Flora London Marathon 2009

Apologies in advance for the length of this report – don’t forget to also check out Sam’s Shakespeare Marathon report on the preceding page.


The day had arrived – months of training, eating right, massages, travel arrangements, all had been arranged, it only meant now we would have to perform on the actual day.

Marie and Unkie Dunkie had left earlier in the week, as being a native of the big smoke had family to visit, Susie T and her daughter Nicky had opted for the package tour coach deal, Helen W and Phil had decided in the end to drive up, James T and super fast other half Wendy, (a sub 3 marathoner) had opted for a later train and Ian R and his expectant other half (Donna from CAC, 3.04 last year) had already left on an earlier train.
Sue and I saw Yvonne at the beginning of the platform with Graham, he was accompanied by Jeremy and Janet, two missing…………..I wonder who that might be?!?!? The time was ticking on and we decided to get on the train with our bags, I would then get off and find Mark and Izumi.

Now for most of this report try and picture the scenes I’m trying to describe.

I had just exited the station into the car park when I bumped into Izumi trying frantically to feed money into the machine to get a car parking ticket, she said “Mark plarking car” – with that Mark, runs towards me, dressed in a suit?!? Pointy shoes, hair flying, looking really like the lead singer of The Darkness – he was pulling the biggest suitcase I think he could find, telling Izumi to ‘hurry up’!
I said it would be best to take the phone number from the payment machine and he could get a ticket by telephoning on his mobile from the train using a credit card – we needed to hurry up as our train was about to leave – with that Mark grabs his wheelie case and starts running up platform 4 (that’s the one outside Penzance station if you know the area), frantically waving his arms and shouting ‘WAIT’ trying to stop the train that was pulling out – when he realised that the driver wasn’t going to put it in reverse, Mark stopped, turned to me and sighed, looking sorry for himself………………..I told him that wasn’t our train, ours was inside the station!! We entered the station, whereby Mark took off running again, waving his arms, calling for the train to stop, poor Izumis little legs trying to keep up, both running up platform 3 after the Virgin Cross Country train that was pulling out. Again he realised he wasn’t going to get on this train, and again turned to me, and, yes you guessed it – once again IT WASN’T OUR TRAIN! We were on a Great Western on the next platform
Platform 1, we got on to find the others sitting in first class! It’s not what you know it’s who you know! Only problem was we were in the ‘quiet carriage’ – for anyone that knows Mark, this may be an issue
We were off to London – approaching Camborne I thought it best that I remind Mark to call for his parking ticket – he dialled the number, quoted the car park reference number which I gave him, and………………..silence………………….he didn’t know his car registration number, a big, big, big problem! He knew where he had parked it, the make, the colour but not the reg! So frantically looking through his wallet for any scrap of paper that may have the number on it we drew a BLANK! Now I know you get clamped in this car park pretty quick if you aint got a ticket so we were in trouble – after thinking of trying the AA, calling Nigel S, the eurocar hire people (who have an office there) or someone to go looking for Marks car, we decided to call Sues office, try and get someone to walk around the car park searching for Marks car to give us the registration – eventually we got it – hurray, but we were in the quiet carriage remember, no mobile phones! So we were already making an impression with other travellers – I bumped into Ricky Hitchens from Newquay, who couldn’t quite understand how we’d managed to sneak into first class, and I wasn’t going to tell him, only to add the next 6 hours was highly amusing as Mark made many calls on his mobile, whilst sitting at his first class leather seat, laptop on the table, complimentary tea, coffee etc – he was living (and looking) the rockstar lifestyle.
We rolled into Paddington about 45 minutes late and the plan was to head over to our hotel drop Grahams, Mark & Izumis bags off (as they were staying with friends and family) and head over to register at Excel and hopefully meet the others. We booked the Hesperia, near Victoria station, we only chose this hotel cause it was easy to get to and had a spa, sauna and Jacuzzi for after the race – a short tube ride and there was our hotel, only to be told that the leisure club was closed due to refurbishment – NOT HAPPY – so a letter will be arriving in their in tray soon! What we did notice checking in was price per night – £340 pppn!!! How the hell can they justify that? Hasten to add we didn’t pay that!
Arriving at Excel reminded me of doing the London Tri, as the last time I saw where the expo was held it contained about 8000 bikes! Numerous text messages from Marie, Duncan, Helen and co we knew they were already there – James and Wendy had also texted to say they were on the train and on their way – we briefly met up with Helen and Phil, Marie, Unky Duncky, Lilly and all and proceeded into the expo.
Registered painless, signed our MBH on the big graffiti wall and onwards collecting as many useful freebies as we could – Graham panicking about which running tights to get the Ayatollah, long or short, he was that scared of gettng it wrong he bought both!!
Now for those of you who know me, I am the Imelda Marcus of the training shoe world – and recently, I had successfully, secretly acquired a new pair of Mizuno wave riders, even managing to keep the ayatollah to keep her trap shut (and many others) I had hidden my purchase well! The new trainers were bedding in nicely and that new shiny ‘just bought new trainers’ look had disappeared. Walking around the stands we came across Mizuno and there on show were exactly the same pair as I had on my feet!! I said to Sue, ‘oh look Sue, I’ve got a pair of those’ over hearing this the rep came rushing over and asked what I thought of them, I replied yeh good, toe box was little large for my foot but I’d only had them 2 weeks so couldn’t fully comment – DOH!!! Severe pain to back of head caused by slap and then the cold shoulder treatment for an hour!!! That’s gonna cost me when Janet and Sue go shopping tomorrow – I managed to get a new watch, as my old Ironman watch had died (after 8 years!) bought one of the runners world rucksacks for a tenner – tried numerous gels, energy bars, beer! And left – I understand that Marie had grabbed hold of Martin Lel, could this be the reason he pulled out the very next day – he was favourite to win until Marie got her claws into him?!? There is photographic evidence I believe.
We left the expo, everybody back to ours to collect bags and Mark, Izumi & Graham leave to go onto their friends and relations where they were staying.
Jer & Janet, Sue & myself decide to go out and grab a bite to eat – we find an ASK restaurant – excellent – Jer and I really enjoyed the pizza, Sue has rissotto and Janet has a calzone? an italian pasty?
Saturday was a ‘do what you like day’ so Jer, Janet, Sue and I decide to go into Covent Garden, Leicester Square etc – I had wanted to go to see Jersey Boys, the musical (story of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons) but after asking at the ticket discount places in the square we were quoted £80 each! No way I said, Jer & Janet decided to go for a musical called ‘Wicked’ apparently the story leading upto the beginning of the Wizard of Oz £40 a ticket (£20 face value) Sue and I decided to walk the the theatre where Jersey Boys was playing and asking there were no tickets together – we could however get one in front of the other – that was OK £20 each – BARGAIN!! Deal done. S a tip there, if your in LOndon wanting to see a show, try and get them direct from the theatre – The shows finished about 10 so a relatively early night for everyone.
Breakfast at the hotel was laid on at 6am and Jer and I were first in the queue – but were soon joined by about 30 other runners – a nice bowl of porridge with banana and honey, white toast, orange juice – I was amazed the amount of lycra clad ‘athletes’ who gobbled down huge plates of fried egg, bacon, sausages and mushrooms – perhaps that’s where we went wrong?!
Breakfast done, bags packed, a short walk to Victoria, tube to Embankment, short walk to Charing Cross and then DLR to Blackheath – We are the first MBH to arrive at the blue start – whilst we sit down my phone goes a bit mental and about 20 good luck messages arrive – thank you everyone for all your messages – we are soon joined by Ian R, Graham, who spots my fluorescent yellow MBH cap, James pops over, Marie arrives, Helen turns up, but no Mark – we listen and watch the large TV screens to all the coverage – free small bottles of lucozade sport and small bottles of water are everywhere (as are portaloosor turdis a they are known in the trade) – and constant messages to ensure your bags are on the lorries ready to go very soon, we get changed, apply creams and lotions – the weather was really hotting up, sosuntan lotion also – the elite ladies go off – still no Mark?!? James tells us an amusing story of how at 11pm the previous night he and other half Wendy were in boots buying some KY jelly!! But I’ll let him tell you more about that! I phone Mark to see if he’s close and he’s just getting off the train!! Now I’ll let you into a little secret – Mark has been avidly following the Runners World London Marathon Thread – here they advised what to put into your bag to use following the race, e.g. towel, change of clothes, comfortable shoes, money etc and also what to take to the race start – Vaseline, gels, and for the pen, an old T shirt, large mouthed bottle…………..Large mouthed bottle? what? It’s the final call for bags so Jer, Ian R and myself walk to our lorry, thousands of people waiting to pee! Now I’ll digress a little here – both Marie and Helen came back with tales of the female urinal available at the start – a stand up ladies loo – the mind boggles, I thought that type of action was only for Redruth women?! (not you Donna) But no, a funnel type arrangement that ladies stand up over?!? More details available from Marie. As you know men go (or not as you will soon hear) anywhere

Marie and Helen are in Pen 7, Graham and Ian Pen 5, Jer, Mark and myself Pen 3, James disappeared, we know not where, probably to apply more KY? We head on down and enter the appropriate pens – still no sign of Mark – you can’t tell me that some of these telly tubbies should be in Pen 3 and hoping to do 3.15?!? –
Saying that it must take one hell of an organisation with so many runners, marshalls, sponsors, road closures, water stations – and then there’s the clean up afterwards – the mind boggles
It’s quite congested in the pen already, but Jer and I soon hear, in his usual quiet voice, ‘hi old bean’! It’s no other than Mark ‘bouncing’ his way over to us, hair as wild as ever. Mark had gels on every inch of his belt, another one of those test tube dildo things in one hand and a small bottle of the free water in the other.
We’d made an agreement before the start that we would not run together in the marathon as we all had different tactics to try and achieve our good for age time of 3.15, I was going to try and get the first half done in about 1.35 and try and hang on and allow for a little slow down, Jer was going to take it steady at the start and try and speed up in the latter 6 and Mark was just Mark! I was just thinking that it was getting close to 9.45, start time, and moving away to a different part of the pen when Mark declares he couldn’t get his hands on a wide mouth bottle. I’d forgotten about this, the RW forum advice to combat the 30 minutes or so waiting time in the pen – try and picture this……………… wasting no time Mark up turns the small bottle of water on the floor, splashing everyone’s feet in the process (everyone was not happy, starting a marathon with wet feet is not the best) it gets better…………….. Mark then decides to try and stuff his pecker in the top of the water bottle – OH MY GOD!!! Don’t do it Mark……………too late, pecker in hand, it just wasn’t going to be forced in there! he then proceeded to tell everyone close that ‘he couldn’t go” – I’d had enough and made a swift exit to the other end of the pen! I didn’t see Mark again till mile 23.
9.45 – we’re off! It took about 1 – 2 minutes to cross the timing mats, a gentle jog and then walk, then jog, then stop, then walk – how the hell did 2 blue smurfs, Darth Vadar with complete face mask, 2 apples and a teletubby get in front of me – there is no way they would do 3.15 – there are so many people – you either use your elbows (which I’m not a fan of in these big charity raising events) or go with the flow – there are people on their mobiles, stopping to wave to the cameras, bending down in the middle of the road to tie shoelaces, speed humps, people running hand in hand –it is so busy and jam packed – For me first mile in 8.45, so already over a minute down, mile 2 – 8 minutes, so now (to get my 3.15 I needed to average 7.26 a mile) It didn’t fill me with confidence – I started to weave in and out to try and make up time but you can’t settle into a rhythm – mile 3 – 7.24, mile 4 – 7.02 – mile 5 – 7.32 – mile 6 I caught up with Susie and Nicky T and tried to push on – I caught Jer on the 15km timing mat but immediately had to stop and water the nearest tree, so I lost him again. It was so hot!!! I resisted the temptation of pouring the water over my head as I had done this in 2005 and ended up with wet feet, resulting in blisters the size of dinner plates.
Tower Bridge – half way in 1.39 – so 4 minutes down on what I wanted – I had to try and pick it up a bit. It wasn’t until I heard the shouts of ‘well done Gordon’ and ‘good work chef’ that I saw Jer up front – there was no way Gordon Fi’ng Ramsay was going to beat me – so I upped the pace, caught Jer and warned him that he was being chased by Ramsay – I kept going and lost Jer – the crowds were huge – 9/10 deep in places – but what I did notice, having done the FLM twice before, the course narrows a lot more than I remember – try squeezing that many runners into a lane the size of Lesingey Lane on our 3 mile route and you’re bound to get congestion – even at mile 17 I was having to slow to a near walk, zig zagging around walkers ‘blocking’ the course – at 30K the clock stood at 2.20 and I was still in with a shout of 3.15 – 12.195 km in 55 minutes (7.5 miles) 35K in 2.43, it was going to be close –now I could see Mark!!! I’d also run out of gels and I hate lucozade sport!! So sums say 7.195 km (4.5 miles) in less than 32 minutes – I could do this!!! No I couldn’t!!! the last miles were painful, I got to the 24 mile marker and realised I would have to run a sub 6 minute miles till the finish – it is so difficult to carry on if you know your goal that you’ve been training for since Christmas is now not possible – however Mark was just a little in front, I had to catch him – only to see if he had his pecker trapped in the neck of a vittel water bottle!! But that was not to be either as he pulled further away – it says only 800 yards to go and then 195 metres and my god they hurt like hell and took a lot to get over that line – 3.18.14 – a new PB by 18 minutes, equal times for both halfmarathons – but painfully outside of the GFA qualifying time – a different day perhaps, not so hot, not so many runners, who knows, I think it’s in there somewhere. The garmin showed 26.85 miles – perhaps that was the extra distance I had covered zig zagging though – I don’t know!?
Mark waits for me at the finish and promptly deflates my bubble even more by saying that was the first time he’s beaten me in a marathon – there was no bottle appendage but there may be the toe end of a pair of Asics in a few seconds! (not really Mark) we get our finisher photos together and give each other a hug (I don’t know about anyone else I get a bit emotional after a marathon) Mark and I look for Jeremy as he can’t have been too far in front of us – we go to collect out bags and bump into Anthony Burrows (from Hayle RR) who was also going for GFA – he’d ran a perfect race and managed to come home in 3.12, well done! We start walking towards Horseguards where we had arranged to meet by the ‘M’ Janet and Sue were walking towards us- no Jeremy though – perhaps he was still getting his bag – we find a space and crash out at the agreed point – Jer arrives and looked like I felt – he had suffered also, and came in at 3.23.33 – Izumi arrives with Matt Foley – it was good to see him as he now works in London as a sports teacher, Ian Ragget and Donna arrive, Graham arrives, Marie calls, worried about Duncan as she had thought he had collapsed as he finished (he hadn’t but just had to sit down for bit, take on a few salty fluids and he was OK) A call from Helen told us she was not feeling too great and wouldn’t be meeting us. My stomach started cramping – that Lucozade sport just doesn’t agree with me – we decide it’s time for a pint and off we go – nearly bumping into John Prescott, wheeling all his secret documents down the road in a suit case! It is jammed packed solid with people all doing that funny sort of walk – Mark, Izumi, and Matt head one way and can’t get over the road as it crosses the course – we decide to turn (that’s Jer, Janet, Sue, myself, Duncan and Marie) and head for Trafalgar Square and onto Covent Garden for a swift one – Mark and the others end up at Victoria?!
We decide to go back to our hotel, shower and come back to Covent Garden for a meal – Mark and Izumi go back to their friends and decide not to join us. Graham goes back to his brothers. A turn around of less that an hour and we were back in the White Lion in Covent Garden (classy place) we were joined by Marie, Duncan and a couple of friends – so the 8 of us end up in an Indian – not bad – Duncan really enjoyed it – I was feeling the effects of the day and struggled to get it down, eventually being defeated, retiring early, giving my excuses and going back to the hotel.
Next morning (Monday) we were heading home, we ate a huge fried breakfast at the hotel (stomach felt a lot better) and met everyone back at Paddington for the 10.06 train back to Penzance – time to reflect on what to do next.
Another comfortable journey home in first class as the train manager “knew who Sue was”!!! you had to be there to appreciate that one – again in the quiet carriage – and again we took advantage of the complimentary teas and coffees whilst listening to Mark discussing different parts of his race – the poor woman opposite looked to be totally amazed at Marks antics and mannerisms (who later we found out to be Jennifer Saunders, who probably had one hell of a headache following her BAFTA Award the previous evening) I wouldn’t be surprised if French and Saunders have a re union and there’s a sketch featuring a Mark Omori dude!
So all in all a great weekend, great company, some good laughs, a couple of low points, good food, great shows, hotel expensive and could have been better, GWR trains a comfortable journey, note to the race directors, although organisation outstanding, they need to put people in the correct pens, perhaps proof of time required for everyone? Graded or staggered starts? It wouldn’t matter as the times are chipped – weather too hot, but this brought out the fantastic crowds and atmosphere

So Mark, Jer and myself are still looking for that sub 3.15 before August 21 2009 – if you know of a PB potential marathon let us know!!

MBH London Marathon Results

Mark Omori 3:17:40
Ian Matthews 3:18:14
James Taylor 3:19:18
Jeremy Marston 3:23:33
Sue Taylor 3:40:13
Ian Raggett 3:55:45
Graham Storer 4:10:33
Marie Usher 4:25:38
Duncan Kane 4:28:03
Helen Webb 4:31:02

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