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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Never say never again

The excitement began as a number of runners converged on Southgate station to catch the first train into central London. Superman was in my carriage — it was his third marathon and his colleagues at the office had coerced him into running in full superhero gear.

Fast-forward to the start line, and we could see runners in front of us being released in stages. After what seemed like an age we started to walk forward and as we drew closer were able to run. I crossed the start line just before 10.00. As we ran the first few miles through Charlton and up to Greenwich, the crowd was really excitable (possibly due to the wait for a glimpse of Peter Andre and his ‘Mysterious Girl’, Jordan) and this kept us pushing on despite the now-rising heat. On the way to Greenwich I passed a few rhinos, a tree and a Dalek, the first of many fantastic costumes. I managed to stay with the 10 minute/mile marker, on course to achieve my aim of four hours and 30 minutes, although I owe special thanks to the tall man with a pink afro who was much more visible.

At Greenwich I managed to slip on a discarded water bottle, slightly twisting my ankle. I carried on running, hoping that this would not be a quick end to months of training. After a few miles, the pain subsided and I was back at normal pace. At 16 miles I could feel the first signs of fatigue and a slight cramp in my left calf. The atmosphere created by the crowd was fantastic and that made it much easier to forget tired legs and continue.

Just after 21 miles — calamity! The cramp was getting really painful and I reluctantly ground to a halt, followed by a frustrating period of stop-start activity. At 25 miles I decided I would run through the pain even if it had to be slow; with 600 metres to go I built back up to my original 10 minute/mile pace to cross the finish line jubilant but exhausted.

Back at the Cancer Research reception, as the physio massaged out my cramp, the joy of victory dawned on me. And yes, I have joined the band of runners who will run another marathon! I would like to thank everybody who supported me with sponsorship, kind messages and excellent tips, and the huge crowds on the day. Without their cheers I couldn’t have made it.