April 2024

Race Reports - April 2024

21/04/2024 - The London Marathon


Race Report by Darren Sayer

So, I was lucky enough to be pulled out of the hat for the club place to represent Coastal Striders in the 2024 London Marathon.

In 2007 the London Marathon was the first race I ever participated in; this was where my running journey started. So you can imagine how excited I was when my name was pulled from the hat to get the opportunity to run the London Marathon again 17 years later.

However, I had already booked my place in the Brighton Marathon. There was only 2 weeks separating the 2 races but I felt this was still doable if I took Brighton easy.

Training went well through the winter months come rain or shine then as quick as a flash Brighton was upon me, my original plan was to take Brighton easy, but hey-ho nothing ever goes to plan and I ended up with a time of 3 hrs 29 mins. My target for London was now set to beat the time that I managed at Brighton.

Race Day started early with a nice drive up to Sidcup to catch the train to Blackheath, the excitement began building as soon as you got off the train at Blackheath where I was joined by hundreds of runners making their way up to the common.

My start area was the Green Start which was over the other side of the common that was quite a trek, but I looked at it as a little bit of a bonus warm up to get those legs moving. The green start was quite small and cosy so I just plonked myself down and sat there soaking up all the atmosphere whilst thinking about what was ahead of me.

At around 9:45, I decided I’d better move as I couldn’t sit there all day watching the world go by. There was a race to be run. I dropped the kit bag off then joined the mile long queue for the final nervous wee. I was joined by our John Witcher who also had the same idea. It was great to have a catch up with him discussing each other’s race day plans. We then said our goodbyes and good lucks and headed to our starting pens.

My race started at 10:10 and we headed out towards the Woolwich direction. The streets were already lined with people encouraging all the runners who were just about to take on the 26.2 mile course. After a couple miles in, all was going well and my pace was exactly where I wanted it to be and was settling into the race just as I had planned.

We then reached the 3 mile marker, this is where all the different starts merge into one and is quite a sight to behold - runners as far as the eye could see. The route then carried on towards Greenwich and the Cutty Sark, a real popular place for spectators and TV Cameras.

Next stop was Tower Bridge, another quick glance down at the watch and all was still going to plan, if anything I was a little bit ahead of schedule.


We then arrived at Tower Bridge...

OMG you have never seen so many people. The crowds must have been at least 6 deep, all screaming words of encouragement the atmosphere was electric.

I would Challenge anyone not to get emotional at this point,  the noise was deafening, just to give you an idea of how loud it was I had my music up near full blast and I could not hear the music over the crowd.

Just as I was coming off Tower Bridge I saw Kate, Em & Lorna which gave me a real boost before we turned right towards Canary Wharf, I passed the half way point at a time of 1:38 and was feeling pretty good, at this point you saw the race leader coming the other way, they were absolutely flying and were making it look effortless!

We then hit the twists and turns of Canary Wharf, this was the bit I wasn’t looking forward to as in the previous times I had run the marathon this was quite a quiet, lonely place which lacked the crowd support. However, this was not the case this time, it did not have massive crowds but just enough to help you get around and back out before you started to head back into Central London.

My legs were getting a little tired at this point and I started to wonder if Brighton was eventually catching up with me.

I passed the Tower of London and the 23 mile marker and thought to myself: Come on Daz you’ve come all this way it’s only a Parkrun left to go, pull yourself together you might not get this chance again, so I managed to push the race demons out of my mind and crack on towards the Embankment.

The crowds then started getting thicker & thicker, and as we passed the Millennium Wheel you could see Big Ben in the distance and you knew you were almost there. Just a couple more turns to go.

We turned right at Big Ben and headed up Birdcage Walk where again, I missed the Coastie support crew even though they were screaming at me and waving Coastie Tops.

All I had in my head at that point is "Where is the 800m to go marker?" The road seemed to go on forever and ever!

I eventually got to the end, turned and saw Buckingham Palace. I gave a little wave to the King as I’m sure he spotted me, before taking the last turn to the finish line.

Wow, what an awesome emotional finish! Hairs standing up on your back moment.

I crossed the line with a time of 3hrs 17mins and 34 seconds - target accomplished!

I then proceeded down The Mall to collect my finishers medal, took a few pickys before heading towards the luggage truck. Job done, over the moon with my time and loved every single minute of it.

Thank you to Coastal Striders for this opportunity, I couldn’t have been prouder to represent our club 💙🧡

Thank you to all everyone that came up to London to support.

Also, a MASSIVE well done to the other Coasties that took part:

  • George Major 2:51:22
  • Dave Paramor 3:02:41
  • John Whitcher 3:10:05
  • Ash Constable 4:29:01
  • Amy Hammond 4:55:07
  • John Adams 5:58:33
  • Simon Clayton 6:15:26

Congratulations to Amy & Ash on completing there first ever Marathons.

Fingers Crossed for next year's Ballot!