London Marathon 2018 review. A-Z Recap

The London Marathon had always been my “A” race ever since I started running. I was lucky enough to win a competition through New Balance for a free place – and that meant 2 marathons in 8 days after Brighton the Sunday before. This meant that I could go into London with no pressure of going for a time, I soaked up the atmosphere and loved (almost) every minute…

You’ve probably seen 437 other reviews already so I’ve done things a bit differently. Here’s an A-Z recap of London 2018 through my eyes;

Atmosphere – Wow! The atmosphere beats any other race I’ve done hands down. Support was immense from start to finish and the noise was electrifying. Massive help when struggling and gives you that real sense of achievement and purpose. I was slightly jealous of everyone drinking in the sun, watching though – if you don’t run London then I highly recommend cheering!

Best – Quite simply this is the best marathon I’ve ever done. Manchester comes fairly close but this cruises into 1st. The expo is brilliant and very well ran, the course is amazing, the crowds as mentioned are mental and the medal is perfect.

Cheer squads – I’ve never seen so many individual cheer zones before and it was epic. Knowing that every few miles at the very least there’d be a cheer zone from either a charity, running club or just a big group of friends making deafening sound of cheers, whistles, confetti canons. Running through each one felt like a huge energy boost and you need to embrace it if you’re struggling mid race.

Dehydration – You may have noticed Sunday was quite hot… in fact it was the hottest London marathon on record, fantastic. Thankfully water stations were every mile and I thought the volunteers did a great job. I have heard that mile 8 and 10 ran out of water which sucks and I’m guessing people didn’t stick to the one bottle per person per station warning…

Emergency services – Because of the heat I’ve never seen so many people walking in a marathon from such an early point in the race. Every medical tent seemed full, people passed out in the roads and St John’s team deserve huge recognition for their work. Also the several fire engines that hosed us down several times were an absolute god send!

Frozen wet wipes – Random, but this was new to me and was a fantastic idea. Several people in the crowd handed these out and it was the most refreshing feeling for all of 3 seconds before you overheated again. Great idea for anyone coming to watch in the future. I advise any runners to grab them!

Greenwich – Getting to the start was relatively easy but so so busy! The race village is huge but signs and volunteers made it easily accessible. Bag drop was quick and easy, toilets had minimal queues, pens appeared well organised and free water helped as we baked in the sun.

The first part of the run is through the streets and then you hit Cutty Sark at 10KM. The streets were already lined with busy crowds, drinking in the sun blasting music and cheering on runners. The route allowed us to settle into a decent rhythm and it wasn’t as congested as expected.

Hot – Did someone mention the heat on Sunday? I was sensible (for once) and really held back right from the start – Running the first few miles with Matt and Nathaneal helped to pass the time but before long we all split off in different directions. At every single water station I poured some down my neck and over my head. I didn’t drink too much but knowing that every mile would have more water definitely helped. I ran under every shower and basically looked like a drowned rat for 4 hours.

The course seemed to provide little shade throughout. In fact the dreaded tunnels provided welcome shade and cool breeze and any sign of a breeze felt incredible. Mile 17-20 felt particularly tough. The heat at this time almost unbearable near Canary Wharf with little room to escape and my first real walk break took part here. Mile 15 you get a good look at those coming back in the other direction at mile 18 and everyone seemed to be struggling in it. The Isle of Dogs section is probably the least favourite for most but I pursued and used the crowds to carry on.

Inspirational – It’s the one word that crops up every year. Whether you’re watching from home, cheering on the streets or running alongside 40,000 others it really does inspire everyone, every year. Everyone taking part has their own reasons for doing it and I don’t know if I’m inspired more by Kipchoge, the lady who ran on stilts, the tree that beat me or whoever completed it in last place.

Journey – Fortunately the DLR strike did not go ahead (doesn’t this happen every year?) but Waterloo & London Bridge was still crazy busy. I would advise travelling early as it does help settle nerves and it’s such a big event that there’s plenty of toilets, water and things to do pre-race.

Kipchoge – AKA “the finest 26.2 miler of all time.” He won, again and although I didn’t catch him en route, watching the highlights had me in awe of how effortless he makes it look. He’s humble and still says he enjoyed the whole race in this beautiful city. A proper winner!

Lucozade – This is my one negative on the course. I love Lucozade and glad its on course, but you do not need 500ml bottles of it every time. If Buxton can provide 250ml bottles of water then I’m sure Lucozade can too as an official sponsor. The excess made floors incredibly sticky and it just seemed ridiculous that they handed out these bottles.

Medal – The bling, the thing we all look forward to at the end of the race and it most certainly did not disappoint. It’s big, bulky, weighty and everything you want from a marathon major. My favourite medal hands down.

New Balance – The tee is amazing and the merch at the expo was so nice compared to the Adidas section last year. Massive fan of New Balance kit and hoping this partnership continues.

Organisation – I’ve seen a few mixed reviews on this. It seems the blue wave was well organised and waves 1-4 of the red wave too. Pens were secured at the start and it wasn’t too busy. However at approx. mile 3.5 all waves merge together and here I think something went wrong. I can’t remember exactly but e.g. the 3:30 red pacer was close to the 4:00 green pacer and so on. It did get very busy with people running at different paces. This worked out gradually and I never found myself too cramped in and the roads never too narrow. Marshall’s and volunteers were absolutely fantastic from the race village right to the very end. The meet and greet areas afterwards were very difficult for families and friends to get to though. I think there’s only one crossing – not ideal for the runners sat waiting!

Pee – Lovely. But everyone always wants to know how the toilet sitch was. The queues were very small compared to most races I’ve been to. The rule is never wait at the first bock you see; each pen had plenty of loos and urinals and even on course I’ve never seen so many.

Queen – I loved how there was a huge build up to the Queen starting the race, not even in London. The true definition of British and after God Save the Queen played down the speakers we were under way before aptly finishing outside Buckingham Palace.

Run Dem Crew – The biggest cheer zone of the race. Berlin’s crews were phenomenal when I ran there in September but I think this surpassed that. The feeling you get when you’re 20.5 miles in and you see the floor spray painted with “you’re now entering the run dem crew cheer zone” left Goosebumps on my neck. You could hear the sound system from round the corner and literally everyone was bouncing.

SpiritofLondon – The # or tagline for this years race and perfect for these conditions. I’ve never seen so many people struggle in a race before and the amount of times where other runners, volunteers or members of the crowd were willing to help people finish the race or provide some level of support. It’s overwhelming at times, you can’t stop and help everyone but I know that of the 748 that started and didn’t finish, every single one would have had a lot of support around them

Tower Bridge – This section is always hyped up an it did not fail to disappoint! You’re almost half way and the noise is immense. I didn’t know where to look but the boost from this section is indescribable. It was great to bump into Tash halfway across and then have huge cheers to push you on to the second half of the race. You also get a glimpse of those coming in the opposite direction at mile 22.

Underestimate – My 5th marathon and you can never underestimate the distance of 26.2 miles. It really is brutal and never get’s any easier. Especially after running Brighton last weekend I’m so happy I was sensible and manged to enjoy this race. I’ve heard some horror stories of people crashing in the heat and being disappointed in their time.

Volunteers – Massive thanks to all the volunteers that gave their time on Sunday, at the expo or in the build up to race week. Each and every one I met was helpful and pleasant and genuinely looked like they wanted to be there.

Water – With the heat (yeah that again) there was a lot of pressure on the marathon to get the water stations right and to even send email updates on staying hydrated, as well as the risk of drinking too much water. Every man and their dog gave out their “expertise” on social media but I felt they handled this well. It is worrying to see they ran out at mile 8 and 10 (not sure how late this was) but overall it was great to have water so frequent AND in bottles! This alongside the numerous showers and hoses definitely helped ensure people had the best chance of finishing the race hydrated

X – expo? Let me off, please! I love the London expo and think it’s the best of any I have visited. It’s huge, well organised and well set out. This year I went on the first day and it was reasonably quiet. I had a massage, collected my number and wandered through the different stalls. It’s great for building up excitement before the race.

YouTube -As my first London marathon I really wanted to A) enjoy it and B) have some recollection of the race without £100 crappy race photos. I’ve uploaded the below filmed on GoPro to my YouTube

VLM 2018

Zzzz – Why is sleep always so hard after a marathon? I was absolutely exhausted from London and clocked up almost 60,000 steps for the day. There is plenty of walking pre race to get to the start and also at the finish down the mall and into the park.  After the race on Sunday I may have had a few too many beers, Guinness’ etc but still slept terribly. It was the same after Berlin and Brighton too. Does anyone have any tips on this?

Did you run London?

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9 comments

  1. I ran! It was my first marathon and an incredible experience. I’m amazed at how smoothly the entire event was: literally from number pick up to the finish funnel, and also how London the city accommodates the event. Agree that shade was a rare commodity on course, I had trouble sticking to the blue line and it was often weighing up the benefits of time in shade versus more efficient route.

    The medal is great, I was literally getting a tired neck 5 minutes after finishing though 😀 Much respect for two marathons in 8 days. My intention is that London was the first of many marathons at this point, but I couldn’t imagine doing London and then doing another one the week after (we have Newport Marathon down in Wales this weekend which a lot of my club mates and friends will be doing).

    Hope recovery is on track and here’s to the next one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great blog post Matt!

    I was marshalling on Sunday and was less than impressed with water situation. We ran out at mile 14 too. VLM should have had more shower stations as people were using bottles (understandably) to throw over themselves, which meant we ran out so quickly. In the end, I just picked up the half empty bottles and handed to people who looked in need!

    I can never sleep after a marathon either… over tired I presume or still buzzing.

    Congrats on completing London!

    xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh that’s interesting to know! Must have been so hard to manage with so man runners, thank you for marshalling!
      Must be a tough one to get right!

      Thank you 🙂

      Like

  3. great idea for a review, love it!! Unfortunately I had to defer until 2019 due to a stress fracture but your post has made me so excited already!!

    Congratulations on finishing both Bright and London 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations! 2 marathons back to back is a huge accomplishment, I admire you so much!
    Thank you for the review.
    London marathon has been in my list since I started running but I never get a spot through the ballot, I hope this year my luck changes!
    Congrats again, you are the man!

    Like

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