Running a marathon is a malor achievement. These days, getting into one can be almost as hard!
The incentive for me to start running was a chance visit to Scotland to meet an old mate of mine, Chris Newcombe. Chis and I had done a bit of running together as fitness training for climbing, and I’d heard that he had been doing a bit recently. When we met I asked him about it and he started reeling out all sorts of things he had done including a marathon. I was major impressed! I thought marathons were for athletes, not middle aged blokes who decided to give up fags and get some excercise. On the night drive back to London, a gale blowing, flooded roads and three young kids asleep in the car (my wife Stella on an overseas business trip doubtless thankfull I was looking after them) I thought “If Chris can run a bloody marathon then I am sure I can!”.
I joined the Stragglers the following week and started running regularly. It was autumn. I wondered about running in the London Marathon the following April. There were polite smiles. “You would have to have entered in the summer” someone said, “and anyway my advice is run for at least a year before attempting a marathon.”
I didn’t get to run London that year but did get my first finish in the New Forest Marathon the following Autumn. On course for a four hour finish, but cramped very badly around 22 miles (I actually fell over and had to be helped up!) and stuttered to a finish in 4.23. Worst thing was I had travelled from Kingston by motorcycle and was so stiff I couldn’t get back on the bike, but thats another story.
So if you want to enter a marathon, here are your options:
Some big city marathons are ridiculous (London, New York etc) and you only get in through a ballot process or if you are a very fast runner and meet the time requirements. Otherwise you will get in with a charity place but you need to raise quite a bit of money.
For other races its just a case of entering early. You wont get into Brighton 2013 without a charity place, but if you watch the website you’ll be good for 2014. In fact I got a fax through from the charity Sense (the charity for deaf/blind people) this week offering places for an entry fee of £10 if you guarantee to raise £500. email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0845 127 0063.
Paris is a great city marathon and I think may still be open for 2013 (just google Paris Marathon), they emailed me today as I ran it last year.
Otherwise plan ahead, get a charity place (great for first time runners who will find it easier to pick up sponsorship, or picki more obscure marathons ( look on line there are loads).
Me I’m experienced, planned ahead and in for Brighton, so just got to train and do it. Where’s the problem? In the meantime entries to the Richmond Half Marathon I am organising with Perseverance Events is building steadily and we now have 75 runners entered. We want at least 500, but I think we will go a lot bigger than this. I don’t think Richard my partner will let me run it but I am looking forward to the Brighton Halt in February. Being a marathon man might bring bragging rights, but Halfs are a much better bet. Less training,quicker recovery and down the pub for a celebratory drink!