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London-Marathon Report, 17/04/2005   to German version

26 Swinging Miles

Jubilee atmosphere at the 25th London-Marathon

  
(photos: copyright BBC)








Embankment and London Eye.




Donate to add weight.






At the finish: Where do they place their medals?


A really exclusive kind of number.


Martin Lel on his way to success.


Paula's third time .
 

London is my most important race of the running year. Though this time I was close to face the same fate as some of the big names. Khalid Kannouchi and Haile Gebrselassie had to withdraw from their best paid event. Being runners in the mid of the pack at least we have the chance to run just half an hour slower when our preparation failed. And the high payment comes from ourselves, especially in London as long as your are an overseas runner. Thanks to a helpful physio I got fit just in time to run my 6th London Marathon after I had to abandon nearly all of my training for the last 5 weeks.

Nearly 100.000 runners applied for this year's marathon. 46.000 numbers were distributed. This already happened in October last year. This long time gap might explain the loss of runners until April, what the organizers obviously do calculate. Around 35.600 finally crossed the start line.

This April 17th, 2005, couldn't have begun nicer. A cloudless sky, the sun is slowly warming up the clear air. Inevitably I had to cut down my target and therefore stay in the rear of pen 3 where the 3:30 runners line up. Entry to our cage was checked rigorously. However, who definitely wants to move ahead will be able to get there later, when the field is about to start and everybody is moving. This time it takes me more than a minute to cross the line, though the first mile is still in time for the average needed to finish at 3:45.

Among the first 3 miles of our red route there are some ground waves to overcome. It seems to be a bit more than I remembered, and soon I get conscience-stricken due the thought I might have pictured the route in too nice colours when describing it to fellow runners. My new hightech heart rate monitor features an altimeter as well, and this is unbribable: For the whole of the marathon it shows 145 meters of height difference at the end of the day.

After a light-hearted start and some series of clapping children's hands suddenly a pain in my right knee develops. May be this is caused by the sloped tarmac? I move to the other side of the road, try to alter my running style and do some weird steps by lifting my thighs high up. It lasts for about two miles, than luckily the spook is over. Meanwhile I had lost my continuing smile, now it is back again.

At mile 8 there are chip mats lying on the road, in order to synchronise individual photos for every runner. I run with raised arms until the bridge is reached where the photographers are placed. Spectators are amused about my special style but I hope to get onto the photo in a noticable way.

Whenever I run along the side of the road, the crowds spot the sign showing my name and immediately I get lots of support. Arguably some hundred times I raise my arm today to thank the people for encouraging me.

20K: Tower Bridge. This is a moment where most of the runners get wet eyes. The atmosphere is electric with masses of upbeat spectators. At the end of the bridge more photographers are waiting. In vain I try to stand out from the dense field of runners. 

After passing the Tower we turn right to the four-lane Highway. At the other side the top runners are approaching. Chief organiser David Bedford, well known with his fair hair and the long moustache, is standing in the open leader's car and waving to the runners like a king receiving the homage of his people. Obviously he is enjoying the scene. I, too, shout a Thank You, while forgetting for a moment the exorbitant prices he claims from overseas runners. (And agency prices will increase by another 67% next year!).


The leading male runners are flying by at the other side of the road. I just recognise Paul Tergat in third place among the top group. With a little distance Mouaziz is following. In between there are more and more single female runners, obviously club runners participating in the British Championships.

At the half way mark I am ahead of my careful schedule for about 4 minutes. Who knows how I will feel an hour later ... Better now take the mobile and get connection from one marathon to another one.

At home in Germany the Ruhr-Marathon from Dortmund to Essen is taking place at the same time. Hundreds of my colleagues are running there. I was their running tutor, we trained together for months and I helped organising the event within my company. Certainly I had to prefer to run in London. I regretted not being able to run with them, but there was no question to think about. However, to show solidarity today I wear my BP shirt like all the colleagues do while running simultaneously in Germany.

I get in touch with fellow runner and worker Susanne. She has started her marathon 45 minutes earlier than I did and has already run 24K. Within our country-crossing competition I am going to overtake her in few minutes.

At the end of the long straight Highway we turn right to circuit the Isle of Dogs, for the first time the other way round. The road is narrow and the half of it is blocked by the organisers. The reason is not quite clear. May be it is necessary to clear a lane for rescue services. Anyway, it is so cramped that we have to slow down in some places. Organisers had claimed that the altered route would be faster. Here the impression is different.

Then Holger Loesch from Munich comes by to greet me. We know each other via email. He was lucky to get one of the only 15 bond numbers Unicef UK had to offer. Probably he is the only German running today for a Britsh Charity. We run together for about 2 miles. Holger is surprised how the crowds are supporting me. My very big sign placed at the front of my shirt is easily spotted.

The next well known runner I discover is a small, strong female athlete. On her back she wears a sign "Run Paris to London". This is Sabine Weiss from Germany, still holding a fast stride. She is one of 4 Germans, who successfully finish a week of running today, and she is the fastest of them. Her time today is 3:41, last sunday she finished in Paris after 3:57, and in between she ran a marathon every day to cover the distance between Paris and London!

The Isle of Dogs takes some time to get around. I am help by the crowds chanting "Uli-Uli-Uli" sometimes with a funny intonation, a deep "Uuuuuuli". The crowds at the London Marathon were always special but today they are better than ever. It is like a big madhouse - and I am enjoying it.

Yet another meeting I happened to experience. Frank Biesold approaches from behind, and after greeting he explains how he knows me: "You are liable for the fact that I am here!" What a nice compliment for my website.

Breathing is getting shorter gradually and the legs begin to hurt. More and more runners start to walk. So does an athlete I spot to the right who wears a shirt showing the logo of my company's competitor Shell. Immediately my ambition is aroused. But suddenly, just when I am going to overtake him, he pulls himself together and runs away. This lasts only for a few minutes until his energy is over again. Going by I can't help to grin with a "Come on, Shell", pointing out my BP logo on my back. He answers by merely a glass-eyed look.

35K: Around here Paula Radcliffe had to undergo what the press later called a "public inconvenience". The BBC politely followed the scene by the far distance of the helicopter while the yellow press was less tactful. It is not reported how the spectators at the side fence reacted.

Along the Embankment I feel similar like Paul Tergat must have done. Every year this is the point where I suffer. I try to stay determined, always grateful for the big support I receive. Even when there is no support I keep smiling. Steffi, fellow worker of our travel agency, later described it as "grinning" I have to admit. Certainly she was right. Anyway - it worked for me.

The finish is pure enjoyment. Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Royal Birdcage Walk and Buckingham Palace, home stretch on The Mall. I take the time to move to a less crowded canal. You will guess: I want to get a nice photo.

3:43. I am still strong enough to tap thankfully on the shoulder of every volunteer I come across. Further along our travel group is offering cooled beer. I indulge myself to have a bottle. This is enough to make me sleep well on the lawn of St. James Park for two hours.

Late in the pub I meet fellow runner Ulf Bosch from Germany. He already has achieved what I am still dreaming of. 10 London Marathons in a row! Ulf was not the only one who said:

"See you next year."
 

By the way: Not only the crowds were larger than ever. The results show a record number of 35.201 finishers, thereof 30% female.

Official website London-Marathon  Run Paris to London  Paula Radcliffe  photo report by Adrian Massey

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