This year’s London Marathon certainly had its fair share of drama, particularly with it being the hottest one since the very first back in 1981.
As suggested in my column last week, my fears of the heat causing problems turned out to be correct.
I really did feel for all those who had trained so hard through the winter months only to be confronted by 26.2 miles in a heatwave.
Times were well down for so many, that is for sure, with a number of our top Norfolk athletes all recording slower times than what they were capable of.
The trouble with running a marathon is that it takes weeks and months of hard effort to get into peak shape and then on the day it can be spoilt by the weather.
With races of a lesser distance, the recovery rate is one where you can do it again a couple of weeks later, but with the marathon it can take several weeks or even months particularly after running one in such extreme conditions before full recovery is complete.
Lots of advice was given out by the race organisers for which most people did take notice and of course it was still a great occasion with thousands of runners being rewarded with the finishers medal which represented their achievement.
For those racing at the front of the men’s and ladies races, it was as competitive as ever with eyes very much on the Kenyan Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge and British favourite Mo Farah. However, it was Kipchoge who ran a super controlled race, winning in 2:04:17 with Farah finishing in third place in 2:06:21 whilst also breaking the 33-year-old British record by 52 seconds which has stood for 33 years and held by the legend that is Steve Jones.
For all those who go back like I do to the 1980s marathon running scene, Jonesy along with the likes of Charlie Spedding, Hugh Jones and so many others really were awesome for which the respect they all had was immense.
Nevertheless, a huge well done to Mo for breaking that long standing record, but it did also feel like the end of an era in some ways.
The ladies race was won by Vivian Cheruiyot and like Kipchoge, is also from Kenya. She broke the tape in a very fast time of 2:18:31, with the first female British athlete being Lily Partridge who finished in a superb eighth place in an equally superb time of 2:29:25.
On a local front, what a great run too by City of Norwich AC’s Charlotte Rose who crossed the line in 2:48:35.
On the back of Dani Nimmock’s brilliant performance when winning the Manchester marathon three weeks ago, this is a real thumbs up for CONAC and Norfolk running.
A mention also has to go to David Weir who won the mens wheelchair race for a staggering eighth time (1:31:15) and to Simon Kindleysides from Blofield who despite being paralysed, amazingly completed the 26.2 miles whilst wearing an exoskeleton suit in 36 hours. Not only was this a huge challenge for him, but he raised several thousands of pounds for his awesome efforts too.
Moving on from my love of marathon running, on May 12/13, the Norfolk County Track & Field Championships will be held at the UEA Sportspark.
These championships have even more history than The London Marathon what with possibly going back to 1923 when they were combined with Suffolk or so the very knowledgeable and tireless servant of Norfolk athletics Brendon Byrne has suggested.
There will be a full events programme for U13s through to seniors and of course masters. Additionally there will also be events for our para athletes and once again Quadkids featuring sprint, middle distance and field events.
However, and two events which I always specifically look out for is the 1500 and 5,000 metre races.
Both these events have always fascinated me right back to my school days. Whilst we have so many talented road runners in the county, I would love to see some of them turn their hand to having a go at these track events as I wouldn’t mind betting that a few of them have hidden talents and if nothing else the track is a great place to see what you really are capable of.
This week’s column represents exactly one full year of supporting Mark Armstrong with his On The Run and Run Anglia articles.
I really have enjoyed being part of these EDP and Evening News weekly features and whilst I am more often than not late with copy, I just about always get there in the end.
I have tried to write about a number of given topics when it comes to everything running whereby in some cases it has caused debate and at other times just general interest (I hope).
However, and for those who said I will soon run out of ideas, well trust me, I most definitely won’t! When it is about something which has dominated a big part of your life, then it is easy. A big thank you to all those people during the last year who have told me that they have enjoyed reading the columns each week as it really is appreciated.
One final note before I sign off…I am regularly asked as to what is the most inspiring marathon race which I have ever watched. That really is a difficult one to answer, but if I had to say which one I have watched the most, then it has to be the Boston Marathon of 1982 when Alberto Salazar had an amazing battle with Dick Beardsley who as it happens was the first (joint) winner of the London Marathon in 1981. Salazar and Beardsley fought all the way to the very end both recording times of 2:08, which even to this day, the hairs still stand up on the back of my neck when watching it.
Police motorbike riders all around them, streets lined with thousands of spectators and even cyclists all following the event from behind. The noise and atmosphere was electric. For those who haven’t ever seen it, then check it out on Youtube “Duel in The Sun – Boston Marathon.”
It’s guaranteed to inspire you!