26.2 miles.

Canary Wharf offered some much needed shade from the sun, thanks to all the large buildings and DLR tracks above. The crowds here were fantastic; I spotted one group holding a Welsh flag, to which I shouted out, “Go Wales!” to grab their attention. They responded, going wild and began cheering me on – it was only right, being an honorary Welshman!

I was consciously looking out for the Marathon Talk cheering station, manned by Martin and Tom. They said they would be at the West Ferry DLR station but I simply didn’t have the concentration anymore to keep my eyes moving through the spectator crowds and I sadly missed them.

Everything began to ache at this stage. My shoulders and neck were tight and I could feel blisters in my right foot along with swelling in both feet. My quads and hamstrings were also shot along with my hips. Finally, my stomach was in knots and I wanted to throw up constantly. This may or may not have been due to all the sugar from Lucozade and gels I had consumed… I also began to heel strike because everything immediately felt better, but caused my pace to nose dive. This was a huge gamble for me, because I haven’t had to heel strike continuously for over a year since adjusting my form to become efficient. I wasn’t sure how my body would react to it, but I figured my legs could take 6 more miles of heel strike forces.

Leaving Canary Wharf, I was now on the way home. Mentally, this was huge having reached mile 20. The crowds were much smaller around here, with mostly residential neighbourhoods around us. One family had moved their sofa to the side of the road to spectate for a real front row experience. If I lived in London, I’d do the same!

Mile 21 was the beginning of the hardest part of the race, but there must have been some divine intervention because I bumped into a fellow Cannon Hill Parkrunner! I saw a lady wearing a turquoise coloured running vest, which immediately reminded me of the Bournville Harriers. I increased my pace to catch up to her and glanced over, only for it to be Suz West, a regular from Parkrun! She wasn’t looking too good at this stage and said she had to walk briefly, so I wished her luck and carried on. After maybe half a mile, Suz managed to catch up with me again and we agreed to carry on together for support. It was great to have somebody to speak to and share the pain with. People were starting to overtake us, so we readjusted our target to a sub-4 hour finish. We passed by Suz’s family for another mental lift. Suz had her name printed on her club vest and the amount of crowd support she had was incredible, with people cheering from everywhere around us. When (not if) I run another marathon, I’ll be sure to do the same.

Lucozade debuted a new energy gel of theirs on the course and it was between mile 21 and 22 that I decided to take another gamble and try one out. It tasted awful, with a medicinal after taste that lingered for a good few minutes, even after being washed down by water.

I started to train my eyes on the crowds because I knew Dom would be somewhere out there spectating. I sadly didn’t see or hear him, but he said I went through mile 23 looking strong and focused – I must have a good poker face, because I was anything but!

I continued to keep an eye out for my parents at around Monument station. Just as we passed under a bridge, I heard somebody shout “Go Andy!” and it was my Dad.  I waved back at them and this gave me another lift. My parents were always quite busy when I was growing up and didn’t have much time for my hobbies, so it’s quite touching that they’re now making up for lost time in their retirement. Like Dom, they too said I looked strong; it’s nice to know that when the chips are down, I can still look like I’m performing well.

London Marathon

A rare photo of me looking strong in the London Marathon

Suz and I kept saying to each other that we only had a Parkrun left to go, something that we did week-in and week-out, so this should have been easy. It wasn’t. The road opened up and the sun was now on our left, shining right at us. We grabbed whatever water we could and poured it on to each other to stay cool. I’m not one to swear excessively, but I’m sure every sentence Suz and I exchanged with each other contained an expletive or three. We were both hurting and Suz wanted to walk, but I convinced her to keep going and that I would finish with her. My stomach was still in knots and the feeling of throwing up continued to rear its ugly head.

Mile 24 kept me going because I knew Iain and Elsa would be in the crowd on the left to cheer me on. I strategically placed all my family and friends in the final 6 miles because I knew I’d need help during these unknown parts of the race that I hadn’t hit in training. Team Beetroot said they’d be at around mile 24.5, next to one of Iain’s speed cameras, yet they were nowhere to be found. I began to worry because this was something I was looking forward to so much and Iain and Elsa had specifically made the trip to London to see me. As we drew closer to mile 25, two familiar faces in the crowd began to shout my name and I started to wave. Other people around them were also shouting “Andy!” which confused me but I’ll take whatever support is being given! I went over to them all and started high-fiving everyone and zoomed off to join Suz again. It’s moments like these that make the event special and stand you back up when you’re about to fall.


Elsa somewhere between mile 24.5 and mile 25

The mile 25 marker came by and worryingly, my GPS reported a 0.7 mile differential between what I had run and the measured course. It was depressing to realise I had run almost an entire mile due to overtaking runners across the entire course; up until this race, I had only run an extra 200m in typical half marathons!

London Marathon 2013

This is what a broken Andy Yu looks like

The sight of Big Ben loomed in the background, but never seemed to get any closer. Suz and I saw Colin Jackson and I ran over for a high-five to get another mental lift. We had less than a mile to go and just had to keep it together until the finish. We visualised the triangle portion of Cannon Hill Parkrun to give the distance some context.

Lis was somewhere on the right as we approached Buckingham Palace. All I could see was an ocean of faces, none of them wearing a daffodil hat. We passed the agreed point and I still hadn’t seen Lis when suddenly, a bright yellow beacon appeared amongst the crowd. I shouted as loud as I could and waved, but she couldn’t see me. I continued to shout and wave and thankfully, she finally saw me, waved back and spurred me on to tackle the final 200m. Lis normally positions herself near the finish line, whether it’s a major race or just Parkrun and serves as a good sign to begin shifting up a gear for one final kick.


She couldn’t possibly be Welsh, could she?

The Mall was now ours and I told Suz to give everything she had for one last kick. I went for it and sprinted as fast as my heavy legs would allow. I must have overtaken a good few people and opted to go down the middle aisle. I crossed the line with my arms held high, with Suz not far behind.

We did it! We’d completed the London Marathon!


The hardest medal to earn in my collection

For those interested (I’m looking at you, Dave), click here to view the Nike+ run data including a full mile split breakdown.


My legs were unsteady and I had to crouch down to catch my breath. A marshal came over to check if I was OK and I gave him a thumbs up. I gave Suz a hug and we both tried to speak but nothing coming out of our mouths made any sense. We carried on walking and were given our finishers’ medals; these were a good, hefty weight and look amazing. Volunteers took the tags off our shoes, much like the arrangement at the Silverstone Half Marathon, knowing that we wouldn’t be able to do it ourselves after having run over 26 miles. We continued to head towards the exit when we unexpectedly bumped into Sir Richard Branson! I shook his hand and told Richard it was great to see him at the finish.

London Marathon 2013

Team Cannon Hill Parkrun for the win!

Suz and I had our finishers’ photos taken separately and together, a trick where if none of the other photos are worthwhile, we could always split the cost of the one of us together.

We kept walking, collecting our goodie bags and checked-in luggage. I have to give a round of applause to the organisers for how they handled returning luggage to runners, because it was so efficient. The volunteers saw me coming and had my bag, ready to hand over to me with no fuss. This is exactly what you want after a difficult marathon, not to be waiting for ages in a long queue unlike experiences I’ve heard of at the Milton Keynes Marathon and the Greater Manchester Marathon.

There was a small clearing where we sat down to take a break and start raiding our goodie bags for some water and food. The contents of mine looked remarkably similar to the goodie bag from the Bath Half Marathon, which is no bad thing.

We got back up and started to head towards the meet and greet area when Suz suddenly lost the ability to walk and her calf muscles seized up entirely. A runner who happened to be a doctor and I picked her up and moved over to the side where we tried to massage her legs to get some feeling back into them. The doctor suggested Suz get some salt down her ASAP and I remembered a packet of ready salted crisps that I’d stashed away for after the race. I didn’t need them so I gave them to Suz to eat. We both had to get back to our respective families and friends so I bid her farewell and said I’d catch up with her in a few weeks at the next Cannon Hill Parkrun.

I won’t bore you guys with the rest, but I headed back to Picadilly Circus and met up with everybody for some well-deserved Nandos, which is now most definitely a post-race tradition.


The camp pose was unintentional

Closing thoughts

I’ve had a few days to reflect and review my experience of the 2013 Virgin London Marathon.

My complaints still stand in regards to the organisers’ outright refusal to change starting pens for runners, even when you can supply evidence to support your argument of a faster finish time. I have since found out that the biggest factor that determines which starting pen you are placed in is a little box that reads, “Is this your first marathon?” Ticking this box apparently places you in a lower starting pen, almost as a fail-safe for the organisers to compensate for people overestimating their ability. I respect the rule that you shouldn’t overestimate your finish time, but I must be in the minority.

The crowds in London were incredible, even in the early stages of the race. They cheered us all on and plenty of people came out to offer their own jelly babies and drinks. I’ve run some dour races where the crowds just stand there and watch, with no support at all. I know they’re free to do whatever they want, but runners do genuinely appreciate the cheers.

The course itself was OK. It was flat and I have no doubt a clear run with similarly paced runners around you would be conducive to PBs, but this seems to be a luxury to fast club runners and good for age runners.

The organisation was superb, with plenty of marshals, all of whom were so friendly and supportive. Everything was plentiful and where it should have been, and things like free public travel for runners was most welcome.

The London Marathon is regarded as one of the pinnacles of road racing events; a model that many UK races have based themselves on. There’s a certain prestige with having run in London and I’m glad I can now share in that glory.

I am a self-confessed PB hunter, looking to better my finish times with each race and my failure to hit my 3:30 target has been difficult to ignore since finishing two days ago. Several people have said to me that I should target a smaller-scale marathon for my next PB attempt. I did question whether I would return to the marathon distance, but I think this will happen sooner rather than later.

Recovery has been as expected. I had a good level of mobility immediately after the marathon and despite sitting down in Iain and Elsa’s car for close to 2 hours, I was still able to walk without much stiffness. The following day, I experienced some soreness, but this was still nothing like the day after my first half marathon.

The entire marathon experience, from learning that I would be running to crossing the finish line, has been one of discovery. My body took to the marathon training reasonably well and I’m confident I’ll achieve my 3:30 target on my next 26.2 mile outing.

Finally, like any good story, there are some people who I would like to thank that have come with me on this journey:

Iain and Elsa – thank you for your support, even before the London Marathon was on the horizon. Elsa came with me to my very first Parkrun and Iain has supported and cheered me on at countless races, big and small.

Yvonne and Philip – thank you both for regularly driving me to Cardiff Parkrun each time I visit. The early start on a Saturday morning isn’t easy, but know that it is appreciated. Philip is my good luck charm and I always seem to PB whenever he’s spectating. One time, he went off to the toilet as I crossed the line and I was off by maybe 10 seconds!

Dave – thank you for being a great racing partner. I say “racing” because we’ve never actually trained together, unless we consider the snow Parkruns? Dave and I are almost perfectly matched in terms of ability at the moment and we both share our love of running stats and data.

Mike Green, Sean Whan and Barbara Partridge – these guys are regulars at Cannon Hill Parkrun and it’s always a joy to run with them, or see them spectating. They’re also members of Kings Heath Running Club and despite only having attended one of their sessions, I strangely feel like I’m part of their club. Joining them is still up for debate, perhaps it’s the push I need to become a stronger runner?

Cannon Hill Parkrun – I love racing and Parkrun gives me the chance to race a 5k every week at high-speed. I’ve met a couple of good folks at the events and I’m now only 5 runs away from joining the 50 Club.

Cardiff Parkrun – similarly to Cannon Hill, this is my Parkrun of choice whilst away from home. It’s a fast course and I regularly find I’m running with 100 Club member, Daniel Luffman, who has helped me achieve several PBs in the past.

My parents – Chinese people feel that their genes can make exercise unnecessary, so they can’t quite understand all this running malarky. They do however make an effort to come out to some of my races and it’s nice to see them take an interest in my hobby.

Dom – a fellow runner and blogger, I first met Dom at the Bath Half Marathon. Dom came out all the way to London and even offered his help by standing near mile 22 on the London Marathon to give me energy drinks or gels. Dom’s ability has come on leaps and bounds and it’s been great to keep an eye on his progress.

Lis – last but certainly not least, she has been my long-suffering running widow. She’s been to every one of my major races and most of my Parkruns. She’s also been on the receiving end of some of my foul moods when I’ve missed a PB or when I’m tired from a tough training session. Successful runners are said to be a bit selfish and excellent supporters are said to be selfless; Lis is most definitely that!