I had planned to make this post a debrief of my experiences running the London Marathon but following the death of Matt Campbell during this year’s race I can’t. The harsh reminder that what we do for fun can have tragic consequences has jarred my gleaming memories of that day. My inconsequential marathon is not worthy of reading in comparison to the loss Matt’s family must be feeling and in our own way we as a community feel this loss too.
Matt’s heartbreaking death has been a painful reminder that you aren’t just a runner, you are part of a huge family. One thing that I have treasured since I started running is becoming a part of such a supportive, inspiring and passionate collection of people. You couldn’t help but be moved by the running community coming together after Matt’s passing and creating a movement to finish the 3.7 miles that he sadly didn’t get a chance to run. My social media feed has been showered with the hashtags of ‘Finish for Matt’ and ‘Miles for Matt’ and on Sunday so many runners started where he fell last week and carried his memory to the finish line.
So instead of talking about my run I’m going to talk about our London, all of us.
I run so much of my training by myself. While alone I hold debates, think through tough decisions or just enjoy the simplicity of running. London blocks all of those thoughts out. Through the corridor of cheers, shouts and screams that begin right at the start and continue long after the finish, I find it hard to think beyond the now. Big city races obliterate any quiet moments of refections for me. Everything you once held sacred becomes silence in the barrage of sounds. That is for one noise; the hallowed rumble of running. One set of feet drumming it’s own beat during training becomes an orchestra of our own origins drumming it’s way along the Thames.
Feet pounding in rhythmic, hypnotic synchronicity.
It’s a beauty so mundane it’s missable, it’s beat drowned out in the hectic environment of a race. Next time you’re running in an event try and focus on it if only for a moment. The rapturous applause to victory over adversity will make you smile I guarantee it. In a crazy way this thumping encapsulates how close knit the running community is; step by step in echoed unison.
Despite the barrage of noise nothing beats running at an event, the comradery is unparalleled. At the start, as we began our slow shuffle to the line, I met a man about to run his first ever marathon and he was panicking. He was vocalising the exact same thoughts I had before in the exact same spot in 2016 before my first; “why am I doing this? I don’t think I can do it”. I told him the same thing I’ve said to so many others thinking about running a marathon and I echo it now to anyone considering it: It doesn’t matter what you do after you’ve crossed that finish line, you will forever be a marathon runner. You can run, walk or crawl but if you cross that line your life will change. With tears in our eyes I slapped him on the back and wished him well.
It felt like I had come full circle: I remember before my first ever marathon a few of my friends gave me the same pep talk. Back then I didn’t really know the extent of the running community as my blog was still pretty young. Now I have experienced first hand its inspirational powers countless times and tried to contribute to it through my random running ramblings on here.
While the race is done and my medal is now hung alongside all the others, the London Marathon this year will stand apart because it has cruelly reminded me just how lucky I am to be a runner. Take care of each other out there.
You can donate to Matt’s fundraising page by clicking the image above.