Yesterday over 35,000 people took part in the 31st London Marathon, which is the single largest money-raising charity event in the world. IN THE WORLD! Runners raised millions of pounds for dozens of different charities.
It was an amazing spectacle and the public was out in strong numbers to support all of the runners. The entire 26.2 mile course was lined on both sides with spectators wildly cheering, holding up huge signs, ringing cowbells, bar-b-cuing and, of course, drinking beer. Even with all of the crazyness that was taking place in the crowd, it was the race itself that was the most entertaining.
Of course the most impressive of the runners was my future wife Chrissy, who finished her first ever marathon in 5 hours and 13 minutes and raised over £1300 for the British Heart Foundation. She ran the event in memory of her father, who passed away from heart complications several years ago.
She was a bit disappointed with her time but in the end it was a very hot day and she did exactly what she had trained to do: she finished without walking and had a wonderful time. I was surprised at how good she looked at the end and I think if she had wanted to have a miserable day she could have pushed herself and done it in well under five hours. There are other marathons for that, but the London Marathon is a day of fun and wild characters.
Among the competitors was a group of runners dressed as rhinos, a London Bus manned by two runners, an American Football player, a man running with a washing machine on his back, a man dragging two truck tires, dozens of galloping beer bottles and countless cartoon characters. It was pretty amazing to see the costumes that people were able to carry all of that way, some of them weighing 40 pounds or more.
Many course records were set including Emmanuel Mutai from Kenya who clocked a time of 2:04:39 and another Kenyan, Mary Keitany won the women’s race, finishing in 2:19:17. Jon Morgan set a new record for the fastest cartoon character, running as Fred Flinstone and finishing in 2:46:59.
The race is longer than the longest bus route in London and goes past some pretty amazing historical sites. Including dozens of buildings that were constructed before the signing of the Declaration of Independence and some that were built in the early 1600’s!
At Mile 6 the runners pass the Prime Meridian, which was also the start of the 2007 Tour de France. On the left is Inigo Jones’ Queen’s House built in 1616 for Anne of Denmark, James I’s wife; and on the right is the Royal Naval Hospital, designed by Christopher Wren.
At Mile 10 the route passes within 250 metres of the Mayﬂower Pub. It was here that the Pilgrim Fathers assembled to set sail for America. However, they ran out of money and the ship was moved to Plymouth to avoid mooring dues.
Around Mile 13 the runners cross Tower Bridge, which was built in 1894 and still has all the original machinery for raising and lowering the drawbridge. It has never once failed to raise the 1,000 ton bascules.
Just after Mile 14 is St Anne’s Church, designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor and built between 1712 and 1730. Across the street is the Grapes pub, built in 1720. It is said that a young Charles Dickens was made to stand on the tables and sing to customers here.
At Mile 23 the course goes past Billingsgate Market, which is no longer the ﬁsh market of London but still retains three feet of perma frost created after centuries of cold stores on the site.
Runners pass Parliament Square and Big Ben at Mile 25 and finish in front of Buckingham Palace on The Mall.
The race was amazing, and watching it actually made me want to compete in the 2012 event. It’s a great day that the entire city enjoys. Chrissy’s mom and I negotiated the thousands of spectators and the over loaded but surprisingly beefed up subway network so that we could see Chrissy a few times along the way. We missed her at the start and she snuck past us again at Mile 7, but I was determined to see her once and give her our support so at Mile 17 I climbed a tall brick wall between the train tracks and the road. I found her, jumped down off the wall and ran with her for a half mile or so.
We also caught her at the end and was yelling her name but I wasn’t able to get a picture of her while she was looking at us. She said she heard us but never saw us. Hopefully the official pictures are better than the ones I got.
This is a great event in a wonderful city. Sure there are things about this place that I hate but yesterday I loved London. And what a way to see the city. I can only imagine what it must have been like to run this thing. I hope I get to do it someday!
CONGRATULATIONS CHRISSY! I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!