A quick look at the results section of the Virgin London Marathon website on the afternoon of Sunday 26th April 2015 provided the good news that Paul Abbott-Williams, Steve Fletcher, Andy Georgiou and Alan Stewart had all safely completed their 26.2 miles – a great achievement.
Months of training had to be fitted in around the normal demands of work and family. Steve – whose mother and sister both ran the Marathon for Cherry Lodge last year – covered an impressive 357 miles after beginning his training in January, in Austria, where he was working at the time. Alan’s training was less happy, as knee problems and nausea meant that he never managed to cover more than 14 miles on any training run.
Dr Margaret Clark, chairman of Cherry Lodge and herself a very experienced but now retired marathon runner, knows the importance of boosting carbohydrate intake before a big race and therefore invited our runners to a ‘pasta loading’ on the Thursday evening before the Marathon. Our photograph shows Paul (left) and Andy (centre) tucking into big plates of food with Margaret at Spizzico in Barnet. Note Andy’s luxurious beard in this photograph and then look at the photograph taken on Monday evening (right). Andy’s beard was shaved off 40 minutes after he got home on Sunday, much to the relief of his wife, who had hated it, and much to the benefit of Cherry Lodge, as one generous sponsor gave him £700 to do so.
To people watching the Marathon on TV, the weather conditions looked perfect but runners complained that it had been bitterly cold when they were waiting to start. Our first runner to complete the run was Paul, with a time of 3 hours 49 minutes, which was a bit slower than when he previously ran the London Marathon for Cherry Lodge in 2012. Even the support of the crowd, including his two young children in their ‘Run Daddy Run Cherry Lodge Cancer Care’ t-shirts, couldn’t completely cancel out the effects of cramp, which struck at about mile 15. Our next runner, Steve, achieved a finish time of 4 hours 9 minutes. This was his first Marathon and he found that running on the day, with a record 380,000 runners taking part, was a very different experience from training.
Andy, who had also previously run the London Marathon for Cherry Lodge, in 2014, reported that this year he was happier with his overall performance as he had been able to pace himself better. His finish time this year was 4 hours 49 minutes. The Cherry Lodge runner who struggled most was Alan, another Marathon first-timer. It was perhaps not surprising that the problems that disrupted his training would also dog him on the day. However, despite his knees giving him serious trouble from around mile six, causing him to walk much of the course, he still finished in 5 hours 25 minutes – a tremendous achievement in the circumstances.
Three of the runners were able to come to the Cherry Lodge Centre on Monday 27th April to receive a soothing massage and reflexology from two of our therapists, Andi and Valerie. They were also able to pose for a celebratory photograph in front of the flowering white cherry tree outside the Centre, wearing their finisher’s medals and t-shirts (from left to right are Alan, clean-shaven Andy and Steve).
A huge thank you from Cherry Lodge to our four runners – and commiserations to Paul Woodward, who sadly was unable to take part due to a training injury. Paul, Steve, Andy and Alan are still collecting sponsorship money, so if you have read this far and haven’t yet sponsored anyone, please go to our London Marathon post to access their online donation links. All four have said they are keen to repeat the experience next year!
Click on the small images below to see larger, complete photographs.