Last weekend, my good friend Lukeh ran his first marathon, completing the incredible 26 miles in the first event held in Newport city centre. He was raising money for a mental health charity and was aiming to complete the marathon in about 4 and a half hours. I’d been watching his progress as he shared training updates on Twitter, and reading along as the nerves kicked in once the marathon was only just around the corner.
With all that in mind, it was impossible not to go and support him on the day. Mr C and I headed to Newport to cheer Lukeh on as he sped towards the finish, crossing the line in a superbly respectable 4 hours and 16 minutes. It boggles my mind that you can achieve this on your first attempt at running such a distance, but what a fab job he did. Not only did he complete a stunning time, but he was totally fine afterwards. A bit wobbly in the legs, maybe, but I turned around at one point and he and Mr C were talking nerd stuff about creating apps – after you’ve just run a marathon for goodness sake!
I hadn’t realised that, whilst it was an understandably emotional day for the runners, standing on the sidelines was pretty special too. Picking a spot towards the end of the course meant we saw runners in all manner of conditions – fit and striding to their goals, gritty and determined despite the pain, or walking it off to push to the finish. All of them were cheered along by people lining the route: friends and family, naturally, but also strangers all cheering for the same goal – get these people across the line. I was surprised by how emotional I found it, seeing the courage of those participating matched equally by the love and support of those clapping along from the side.
Other things I realised that day include how useful a marathon tracking app is – I don’t quite know how people would have followed their friends and family in days before such helpful apps existed? We got to see where Lukeh was around the course which helped us planning our arrival, picking our spot, and waiting for him to snap pictures. Without it, we’d have had no idea where he was, when he was going to pass by or if we’d already missed him.
Having said that, even with the app you have to be vigilant. After Lukeh had finished running, we dashed back up the course to cheer on his friend Sarah. We waited, until the app said she had already gone past the point we were standing. So we started walking back, a little disheartened, and then we saw a flash of purple leggings pass by and realised that was her! Mr C had to do a little jogging of his own to catch up, cheer and snap a picture.
I was pleasantly surprised by what a fun day out it was. The idea of the marathon has always been a pretty obscure one – something I’ll likely not run personally and something I don’t particularly have reason to watch either. But now having witnessed the spectacle first-hand, I almost want to search out another marathon just to cheer on some more people that I don’t know. It’s kind of addictive like that!
Regardless of our day out though, Lukeh achieved his running goals and raised more than £800 for his chosen charity. An incredible effort.