Running column: Inspired by the London Marathon? Maybe it’s time to sign up for next year, says Mark Armstrong
Feeling inspired after watching the London Marathon last weekend?
You’re not the only one.
Seeing wave after wave of runners sweep through the streets of the capital really is a fantastic sporting spectacle.
The sense of positivity grabs you through your television as the event showcases everything that’s good about running and human nature.
I supported my wife, Alison, there in 2016 and it really was a wonderful experience. I’m not sure I can resist getting a piece of the action much longer myself, particularly as my wife has got a place for next year after deferring her entry for 2018 due to pregnancy.
She was fortunate enough to gain a ballot place and anyone wishing to get a spot for 2019 can sign up from Monday to register their interest (it closes on Friday, May 4).
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You find out the result in October but I don’t hold out a great deal of hope given that there are around 17,500 ballot places and approximately 400,000 people expected to register.
That’s just slightly less than a one in 23 chance of gaining a place, not the kind of odds anyone would really relish.
There is of course the prospect of a charity place and I think this is the route I’m going to take.
There is an added pressure when you’ve got to raise a certain amount of money to justify the place (normally around £2,000) but if you want to do it badly enough then you’ll make it work.
It shouldn’t be underestimated though. When Alison got a charity place in 2016 with Children with Cancer she raised more than £2,500 but it’s hard work. It’s not as if you can raise that kind of money by putting out a few pleas on social media. You need to have a good think about how you would go about raising that kind of money.
Then there’s the challenge of the distance itself – this should definitely not be taken lightly.
I remember the hours of training I put in to race the marathons in Edinburgh and Nottingham last year. It takes over your life and you have to weigh up whether you’re going to be able to commit enough of your time to do yourself justice.
Anyone who trained for a marathon this spring has my utmost respect given the Arctic conditions we had when many people had to do their long runs. I found it hard enough training for a half marathon – but spending three hours outside in sub-zero temperatures is not many people’s idea of fun.
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It wasn’t exactly the ideal preparation for the soaring temperatures runners experienced on Sunday either.
I’m not selling the idea of running a marathon am I?
What I would say is that as a relatively novice runner I’ve never found anything as fulfilling as completing a marathon.
I like racing in half marathons, 10Ks and parkruns but there is something magical about running those 26.2 miles.
There’s such joy in the personal struggle – when you hit that 20-mile point you don’t know how you’re going to get through it but somehow you do…and there’s no better feeling at the finish line, whatever time you do it in.
So, if you’re even a little bit tempted then throw your name into the ballot on Monday…if you’re successful you certainly won’t regret it.
I can’t let this column go without mentioning Matt Campbell, who tragically lost his life on Sunday at the 22.5 mile point in the race. It’s terribly sad but the running community’s reaction has been overwhelming with many people running the last 3.7 miles to complete the race in his honour and raise more than £170,000 for the Brathay Trust in the process. What a lovely gesture and I’m looking forward to doing my 3.7 miles this weekend.