Lots more Marathons

Damn right, if you’ve run 26.2 miles you’ve earned the right to brag a little.

As well as the Great Welsh Marathon in April, OS Runners we’re also represented in Paris, Manchester, Southampton and London marathons in April, looking great in their OS Runners kit.

First up, Martha James, who ran the Manchester Marathon on 8 April

  • Why did you want to run a marathon?

 This was my first one. I really wanted to prove I could do it. I’d love to do ultra-fell marathons in the future so this seemed like a good starting place.

  •  Why did you choose the Manchester marathon?

 I wanted to do one in April and Manchester was the best fit. The course wasn’t in laps and it had pace runners. I’m rubbish at pacing and wasn’t sure I had the mental strength to do laps so Manchester really appealed to me. In the end I didn’t stay with the pace runners (though they were lovely) but the course was really good so I’d still highly recommend Manchester.


  • How did you get on?

 The first 18 miles were a dream. There were people lining the streets cheering and everyone was so happy. I could totally understand the marathon addiction. Then, mile 19 hit, and it started to go downhill. Mile 20-26.2 were the most painful/determined miles I have ever ran. Each mile felt like it was 6 miles long. It started to look like the walking dead with so many runners walking.  I somehow managed to run on and was extremely chuffed to cross the finish line at 4:23:22. I spent the next few days hobbling around but it was so worth it. I’m already planning my next one and maybe even a few fell races.

Next, Chloe Riggs in Paris

  • Why did you want to run a marathon?

I started running this time last year, with the aim of completing a marathon. Its always been something I’ve wanted to do, but I have never been a very good runner.
But I just thought why not, and went for it.

  • Why did you chose the Paris marathon?

I signed up for Paris as it’s the biggest marathon in Europe, I thought it may be the only time I’ll ever do one so I might as well go big!

I ran the marathon to raise money for Oakhaven Hospice, they are a charity very close to my heart, and I managed to raise £3,600 for them which is more than I ever dreamed of raising, it was incredible!

  • How did you get on?

I really struggled on the day of the marathon, as it ended up being 22 degrees! Having trained all through winter, it made it extremely tough! But I did it, and when I crossed the finish line I vowed I’d never run another marathon ever again!!   However.. that has now changed, the pain has now been forgotten and I will go on to do another one some day 😊

Then 3 OSR’s ran in the London marathon on 22 April, which turned out to be the hottest London marathon on record (24.1 degrees), which bought the crowds out in even greater numbers, and made conditions tougher for the runners.

First up, Mark Stileman

  • Why did you want to run a marathon?

I love marathons, up to a point!  They are immensely exciting and satisfying races, but they take a lot of effort in training.  I usually run one or two a year.

  • Why did you chose the London marathon?

This was my sixth London marathon, out of about fifteen or so in total.  Cross-country terrain (trails, mud, hills etc) has become my natural running territory, and this was my first road marathon since 2006.  I was curious to have another go at London after a 12-year absence, and see what I could do aged 50!

Mark, as you’ve never seen him before.  And probably never will again 🙁

  •  How did you get on?

I got a quick start.  I was only about 5 metres from the Red start line, in a ‘good for age’ category.  I was among a lot of mean-looking fast runners and I found it hard to keep to the steady pace I had aimed for.  By halfway I was working hard and starting to feel the heat which was really building up.  The crowd support was electric; in places the sheer energy of it was almost overwhelming.

By 18 miles I was hurting and I knew my 3-hour target was looking a bit remote.  It just got harder; I pushed, I strained, but I got slower.  My fingers and then my hands were tingling like mad, a familiar indicator of my system running low.  I knew the final couple of miles would be a battle, and all the noise and people got a bit blurry in the heave to the finish line.

I finished in 3:04, slower than I had hoped and well down on my 2006 time of 2:48, which was in perfect conditions.  But I was happy.  It was an extraordinary, exhilarating day out in a city wreathed in sunshine and buzzing with excitement and goodwill.

 Liz Cole

  • Why did you want to run a marathon?

To be honest I had always said I wasn’t that bothered about running a Marathon, unless I was lucky enough to get a place in the London Marathon.

It takes at least 6 months of dedication and effort to get here

  • Why did you choose the London marathon?

The London Marathon for me was the dream.  With it being on home turf and after watching it on TV for many years I had always thought how amazing it would be to be a part of.

Run Liz, the clock is running …  (in fairness, during a marathon just seeing people you know can be a massive boost)

  • How did you get on?

London completely surpassed all my expectations.  The week before I was 99.9% sure I was going to have to defer after getting injured about six weeks before and having not been able to run much during that time.  I felt pretty nervous at the start line, then when I saw my family just after I crossed the start, it gave me such a boost.  Chatting to runners on the way around the course, in particular, the fire crew who were the first to respond at Grenfell Tower, running in full gear, and the money they had raised was so inspiring and emotional. It was totally amazing, the support throughout the whole of the 26.2 miles was immense. I’ve been on a high for days and for anyone considering doing it, go for it!  

26 miles to go from here (Blackheath Common – the start – is just behind Liz)

Matt Pillinger

I’m getting extraordinarily lucky in London marathon ballots, having run the last 3 VLM’s through a combination of general ballot and club places.

  • Why did you want to run a marathon?

Who wouldn’t – marathons are just amazing.  For me, its the ultimate distance to test yourself over, there are no shortcuts in training and during the race its as much a mental as physical game.  You won’t always win either the mental or physical battle, but when you do it makes it all the sweeter.

Why did you chose the London marathon?

London seems to choose me – James C worked out that the odds of getting 2 general ballots and 1 club place in 3 years to be roughly 1/400, so I am seriously lucky.  Of course you’ve got to be in the ballot to be successful and I’ve wanted to run London for a long time – I had 8 or 9 consecutive rejections before my first success in the ballot.  There are many other marathons that are faster, more scenic, hillier or whatever, but London is simply iconic.  If you run marathons then you almost certainly want to be toeing the start line on Blackheath common and sometime later, staggering down The Mall.

Its also worth mentioning the crowds – they literally line the entire course, 3 or 4 deep in a lot of places and the noise is simply immense.

  • How did you get on?

It wasn’t my finest marathon, despite all the warnings about the heat I wasn’t willing to compromise on my time goals, so I set out quite comfortably and went through half way in 1:44:17 feeling good.  Going round Canary Wharf the heat started to get to me and I had to ease my pace from about 30km as I couldn’t keep my temperature down, finishing in 3:44:38.

I’ll be going in the ballot for next year as well, surely I won’t be successful again, but I can’t imagine a day when I wouldn’t want to run the London marathon.  I’m  watching bits of the BBC show each evening this week and the coverage of all the runners of all shapes, sizes and abilities running 26.2 miles is quite inspiring.

Huge congratulations to Mark for running such an impressive time, and especially Liz, running her first and hopefully not last marathon, I was massively impressed with the dedication she put into training and her consistency during the race.

On the same day, Gus McKechnie ran the Southampton marathon, doing the whole event on crutches!

Logistics can always be a big challenge when taking on a major event, the great thing for me is that ABP Marathon in Southampton didn’t have that problem. The start is 10 minutes from my front door. It was a luxury for it to be that close. I had done the New York Marathon five times, apart from the flight you have to get bussed out to Staten Island and wait in the holding area. An experience that was different five times in a row.

Have a medical condition that effects endurance quite often the question is how I have managed to develop the ability to do such things. The answer lies in difficult times. When I started university one of my brothers was diagnosed as being terminally ill. Five years it lasted for. The final year of his illness I had started working for Ordnance Survey on the switchboard in Maybush. I would finish work at OS and go to work at the Encore or finish work at OS and travel to Dorchester to be with Mum. I had started pulling off 14 hour days without realising it. My mental ability to endure had completely changed.

My first endurance was one of the most difficult to complete. In 2005 I had rowed around from the Isle of Wight starting from Warash. Fast forward to 2018 and the ABP marathon was going to be equally as difficult. I hadn’t completed a marathon for five years but after winning a raffle prize through Solent University alumni it was time to get the home city medal.

The key aim in getting ready was consistency. I left the car at home but I realised by walking to work at Ordnance Survey and getting the bus I could rack up at least 5km a day walking. OS has some great clubs including a very friendly inclusive running club. However one physical challenge for me is that if I push to hard I can go into spasm and one of the side of effects is that I can start stutter. Given that I have to speak on the phone with customer services any early morning or lunch time training need to be a low rate. Any big pushes needed to be in the evening. This challenges the time you have, so the commute and using your feet rather than a car becomes important.

The Southampton Parkrun and the community at OS played another role. My CSC colleague Neil Wilson has helped pace me so well I have taken almost ten minutes off my Parkrun PB. The snow had put pay to test events I had planned for including the Weymouth half marathon.

Race day was going to be a hot one and not something I was going to complete quickly. I don’t do heat so well and like many others wasn’t ready for how hot it was going to be. I started off by seeing an old friend Joe Fuccio and making a new friend Adi Baraclough at the start line. As the start time got close the starting pen filled up. I had in reality only really used my sticks round me it was going to be hard to establish a rhythm.

The start was exciting but slow going with the amount of runners trying to cut in front of me and get ahead it was difficult going. I didn’t really find I could find any rhythm until I got to the Tudor area of Southampton. Which eventually got me past the Red Funnel ferry terminals. I had cycled 105,000 miles on board the car ferries so I was very familiar.

Knowing the territory taking me up to the Itchen bridge helped push me on. I know the Itchen bridge from rowing especially. If you row on the Itchen you will be more than likely familiar with the bridge to bridge run. Starting at Coalporters and turning up Athelston road you will eventually go over the Itchen bridge and get back to Coalporters at the Northam bridge.

Getting over the Itchen bridge you head into Woolston. I consider the walk into Woolston a treat. Head even further you get past the Abbey and into Victoria Country park. Getting into Woolston was brutal, it was hot and no breeze. I was greeted though by the Solent Redhawks American football team, who I help and coach. Back over the bridge and I was back into town and heading toward Southampton.

By this stage the people around me were getting more and more sparse but I pushed onto the stadium. The thrill going through the stadium is a special one having living near the Dell and St Marys stadium for so long.

It seemed to sling shot me towards Bitterne and down to Riverside park. The Sun was still brutal but I was passing a number of people by the wayside. It seemed a short time up towards the common and turning toward the straight towards the finish line. The trouble was that it wasn’t the finish line and I was half an hour slower than expected.

I got going again and started the 2nd half of the half marathon course. After having a couple of fundraising leaflets thrust in my face I encountered what the spirit of Southampton marathon and something that will make me eternally proud of the city.

I was joined by Alex from Julian Porter cycling, later on I was to be joined by Lou from the same club as well. Neither of them were going to let me quit and not get the medal, I can’t say enough about two outstanding individuals. The breeze helped me out on the second half of the course.

I got through to the common and saw an old friend Jon Slator who then chased after me and gave me his water bottle. The entire staff of Rees leisure were waiting for me. People I didn’t know helped get me across the line. This is something I will never forget and will power me on.

I have been given a place in the Great North Run and have to go off with the elite wheelchair racers. What will make it work is my experience in Southampton.

Gus has also put some video’s on you tube of his race day