A weekend of Legends, not the 3 Degrees but the 3 Pb’s

London Marathon is so much more than just a race.

3 race reports from Malcolm, Marc & Mark.

Malcolm Gatenby
Club Runner

Malcolm’s race report

Running London Marathon was sure to be an experience, but this year was so different. It was nearly 900 days since the last London Marathon and due to Covid and lockdown I, along with most runners in the world had only run one marathon (Paris) in the previous 2 years.

I arrived late afternoon Friday and took the train to the Expo to collect my bib number. The Expo was a lot smaller than normal due to Covid restrictions. I purchased a carrot cake and left after 15 mins, no new marathon trainers for me this time.

Saturday morning a 4K jog around the finish line on the Mall to stretch the legs. Saturday evening pasta time & I met up with Marc Essex, his wife and group of my running friends from Dubai, one of which is Graham Rafferty. Graham is my arch rival (similar age, similar marathon times but he has been a runner all his life, and chairman of a Dubai running Club). We both hail from Coventry and have run together in 7 different Countries. We both ran New York 2014, Tokyo 2016, Budapest 2018 and now London 2021, and like me Graham has run all 6 World Marathon Majors.

On marathon day the weather looked perfect, cool with blue skies. Graham and myself left our hotels for the short walk and met up at Charing Cross Station and caught the train directly to Greenwich. I was in the Yellow start area, he was in the Red. We were both Good For Age qualifiers. We never saw each other again until the Pub at 4pm.

My training had gone really well (after a bad injury in May). I stuck to my 12 weeks plan like glue, my long runs with Ewan (thanks Ewan) got stronger & stronger. I had a plan/pace in my head and a finish time. The gun went off for the elite start at 09:30 and my wave 1, went off 20 seconds later. As usual I got drawn in to the excitement and ran the slight downhill 3 miles faster than my plan (I could visualise Phil Scope already shouting at me) I felt great chatting to other runners asking what there predicted finish time would be (no pacers in this race due to Covid)) I was still running 5 seconds faster per km than my plan at 10K, 10 miles then at the halfway stage (Tower bridge 1hr 36min), but felt great & strong so I thought ignore Phil & don’t even look at your heart rate and carry on. The crowds were getting bigger and louder shouting out my name which really helped. At 28K I need the loo. The Gels making their way through my body, so I dived into a Porta loo, think I was about 1 min then off again, but made a school boy error and ran faster to catch up with the group I was running with, which I did by 30K. The Isle of dogs/Canary wharf section is boring and soulless, but soon we hit the embankment at 35K/22M coming out the tunnel. The crowds were bigger and louder, I started to slow from 4:30 pace to around 4:40 pace but worked out in my head if I maintained sub 4:50 pace the last 5K I would get a PB by a few minutes so I really had to dig deep hardly picking my feet up in parts, past Big Ben along Bird cage rd and saw the 1km to go sign, then 600m, then 385 yards? Turn the corner and crossed the line in 3hrs 16min and 18 sec. A Pb by just over 90 seconds.

My 37th Marathon completed since 2008 and last race in my 50s as I move up an age group come January. That time qualifies me for GFA at next 2 years London Marathon with 29 minutes to spare. I was supper happy and its great to know that there is still life in the old dog. I got two medals, one for the London Marathon and one for the Abbots World Masters Challenge (fast old bloke)

Met up with Marc & Mark in the pub at 4pm, medals around our necks. I think I left Oneils pub in Soho around 1am !! Sore head & sore legs Monday morning

Oh as for Graham, I beat him by16 minutes! So the score is 5-3 to me in our 8 races together. But Graham has bragging rights on a PB 3:13:37

Mark Luckett
Club Runner

Mark's race report

There was a real excitement and buzz in the city as soon as I stepped off the train on Saturday morning. My favourite part of any marathon weekend is visiting the expo which is where I made my way to after quickly checking into the hotel. The expo was very well organised, firstly you had to drop off your kit bag which was sent to you in advance of the weekend, then you collected your bib number before spending way too much money on marathon merchandise.

We had planned a chilled Saturday evening watching the new Bond movie, No Time to Die in Leicester Square. I was so excited about the new film, Zoe had pre booked the tickets in IMAX at 3:30pm to ensure an early night and full night rest before the big day. There I was on the back row centrally located enjoying the trailers only to be disturbed by other film goers to say that we were in their seats. Confidently, I assured them I was not and showed them our seat number which they accepted at first only to then be informed by the ticket steward that Zoe had booked the tickets on the wrong day!!! Just to rub salt in my wounds the cinema declared the movie a sell out. I saw one trailer and didn’t even finish my popcorn.

Luckily we were able to watch a later show after several slices of pizza at pizza hut! The early night was not to be but I was in bed for 11pm.

Race day was full of emotions, I was nervous, excited and so happy to be taking part in the first major of marathons since 2019. It had taken 15 years for me to get a place in the London Marathon applying through the ballot every year, my only success this year was because I was fortunate to claim a GFA place. Going into the race I felt really good but not PB standard because of a calf injury in the summer which interrupted my training and I couldn’t manage the long runs. 5 weeks before the marathon I considered deferring my place because I didn’t think I would be fit enough. After some words of encouragement from Andy Saunders I decided to give it everything I had in the remaining weeks. I recovered from my injury and managed to get 4 decent weeks of training in.

I have now completed 5 of the 6 majors and for me London was by far the best experience I have ever had. The sun was shining and the crowd from the support was incredible. I now understand why people say the London support is something special, it really is. I have no doubt the roar from the crowd all the way round was the reason I achieved a PB in 2:50:50.

After the race I was able to recover quickly with a pint of London Pride and then enjoyed cheering on Marc Essex and Alan Percival at mile 25. We managed to meet up with Malcolm Gatenby in Covent Garden where we continued our celebrations into the early hours. It was a fantastic weekend and I can’t wait to do it again next year.

Marc Essex
Club Runner

Marc's race report

In Jan 2017, I joined Mickleover Running Club weighing just over 18 1/2 stone and having not ran in 30+ years (when you had to do cross country at school!!!).

Roll on to Nov 2019, amazingly I had just completed my 1st marathon, Chester (3hr 59 min) and was seriously having post marathon blues (people said you'll love it or hate it), when I received an email from Lucozade (forgotten I had entered a competition on Strava) to say I had won a pair of tickets to run the London Marathon in April 2020!!!

Wow here's little me, Ok still big me, but I had lost 3 1/2 stone by then and here I am, having the opportunity to run the greatest marathon in the world, one of those 'pinch' yourself moments!!!

Without hesitation I rung Alan Percival to offer him my other place, after all he had supported me hugely with my 1st marathon in Chester and as it happened it was due to be his birthday on marathon day!!!

Well everbody knows what happening next and so after doing the Virtual marathon in Oct 20 (3hrs 53mins) and lots more training, Oct 3rd 2021 eventually arrived, wow the nerves really kicked in the week leading up to it.

Up early sat am to get to the Expo to pick up my number, drop off the bag and take the customary pics you do, oh and remortgage the house with the merchandise...that's the pre-event done!!!

Sun am and there I am getting off the train at Greenwich with hundreds of others heading to the red start line. Meet up with Alan for pre race pic and within no time there I am in Pen 4, walking down to the start line....scary!!!

Then before I know it I'm off, running down the road, my head is saying 'slow down you fool', but my legs are saying 'go faster this is easy'!!!

I have also never been so popular for 4 hours of my life.... Go Marc, Your doing great Marc, You've got this Marc!!!

The miles just flew by and before I know it I'm at Cutty Sark one minute, Tower Bridge the next and then at Canary Wharf, couple of miles later though, the legs are saying Marc we dont want to go faster anymore!!!

Last 5-6 were super tough, but the crowd and the name shouting just got louder and louder, I make it round the corner at Big Ben and less than a mile to go and glance over to a few more shouts, firstly I see Mark L who's finished ages ago in an amazing time/ P.B with Zoe and just a few metres later my wife Lizzie cheering me on to the finish, and then I see the sign saying last 385 yds (driver 8 iron on a normal day!!!), the Mall and the finish line, the sight of seeing that finish line is one I'll never forget, hands in the air, sprint finish and try to look good for the cameras and there it is, all over in 3hr 56, not quite the time I wanted but still super proud to run under 4hrs.

Meet up for drinks later in Convent Garden with Mark, Zoe and Malcolm to finish off a totally awesome weekend.

Finally big thanks to Alan in particular (3hr 53) for the support, but also to everyone else that has helped me last few months with support, encouragment, training runs this is why the running community is the best!!!

Oh and I have entered the ballot for 2022 already!!!