Gary Ballinger completes the 2018 London Marathon. This is his story:
I was actually pleased with my 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon time of 6 hours 22 minutes even though it was a personal worst by 1 hr and 10 minutes.
The last one in New York in November 2016 was 5 hours 8 minutes. However, considering I had an Achilles heel issue for about a year, also back problems and back surgery in late December, I was glad to be even able to get to the start line.
I had only been cleared to start running again by my surgeon only in mid February so with then two weeks of skiing I only had six weeks of training for the marathon. I was hoping for between 6-7 hours, ie a fast walk plus some jogging, so being closer to the six hour mark rather than seven was a bonus.
The day was fine and hot for London. Air temperature got to 24C and on the streets it was 28C and with no wind at all, most unlike the Gold Coast training weather with the cooling sea breezes.
I ran for the first 10km and then settled into a walk 300m/run 700m type routine which eventually got to a run 100m/walk 900m routine!
By the halfway mark I knew it would be tough but I would finish. However at 28km my back and Achilles started playing up and I bent over to relieve the pain and on straightening I had a dizzy spell, so much so that four medics raced over and wanted me to go to the medical tent nearby. I refused and went on my way, actually running initially to show them I was OK. (NOT!). At this point everyone around me was mostly walking with some running for short stretches.
I and most others around me did run the last 500m to the finish as we knew the cameras would be on us. Some 51,000 people started the run and about 98% finished. I still had more than 5000 runners behind me at the finish but normally it is between half to a third, not 10%.
All 49 of the Australian Travelling Fit tour group marathoners we went with finished, but all had a time slower than they had hoped for.
Incidentally, 386,000 runners applied for the 40,000 London Marathon starting places. Travelling Fit had 50 allocated starting positions but had over 800 people apply to go with them. We were very lucky to get a start. Unfortunately one of the 50 broke her ankle in the weeks before the marathon so had to became a spectator.
The crowd support was unreal. There were spectators on both sides of the whole route and so many bands and musicians giving support along the way. At times the noise was too much, particularly with the Japanese Drum group strategically positioned under a low bridge that we had to run under. So many were offering beer, juice, fruit, lollies, BBQ sausages etc it was hard to keep going and not stop to enjoy the party with them.
The course started at Greenwich, went downriver for a few km and then came back through Greenwich, around the Cutty Sark, over the Tower Bridge and then downriver to and around Docklands before finally heading up river, past The Tower and along the embankment past the Shard and Wheel on the other side of the river. A turn at Big Ben to enter the Birdcage walk and up to Buckingham Palace, around the fountain and then to the finish in the Mall with the Palace as a backdrop to all the finishers photos. 42.195km, PHEW!!!!
Unfortunately one 29 year old male collapsed at the 22.5 mile mark of the 26.2 mile (42.2km) distance and he later died in hospital. In all, some 120 people had to be taken to hospital for heat exhaustion.
Sir Mo Farah (the 10,000m champion) ran and came in 3rd in 2 hr 6 min, a new English runner record.
Marathon Man - New York