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Let Debra Harris take you to the greatest street party in London – The London Marathon

I found out I had a much coveted place for this year’s VLM in January after being drawn no 32 in the marshall ballot. I was way behind on training due to ankle issues; I had managed a 10k run and some shorter runs with cross training in between before sadly training took a back seat again over Christmas and New Year due to my Mum being seriously ill with Aussie flu. With a change to my diet my ankle pains and other niggles vanished and I felt I could start back with my training.

I had a holiday in January and picked up running again with 3 x 5km runs over the week knowing I had Bramley Ten once I was home. From there I picked up the running again, trying to get the mileage up. I did get out for 17 miles on my own and weirdly enjoyed it, considering I’m a social runner but it did my head the power of good.

The evening before saw me sitting in a salt bath reading “Running with the Kenyans” (fab read by the way) getting some inspiration knowing I’d never ever be a runner that fast. So the big day arrives with no nerves whatsoever, Sharon Conquer dropped me off in Sandhurst on her way to the marshall pickup. The coach trip up to London seemed to fly by and before long I was at the Red start drop off, it felt like an odd festival was going to take place, music blaring out, people chilling on the grass, spraying on suntan lotion and drinking (only not booze). The one thing I was dreading was the heat, I had done all my training in temps no higher than maybe 7 degrees, snow and pouring rain, so this wasn’t going to be pretty at all! After dropping my bag off and saying good luck to Liz and Tracy I headed to Pen 8. There was a real party feel, with people singing along with the Karaoke man. The worse thing about being in the back pens is the wait in the heat.

Deb & Tracy at start vlm

My aim was for me to just finish injury free unlike 2015 when my ITB decided to play up. If I could finish beating that time I would be happy but the heat was going to put a stop to that. I decided to just plod on and enjoy the day. I made sure I took in the sights as I honestly couldn’t remember much from 2015. Seeing some friends just before mile 9 was lovely, had a hug, some water top up, then shortly past them the lovely Vicky Tzanetis jumped out in front of me with a hug and a banana!  I knew by Tower Bridge that I wouldn’t get in for 6 hours, still all I wanted was no injury and by mile 15 I was on a high as this is where it all went wrong for me before and here I was with the ITB ok, knees and ankles ok – I was so happy!

The downside was lack of water at a lot of the water stations, but the spectators were fabulous bringing out water in jugs and topping up water bottles.  It was also sad to see a fair few runners on the side of the course in various states of distress and injury, all being well cared for by the medics. I was lucky enough to have some fab support on route from some BFR friends who kept my water bottle topped up and also at mile 19 some much needed paracetamol as I could feel a headache coming on from the heat.

Deb on The Mall vlm

Between this point and mile 25 I can’t remember much, other than Dominos dishing out pizza – my god that was heaven – I just wanted to get to the finish. And finally there it is, my legs suddenly sprang back into life, I saw friends Kerry and Lou and then my Son Luke for a quick hug, more cheers and encouragement from the crowds and the last sprint (haha) to the finish, where Jackie Kent gave me a hug and nudged me to the finish for my medal and another hug from Sharon.

Deb at finish vlm

The one thing that I love about VLM is the crowds, they really encourage you to keep going, shouting out your name –getting high fives from the children and sweets – so many sweets! You start to feel that you’re at London’s biggest street party or carnival (without being on a float). I loved it this year, I had a good sob at the end when Luke kept telling me how proud he was of me. And would I do it again if I got the chance – YES!!! I’m not the fastest runner by a long shot, but all I wanted to do was finish in one piece and I achieved that.


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