Paul Walters runs the London Marathon

Report from Sunday 13th April 2008

I've run the 2008 London Marathon!

After 20 miles

Down The Mall at top speed!

Over the line

With my medal

I didn't sleep too well on Saturday night, and we were up at 6AM to get the 7:11 train. I had porridge for breakfast.

There were two other Reigate Priory AC members taking the train into London, who carried on on the train to Clapham Junction, then a train to Waterloo, and on to Blackheath, so I said my farewells to my family at East Croydon and followed my running colleagues to the blue start.

I was getting worried about my left knee. I have recently had problems with my knees, and after travelling in the train for some reason my left knee started hurting. I thought that I'd just run through it - there's not much else you can do on marathon morning, although I did apply Ibuprofen gel to my knees.

While at the blue start, I saw a few Reigate Priory AC people who wished us well, and got myself sorted out and ready for the race, put my bag on the appropriate baggage bus and joined the start. I was due to start in Zone 3, but because I have felt so slow lately due to the injury I sustained in December, I placed myself in Zone 6 (out of 9) with slower runners.

We moved forward, the race started, and after 10 minutes we were over the start and running. There was conjestion in the first mile, which slowed us up a bit. After a mile or so I went and had a pee, which also will have had an impact on my time early in the race.

Within a few miles, the other starts merged with our streams of runners, and booing ensued as usual! I was running just outside 9 minute miling, but I couldn't really run much faster due to the number of runners, which was probably just as well.

After mile 6 we went around the Cutty Sark, and at the other side of the ship we hit more conjestion, and had to walk for a time before running again - the passage for the runners was quite narrow.

I usually see my family just after the Cutty Sark. This year, Sarah and Lizzie were both there, but we either missed each other or they thought that they'd waited long enough and went off, because we didn't see each other.

As we ran on, I could see dark grey clouds looming infront of us, and sure enough eventually, at about mile 8, the heavens started to open. Up until this point, the race had been quite sunny and warm, so to start with this rain was welcome. At mile 9 I passed the six Maasai warriors who were running in aid of their village in Tanzania. I have sponsored them on-line. I was contemplating following them, but I decided that it would be better if I just passed them by and ran on, but it was great to see them.

By the time we reached Tower Bridge at mile 12, it was raining quite hard, although the crowds were really rousing - just as good as other years I've run. I didn't see any photographers on the bridge this year - may be they were there, but I didn't notice them. We rounded the corner towards the docklands, and shortly passed though 13 miles and then the half way point, which I passed in 1:59 I think, so was on target for 4 hours if I could keep going at that pace. I was running along the left of the street looking at the runners who were returning from the docklands to see if I could see my brother. I didn't see him, so thought that he might be having a hard time, as I think I'd have seen him if he was on target. He did have a tough race (that's another story!).

I saw Sarah and Lizzie for the first time on course at mile 14 to 15. I stopped briefly, and it was very good to see them. Soon after seeing them, my upper hamstrings on both sides started to feel tight and fatigued. I didn't really expect this, as I was going slower than the 18.6 miles I'd run in training. This pain increased while going around the docklands, although the crowds were helpful in keeping me running. Eventually I felt something go in my left hamstring, and so it was particularly painful on that side. I probably started running more on my right side to compensate. At about mile 19 I saw some friends from the running club. I went for a pee again, which probably took a over half a minute! I think at about this time it also started hailing.

I saw Lizzie and Sarah for the second time at mile 20, and I got my hat off Sarah. She also had a top and trousers to keep me warm should I need them, but I couldn't be bothered to change, although I did tell her that I was in a lot of pain and that I might have to start to walk. Shortly afterwards my right hand calf started to tie up and it felt rather tight and painful. Well, with both sides hurting, I could no longer compensate for anything, so with 5 miles to go, I realised that I'd have a difficult and painful run in.

These last 5 miles were difficult, but I had a coping mechanism. I ran until it felt too painful to run any more, and then I'd walk for about 100 yards, and then my muscles felt relaxed enough for me to run again. I thought that ultimately this might not get me to the end of the race, and I'd never really run with painful calf muscles before, so I didn't know how long this strategy would last, but fortunately for me it did get me to the end of the marathon. I spent the last four miles taking sweets and chocolate from people, which really took my mind off things.

I saw the London Eye, and could see Big Ben, which looked a long way away in the distance, but it came closer and closer, and so eventually we came up to Parliament and turned the corner. I still had to continue my run-walking along Bird Cage Walk, but with 600 metres to go, decided to leg it to the end, which was probably stupid, and is even more stupid as I've done this before and it did give me a lot of pain, but on this day I think I got away with it.

I finished in a time of 4:22:22, which was slow, even taking into account I am really unfit at the moment, but I suppose I had a good day and managed to get around in the end, and for that I should be thankful.

Once I'd finished I had my chip removed, was given a medal and a goodie bag. I had my picture taken with my medal. I realised that everyone was wearing more than me, but I didn't feel that cold. I found Sarah and Lizzie at the repatriation area, and we went off for a meal at Garfunkel's restaurant before returning to Redhill.

Thank you for reading this and for sponsoring me.

I've already registered for 2009 - hopefully I can get hold of a place.

Best wishes,


Back to my London Marathon home page