Looking back again to April this year, my last week in England concluded with helping out Spinal Research at the London Marathon. After running it for them twice before I was very excited about seeing everything from the other side and support the 120 runners who were fundraising for them this year.
I spent the Saturday down at the Excel center with Robin for the last day of the marathon expo, getting to spend the whole day there novel instead of rushing around collecting my number and trying to pick up all the freebies possible. Getting to soak up the atmosphere of the thousands of excited and nervous runners preparing to take on the day of a lifetime was contagious. We got to meet many of the charities runners who were there to collect their race numbers, putting faces to all of the names I had seen on facebook the previous months, and hear all of their stories for why they were running and fundraising, and getting a sense of anticipation from them. And of cause collecting all of the freebies!
On the Sunday, marathon day, I had the fun job of being the charities photographer, that was after we had set up the venue and cheer points along the route. Banners, Balloons, flags, massage tables all had to be ready for when that first runner crossed the finish line. It was an early start but the sun was shining and it was turning into perfect running weather (although im sure that many of the runners would have prefered a little more shade!) With the venue finished many of the runners family and friends started turning up at the cheer points to bring so much noise and encouragement to the runners. It surprising how long a group of people can clap and cheer for, I lost my voice part way through the afternoon! Around 1pm we started to see the first Spinal Research runners finishing. The “hardcore runners” as I like to call them, who have been running and training for years and London was their pinnacle race of the year. At first trying to pull out the runners from such a mass of people was a challenge, but after a few hours of staring into a dizzying amount of runners we came up with a shout down the street whenever someone caught one in the distance!
People started finishing over the next few hours until 6pm when all of the roads we due to re-open. I talked to a lot of runners about how they were feeling after finishing as I know exactly how many different emotions are going through you when you have finished your first ever race. The runners who I had met at the expo the day before had told me that they were aiming for a PB or a specific time, but now after finishing, most of them were happy to have actually finished at all on such a warm day. As the afternoon went on the support and encouragement from the crowd never faulted, even as the “7 hour” runners were coming into finish. I had forgotten just how incredible the noise is at the finish line, there were many points throughout the day that I found myself wanting to join the runners and run the whole race with them!
All in all it was an amazing day and I had so much fun spending the week with the Spinal Research team. The amount of time and effort they had put into every one of the 120 runners is impressive, and at the end of the Sunday you could see why they had won an award for being the runners favourite charity! Getting to see the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes was something which I have been wanting to get involved with for the last 4 years, finally it is ticked of the list. So who’s with me for next year… I know that some of the runners had already planned to sign up to run again, so let see if they can have an even bigger team in 2018.
Here’s to another year of running, fundraising and meeting inspirational people!