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Digital Subscriptions > Men's Running > December 2018 > LONDON CALLING

LONDON CALLING

THE VIRGIN MONEY LONDON MARATHON IS AN INSTITUTION THAT RAISES MILLIONS FOR CHARITY. BUT IS IT A GOOD RUNNING EXPERIENCE?

The sound is as deafening as the light is blinding. Emerging blinking from the dark and relative quiet of Blackfriars Underpass I’m assaulted not just by the noise of the crowd but also by the sound of the Black Eyed Peas. Not my favourite band at the best of times; right now they’re a soundtrack to the war being fought between my mind and my body, with the latter currently coming out on top. Of course the loud exuberance and questionable choice of tunes aren’t intended to deafen or demoralise me, but they do so nonetheless. This pretty much sums up my debut Virgin Money London Marathon (VMLM) experience: I’ve come here to run a race while everyone else seems to have come to a carnival.

Rewind four hours and I’m one of many queuing up for the delightful portable khazis at the green start on Blackheath. The end is tantalisingly in sight when it’s announced the trucks transporting runners’ luggage to the finish point will be departing in five minutes. It’s not the last time today that I’ll curse my timing.

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About Men's Running

I never had any desire to run a marathon. Yes, I watched it religiously every year from 1984 when Charlie Spedding set the then-English record and marveled at the speeds. But it didn’t hold any appeal for me. I was a track runner, a thoroughbred, an out-and-out speed merchant; the thought of running 26 miles consecutively, back-to-back, was just too monstrous a thought. And then I started working in running and I realised that, for 99% of the population, running IS marathons. No one ever says ‘ah, you’re a runner, what’s your 1500metre time?’. The first question anyone asks is ‘have you run a marathon?’. Fortunately, I’m now in the happy position to say yes. Several in fact. And more half marathons than I can actually remember. But running a marathon still isn’t easy. If it was, more people would have done it. It takes training, and work, and effort and a resilient mindset that says ‘I’m not going to give up on this journey’. In this special issue, we reveal the secrets, the highs and lows and the training that can get you round a marathon. There’s something here for everyone, even if you’re an experienced marathoner. As Emil Zatopek famously said: “If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon.”