Tim and Sam cross the finish line!

14 May 2018

Tim Grey wrote a great blog in the lead up to the London Marathon, describing the ups and downs of training. Now, he tells us of the day itself, including how he paired up with novice marathoner Sam Bursnall, for what was a tough but fantastic day. 

With two weeks to go I was in Devon for a family holiday – but still in training! I did the Exmouth parkrun (a lovely, friendly run), but shortly after I started to feel aches, then a fever, which quickly turned into a nasty cough. I had developed a chest infection, according to the doctor. I couldn't believe it! I was laid up for 10 days, which was not great timing. 

My chosen charity, Merton Home Tutoring, were very sympathetic and told me I should put my health first. But I didn’t want to let them down, so on the 20 April I went for a small 1km run to test the water. That didn’t feel too bad, so I decided I may as well pick up my running number the next day at the London Excel. And, as there is a new parkrun close by in Victoria Docks, I decided to do another little test. This also felt ok so I decided it was worth giving it a go and committed to running.

Of course, it was promising to be the hottest London Marathon since the event began, so I was layering on the factor-50 sunscreen. I sat in the shade for as long as possible, before heading to my ‘pen’. The mood was a mix of excitement and nerves; one runner was in tears, two others were speculating that they hadn't trained enough. Everyone was a charity runner and for many this was their first. But I have done 27 marathons, three of them in London, so although I was full of anticipation I wasn't nervous - I had a plan and knew what I intended to do.

As we began jogging from the start line (some 49 minutes after the elite started) one woman stayed with my pace. She introduced herself as Sam - one of the runners worried that she hadn’t trained enough. She soon knew I planned to go slow and steady, so we fell into our stride. We chatted as we ran a nice, comfortable 8-minute-per-kilometre pace, soon passing fellow runners who had gone off too fast in the excitement! We made it to halfway in under 3 hours - Sam's longest run ever.

The next step was to be sensible. I was feeling tired, and Sam had a brief dizzy spell, so we walked for about six miles. And I will admit to a quick sip of a spectator’s lager during this time! The support was great, and we knew if we got this bit right, we'd be set for a certain finish. The plan went well, and we were soon ready to run again, buoyed in the last few miles by friends and family in the crowds.

Sam and I had talked about targets on the way round - anything from 6.15 to 7 hours - but as we passed Big Ben it was clear that 6.30 was what we needed to aim for. One last push saw us both pass the finish line at 6.28! A success, considering that Sam was nervous about under training, and I had my ill health, plus the relentless heat of the day. The picture above is me and Sam at the finish feeling very happy. A fantastic, if a very tough day.

And yes, I have already entered the ballot for 2019!

If you'd like to donate here is my Just Giving page

Tim was given the opportunity to run the 2018 London Marathon for Merton Home Tutoring Service through Team London. Find out more about what we do.

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