13.1 miles, 02:08:24

I completed my first-ever half-marathon today, an inspiring and beautiful route through London’s Royal Parks. I notched a time of 02:08:24 which I am really pleased with. It’s the first big race I’ve run since last summer’s Great British 10k, and I really felt the step up, struggling a little between miles 8 and 9 before finding the gas to push on to the finish. I also got a much needed energy boost near the finish as I saw my family waving me on.

At the finish, as I collected bottles of water, Lucozade Sport and much-needed bananas, my oldest son, with typical honesty, grinned at me and said: “Well done Dad, but I’ve got to tell you the carrot finished in front of you”. It reminded me of a friend who told me the lowest point on her London Marathon was being passed three miles from home by a man dressed as a rhino! It actually gave me a much-needed laugh.

It’s the good humour and friendliness I love about these events. The sense of sharing an achievement breaks down barriers, with people exchanging stories and experiences while waiting to start, and many acts of kindness witnessed en route as runners pull back to help those they see in trouble, encouraging and pacing so that everyone gets to the finish. This, and the fact that so many people turn up just to cheer on the runners, does restore a tremendous amount of faith in human nature, and underlines my firm belief that there certainly is such a thing as society.

It was also another great London occasion, the route taking us through Hyde, Green and St James’s Parks and Kensington Gardens, and also taking in The Mall, Constitution Hill, Westminster Bridge and the Victoria Embankment. Much of that route brought back memories of many a marching weekend in the 1980s. A great moment too on the tube on the way there, as the sheer variety and randomness of London life delivered another surprise. There were a few bewildered faces as people boarded tube carriages at 8am packed with passengers clad in running gear!

I’m hoping the aching limbs ease off by the time I tackle the many staircases of the LCC tomorrow, and I shall be having my first beer for a while this evening to ensure they do. Despite my late decision to go the sponsorship route, I raised £323 online and further £30 off it for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. If anyone reading this feels the need to lump on, my sponsorship page is still up.



Contact me at martincloake@mac.com

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