No, I’m fine, I’ve just something in my eye, and it looks extra bad because I’ve got awful hay fever at the moment. You look a bit cynical. Perhaps you aren’t familiar with the atypical, little-understood mid-March hayfever to which I seem to be especially prone? It’s a bit niche I know, but it’s especially associated with freezing showers of the type that have been hurling themselves out of the sky all morning and so it was inevitable it would take its toll. I’m coming down with a bit of a cold as well to be honest. I’m rather hoping the bloodshot eyes look might come into vogue, temporarily at least. There was talk at one time of a new Zombie feature film being made in Sheffield, I’d be a shoo-in for that if they were auditioning for that today! Or am I confusing that old rumour with the zombie sanctuary and re-homing centre at Stanley Tools Factory – I get confused. Anyway that’s not the point.
The point is, a correlated but not causal event has just taken place. Dear reader, I have bowed to the inevitable. I have hit the big red button. I have officially withdrawn from the 2017 London Marathon. I am gutted though. I did a fair bit of agonising. Training just couldn’t happen in Cambodia, and I really did try – I even still nursed a brief fantasy that when I got into the cool of England on my return maybe I could get some miles on my legs and it might still be do-able. Errant nonsense unfortunately, it just isn’t to be. Some suggested simply walking it, but that feels wrong to me. If I had done all the training and just found that my body couldn’t do it, that might be a legitimate strategy, but knowing I haven’t been able to give it my best shot I think to participate on that basis at the outset would be a compromise too far. Nope, it called for a tactical retreat.
All is not completely lost. One of the happy surprises of the terms and conditions is that if you do have to withdraw you are allowed to defer your place for one year and one year only. I’ll still have to pay another entry for 2018, but if I meet all the deadlines I am guaranteed a place at the start line. That’s pretty awesome, and it gives me a truly long lead up to plan a proper strategy for next year. I won’t let that opportunity slip through my fingers.
Thank you, you have withdrawn from the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon, please read below for details of what will happen next.
Providing you adhere to the dates below and pay the appropriate entry fee, you will be accepted for the 2018 race unless you have already carried your entry over from the 2016 race or if the entry was received from a charity or sponsor.
Runners who withdraw will receive an email link for a guaranteed entry form for the 2018 race by the 5 June 2017. If you have not heard from us by the 5 June 2017 please telephone our helpline on 0207 902 0200 between Monday 5 June and certainly no later than Wednesday 21 June 2017, failure to do so will result in loss of entry. The closing date for completion of the online guaranteed entry form is 17:00 (GMT) on the 23 June 2017.
It is the runner’s responsibility to ensure they have completed their 2018 guaranteed entry form and paid the 2018 entry fee by the closing date as it will not be extended under any circumstances.
Virgin Money London Marathon Team
I am down about it, but I do think it’s the only way to go. This way I can train, focus and not be left wondering’ what if’ or failing to get around – which I’d never forgive myself for if I’d known before reaching the start line I wasn’t adequately prepared. I’d already booked my non-refundable accommodation in a rather-more-expensive-than-I-can-possibly-justify London hotel. This irked me initially. But fortunately I now have a cunning plan!
I don’t think my confidence in this particular cunning plan is ill-deserved to be honest. Au contraire. It is quite brilliant! I have decided it would be crazy not to go down to London anyway and soak up the atmosphere and hopefully see some of the runners I know hurling themselves around. And then (and this is the genius bit) it occurred to me I may as well volunteer somehow if I can. Shelter is one among many charities looking for London Marathon volunteers on the day. To be fair, some of the volunteer roles are more challenging than others – standing at a critical spot wearing the charity T-shirt and cheering doesn’t sound too burdensome say. There are other roles too, like greeting finishers and sweeping them off to the charity post-run support tent where presumably, there is support staff on hand to help them polish their medals and regain the use of their limbs. I reckon I’d be a dab hand at distributing hugs and foil blankets and providing an endless supply of aloe-vera balmed tissues at the finish line. I think it will be a brilliant way to be part of the occasion and hopefully it will help enthuse and motivate me to keep up with the training for the year ahead. We shall see.
Anyway, I’ve applied, and if they don’t want me then I’ll be on the hunt for one that does. Save the Rhino also appealed, but their website only asks for runners, and I’ve ruled myself out of that one, and taking on the rhino outfit, tempting as it is, isn’t altogether realistic … not for 2017 anyway…. I can always check out the charity corporate hospitality options for 2018 whilst I’m down there after all! I’ve got a soft spot for Shelter though, not a glamorous charity, but such an important one. Albeit they don’t go for such impressively eye-catching fancy dress. That would be quite a step up from running with Roger would it not?
So that’s it really. Decision made. Not an easy one, but I think it is the right one. I feel really sad, and I do feel a failure too to be honest, even though I know better people than me who’ve had to make tougher decisions based on less avoidable circumstances. A staggeringly high proportion of runners are expected to pull out of the London Marathon each year – 50,000 entries becoming 35,000 at the start apparently. I’m not the first or last to cling to hope over experience in this respect it seems. Nevertheless, I feel that by going away when I did I am guilty of some contributory negligence as maybe it was never realistic to think I could do what I needed to do whilst in Phnom Penh for nearly four months. On the other hand, how could I not take up a ballot place when I’d been so ridiculously fortunate as to get one. That never happens. Not to anyone I know, definitely not to me. However, surely it is best not to compound the mistake when I’m staring in the face of the inevitable by cracking on regardless, better a strategic withdrawal, and to come back stronger, more sussed and sassy for 2018. This is my plan. Cunning or otherwise, it is the best one I have.
So, I’m not running away. It’s just a tactical retreat. If I could run anywhere, it would be on, on I promise! It’s the not being able to run that’s a problem not heading off in a sprint in the opposite direction. Right, now I just need to find a marathon training plan working backwards from Sunday 22nd April 2018…. How hard can it be? Plus, I’ll get to buy some new running shoes now, one’s that can cope with my increasingly impressive bunions. Not all is lost. It’s just a differently calibrated adventure, extending the challenge from just the one year to two. I’m lucky. Pleasure prolonged. Yay, lucky me. I’ll live to run another day!
Right, time to find some balsam tissues of my own, this hay fever episode is proving to be particularly persistent. Very strange… Sniff.