On Sunday 29th September 2 Harriers lined up on the fastest marathon course in the world, neither with aspirations of getting within even 150% of Kipchoge’s amazing time from 2018 of 2:01.39.
The morning promised so much with the weather as it was a cool and dry 13 degrees Celsius as we all dream of. Oh how we would be mistaken!! Making my way on the U-Bahn to the start area I was feeling excited and nervous as this was my first overseas marathon and, apart from 3 weeks of a few niggles, training had gone pretty well. I met up with Simon Chandler (older and better looking brother of harrier James) who had flown over from Thailand for the race and he was feeling good to challenge his 2:59 pb too. We made our way to the start area and the bag drop was quite well organised although it was impossible to meet up with it being so spread out so I found myself alone and had a gentle jog down to the start pens.
The atmosphere was really impressive as the announcer got the runners clapping to some motivational music and I found myself feeling quite emotional as the months of training and the fund raising for Parkinson’s UK (in memory of Alexis’ Uncle Phil who passed away in 2018) came down to me and 26.2 miles now, a simple task but oh how we know it isn’t don’t we!!
The gun went and the crowds of runners began walking slowly forward. I took 5 mins to cross the start and then we were off. I can see that it took Paul Hollis over 38 mins so I assume he was somewhere near Warsaw in the pens! The course is quite wide at the start so you can get into a rhythm fairly quick although some narrower sections in the first 5-10k mean that there are times where you have to slow through the bottlenecks. I was going along nicely at my target pace (4:28-30k’s) and I felt great all the way to 28k. Then I started to feel some fatigue in my left hamstring but embraced that and continued at pace. Within 10 mins though the cramping had started and I knew that I had to manage it to maintain a regular pace so I began to slow the pace and managed to maintain that. The rain began to fall at around halfway and quickly turned into torrential downpours which then set in for the rest of the morning and all afternoon! Surface water made running quite unpleasant but the crowds were amazing and lifted spirits along the route which takes a huge anti clockwise loop of the city and then cuts back through the centre before turning and finishing through the Brandenburg Gate. I have to say that the finishing straight is emotionally charged and perhaps a mix of relief the pain was about to be over, elation of seeing the finish line, thoughts of the money raised, history of the suffering represented by the landmarks, and the pure emotion we feel when completing a journey that requires so much commitment!! I want to thank everyone who gave me such support and encouragement and to those who sponsored me in aid of Parkinson’s. And a big thank you to my wife who hurtled around on the U-Bahn to cheer me at several points, and then helped me home wet, cold and very sore!! She was incredibly supportive during the weekend and even stood queuing to get me a bowl of pasta for an hour, insisting I saved my legs, on Saturday evening before the race!!
Congratulations to Simon Chandler 2:56:51 (Pb), Paul Hollis 3:49 (not sure if a pb), and to Kenenisa Bekele for the 2nd fastest time in history 2:02:41 by only 2 seconds. I finished in a pleasing 3:23:34 which was 2 mins off my pb but new age group mark
I am back in Copenhagen recovering and hope to see you all at some cross country races soon.
Chris ‘can’t master the art of the marathon’ Potter