Marcus got a phone call from St Johns Ambulance this Sunday April 22nd to say that Agata had collapsed at KM 38 of the London Marathon.
I did explain that as she is an experienced Marathon Runner, meaning over 8 marathons for sure, and really countless Ultras, I hoped it was nothing serious, and would she be back on her feet to continue soon?
They replied: But she can't stand up
I replied: I am coming immediately :-(
Not a subject for today, just to say that this Sunday I was barely able to walk. However it is surprising how Adrenalin kicks in when your partner appears to be in serious trouble.
I set the GPS for Angel Street, the name given by the St Johns medic on the phone, and began to run. Well, hobbling at first, but despite some intense pains I kept going. On Marathon Sunday, in London it is difficult to convey how crowded the streets were.
I'll just say that running on the pavements was truly a frustrating obstacle course.
When I was about 500 metres from Angel Street it became apparent that they (St Johns Ambulance) had given me the wrong address. It was not on but just near the marathon route.
So, I had to find what was the closest Point of the over 20 St Johns, on the course where she was likely to be. Sadly Agata did not eventually take any phone so Google GPS location could not be used. Now I was not just unhappy but getting concerned.
The first St Johns I arrived at did not have Agata, and since she could not stand she could definitely not have run away. I then found out that they don't report back to their control centre who is helped or kept where. And they refused to ask the Control centre to ping other St John Points at around KM 38 where Agata was thought to be positioned (The tracking chip in the foot triggers every 5 Km so she could have been between KM 35 and KM40 in the worst case.
Based on the Ambulance Stations on a map, I decided with staff it was probable that she was 1 or 2 stations West (towards the finish) or there was a slim chance she was a station East of current. Since I had painfully run East from the finish to this Eastern point anyway I thought it was prudent to continue further East first, then double back.
There is no record of the amount of relief I felt when I saw my darling wife.
This relief was somewhat short lived as she was totally disorientated and could not speak coherently, and standing up was for now out of the question.
A lot of form filling ensued, with the usual seek GP medical assistance if symptoms persist disclaimer.
As Agata recovered another runner came in on a stretcher. In really a much much worse condition.
This put Agata's position in a reference I suppose.
Eventually Agata's blood pressure and heart rate stabilised, now it turns out our long, really long journey to the finish line began:
Agata had the vision to drop a bag of clothes at the start which is transported to the finish. But these bags are accessed (we eventually found out) by crossing the finish line then continuing forward walking to the lorries with bags
First we had to get to the finish, difficult as the tube stations, were absolutely chock'd full of people. Every step was difficult and traumatic for both of us, but there was no legitimate way to get Agata's bag.
Eventually we strutted back through the Exit, like a salmon against hundred of people walking towards us, and made the bag lorry. Picked up Bag. Relief!
Bag in hand we now had to get to our car and rented Apartment which was several Km away and not walkable in our current state. This took us an age, and eventually we were forced to walk the last bit. There then followed a long Marcus driving activity. Anything else would have been reckless and stupid. Agata was not in any state to be behind the wheel.
We have done countless Marathons and Ultra Marathons in conditions far hotter than the 25 degrees Centigrade of London today.
Our complacency was that this was 'merely a Marathon' which is quite short for our normal race standards. Turns out though, in these conditions, and on this day it proved a real killer.
Agata is now back home and smiling, and so therefore am I. I think the good news is that this woe has re-enforced the feeling or sheer dread that we have when our other half is known to be in a bad way. We choose to care deeply about each other, at all times and for each and every day. Long may this continue.