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Caroline Cutliffe takes us into right into the heart of the VMLM 2017 and numerous renditions of Sweet Caroline

London Marathon – Reporting from the Red start, pen 9 (back of the bus)!!  With a rhino, a fridge freezer and a very large pink nurse!!!!

A happy start at Blackheath with a great group of Sandhurst Joggers all hanging out to see who would put their baggage in last before we headed off to our respective pens with good lucks, good byes, hugs and banter.

Hannah & SJ team

35 minutes after gun time, Hannah, Tracy and I crossed the start line happily chatting about how lucky we were to be part of one of the greatest marathons in the world and thinking fondly of Ron, who 5 years previous stood on the same start line with me for his first marathon, making people smile and saying well done before they even started! It was going to be a day of emotions.

The first pub stop was at 4 miles – yes, you read right! I know what some of you are thinking but it was a pee stop, not a pint stop. The pub was full of jolly people who seemed to be been in situ from the night before but in very good spirits. A runner called Graham was collecting for Cancer Research with a karaoke mic and was singing Sweet Caroline – well there was nothing for it – he happily handed me the mic and we sang a few verses before saying our goodbyes and singing our way out the door!

Caroline at Tower ridge at vlm

Looking forward to seeing some familiar faces, we merged with the blue and green start and smiled at the thought of Tower bridge in a few miles and the half way point. The right turn after the bridge tells you that are only at mile 13 while the people on the other side are coming up to 22; hmmm not so encouraging. We did manage to get a glimpse of Charles and Trish running very well.

Hannah, Tracy and I had now parted company – all going into our own thoughts and trying to concentrate on our individual coping strategies to get to the finish. By 17 miles, I was not too keen on singing Sweet Caroline any more as the morning sickness crept in – no, now that would have been the immaculate conception (nausea I mean) !!! and it remained with me until well after I crossed the finishing line and into the evening.  At this point, I couldn’t have any gels, much loved Soreen bread and the thought of an energy drink made me worse so I made do with sipping water. With no fuel, I was feeling dizzy by mile 19 and couldn’t focus very well so set my mind on following the yellow brick road – no, that’s not what I meant either; follow the dotted blue line – quickest way back apparently.

Caroline running for Ron at vlm

I now called upon Ron who at this point would have been telling me to have a blow. Interpret that as you wish, but Ron’s version of this was to have a rest. I now was having many blows; so much so, that it was hard not to blow!!!  Ron was not very helpful at this point and I started talking to him out loud – mainly; “come on Ron; sort me out”; people were looking at me strangely. He was obviously on some running adventure in the sky and that’s when the tears came and I cried my way further down the long blue line for another half a mile!

There were many further renditions of Sweet Caroline during the last miles from the crowd – this time the best I could do was smile back and try and move forward!

After what seemed days (lack of a watch), Big Ben shone in the distance and having seen the clock for the first time, all I could think of was that I was going to miss the bus!  But I also knew that I was going to finish and the lovely Lisa Harrold was waiting with my medal. I tried to turn Bird Cage Walk into Bird Cage Run with difficulty, before the final push onto the Mall and I knew Ron would have been proud!

Caroline, Hannah & Zerrin at vlm finish

A sea of welcoming faces were waiting and I had done it. Not elegantly, not fast, but I had done it.

Thank you Ron Howlett; that one was for you.

P.S. I caught the bus!!!





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