Regular charity runner Charles Cowling recently completed one of the worlds six marathon majors, Tokyo, with son and actuarial student Tom.
Charles is running three marathons to raise funds for the Brathay Trust in memory of good friends Martin and Matt Campbell. Matt tragically collapsed and died 3.7 miles from the finish of the 2018 London marathon; he was running for The Brathay Trust and in memory of his father, Martin, who had died in the summer of 2016.
"Tokyo is home to the greatest marathon lovers on the planet, but because of the time difference I would be running on jet-lagged legs, effectively in the middle of the night," said Charles. "This was my first visit to Japan and I was taken aback by how kind and courteous everyone was.
"But that kindness did not extend to the weather. It was cold and wet. With over an hour of standing around at the start-line, body temperatures dropped and the countdown to the start got slower and slower. At last we were underway. The relief as cold muscles were shaken into action was palpable.
"Tokyo is a fascinating city, so exotic, so different - but also so familiar, with a Starbucks seemingly on every corner. Crowds lined the route with bands, musicians and dancers providing wonderful examples of Japanese culture, past and present. We wanted to stop and watch and listen, but that was not an option. Mile after mile through wind and rain was all that was on our minds.
"The Tokyo marathon has a number of out-and-back loops. I'd never before seen the leaders of a marathon out in front - an uplifting sight; a reminder of the privilege that we were 'competing' in the same race as these elite runners.
"The finish, in the gardens by the Imperial Palace, was special. Even with tired legs screaming in pain it was a magnificent feeling. I had climbed that mountain once again in four hours and six minutes, this time in a city that really appreciates what it takes to get to that finish line. Although Tom was way ahead of me in two hours and 50 minutes, I was able to take some comfort from the fact that the next morning his legs were suffering even more than mine.
"So one down - Boston and London next. Matt and Martin, I salute and remember you every step of the way."
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