Richard’s marathon reflection
With three days to go until our team of 29 runners take on the London Marathon Richard Greenwood, Outreach and Communications Manager at Jesuit Missions, reflects on his London Marathon experience from last year.
I am not a serious runner but when the London Marathon begins on Sunday, I will have a tinge of regret that I’m not on the starting line again.
In 2018 I ran my first marathon for Jesuit Missions. After 7 years of supporting hundreds of Jesuit Missions runners it felt like the right time. I had the perfect strategy for my run – start slow and get slower. I executed my plan flawlessly.
Arriving in Greenwich for the start, walking up the hill I was hit by the strong smell of Vaseline. After standing around for a bit you join a queue to go over the start line, I don’t think I’ve ever heard 40,000 people be so quiet. Last year was the hottest London Marathon in history, so I followed the advice and drank plenty of water as I creeped closer to the start line. It was 50 minutes before I even reached the starting point, and I was now pretty desperate for the loo. The signs at the side of the road read ‘Do not pee here’. This was not helpful. Thankfully once you get going this particular need is well catered for!
I saw parts of London I had never visited before (although there are probably more relaxing ways of seeing the city). The crowds urge you on, but there are times when it’s pretty lonely. Running over Tower Bridge is unforgettable, the noise at Mile 21 spurs you on, the random shouts of ‘Come on Richard’ from people you will never see again lift your spirits and the packed crowds of the last three miles make all the difference.
I also happened to bump into a couple of other Jesuit Missions runners on my way around (Hi Nuala and Anne-Marie), it was great to see others in the JM running vests, reminding me that we were all in this together.
I was also surprised at how many people were running in memory of others, it was moving to read these names as you go around the course. This year our runners will be running in memory of Fr Victor-Luke SJ, a Jesuit who was murdered in South Sudan towards the end of 2018. When I ran, I found it helpful to dedicate each mile to someone important in my life; family, friends, colleagues, important people in my life from school and my work overseas. This focus when it began to feel tough always helped to give me a bit more energy. I know that our runners will do Fr Victor proud.
The marathon is one of the greatest London days, but it’s not just about this one day. The training and preparation begin months in advance. You can’t do it without support from friends and family. It’s a wonderfully individual and team effort that can change your own life and with your sponsorship the lives of thousands of people around the world.