by Vicki Blaber
Well, where to start…When I received the call from Martin to say I had been successful in the Seaford Striders ballot, I think for the first few seconds I was in shock! Then the excitement crept in. As the day drew closer, apart from the nerves, my biggest worry was the logistics of getting to the start line. Finally, once that was all in place, I was ready to enjoy the final few days leading up to the event. It started of course with attending the Expo at the Excel in London to collect my number, lucky number 22846. That’s when it became real!
Unfortunately, there was a slight hiccup with the travel on the day, which didn’t help the nerves. There was an incident on the line with our journey from London Victoria to Blackheath, which meant I arrived at the start area later than anticipated. However, once I was in the pen it was time to focus on the race.
And wow, what an incredible experience! My race start was in Blackheath and at that point it was already amazing to see the amount of people starting to line up. As the race got under way we merged with the other starts at mile 3 and at this point I found myself smiling as I saw a huge surge of people join the route. I kept telling myself “you’re running the London Marathon!” By now the noise of the crowds was already overwhelming, and whereas in previous races you start to spread out at this point, you realise that that just doesn’t happen in this race. I remember thinking that not only can you hear the crowds but also the constant pounding of running feet all around you.
The first iconic point at around 7 miles is The Cutty Sark, the sun was shining, the crowds were out in their thousands and there was music and cheering all around. You could almost forget you were in a race. At this point I was feeling fine and looking forward to seeing my sister at around mile 9. By now I had also mastered the dodging of the hundreds of bottles of water that are thrown to the side during the race, which were of course very much needed, as it was very warm at times when the sun came out!
Onwards to mile 9, where I saw my sister and niece with their super sign, a quick hug and I was back on track heading to the half way mark and Tower Bridge. The crowd and noise continued to be phenomenal and reached fever point as we ran along Tower Bridge. I remember just staring up, almost having to pinch myself that I was actually running across it – incredible. At mile 13 I was running really well and definitely appeared on track for a sub 4-hour time.
Next, we were heading to the Quays and Canary Wharf, an enjoyable part of the route but tough miles for me between 17 and 21. But I knew I was going to see my sister again at 19 miles and then Alex and the girls at 22, so this kept me going. The crowds and just being among so many runners also kept me going; I felt privileged to be running around London.
Mile 19 crept up, more screaming and shouting and another cheer from my sister! The end was almost in sight, I was still on track and even started to believe I could beat my current PB of 3.55, so I pushed on. Mile 22 came and I saw Alex and the girls which was fantastic and then it was countdown… 4 miles to go.
Come mile 24 and with the crowd cheering intensifying, I felt surprisingly ok and a PB was still in sight. The final two miles were a bit of a blur but there’s no way I could not remember that final 800 metres to the finish, the cheering, shouting, encouragement and then it was there, the finish line and a time of 3:50:24 – a PB in London. A day I will not forget in a long time. Thank you Seaford Striders for giving me the opportunity.
Simon Fletcher: 2:42:41 (426th place overall and 8th in his age group)
Dave Dunstall 3:39:33;
Vicki Blaber 3:50:24 (PB);
Carlie Watts 4:29:20 (3rd marathon in a month and suffering a fall!)
Sue Garner 4:53:58