03 December 2022

London Marathon race review: The cliché’s are all true

April 26, 2017

The Virgin Marathon London Marathon 2017 was perfect, not because I ran a PB (I didn’t) or because it was pain free (it wasn’t), but because it was quite simply the most uplifting, heartwarming and positive celebration of humanity you could hope to experience.


My day started with the first train out of Hampton station. The weather was perfect, blue skies and a gentle breeze and at 7.15am, quiet, really quiet. Several other runners had arrived, they silently smiled or nodded and gently wished each other luck. There was an air of reserved excitement, but also nervous tension.

I walked along the platform, out of the shade of the station roof and into my own spot of sunlight to contemplate the day ahead. But my peaceful moment was short-lived as I was joined by a fellow runner, nervously excited and keen to chat. It was her first marathon and she’d been trying to get an entry for 10 years, it was a big day for her and the encounter reminded me of how lucky I was to be there.

My #ReasonToRun was simply because I could; I was running for those who couldn’t, which meant everyone from dear friends lost to cancer, Emma, Lynne and Eve, to people who will never have the confidence to give it a go or those who simply don’t have the time or money to dedicate to it. I knew I was one of the lucky ones and now I wish I’d made a note of the number of the woman at the platform, so I could check that she finished ok. But I didn’t, so I’ll never know.

It’s not race day without a queue for the loo

As my journey drew closer to the event start, the excitement, tension and noise levels grew. First we were joined by some drummers on their way to beat out our progress at mile 19, then a clown hopped on and before we knew it, the train was crammed with all manner of runners; different nationalities, outlandish costumes and all ages and fitness levels. The chatter reached a crescendo… and then we arrived. The atmosphere changed and it was time to focus!

How do they do it?

By the time I’d loaded my bag onto the lorry, queued for a wee and taken a few photos it was time to go. With a 5 hour target, I was positioned near the back of the starting pen alongside lots of people in crazy costumes. We grinned, hopped up and down and were ready to get the show on the road.

Away we went, out into the streets already lined with supporters and this is where I realised that this isn’t just about the runners – it’s about everyone from the smallest child with hand held out for a high five, to the frail older supporters sat on camp chairs and wrapped in a blanket. The joy is infectious. The fantastic weather had brought with it a carnival spirit and a wonderful sense of community – no hate, no racism, no sexism, no division – just a celebration of people coming together which I will never forget and makes me well-up just thinking about it.

Supporters line the route from start to finish.

My run was not the most successful part of the day however. After starting really comfortably, at 4 miles my right knee was niggling, by 6 miles I had begun to walk/jog and contemplate how I was going to get though the remaining 20 miles. By 10 miles I was resigned to power walking. As long as I didn’t bend my knee I was ok. So I marched the London Marathon and by the last few miles my march was faster than many peoples weary jog. My fitness got me through to the end in great shape and although way off my target time, I was delighted to get over the finish line in 5 hours and 37 minutes.


People have told me that they would have given up at 6 miles, others have sympathised that I failed to ‘smash it’, family members were concerned that I was in pain, that I fainted at the end and threw up (on my medal) on my way home. The truth is, giving up was never an option and running a PB does not compare to the joy of just being part of such a special event.

Happiness – the finish!

By power walking I was able to smile, wave, soak up the atmosphere, marvel at the crazy costumes and the people who were achieving a lifetime ambition. I cried when emotional runners  found their friends and family in the crowd and I laughed at the bands and the banter from the supporters.

I really wouldn’t change anything. I feel incredibly lucky to have experienced it and encourage anyone out there who’s tempted, but maybe just a little bit scared, to go for it. Find a way to get an entry, apply for 10 years if needs be, but if you’re able. then do it…You won’t regret it!

Hooray for big brothers!

The public ballot entry system for the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon opens to all applicants on Monday 1 May and closes at 17.00 BST on Friday 5 May.
Click here for more information: virginmoneylondonmarathon.com

Danielle Sellwood, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine




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