Now that they have completed the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon, we asked Elin and Dom about their experience running the worlds most famous Marathon…
Elin: We did it! Two marathons in two weeks and I am so proud and over the moon. I’ve run London before, a few years ago and it was just as incredible as I remember. The main takeaway from London, the thing that sets it apart from all other marathons, is the incredible crowds. You might not think you can do it, but they believe in you, they cheer for you and they pick you up when you’re struggling.
As you all know by now, Dom and I took part in the London Marathon thanks to Holiday Inn ®. We got to experience their full Rest and Run package and I’m pleased to report that I would, honestly, happily recommend this to anyone who’s running the Virgin Money London Marathon in the future, especially those who live outside of London! I’ve already recommended it to some colleagues!
The Rest and Run package included accommodation, a champions breakfast (everything you could wish for) and a coach transfer to the start line. Firstly, the accommodation was perfect – we stayed in the Holiday Inn ® in Stratford. Being based in East London made it so easy to be transported to the start and it was ridiculously easy to get to the Running Show to pick up our official bibs. The hotel is also surrounded by amazing restaurants, so there is something for everyone!
Secondly, the Champion’s Breakfast is seemingly never-ending! There’s cooked breakfast, pastries, continental meats and cheeses and, my pre-long-run standard: carbs and Peanut Butter! Finally, the coach transfer – a real mind-settler. The first time I did the London marathon I had to navigate the TFL and underground maze alone (well, not completely alone as there were thousands like me, but you know what I mean). This time, it was all organised for us! We just had to be outside for 7am and that was it. We were whisked away to the start line – no effort required.
The race itself is truly one of a kind – the route has some real gems and, as I said before, the crowds are just on another level. We were in the green start, so we had the benefit of not being in the main start with the massive crowds – we just merged with everyone at the 5km mark.
At just after 10km, we reached Cutty Sark – not only a beautiful landmark, but a crowd hotspot, they really do carry you! Just before the halfway mark we turned the corner to another London landmark, Tower Bridge, I’m going to keep repeating myself, but the crowds were honestly incredible. This was also the place where we saw our friends, which was a real boost.
It was everything I’d expected and more. From my previous experience I knew that the crowds would be incredible, but I’d forgotten how much they really helped. When you feel like you’re struggling, a few high fives, a couple of words of encouragement and you really know you can do this. We took this on knowing we’d already signed up to Paris, which took place two weeks prior, but we knew we had to do this. If you’re ever going to run a marathon, London is it. No questions asked.
Dom: I keep having to pinch myself thinking about completing the London Marathon. I’ve been down to watch it a couple of times and really enjoyed the atmosphere and occasion, but I never really envisaged myself actually taking part in it. I certainly never thought I’d do 2 in 2 weeks.
I already had an idea of the route and what the crowds would be like, but being on the other side of the barrier was better than I could ever have imagined! From start to finish, people were screaming my name and high-fiving me – it’s what I’d imagine being a celebrity is like – and it really does give you a boost when your legs are feeling a bit tired or you’ve got your eighteenth stitch.
For me, the absolute best part of the route was turning the corner onto Tower Bridge. Somehow it crept up on me and it was so special to turn the corner and see it there! I feel like I’d have enjoyed running past Parliament/Big Ben more but that was my lowest point in the marathon with a mega-stitch, tired legs and pulled hamstring, so Tower Bridge really sticks out to me as a huge high point.
I really loved being back in London after a month of living away and I was so happy it was to take part in the London Marathon (as much as that would be a big surprise to 2015 Dom, who definitely would not have taken part in a one). On behalf of all novices, I can assure you that you can do a marathon, particularly one with such incredible crowds, so don’t be afraid to give it a go. That proud feeling of crossing the finish line (and a nice medal and t-shirt) will make all the pain worth it.