London Marathon 2023

Strong Porty showing at London Marathon 2023

Some fairly torrential rain didn’t stop the crowds lining the London Marathon route on Sunday. And it didn’t get in the way of some cracking performances, both from the elites and from our small but perfectly formed team of six Porties.

Let’s start with a results round-up.

Mark Baxter was running his first marathon, having set himself the major challenge of running three of the six marathon majors this year. He’s started with London and will be heading to Berlin and Chicago in the autumn, all in aid of Ambitious About Autism. Though he’s been nursing injuries for the last eight weeks, Mark’s mental resilience and the electric atmosphere saw him through. He put in a fantastic effort and crossed the line in 3.51.18.

Chris Grant was first home of the Porties with a brilliant time of 2.50.32 and some phenomenally even splits.

Roly McCraw put in a big training block of over 1,350 miles in 18 weeks, which he supplemented with a pair of Nike Alphafly shoes, a week’s worth of Beet It shots and some caffeinated Revvie strips after mile 16. Though he didn’t think he’d get anywhere near his PB from eight years ago, Roly was looking to take advantage of any marginal gains he could get. And it paid off. Having stayed in sight of the sub-3 pacer for most of the race, he came home in an excellent 3.03.06, just 25 seconds outside his PB.

Roly all smiles with his Scwanky shoes at the end

First (and last) of the Porty women was Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin (that’s me). Having had a great training block and some good results in my tune-up events, I set out quick from Blackheath, passing halfway just a couple of minutes outside my Alloa time. Then I came a little unstuck in Canary Wharf and had to dig deep to get through the last six miles. So I was thrilled to make it across the line in a 9-minute PB of 3.18.28 – 65 minutes faster than my last attempt at London in 2018.

Shortly after CP1

Beating me down the mall by a few minutes, George Salmond finished in a very impressive 3:16:23.

And last but absolutely not least was Graeme Thom who smashed out a massive 2.53.05 – a 21-minute PB and exactly an hour faster than his last attempt at London in 2015. He also wins the prize for best on-camera race finish celebration. It was a proud Dad moment for Graeme too, since his wife and baby Elsie were there to cheer him on at mile 25 – Elsie’s first race and first trip away

That sheer delight feeling crossing the line

All smiles with the wee family, job done!

And a special shout-out to Lee Hutchinson, who was scheduled to un and had put in the training but was forced to defer late in the day. Looking forward to seeing you out there next year, Lee!

A few other reflections

Any marathon major is a world away from the local events lots of us are used to – for better and worse.

None of our Porty runners particularly enjoyed having to trek to the Marathon Expo in person, particularly after a long journey to get to London. Ultimately, this is one of the financial decisions that lets the London Marathon operate on the scale it does and is unlikely to change. But anyone running in the future should factor in the time and effort it takes to get out there and navigate the crowds.

This was the biggest London marathon ever in terms of number of participants. While that adds to the energy, it also means that the race can be very crowded the whole way around. Graeme got boxed in on a few occasions (though he thought that might have helped him control the pace early on) and saw a big accident involving a runner and a wheelchair participant. I also struggled a bit with the crowds – turns out it’s not sustainable to keep speeding up to break away from big pace groups!

But the numbers on the course are nothing compared to the crowds lining nearly the whole route. I don’t think any other race can prepare you for the numbers and volume – even on a wet and miserable day. Friendliness might not be the first word that springs to mind when you think of London but marathon day really brings out the best in Londoners!

Of course, the London marathon is a notoriously difficult race to access, and many of our members prefer to stay safely north of the border anyway. So though it’s a major event, it’s never going to represent the full diversity of our club. But with six runners all coming in well under four hours, two under three, and with several Good For Age and Boston qualifying times thrown into the mix, we can all be proud of how the club was represented at one of the world’s biggest running events.

As always, it’s a team effort. So a massive thanks to all the coaches for their hard work and support, and to everyone who trained with us, sent good wishes, followed the tracker and cheered us on. It makes all the difference!

Race Report : Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin, with input from Graeme Thom, Roly McCraw and Mark Baxter