My first large scale race and a steep learning curve in terms of knowledge, preparation and race execution.

I left it to Tim to organise the hotel, pre race evening meal and transport - well he said he would! Tim has a large family and they never seemed to decide how many of them were coming, in the end we drove up on the Saturday with his wife Lilian and their youngest child Robbie, they had a large VW people mover adapted for Robbie's wheelchair. Tim and I ended up sharing a single bed (he is a 17 stone rugby player) in his old friend's flat. The restaurants were all full with the influx of huge numbers of runners and we ended up standing outside a fish and chip shop eating their wares, not my favourite food by any means as the chips in indeterminate oil usually give me a stomach ache. The next morning I found myself standing in the huge starting pen with a headache, upset stomach and desperate for the loo. Off we went and the race atmosphere took over, Tim shot away weaving through the crowds and I did at least have the sense to say that we were going too fast. This was the year it was very hot and four people died on the course, I'm sure we passed one as there was just a pair of motionless legs sticking out from a group of marshals and ambulance staff, it gave me a premonition as it just looked so wrong. After about eight miles the pace started to tell and Tim told me to go on ahead. I was running quite strongly up to then but it started to bite, I was going slower and slower and the final hill was a real battle. Some experienced runner passed me and gave some words of encouragement i.e. politely told me to toughen up I think! I was quite dehydrated and remember being slumped on the grass just beyond the finish desperately drinking some water. My time was a very modest 2.08.35. Anyway all was forgotten of course as I met up again with Tim, Lilian and Robbie, ate some of the finish line food and set off back to London.

I only have one picture from the race, no idea where it is, a classic sack of potatoes look approaching the finish line in pieces, I hope my running form has improved since then or there is no hope.

Things could only go upwards from here!