Steve Plummer (runner) and wife Caroline (supporter) have put together a great report on this year’s race, from their two different perspectives:
The build up to the 2019 London Marathon has been very exciting this year. The combination of so many ESM runners taking part and groups getting together to support each other through training, meant even through the normal maranoia most if not all of us were looking forward to the big day.
The day started with the travel to the start. Normally it is just Caroline and myself on the tube from South Ruislip, and the mix with random runners on the way. This year we had Gary, Bruce and Martin join us at South Ruislip, and then perfectly timed getting into Northolt to be joined by Santosh and Jonathan. Santosh also had some Nepalese friends who were running, that became part of the ESM team for the journey.
On to London Bridge where we split for the last part of the journey, red and green one way and yellow and blue the other. After wishing each other the best of luck (at London Bridge or at our assembly areas), it was time to focus on the 26.2 miles ahead.
In the yellow start area the ESM runners relaxed and made final decisions on pace. For me it was to run with Santosh (at least as far as I could as we had decided to run at 3 hour pace).
The race started, Santosh and myself set off and were running at perfect pace. We were enjoying running together and spotting people we knew in the crowd. Friends and family did not disappoint as they were all in the right places to give us a boost when needed. The Cutty Sark, just after Tower Bridge, very popular this year was Mudchute, at 22/23 miles and of course on Birdcage walk.
We all probably have very different stories to tell about the journey, for me it was a tale of two halves. Well they say the half way point in a marathon is at 20 miles. That was certainly true for me. The combination of lack of training miles and running at pace meant I could only run with Santosh up to mile 21. We ran as a team, sometimes side by side, other times one of us taking the pace while the other followed (usually in traffic), and telling each other which side of the road to use when we knew we would see family and friends. The second half I will just call survival and leave it there!
I have now done the London Marathon 8 times, including the last 4 years in a row. Although not my quickest, this has to be the best event ever. It was very enjoyable to run, the support of the crowds was magnificent (which I say must have been the biggest ever, and even the Isle of Dogs was packed which traditionally can be very dead in places), and having so many shouts from club mates, friends and family. It was everything needed to get through the tough marathon journey.
Having always enjoyed spectating at the Virgin London Marathon I felt this year was going to be special because of the amount of runners, mostly ESM runners taking part. My preparation had included downloading the app, adding all the runners names so that I could track them, working out the timings to ensure we, and it turned out approximately 8 other runners, got to London Bridge with plenty of time (it is never good to add to the stress). Having all made it to the necessary stations on time (good start) we were on our way. Arriving at London Bridge I gave them all my last words of encouragement before the event and said my goodbyes, even with Santosh protesting “how will we get there without our leader”.
I headed off to mile 7, Cutty Sark, this is not the easiest place to see participants but always a great start to the spectating experience. I like to get there early as it is always very busy and I want to ensure I get a spot that will, hopefully, allow me to see runners but also to make a quick getaway to head for my second spot.
Having spotted Marcel Hug and David Weir practically fly past I was all set for the elite women and in particular Mary Keitany. I must admit I only really saw her when checking back at my photos. After a bit of a wait it was time for the elite men, I shouted loudest for Mo Farah, however I had already admitted I wanted Eliud to win.
This was followed by the main event – the club, charity and ballot runners. Because of the road split I had to shout extremely loudly, with the assistance of Celine, thankfully Steve and Santosh heard us and gave us a wave, then we were off to Mudchute (mile 17). In addition to most of those already mentioned we spotted Jonathan, Mark and, thanks to the green and yellow vests, another 2 ESM runners.
We then made our way to approximately 500 meters from the finish. The atmosphere at this point is electric, everyone joins in cheering people’s names, encouraging them to the end, it becomes very emotional. Jonathan was too quick for us and he had already passed the point before we got there.
Whilst waiting we were tracking everyone’s progress and managed to see Santosh, Mark, James (he was an ESM shout out as I haven’t met him before), Steve, Bruce, Martin, Malcolm, Steve Curd (another ESM shout).
Having been told by Gary that he would complete in about 5 hours I started to panic that I was in fact following the wrong Gary Stringer. It turns out that there was only one, but he was doing incredible, his pace was so consistent that he had been predicted a sub 4 hour finish from very early on, well we screamed for him, as did most of those around us but alas he was one of the few that didn’t see, or more accurately hear us.
Bill, who we unfortunately did not spot, closely followed him. We did however spot the famous pink socks that Cath wears (the first few times by men) but then we spotted her and whooped & cheered her, unfortunately she was closer to the other side and didn’t hear us. Thankfully, as we were losing our voices, our job was done, phew!
For me it is never about the runner spotting us, unless I am married to them!! But it is the joy of being a part, albeit a very small part of their journey. In my eyes, it was a truly successful day and I cannot wait for next year.
ESM results summary (chip times):
Red denotes a PB: Jonathan Horan 2:48:28, Santosh Rai 2:59:52, Mark Delahunty 3:08:49, James Steel 3:09:29, Steve Plummer 3:13:35, Bruce Li 3:19:30, Martin Daoud 3:22:55, Malcolm Woolsey 3:31:38, Steve Curd 3:32:40, Gary Stringer 3:58:23, Bill Lonsdale 4:03:34, Mark Fuller 4:12:19, Maria Hamilton 4:28:15, Catherine Gunnewicht 4:33:07
Full results in runbritain