I’ve looked forward to this for a long time. I lived in Hackney for 15 years in the 80’s and 90’s, still do some work there and Hackney has a piece of my heart.
The timing for me was all wrong though. I’m still carrying a niggle in my hip from before London and on Friday my best friend of 25 years finished his race after a short but intense cancer battle. Both physically and mentally I felt in the wrong place.
My good friend and training partner Pete Mack was Running this one too though, which gave me the incentive to at least make it to the start line. Our plan was to try and run a shade under two hours, which would be a PB for Pete and I felt was attainable for me too the state I was in.
The event was huge. 22000 runners apparently and although the event was well organised, plenty of loos, efficient bag drop etc the whole race felt a little claustrophobic and overcrowded. Even on the course the runners didn’t have room to spread out, so you struggled to find room to run. I imagine the way forward would have to be more staggered waves. The support was huge, vocal, enthusiastic and encouraging. Respect to Hackney for doing without plastic bottles, but the water stations didn’t work efficiently, you had to stop if you wanted water and queue for a cup of water that was only half full. The stations seem unprepared for the number of runners. On a hot day this was not good. The discarded cups then turned to mulch and were quite slippery.
Our run went well to start with – we were on pace for the first 15k at which point Pete began to doubt himself, although we pressed on for another km together it was obvious that me trying to encourage Pete along was having the opposite effect, so I sped up a little to allow Pete to find his own rhythm. It definitely worked as I finished quite comfortably and Pete got his groove back missing his target by an agonising 22 seconds. He’ll be back.
This run though was all about my best friend Ken. He was on my mind and in my heart the whole way round. Ken you were a brother, a friend, a mentor, a surrogate dad at times, a sharer of adventures and confidences, an inspiration and a constant feature in my life. I loved you very much and shall miss you every day until we meet again.