Fleur Runs, who ran the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon on behalf of Holiday Inn, shares her marathon day experience below.
The 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon was the hottest on record in 38 years! As race day drew nearer and the temperature showed no signs of dropping, I adjusted my race plan from attempting to run a PB to making it safely to the finish line and enjoying myself along the way. The heat was definitely the toughest aspect of the day, given that all my training had been in the cold and as recently as March, in snow!
I am highly susceptible to sun burn and heat stroke so hydration and finding shade to run in was the priority. Unfortunately, it did mean that I ended up weaving a lot and running an extra 0.6 miles. I was extremely glad to have my hydration pack with me to constantly be able to take small sips of water. I would definitely recommend one of these to everyone, it meant I could avoid chugging water when I came to the stations. Instead I took a few sips and poured the rest of the water on me to keep cool.
My favourite part of the marathon was the energy from the crowds, it was electric. They played a huge part in getting me to the finish line. Having strangers roaring your name (always a good idea to get it printed on your top) encouraging you along is a tremendous boost. Their enthusiasm was infectious and kept me smiling even when I was feeling tired and woozy from too much sun. For Londoners who won’t dare make eye contact on the tube, they really stepped up and helped us struggling runners along.
My favourite spectator has to be a man around Mile 16 who handed me a blue ice pop with a knowing smile. I couldn’t have asked for anything more perfect to cool me down and it got me through the gruelling Isle of Dogs portion of the course.
By the time I got home post-marathon I was absolutely exhausted. After a quick shower I was in bed by 8pm and thoroughly enjoying being able to finally lie down. This week I have been prioritising going to bed early to ensure I get as much rest as possible to top my energy stores back up. I’m planning on continuing the rest and recovery with a sports massage and gentle stroll in the countryside this weekend. I’m giving myself a week off running!
A big thank you also has to go to all the volunteers and St John’s Ambulance who did a fantastic job of taking care of the runners, particularly those who found themselves unwell from the heat.
My course highlight was running along Embankment and turning that final corner to run the final 200 yards down The Mall towards the finish line I had been waiting hours to see. Crossing that line and having the spectacular medal put around my neck choked me up. I was proud of my mental resilience and absolutely drained. My next thought was wanting to check on the tracking app to check everyone I knew who was also running had made it safely to end and celebrate in their achievements.
There was a real sense of unity amongst the runners that I hadn’t experienced in any marathon before: we were all in it together, braving the heat and sun. It was my toughest marathon to date but it made me feel like I was part of something far bigger than running my own race. It is an experience I will never forget.