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Runners share their London Marathon stories

Written by
Matilda Egere-Cooper

Whether you think it's brilliant, boring or absolutely mental, the London Marathon is back – and at the end of the April, over 30,000 heroes will be hitting the streets for one of the greatest running events in the world. But what's it like for the folks who take part? Here, 11 runners share their most memorable moments and tips for the big day. 

Esther, 24, Shepherd's Bush

London Marathon year: 2015

'London was my first marathon and despite breaking my ankle less than half way around the course, it was still one of the best days of my life. Oh and yes, I finished!'

Top tip: 'Get your name printed on your marathon top – but do not be alarmed and confused when strangers shout your name!' @estherruns 

Ese Odetah

Christopher, 35, Essex

London Marathon year: 2015

'My most hilarious memory was my friend Magda who headbutted me at mile 21 in the general excitement of us all trying to grab a group hug.' 

Top tip: 'Run your own race – don't get pulled along by the crowd or even an inflated expectation of your abilities. It's a day for London – celebrate that. I saw old school friends, the lady from the Post Office and work colleagues on the course.'

Michelle, 30, Queens Park

London Marathon year: 2013 and 2014

'I remember me and three other (random) ladies giving each other the nod and then skipping out of the mile long toilet queue to pee amongst some bushes in Greenwich Park while being told to "stop what you're doing ladies" by a police officer. Everyone knows you can't stop once you've started. He couldn't even turn to face us as he said it!'

Top tip: 'Put your phone on flight mode. There are no chargers at the finish line and that medal selfie is going to be one of your most liked ever.' @mkhlovelife

Paulie, 30, Whitechapel

London Marathon year: 2015

'I had trained for Tokyo Marathon in Feb 2015. After that, I said I wouldn't do any races for the rest of the year. But a friend texted me on the day before London Marathon – and said she had a spare place if I wanted it. I did! I picked up the race number just as they were closing the Expo and around 12 hours later was lined up in Blackheath about to run around town.'

Top tip: 'Find the right fuel. Those gooey fluorescent gels don't agree with everyone. Find what gives you the little boosts you need while doing your long runs during training – because you are training, right?!' @paulieroche

Sanchia, 32, Bloomsbury

London Marathon year: 2015

'The course is laced with all sorts of supporters, entertainment and celebrations, but when I heard the familiar sound of steel pans playing ahead, I couldn't help but stop and have a bogle with the crowd. Someone shouted "what are you doing?" I replied, "running the marathon, baby!"'

Top tip: 'Write your personal mantra or theme tune lyrics on your hand. At some point you're probably going to need it. Oh and become friends with Body Glide.' @MissSanchiaLege

Paul, 35, Gravesend

London Marathon year: 2012

'Running through Bermondsey, there was one particular spectator I will remember forever. He was stood clapping and cheering on the pavement. Making eye contact as I ran towards him, he simply took one slow step forwards and gently put an arm on my shoulder as I ran past him and said "go on Bainsy" in a typical South East London accent.  I'd never met the guy before but the way he spoke gave me the warmest feeling, as though he was proud sports teacher finally getting to see a former pupil running in the Olympics. They say if you need your faith in humanity restored, go and watch a marathon - one of the few times when people will leave their homes to go and shower absolute strangers with love and encouragement and urge them to go and do the very best they can.'

Top tip: 'Avoid running in the vicinity of anyone in fancy dress as they will get all the love from the crowd - speed up a little bit otherwise the fella in the banana outfit will steal those cheers meant for you.' @pb1million

Lizzy, 33, Rotherhithe

London Marathon year: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015

'I remember being overtaken by a giant Pink Lady apple just before the finish line in my first year. Demoralising. I haven't been able to eat them since.'

Top tip: 'Don't bother trying to post any social media updates while you're waiting to start. There is zero signal at the start line in Greenwich. You'll spend ages trying to do it and run your battery right down and then have no juice left for music, podcasts or your running app. I learned this the hard way.' @lizzyp

Cory, 37, Sydenham

London Marathon year: 2008, 2014 and 2015

‘My most hilarious if not ridiculous memory has to be both my legs giving way due to cramp at exactly the same time. I collapsed and had to drag myself over to two parked cars where I took refuge. I cried a little and thought what a ridiculous situation to be in. I slowly pulled myself up and walked/jogged the remaining miles to the finish line where a friend was waiting and I cried some more. It's amazing what you put your body through just so you can look at yourself in the mirror and say I DID THAT.'

Top tip: 'Do not get caught up in other people's hype. If you have trained for a pace or a time stick to it. Start off steady and see what you have in the tank later on in the race as if you go out too hard and crash at 13 miles guess what? You still have another 13 miles to go.' @bitbeefy

Tom, 28, Hillingdon

London Marathon year: 2015

'At mile 16 my knees were in so much pain I couldn't run anymore, all I could do was was walk the remaining 10 miles. I was so annoyed that my dream of running the London Marathon had gone yet so happy to just be here that I started to cry. I couldn’t escape the fact that just over seven months earlier I was in hospital fearing that my Crohn’s Disease was taking over again. So whatever was happening now was a million times better than that and so much more than I could have dreamed of back then.'

Top tip: 'Soak it all in as having the opportunity to run the London Marathon is such an amazing, magical and rare thing that you'll want to remember it for the rest of your life.' @ForEveryIBD


Lebo, 38, Dagenham

London Marathon year: 2015 

'I remember the man who ran me over the finish line – he was just incredible. And all the families – especially little kids who came out and stayed out all day handing out sweets. And my colleagues who came to watch me and collect met at the end. It felt like the whole of London came out to show love.'

Top tip: Make sure you do some strength training – yoga, weights or cycling to build the strength to carry you that far injury free.' @lebo_diseko


A photo posted by Susie Chan (@susie_chan_) on

Susie, 40, Bloomsbury

London Marathon year: 2014 and 2015 

'The best bit is the crowds. The first year I did the race Mo Farah was running it. It was a wonderfully sunny day and heaps of people came out to support the runners. It was just superb! The cheers up the Mall are enough to get you through the pain of the last mile!'

Top tip: It's very easy to start off too fast, as the atmosphere is so great and you can easily get swept away with the crowds (I've done this myself!). Take the first eight miles steady, and only when past 16 miles can you think about beginning to push if you have anything left!' @susie__chan

For more tips, check out our winning guide to the London Marathon

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