Sanjay's report

The Day: Sunday 26th April The Venue: Greenwich Park The Event: Flora London Marathon 2009. Charity: Haven


The day began early, for this was no ordinary Sunday Morning. Nervous tension filled the air, not from the thought of the 26.2 miles of running but trying to establish How do I get to Greenwich Park from North London with all the road closures. Thankfully! My good friend Tim Gray had the novel idea of reaching Greenwich by Motorbike !!! now the nervous tension changed to pure dreaded fright. Those of you that have been on the back of a Honda ****** driven by Tim, certainly know what I am talking about.

I arrived in Greenwich, Well! I mean outside Sainsbury’s car park, due to the main road being cordoned off thanks to the marathon. I said Thanks and goodbye to Tim, got changed on the street, very dignifying!!! and walked on my merry way to the Greenwich Park (2 miles before the race has even began), to join the other 40,000 crazy people who were also taking part. I looked at the skies and felt additional stretching was necessary, the sun was shining and the temperature rising. I already new this was not going to be easy. The realisation hit home “ I totally dislike running”!!!

Start of the Race:
There seemed like millions of people had filled the historical setting of Greenwich park, I could sense tension all around me, some nervous, some excited, some focused. I know I was feeling a little bit of A, B and C..
After moving slowly forward to the start line, the race began, the noise from the crowds quickly made the nerves disappear, everybody was in good spirits and it felt like a stroll in the park. The Families with small children stood by the front cheering all the runners, many kids had there hands out waiting to give the runners a hi-five. Runners dressed in all sorts of wonderful, colourful and in some cases completely freaky costumes, from Rhino and Camel outfits – to people dressed as a Tree!!!. (This is what the marathon is all about and why it is so special!!!)

Middle of the race:
As I turned right up to Tower bridge, the sight will never be forgotten. Tower bridge is one of those infamous landmarks that simply makes your jaws drop. The history and the engineering behind this iconic bridge is one of the reasons why London is such a magnificent city. I felt a sense of achievement, 12 miles had passed and my legs were feeling good, on course for approx finish tome of 4hr 15mins. How things can change so quickly!!!!

Nightmare On Westferry Street:(The Wharf)
The atmosphere had changed as I started my circular route around Canary Wharf. Some runners in front of me, were now walking. The heat became more intense and the wind dropped to no wind. I felt as if I was running in an outdoor sauna surrounded by sky scrapers trapping the moist heat. I managed to pass mile 16 and could feel both legs tighten. The mind was asking questions such as, Will I make it to mile 17 in these conditions? My rhymatic stride pattern started becoming erratic. Each step became more painful than the last. However, mentally I was fine and focused and taking in the atmospheric surroundings of music and parties to divert attention away from the legs. As I approached 17 mile mark, my calves gave in, they felt like lead and started cramping up, I thought stretches, just do a few stretches and get back running again. The pain was unbearable so I started power walking and mixing this up with running. I now new a sub 4hr 30 run was becoming unrealistic. Little did I know the pain would last for approx 5 miles, whereby it was difficult to get into a solid run for more than 400 meters. Between Mile 17 and 22 I managed to have 2 leg massages (thanks Siva!, one of friends (medical volunteer). The crowds and the cheering were incredible, the support was fantastic....and I could hear people shout “come on Haven -”!!! “Come on Haven” (reading the back of my-t-shirt)

Inspiration :
At mile 22 – I heard my name in the crowd, there behind some middle aged folk. Tim & James called me over. I was in agony !! They both stated that only 4 miles was remaining and soon it will be all over. Within a few seconds the rhythm was again back, I felt this powerful determination set inside me, questions and thoughts came into my head. Who are you doing this for? I felt inspired! I said to myself “You can relax in 30mins when it is all over”!!! I converted the idea into thinking that it would be like watching an episode of FRIENDS! All of a sudden, I was passing waves of people, the breathing technique was back and NOW Nobody was going to stop me.

Completed Time 5hr 10mins

Will I do it again – I said No!! But who knows??? I would like to thank everybody who supported me on the run, from everybody at Haven to all my friends and family..notably to Shumi, Tim, James, Janaki Wendy and Reema.

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