Subtitle: Determination, Pain and Smiles
Unlike Agata, Marcus did not qualify in the good for age category for the 2018 London Marathon. But on Sunday April 22 2018 I did in fact run
just over 44 Km, and this was before my unexpected run to rescue Agata who collapsed en route later that day as described here
The nohtaram is as the word suggests a marathon but backwards.
It is an unofficial event held immediately before a real Marathon. Competitors meet at a point close to the finish and set off backwards to the marathon start. The timing should be that you arrive to the start well before the real start so as not to annoy/ alarm/ piss off any race organisers.
The brilliant bit is that hours before the race, streets may be isolated off, at least in some sections, so you can safely run on the road route of the marathon itself.
So at 01.45 Marcus arrived to the iMechE headquarters at Birdcage Walk in full running gear.
Actually not so simple. So this 42.1+ Km run needs to be self supported. You have therefore to carry all the food and liquid supplies you will need to run the whole distance un-aided.
I was wearing my best Ultimate Direction Ultramarathon adventure vest chocked full of food and drink. I figured in the worst case that fellow competitors might not bring enough provisions so it would be prudent to carry a little extra
Distaster Strikes Early
My hotel was 1.6 Km from the nohtaram start. I got out of the hotel, locked my personals into the car, all good so far.
I began to run.
Immediately I felt a sharp, severe and unwavering pain in my left leg. It was saying to me: stop now, don't run, really don't even walk quickly, you are injured.
So 3 days earlier I strained my groin / and/or started getting
Sciatica like pains down my left leg. I left it alone for that time and had not thought to check the leg at all with a test run since. Now with all my kit on, the signs were awful
The nohtaram is an unofficial event. I would be meeting a group of runners for the first time and the last thing people want is some old bloke winging on about how every step he takes is agony, and perhaps would everybody mind slowing down a bit or taking things easy.
So I thought not to mention it. We set of at 02.00 and the plan was to reach the end of our run, i.e. Marathon start, or as close to as possible to not annoy security, before 08.00. Plenty of time right?
Literally every step was bloody agony but I thought if I can get to 10K without fainting or screaming then well it might be possible. The initial pace was quicker than I would like but I managed it.
After about 10Km we split into 2 groups and at about Km 15Km some people finished (intentionally) whilst others broke away.
Marcus got talking to 2 really great runners, Maggie and Gavin. It turns out they would really save the day for me .....
The three of us agreed to dial down the pace just a little and take things easy. This way I'd have some chance of finishing I thought and we might have some smiles and interesting talks along the way.
Dumb and Number
As I continued to run, the pain in my left leg, to be specific a line from behind my knee upto a point at the top of the leg just got stronger and stronger. My body started to react by anaesthetising me from the pain. It turned the leg numb. I could not really feel the leg properly and had to keep looking down as a visual check that the leg was actually pointing ahead and not for example wildly out leftwards.
I head plenty of time to consider what my left leg condition would be in 24 hours after the endeavour finished
When you run in continuous pain you have plenty of time to contemplate pain levels, and how in a relativist way this was surely better than, say breaking your leg, or being dragged down the street by a car.
But what mainly kept me going was a very nice conversation with Gavin and Maggie. None of us knew each other before this race but now we talked in detail about Trail Running
No Music Really
Anybody who knows Marcus realises that I am rarely separated from Music. Indeed that night I had a playlist organised, and my Race legal Trekz Air headphones on. But you know, the conversation, and the sights and sounds were that good, well for once, I just shut down the music and kept running without.
The East End
I used to live in the East End on West Ferry Road, London . It was a decade plus part of my life that I will never forget. Some happy, sad and violent times. And this night the chance to run past my old Flat, seeing those familiar shops and streets and the memories came flooding back.
I hope some of the more interesting anecdotes that I related to Gavin and Maggie were appreciated. I did not see any signs of that's too tall a tale, or I just can't believe that. Well all the stories were true, the Flour Tower, David Owen's residence, the early days of Canary Wharf and pre DLR, and industrial action at Wapping. Yes, those were definitely the days
After Km 30 we slowed down further and had time for a Coca Cola stop and a visit to one or more toilets, and some various photo opportunities as light rose.
At this moderate pace we all exchanged further running tales and experiences. As trail runners there was discussion of some 'decent ultras' past, present and future. And not these trivial marathon distance courses that we had put ourselves into like this one :-)
Yes, at about 7ish we finished. I had dragged my feet making unprofessional scuffing sounds for the last few Km, but hey, I kept going. A few minutes later I was doubled up being rather sick on the pavement, a combination of elation, relief, a troubled tummy and pain in a now very poorly left leg.
So the time was now just past 8am and I arrived back to Victoria in the presence of some other nothtaram atheletes whom I had not seen since 02.00. At Victoria I felt like a Salmon as an avalanche of Marathon competitors came towards us on a train to their Marathon start and what was our nohtaram finish.
Thanks one last time to Maggie and Gavin for making my run interesting, and I hope I did not blab too much along the way. The UK ultra trail running community is I feel quite compact so future contact is likely.