Record Breaking Reasons

Some lessons from two years of writing about the performances of GVH athletes: Finding all the relevant results from a weekend’s races is hard, Tom Langdown rarely runs a race wearing appropriate clothing and there actually is a limit to the number of puns that can be manufactured from Teresa Reason’s name.

Championship race. As good as it gets.

Sunday 4th October was the date for the 2022 London Marathon. The race traditionally takes place in late April but hasn’t done so since Before Covid. In 2020, there was no mass participation race, just a multi-lap elite race in St James Park. In 2021 the mass participation race returned but with the organisers discouraging crowds from travelling to watch. This year, because of the necessity of planning anything on this scale so far ahead, the organisers opted to hold the race in October to give the maximum possibility of the pandemic being properly “over” by the time of the race.

Did we turn up at the 2022 race by mistake?

Next year the race will return to its traditional slot but the last lurchings of pandemic hangover, like that slightly fuzzy feeling you have around the early afternoon the day after a big session, ensured that 40,000 or so runners (including 11 from GVH) gathered in a freezing cold Blackheath Park early on Sunday morning hoping for a good day on the traffic free (once a year) roads of London.

Spot the nearby pub

The 11 GVH athletes were dispersed across all 4 of the large start areas and across many different start times. This meant that they were unable to travel together and it was impossible to know, for those running, how everybody else was proceeding. Teresa Reason was one runner who was running better than most. She qualified in the Women’s Championship Race by running a PB of 3:13:58 back in April 2021 and she went even fast in London, clocking a new PB, and a new club V45 record, of 3:10:19.

Great running. Pure power.

Teresa had long since shown a clean pair of heels to all of the GVH athletes, smoothly overtaking James Birnie after around 10k and leaving him in her fast disappearing dust. James was only ever ahead of Teresa on the road by virtue of starting earlier, from a different start position, and Teresa deservedly finished well ahead of all the GVH athletes, male and female, on the day.

Call me Teresa Two-medals

Just under 9 minutes slower than Teresa, James finished the race in 3:19:08. James was happy with his time given his injury troubles through the summer after an ankle ligament issue picked up playing cricket. He said afterwards, “I couldn’t walk in May, I couldn’t run in June, I couldn’t run without an ankle brace in August so all things considered I’m very happy with the time and I really enjoyed the crowd.” This was particularly true around the 23 mile mark, near Monument, where the main cheer squad of Gade Valley was located.

Nobody else on the pavement!

Not far behind James in terms of finishing time was Nicoletta Charalambous. She has moved away from the area but is still registered with the club. Unfortunately she went under the radar for most of the GVH spectators, either by accident or by design and so wasn’t tracked or observed by the main group before exclaiming “Hi GVH!” as she ran (quickly) past. Her time of 3:21:57 probably represents a PB but as she wasn’t approached for comment after the race, it is hard to say.

Phil Mercer, as with James Birnie and Teresa Reason had qualified for the race by running a Good for Age time at Dorney in April 2021. Like James, and very much unlike Teresa, his fitness level is nowhere near what it was 18 months ago. He was content to enjoy the crowds as he completed the race in what he described as a “satisfactory under the circumstances” 3:38:29. George Einchcomb rounded out the group of GVH runners who completed the marathon under the 4 hours mark, posting a new PB of 3:50:40.

No club vest. Lucky he was spotted.

A possible quiz question for future generations of GVH runners could be, “what do a tap, a suit of chainmail armour and a helicopter have in common?” The answer of course is that these are the three costumes that GVH legend Tom langdown has worn to successfully break World Records in London Marathons. The bonus points would come from knowing that he also attempted a World Record wearing pyjamas (beat the previous mark but wasn’t the fastest pyjama wearing athlete on the day) and last year completed the London Marathon in an extremely heavy elephant suit “just for fun”. Tom’s time of 4:23:03 was good enough to secure his third Guinness World Record.

NO MEDAL for a world record. That’s why Ange never bothered.

Kim Morgan was another runner enjoying the crowd. Her preparation hadn’t been as smooth as she would have liked and, as is often the case under such circumstances, she paid in the second half of the marathon for running a little too quickly in the first half. She ran a good first half marathon, going through the halfway mark in 1:55 but found it very hard going from about 14 miles onwards and was struggling at the end. Despite the pain she was pleased with her (very respectable) final time of 4:24:45 and declared that she had “really enjoyed the day”.

Oh, on the pavement too!

Lizzy Andrews is another Gade Valley athlete who has moved away from the local area but she was cheered on by the club at Monument and finished a well paced race in 4:28:51. Holly Beckett was running her first marathon on Sunday as she had won a place in the public ballot (it is possible!) and she was determined to enjoy herself. After training through the summer she was well prepared and extremely happy with her time of 4:34:06.

Two medals. Don’t tell Ange.

Kitty Cole was next home for the Harriers, finishing her run in 4:39:51. Kelly Cox was perhaps the most impressive performance of the summer as she had invested probably as much time and energy into her fundraising as she had to her training. She finished the 26.2 mile course very happy with her time of 5:03:22.

Finally, spare a thought for Charlie Cadogan. While 40,000 runners enjoyed the support of the crowd in London, he was part of a small group of runners taking on the monotony of the multiple, straight up and down by the side of the lake, laps at Dorney Lake for the Virtual London Marathon. Despite battling wind, rain, lack of crowds and utter boredom, Charlie managed a superb time of 3:39:06.

Been there, done that, worse than the Hillingdon 20. Never again.

And finally, finally, spare a thought for Mike Evans who went through the pain of having his hip collapse and a subsequent hip replacement operation and still made it to the start line of the London Marathon only for his performance to be overlooked by the person writing the reports. His quite rightly indignant response after the publication of the report was, “I ran as well, but understandable I was missed as I haven’t been to the club for a while after my hip gave out and had to be replaced last year. Happy to have finished my first marathon, but not hugely happy with time of 4.53. Maybe next year…” Good luck next year Mike, sack the writer I say.