Virgin London Marathon 2019 – 28th April 2019

This year 12 Pershore Plum Plodders members took part in the Virgin London Marathon 2019.

The following Plums (as seen in the picture above from left to right) earnt their right to a place through different entry types as follows:

Steve Potter – Club ballot place

Ken Butler – Good for age place

Steve Leighfield – Charity place: Children with Cancer UK

Debbie Morris – Charity place: CLIC Sargent Young Lives VS Cancer

Ann Hewlett – Charity place: Kidney Care UK

Hazel Tolley – Charity place: PHAB Kids!

David Glover – Charity place: Teenage Cancer Trust

Mandy Neal – Good for age place and also chose to raise money for Worcestershire Breast Unit Haven

Karen Hinks – Good for age place

Julie Westcott – Good for age place

Andrea Holmes – Regular ballot place and chose to raise money for St Richards Hospice

Julie Herbert – Charity place: Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust

We, as a club, are very proud of our members who took part in this hugely popular event and I am pleased to report that they all finished safely. Between them, these Plums raised a phenomenal amount of money for good causes which they should all feel very proud of.

A large amount of our members also travelled down to London to offer some Plum support and to soak up the wonderful atmosphere of the whole day – Well done all !

Steve Potter was the lucky Plum whose name was picked out of the hat at our annual Plum Christmas party and here he gives us his take on his London Marathon journey:

“Turning into The Mall legs screaming, lungs screaming and crowds screaming, the Finish Line in sight, the last few strides of a journey that started with a FB message one Saturday night late last year.
Sitting around, blind drunk with my old racing buddies, reminiscing about events that happened over 30 years ago is hardly the best time to find out you have got a place in the biggest running event on the planet, but that is exactly how this tale of woe starts.
My phone bleeped and I noticed a text off Ann. Why was she messaging me at this time on a Saturday night? 
My first thought was ‘I will just ignore it until morning’, but you know how it is, you have to take a peek…….

Ann: ‘You have the London Marathon place!’
Me: ‘Are you having a laugh?’
Ann: ‘Nope get training!’

Training was great, I really enjoyed Trevor’s long Sunday runs. I got to know so many Plums who I don’t normally chat to, I ran up the nasty hill at Illmington for the first time in years, but the best part was doing the Forest of Dean half with Trev.  It was a beautiful day and the race went like a dream.
Four months passed in a blink of an eye and before I knew it I was on a train to London.
Friday slipped into Saturday and next thing I know, I am opening my eyes on Sunday morning, MARATHON DAY!

The VMLM is so well organized it would be hard to mess things up on race day, even if you tried.  It was a long wait to get going, but the time passed quickly in nervous excited chat with fellow runners.  Then our seemingly endless snake which was our group Z7 started to move towards the start, ‘here we go again!’ I thought.  How do I get myself into these situations? I don’t know, but I seem to have been doing it in one form or another since I was a lad.  As we turned the last corner and we got our first view of the start, the line picked up speed to a jog, then over the start mat and the race was on.  Absorbing all the energy from the cheering crowds to propel us down the opening straight, I can honestly say in all my years of racing I have never known anything like it.  I loved it, fed off the energy of the crowd and at times I certainly played up to it.

Ten miles flew by, and I could see we were heading back towards central London.  I knew the main Plum posse would be on Tower Bridge and I could not wait to see them, knowing they would give me a boost.  As much as the race was going smoothly and I wanted to savour every moment, I was well aware of the hurt that was fast approaching in the next few miles. I was long past my happy place but I kept my spirits up by feeding off the crowd, but nothing picks you up like an unexpected Plum voice ringing out from the crowd.
At 20 miles it would be easy to think, ‘I’ve got this –  it’s only 2 Parkruns to go!’, but as the legs stiffen and the pain dulls out, the cheering crowds and the miles seem longer and longer. It’s important to keep your composure and keep doing your thing.  At 1 Parkrun to go the miles seemed to be taking forever to tick off and it was way too soon to relax as I saw a heartbroken runner being taken off the course in a wheelchair, still plenty of time for things to go wrong.

I always thought that the last mile of a marathon would be one to savour, but I knew from experience that this is not always the case.  Then, with 600 metres to go, you know you are going to make it even if you have to crawl across the finish, but it is still way too far to start your final push for the line.  Into The Mall next and the last reserves of energy are drained in the rush for the line.  If only the pain of the run would leave your body immediately after crossing the line, but experience again told me that this is not the end of the torture – it is the beginning of the end of the punishment you have just paid good money to put yourself through.  It will take agonizing minutes for your body to start becoming human again.
I picked up my medal, and completely forget about getting a photo with it.  In fact the only interest I had in life was food and in no particular order I started stuffing my face with all the grub in the VMLM goodie bag!  At this point I heard Ann calling at me. I looked round but couldn’t speak, as it’s rude to talk with your mouth full, not that I could have got a word in edgeways, as she was bubbling. She certainly banged out a fantastic run and I am sure the VMLM exceeded all her expectations, I am made up for her and she certainly put the work into training.  I would also like to shout out to all the other Plums who ran that day especially the Plums who qualified with a good for age place – you rock guys!

The biggest thing I will take from this experience is all the good wishes and messages of support I received on the run up to the event, it certainly made carrying the responsibility of the Plum place a lot lighter.  I would also like to wish all the future winners of the place all the luck, support and fun. Ultimately it was a very satisfying marathon, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
I know it’s not much of an ending, but this is not the end.  When I took the Plum EA place, I made a promise to myself, and that was to run another marathon this year.  I want to be a marathon runner, not just someone who has run the London marathon.”
Steve Potter

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