It only took sixteen months after winning the London Marathon ballot place in 2022 to finally run it in 2024 after my comical injury ruled me out of 2023. Just over a week before the race last year I had a candle explode setting fire to my bed and in the process of tackling it I burnt the soul of my foot. A&E told me I’d be fine in 7-10 days, still perfect timing for the marathon despite being in pain, a foot wrapped up and having had a huge blister lanced. 7-10 days turned into 3 months of no running, very little walking or pressure on my foot and I had to defer.

Now one year later I was ready to go! It was brilliant to start the morning watching the Women’ s race begin, with local legend Jasmine Paris hot off her Barkley Marathon heroics setting them off and watching one of her own here in Edinburgh,  Mhairi Maclennan make her London Marathon debut before heading to my starting line.

At bang on 10:04am I began my efforts and I had hoped to do around 3 hours 30. I’ve found myself transitioning into ultra running distances in the past few years since my last marathon which was Paris in 2022. I’ve felt my pace drop a little and I’ve not been in the gauntlet of a race where you’re running for hours without the occasional recovery stop and blether like we are used to on those long training building Sunday runs or ultras where a hill is an excuse to pull back. I wasn’t sure what to expect and set off at around a 7:40 pace and wondered if I’d set off too quickly and could I keep it up.

The atmosphere was electric, with spectators lining the streets which was to be expected but nothing prepares you for what a whirlwind of sensory experiences it brings.  The crowds lining the streets create a kaleidoscope of colours with fluttering flags, banners, signs, with plenty of cheers and screams, pushing you on. It was overwhelming at points as I would just find myself near the crowds taking it all in, looking at those silly signs, the increase in slightly sexual themed text written on a bit of cardboard and looking for any Scottish flag I could. I’ve never experienced anything like it and I really felt I rode the crest of a wave for the whole 26 miles. It really puts to shame the Edinburgh marathon experience but reminds you too of all those lonely winter runs in the rain you’ve pushed through with just your own thoughts, those long distance social runs on a Sunday where you’re going up cycle paths, long stretches of road or along the coast with only the occasional dog or bumping into a Porty runner giving you a wee boost. It took some time to get used to but I’ve never experienced anything like this and if I had this crowd every mile of the way I’d probably complete the West Highland Way race in June in a record time, I wish you could bottle it up!

I crossed the finish line with a time of 3 hours and 21 minutes, and an extra couple hundred meters with that famous London swerving between the throngs of runners. With the difficult Good for Age targets, odds of ever getting in through the ballot system this was my one and done  and I had finally achieved my goal of running the London Marathon and done myself proud in the process. A bucket list experience achieved!

By Lee Hutchison