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Christine Rivers ran through illness to complete the London Marathon in memory of a friend, here’s her story…

“Race Report” is a funny word especially when doing London as I always feel that for the mass, (excluding elites, championships and good for age runners) this event is more about charity and running for a cause and that’s how I ran it. So let’s call it experience report – and overall it was a good experience.

Before I start I would like to give some context. I got my place through marshalling in 2015, which was a great experience in itself and I would recommend that but that’s a different story, so I was actually due to run in 2016. I trained and prepared well for 2016 and met all targets for pre-races. In February 2016 a friend of my husband committed suicide and left a wonderful wife (Hayley) and two little boys behind, it was a very sad time and put things into perspective. I decided to run in his memory and to send the medal to Hayley and the boys in Australia (Trev was English). 3 weeks before London 2016 I got the flu and I wasn’t well enough to run. I deferred to 2017. Turned out 2017 was the better year as it was all under the motto of #headstogether. Which is a fantastic initiative and certainly underpins my #reasontorun.

vlm medal

Marathon training started once again and I was enjoying it, running slowly long miles, mainly off-road, with not a soul insight for miles. I decided not to do any pre-races except for the legendary Grizzly. In the end of February I got ill again and I had to reduce my training more and more. Once again I was worried not being able to run. I missed out on all long runs, sometimes weeks without running. I lost a considerable amount of weight and felt tired and weak. But, I was determined to run London and to fulfil my promise to send the medal to Hayley. I found a temporary treatment that enabled me to run. I did a lot of 10 miles runs back to back at a good pace and crossed my fingers that my body will just be kind that day and that I can manage with medication. I picked up my number feeling awful that day, but I was determined to run even it took me longer than expected.

23rd of April 2017 came, I had a good night sleep and was relaxed. Aldina Robinson and I drove to the bus and boarded. As always a good banter on the bus, this makes all the difference and I haven’t seen Chris Lambourn for a while so a great experience from the start. We arrived in Greenwich and walked to our start areas (Blue). It was cold, very cold and then we waited, watched the elite on the big screen with big open mouths and queued one last time for the toilet. Then off we went. The first miles were slow and I was weaving through people. I followed a mum and son duo until just after half way (1h 55 min), we made good progress at 8.30 min/mi. Niggles came on and off but nothing major and nothing I didn’t experienced before so best to ignore, there was a lot of support and the miles just flew passed.

Around 16 miles I started to feel sick and my stabbing pain started (which I have since February). I thought of Hayley and the boys and how much pain she must have felt, when she lost her soul mate. I promised Tim, if I ran I would listen to my body and so I did, watching my pacer duo disappearing into the distance. I was grateful to have come that far, slowed down considerably and picked up pace again as soon as I felt better. I ran through every shower, they are great. I was hot and when we ran past the Thames closely I wished to just jump in, but then I also considered to get on one of the Boris bikes, which I thought might be cheating, you can see the triathlon brain kicking off, wanting to use different muscles groups.

At 20 miles I felt great again and I convinced myself it is only 10km to go! 10km you can walk this, you will finish. I increased my speed and ran to 22 miles, I felt sick again and slowed down. At 23 miles, I said to myself only 5 km to go, come on, the crowds were amazing and crazily loud. Helen Antram called to ask where I was and we had a chat. She said she might wait for me and so I was encouraged to pick it up again. She called again at 25 miles and we had another nice chat, at that point people looked at me strangely, while I had a nice conversation. I saw a poor man on the side screaming in agony and holding his calf. I talked to my calf (as you do J) not to do the same and just to stay tight. 1km to go and I felt a blister popping on my big toe, I was so glad it wasn’t earlier, I never had blisters really so that was new to me. But it wasn’t nice and so my last resource to finish in style was to repeat again and again: Pain is temporary, victory forever and I picked up my pace for the last 600 meters and finished in 4h 12 min. Reaching the finish and seeing Kirsten and Sasha and then getting a big hug from Jim, who had his own “war” story to tell a week ago, was wonderful. I was so waiting for that moment. It is the best feeling to see familiar faces, more rewarding than anything. Thank you SJs for being a wonderful community, you make this day special!! Now the medal is off to Australia to be with Hayely Coombs & Boys in memory of their beloved farther, husband and soulmate Trev. Best #reasontorun.


One comment on “Christine Rivers ran through illness to complete the London Marathon in memory of a friend, here’s her story…

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