London Marathon – 28 April 2019

Many of you have ran in London previously (I ran last year,  it was way too warm!!) and as you’ll know, I was lucky enough to receive the club place for London 2019 😀

The bit before London 2019…

Before my first ‘race report’ I thought it might be useful to add a wee bit of context about how I ended up on the start line of London 2019.  I’m relatively new to ‘racing’ (my debut was our own 10k race in 2017) so hopefully this might help others who come from a limited background of running.

I’ve always been reasonably active (and accident prone!), playing football locally for Whitehall Welfare for many years (Dave can confirm, he’s seen the pics at Roswell at the Lasswade 10!!) – highlight of that was being part of the squad that played against Celtic in the Scottish Cup in 1996.  I say ‘squad’ as rather unfortunately I broke my leg playing against Gala Fairydean a few weeks before the Celtic game.  I moved on from football and after years of OU study, career stuff and starting a family (I’ve two girls, 18 and 21) I finally got back to a level of fitness, mainly social running and cycling – until a disagreement with a lorry at Howgate led to a first hand appreciation of the NHS that summer.

Fast-forwarding now to early 2017, the running group I was part of at my gym disbanded and I decided to drop Susie a note about coming along to the Harriers :-).  As I said earlier, my first race was our 10k race in May 2017, 47:21 minutes.  That year I ran a few park runs, 10k races and half marathons; those HM’s seemed to go on forever!!, before deciding to apply to run for The Multiple Sclerosis Society at the London Marathon in 2018 (my Mum has MS).  When the MS Society accepted me into their team of runners for London 2018 I decided then that I would seek sponsorship for London and Edinburgh marathons.   New York was added to my list after I was fortunate enough to come through the ballot (I applied on a whim late one night, only a couple of days before the ballot closed).  2018 would be London-Edinburgh-New York.

2018 – London, Edinburgh, New York

Julianne reported on London 2018, so I won’t go over that again.  London 2018 was my first marathon, making it over the finish line in 3:48:59.  The temperature made my time almost respectable but I’d trained for 16 weeks and 3:48 wasn’t what I thought I was capable of!  Lucky (???) for me the Edinburgh Marathon was next, only 5 weeks later….3:38…..better, but maybe still carrying London in my legs?  New York (November) training went well and I managed my first sub 3:30 marathon, finishing in 3:28:30 – a time that qualified me for a good-for-age place in Chicago 2019…

…You get the picture now 😀  I’ve been taken over by this bloody running thing!!!!  2019 was to be Edinburgh and Chicago.  I had applied to run in London through the ballot but wasn’t successful – and then the Harriers place luckily enough came my way :-D, I now had the opportunity to settle my unfinished business with London.  2019 would be London-Edinburgh-Chicago.

2019 – London

Let me be honest from the start, this has now become a bit of a quest (I’m sure you’ll recognise this).  My challenge for this year was to qualify for a good-for-age place for Boston 2020, meaning I’d have to run around 3:20 (the qualifying history suggesting that the cut-off will be around 5mins quicker than 3:25)

Having had the experience of running three marathons I decided that this year I would run a couple of more races and not just the marathon plan I’d mostly followed for my previous three marathons and maybe the odd hill run (yes, hill runs are ‘odd’ for me).  Training started on Hogmanay and was quickly followed by the Portobello Promathon on New Years Day.  Most of my training runs are in the morning and these go well throughout the 17-week plan.  Further races follow at the Devil’s Burden (thanks to the ‘old gits’ for looking after me – my very first team prize!!), Lasswade (…that was tough!  great day for the Harriers though!!) and the Alloa HM.  In amongst all this Gemma dragged me around the Pentland’s a few times too!

London was fast approaching, I’d made it through to taper with no injuries and feeling stronger thanks to all the help and support – at last, my race report actually begins!!

I made my way down to London on the Friday, picking my things up from ExCeL centre on the Friday.

From the excitement of picking up my envelope at the ExCeL it was to the DLR and off to my Airbnb at Crossharbour and my final training run – around 30 mins of easy running with some strides. Around 1,200 km’s of training since hogmanay.  A good meal and off to bed early – couldn’t sleep but at least I tried!!  My plans for the Saturday were borne out of my 2018 London experience, no wandering around London sightseeing (I managed to walk for around 18,000 steps!) – I’d booked into Avengers End Game at the local Cineworld – seems like everyone had he same idea as it was rammed!!  Anyway, that killed loads of time and after a good lunch and a pint of peppermint tea I settled down to watch the football results, then my favourite pre-marathon meal – time passed really quickly and before I knew it I was organising my kit for Sunday (yes, I packed way too much)…

Finally made it into bed around 10pm, remarkably got to sleep quite early – my tried and trusted method of listening to, A Brief History of Mathematics!  Seriously, I like this!

Race Day (…at last!)

I was up around 7am, my usual porridge breakfast and off to the start.  I was only a few DLR stops away from the start at Blackheath.

I always think there’s going to be loads of time to prepare and finalise before handing my bag to the drop – never quite works out that way for me.  Anyway, before I knew it I had all my kit in my bag, and top off to tape up my sensitive bits and off I went to the start!

I COULD DO THIS, I COULD FOLLOW MY PLAN AND RUN 3:20, I WOULD RUN AVERAGE 4:40-45 MIN/KM – that’s what I’d been telling myself for the last few days.  Anything less would have been disappointing.  That’s just the way it was for me.

Off into my 2nd wave pen and before I knew it I was jogging through the start line.  The chill of the breeze quickly disappeared and I steadied into my running, knowing the first few km’s were slightly down hill I was happy to run around 4:30-35 min/km pace, but I was holding back, I knew from previous races not let my legs  rather than my head dictate what was going on.  As the course flattens out and the blue, red and green starts merge it’s a little more difficult to find my own space to run – if you know London, you’ll know that’s part of the challenge.  Everything is going to plan, a gel every 30 minutes, two jelly babies in between each gel and a little water at every stop….I’D PLANNED FOR THIS AND IT WAS GOING WELL!

That’s me at Cutty Sark, around 5 or 6 miles I think.

As half-way approached I was feeling good, comparing it to how I felt in 2018, this was good.  I ran around 1:38 for the first half, that felt good and on track, I knew the second half was tougher, more undulating in the final 10k.  The post-race stats suggested I’d passed 1,762 runners and 326 had passed me – interesting!

The second half continues in much the same fashion – I’m sticking to my plan and can gradually feel the challenge of the pace and race setting in.  I’m ok though, i’m not leaking lots of time, not really much at all and not a large drop-off in pace that I’ve faced before.  This planning the extra miles and experience of the marathons before is really helping!  The final 10km’s had arrived and I knew I was digging in now (only 2 park runs to go!) – the final 5k and I start thinking about the finish, the right turn off Embakment, through Parliament Square and up to Bird Cage walk – I’d give it what I had left from Parliament Square…

…and I got there…!


Whilst feeling tired and a bit sore – I knew I’d done what I set out to do and trained 17 weeks for, sub 3:20 and 4:40 min/km!  My 2nd half was around 1:40, passing 1,214 runners and (only) 56 passing me!

At this point I should say, the crowds in London are amazing – the sheer number, the level of support and absolute good nature is brilliant, amazing support all the way around – and I mean ALL THE WAY!

Funnily enough shortly after the finish I ended up being asked to take someone’s finishing picture – she was from Carnethy!!  I headed off to meet up with a few EAC runners in Covent Garden to reflect on the race – as they set-off for dinner I decided another quite beer / celebration was in order…

And that’s my journey to the finish line (and slightly beyond) for London 2019.

If you get the chance, run London, it’s amazing!!  Thank-you once again to the Harriers for the club place – I’m now at peace with London 😉

Thanks all for reading – I’ll make the next one shorter!  Hahahaha….




Next marathon stops for me;

  • Edinburgh, 26 May
  • Chicago, 13 October
  • Boston, 20 April 2020 (…hopefully!)

My marathon journey so far…

  • 2018, London, 3:48:59
  • 2018, Edinburgh,  3:38:01
  • 2018, New York, 3:28:30
  • 2019, London, 3:18:23




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6 comments on London Marathon – 28 April 2019

  1. Jan Dawson says:

    Brilliant report, Raymond! Love the recipe! Fingers crossed you get into Boston. Massive well done to you.

  2. David Cairns says:

    Great read Raymond, I’m sure it will provide encouragement and inspiration to everyone, especially some of our newer members. 30 minute improvement in your first year, fantastic (Noted: M50 and still improving, there’s a sequence there in your results, roughly 10minute progression in each marathon……………???)

    • Raymond Richford says:

      Thanks Dave, I’m sure the 10min improvements are about to end! Last years first marathon in London (too hot!!) wasn’t a great baseline. I’m delighted with progress 🙂

  3. Susie says:

    Crikey Raymond – that was amazing reading!!!

    Glad that you had a good experience and you certainly did the club proud, there will be a few in the hat for next year’s place i think 🙂

    Next time you write race report you need to post out teabags to us all so we can relax and put our feet up before we start reading 🙂

    London was my favourite road marathon – the exerience was incredible!!!

    • Raymond Richford says:

      Hahahaha, sorry Susie 😀 I’m putting it all down to excitement and being quite chuffed with myself! I can assure you, any race report will be just as long if my goals are met!! 😉

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