London Marathon 2014

No DB on the DLR as NAC show well at the VMLM!
A Special Report on London 2014 by Joe McCann

‘Will we have a coffee and wee scone before we pick the boys up?’ were welcome words to my ears. Preparation is everything, and to take the Virgin Money London Marathon weekend seriously one must be properly fuelled. There is no point leaving on an empty stomach when you are coaching a fine body of men.
London Marathon Team 2014
Alas, Brannigan had not made the trip having anxiously debated and deliberated the pros and cons of upsetting the troglodyte routine.  In the end uncertainty prevailed, and the much maligned athlete poured further fuel on his own fire.  There was much speculation about his decision not to run: was the cost of the meal for consecutive evenings too much to bear? Was it the lack of cous cous in chez Strachan? Was in Rodgers’ complaints about the copious amount of cereal eaten on the night before the race? Maybe it was the fact that the grass had grown 1.5mm more and cutting it would take 8 minutes more on the Monday after the race, a big ask with aching legs? Were the chinos not ironed in time or was it the lack of an old enough t-shirt to discard at the start line? Irrespective of the reasoning, Newcastle’s gain was London’s loss and dispirited by the failure of Brannigan to commit the posse headed off to the ‘big smoke’. A late revelation cleared up the issue when rather foolishly one of our fellow breakfast guests on marathon day on Jamaica Road declared Brannigan’s penchant for washing the clothes pegs upon returning from his travels.  With a busy schedule on Monday, it would obviously have been impossible to complete this chore and subsequently his whole equilibrium would have been damaged beyond repair.

Running, Darts and Vouchers – all part of the plan!

On arrival at Walton-on-the-Hill, the athletes began the mental preparations for the weekend ahead with a four mile run.  Rodgers led me astray with pool and darts in a lame attempt to get some exercise in and earn the grub that was waiting in one of our regular Bansted haunts.  The first feed of pasta was ordered and to improve the morale of the group Strachan produced a 25% off voucher, if only Brannigan had known that – he could have had the plain spaghetti and green beans for £6.03! Some of the group took the eating more seriously than others and some consumed more calories than were needed – thus fulfilling the predictions of Carson.  As part of the mental toughening up process, the lads were put through their paces on football trivia and all impressed with their knowledge: the homework had obviously been done and the host produced the best answer of the night correctly identifying Bournemouth, Queen of the South and Stenhousemuir as the only three teams containing the letter ‘u’ twice.

Would you care for a cup of Earl Grey Norman, my dear fellow?

After some fitful sleep, the boys were back up and at it. Fuelled by brown toast, honey and bananas, the boys set out for the early Saturday pre-marathon 4 mile jaunt.  It is all about being in the right frame of mind, and the boys were now buzzing. However, it would be wrong to think that these boys are all about running. As they prepared for the next part of the ritual, the visit to Box Hill for coffee and cake, I overheard The Prophet and DJ Normski engage in a great intellectual sparring match. ‘What would be your favourite Tay beg Norman’ was the opening gambit. ‘I like the Yorkshire Builders’ was the prompt reply. ‘Aye, but the Tetley is just as good.’ ‘Have you tried the Falloon’s?’ And so it continued for about half an hour, through to the process of making the Tay, scalding the pot, making tay in an ‘oul black kettle in the back of the van, making Tay in a cup, infusing the beg in the milk first.  Dominic McGreevy will be reading this with great interest as he sips on some ginseng and nettle.

Saturday night is traditional for pasta and carbo-loading and the NAC athletes have turned this to an art form.  After the pasta the final assault on the digestive system was banoffee pie, ice cream and sticky toffee bomb; essential foodstuffs in every training manual and enough to make Brannigan wince in disbelief (had he been there of course!!!).

Times, stats and other stuff

One would think this is not an article about running, so it’s time for the serious bit.  All of the runners produced five star performances.  Kendall came home in 2:44:51, a little below his PB, but amazingly his fifth consecutive sub 2:45, demonstrating his great consistency over the 26.2 miles.  He went out hard and kept up the pace much to the delight of his army of fans on a myriad of social media sites.  The messages just kept on coming in!  Strachan had suffered with a few knocks and bruises in the run up to the big day, but once again the ‘Flying Scotsman’ was at his best when it mattered most and was impressively under the 2:50 mark in 2:49:56, one second ahead of the super time posted by the much maligned, but highly regarded Brannigan in 2004.  Third home was Norman Smyth.  With the lambing almost over, the Banbridge Rocket was in fine form and held hands with The Prophet for the first half.  He stayed on well and came home just over the three hour mark in 3:01:12.  The Prophet had a fine run as well and managed to get a suntan on his forehead on his way to an extremely credible 3:04:04.  He did lodge an official complaint as his watch recorded 3:03:52, but no-one listened and all applauded his efforts on a day that was just a little too wan for marathon running.  John Kelly also had a fine run, aided by what we think was a map of the course drawn on his left arm.  John secured a good for age time, dipping under the 3:15 mark with 73 seconds to spare.  Congratulations to John in securing a ‘Good For Age’ entry for 2015. Well done to all of the athletes from the other local clubs who completed the course – you have our unrestrained admiration.

As they sat in the London sunshine the boys were filled with justifiable joyous pride in their achievements.  The toes may have blackened, the feet blistered, the calfs and hams stinging, but these were insignificant for the now Famous 5 who wallowed in the glad realisation that it was all over – for the time being at least!!

Runner 10k time Half time 30k time Finish time Audey says
Mark Kendall 37:38 1:20:32 1:55:13 2:44:51 A consistent run form a consistent runner
Alan Strachan 38:23 1:22:10 1:57:53 2:49:56 Aye, another good one
Norman Smyth 41:44 1:29:10 2:07:39 3:01:12 He’s getting close to the 3
The Prophet 41:55 1:29:15 2:07:59 3:04:04 Big run from a big star
John Kelly 43:43 1:31:54 2:11:56 3:13:47 Well done JK

The unbreakable vow

On the way back to the airport, buoyed up by the fantastic experience of the London Marathon, Rodgers and I took out our wands and made an unbreakable vow; we will run London 2015, no matter what.  However, I think we made the same promise last year and reneged, albeit for different reasons; injury for one and unrestrained sloth for the other.  Having said that, we have both ordered our new gutties and vowed to increase the output and decrease the intake of calories – famous last words.  Carson is offering long odds of both of us starting and even longer odds of us both finishing! As there are still 354 training days left, I think I’ll start my hectic programme with a rest day – no point in peaking too soon!!!