London Marathon - Spectators' Experience


Like many runners, and would-be runners, you've probably watched the London Marathon on TV. But have you ever considered travelling up to London to actually watch it live? If you haven't then perhaps this news article might inspire you to go and support over 35,000 runners in what has to be one of the most spectacular races in the running calendar.

Mark Burrell and Deborah Wyatt were two of SPR's members who travelled up to the race on Sunday 13th April 2014. It was a glorious day with warm tempartures and clear blue skies - quite a contrast to the very rainy conditions over the last few months.

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They took the Club sail banner with them on the train and travelled to Bermondsey which is about 11.5 miles into the route, put up the banner and waited. As the crowds gathered the atmosphere was electric ... suddenly we could see the front runners. Firstly there were the disabled runners - those in wheelchairs, blind runners and some running without arms or legs. Tears filled our eyes as we watched in awe of these runners determined to complete the London Marathon despite their disabilities.

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Closely behind came the Elite! Wow! Firstly the ladies with Edna Kiplagat, Florence Kiplagat and Tirunesh Dibaba neck and neck. Then came the Elite men. Up front was Wilson Kipsang, closely followed by other elite athletes including Mo Farah who was every bit as focussed as he has been on all his other races.

The sail banner made a striking pose at Bermondsey (although at one point it did almost blow away and hit several people on the head before Mark managed to pull it back into the base. For the rest of the race Mark and Deborah took it in turns to hold onto the banner to prevent any further accidents).

With Deborah's camera-phone at the ready and Mark acting as look out, the runners started to come through in their dozens, then hundreds and then thousands. A sea of colour, the noise of the crowd, the emotion of seeing the runners was amazing to watch. Nothing can prepare you for watching an event like this live. And then Mark shouted he could see Ben and so Deborah started clicking the camera-phone taking pictures ... and she did the same for Richard, Amy, Nick and Sam as they ran past all still looking quite fresh despite having run 11.5 miles! In fact, on the two occasions they saw Amy Sinfield she stopped and had a chat looking as fresh as a daisy!  All our club runners said they were delighted to see the banner as it gave them such a lift. They could see it from quite a long way off too!

Sail banner packed away, Deborah and Mark headed off to the 22.5 mile mark and set up the sail banner for a second time. Our club runners had no idea they'd come across Deborah and Mark again and almost missed seeing them despite Deborah's shouting! At this point in the race they, like many other runners, were tired and flagging. The distance and the heat were getting to many runners and all we could do was continue to shout words of encouragement, shout out names on shirts and cheer them on in the hope it made a difference. Deborah practically lost her voice by the end of the afternoon.

All our SPR marathon runners did the club proud by completing the race. And it seems to have inspired some of other members to apply for the 2015 VMLM. Good luck to all of you who have entered - let's hope you get places.

On the other hand ... if you are a runner and not running the London Marathon, or any of the half marathons for that matter, grab the SPR sail banner, come along and cheer the club members on. It makes a huge difference!

Report written by
Deborah Wyatt