The VLM London Marathon is on Sunday. Like a lot of runners, I entered the ballot for it in April last year, but when the ballot places were allocated in October, I wasn’t among the lucky ones.
During the six-month hiatus between entering the ballot and finding out whether I’d been successful, I ran the Bupa London 10,000, Windsor Half Marathon, Royal Parks Half Marathon and about 25 parkruns. And I realised that I’m really not a mass-participation-event type of person.
I hate ballots for places, especially ones with ridiculously long windows between application and event. I hate having to pick my way around other runners, even towards the end of a race. And I hate having to get up early to get to a venue to stand around waiting for a portaloo.
So come October, I decided that not getting into London was a blessing in disguise, and I entered Lochaber – maximum number of runners 600.
Wow! Registration consisted of popping to the local Leisure Centre on Saturday afternoon to pick up a race number and a t-shirt. That took approximately five minutes, and meant that on Sunday morning, I could get up, have breakfast, shower and lounge around in the comfort of my hotel room until 10.15, when I checked out and wandered along to the Leisure Centre for the 10.45 briefing.
Not a portaloo in sight, and there are even showers available once you’ve finished. Luxury!
And then, at 11am, we were off. Granted, it’s not the most interesting course in the world: run out along a road for 13.1 miles, turn around, run back, but the weather was kind (sunny but cool for most of it, with only a drop of rain), the route flat, and the views spectacular.
I could also have done with a slightly larger number of slower runners. Consistent 11 minute miles for the first half left me about 10 people from the back of the field. Once the wheels fell off at around halfway, there were long stretches where I couldn’t see any runners in front of me, which made motivating myself to run increasingly difficult. Fair to say that the walking through the water stations approach of the first half rapidly turned into a walking pretty much the whole time approach for the second half.
But ho hum. I finished [yes, that's me in position 406 of 415] and I’ll do better next time. And there will be a next time. Because although it was very long and very tiring and seemingly unending, I rather enjoyed it. And I know that I have a sub 5 hour marathon in me somewhere.
Rutland Water marathon anyone?