Nick Campbell’s Story:
London 2021 was my first marathon attempt having previously covered the distance in the virtual event last year.
The training had gone pretty well and I’d managed to get my long runs in and arrive at the start carrying only a couple of niggles which seems to be par for the course.
I obtained my place through the general ballot for 2019, but had to defer that year due to injury and following the cancellation of last year’s event it meant that Sunday had been three years in planning.
When the offer dropped through the letterbox back in 2018 my fitness regime consisted of Parkrun and a couple of miles around the block on a Thursday evening while the kids were training at the track.
I joined the club so I could attend the Monday track sessions and also started running longer distances with other members and parents.
Initially the goal in the back of my mind had been four hours, but as my running improved and with advice and encouragement from Sarah Bland, Rich Dobedoe and others I thought I could be a bit more ambitious.
I was quite nervous at the start and having stood in what may have been a world record queue for the urinal I retied my shoelaces at least five times before getting them just right. Once we started moving however, the nerves disappeared and I enjoyed every minute.
Keeping the pace at around seven minutes fifty seconds per mile, the first sixteen miles were a breeze and the support all along the route was amazing. I knew having my name on the vest meant people would call it out, but still couldn’t quite believe it and kept looking around to see who Nick was!
It was great to chat with Kate Sergent, and Rich Shephard (who both had an amazing) shouted hello as we passed in opposite directions.
The legs started to get tired from the sixteen-mile mark and I also realised that unless you keep to the blue line on the road you end up running further than needs be. At twenty-two miles I felt a few twinges of cramp so backed off the pace slightly and luckily it didn’t worsen.
It was great to see the family who were on the Embankment and following a brief pause just after twenty-five miles to help a distressed competitor, I crossed the line in an official time of three hours, thirty minutes and seven seconds.
The last mile was a blur as I tried to get to the finish in sub three thirty but with a few hundred metres to go realised I wasn’t quite going to make it.
I don’t mind admitting that I felt a little emotional at the end which took me by surprise but it was a brilliant experience, I learnt a lot and overall, I’m really happy with how it went.
Nic Reynolds’ Story:
For various reasons training had not really happened (Stratford Big 10k in September had been my longest run in 18 months!) but as I had decided this was definitely the last time I’d enter a marathon I decided to just make the most of it, enjoy the experience and also raise a little money for CALM, a mental health charity. I knew that I could walk 26.2 miles if all else failed!
Thankfully after the Saturday downpours the weather was mostly kind on the day and I amazed myself by managing to run the first 7 miles before switching to a run/walk strategy.
At 13 miles a first time marathoner who was struggling asked if she could walk with me and the decision was soon made to switch to walking to ensure she made it to the end and at 25 miles we scooped up another struggling first timer and the party at the back made it to the Mall!
Time irrelevant, enjoyment factor set at 11, and around £400 raised for CALM – job done, sticking to less demanding distances in the future!