The night of the run came and the logistics were set in stone catching the night bus to Trafalgar Square and the walk the short distance to The Houses of Parliament's Elizabeth Tower which holds the famous Big Ben.
Arriving at 3.25am I soon spotted a gaggle of runners bedecked in bright jackets and lycra, the plan was a 3.30 start and a 4.00am start, I chose the former as I didn't to keep a fast pace as I just wanted it to pace nicely and get set for the GUCR, I planned to be in Greenwich by 8.00am. I started with Nici, Kate, John, Claire, Emma, Ian and Stephen to gently pace our journey but not before a photographer jumped up and asked for a photograph asking why he explained that I was the organiser!! I quickly refuted this as it was ably done by others via Social Networks.
So excited as a bunch of 6 year old kids going on a school trip we traced the route of the London Marathon in reverse whooping, laughing and shouting out when we saw the marathon blue line painted on the road. It became very apparent that over the coming miles the night was very warmer, warmer than I was expecting so off came the windproof to finish off in just shirt sleeves. Such was the company and high jinx the miles flew by some runners being very conscience of their pace and using different techniques such as run 25, walk 5 minutes and whilst this works for some I ran the first 10 miles using this option but reverted back to my standard pacing feeling more comfortable but feeling good to experiment.
On arriving at Canary Wharf we found the route was not very well marked and the barriers not in place such that we took a wrong turning but took an extended detour to make up the miles to rejoin the route, a strange and eery place in the early hours. Once again the "photographer" leapt from the bushes and asked us to pose for some more pictures and we moved on, I felt happier for some reason leaving Canary Wharf, partly because it meant we were soon to get on Tower Bridge just over the half way mark.
Arriving at the bridge I spotted a gaggle of runners crowded around Richard, our mobile checkpoint, this guy must be built with the strength of a mule for I am sure the ancient bridge was bowing under the weight of his spread of food and drinks, amazing. Moving on I took the rest of the run at my pace dropping some of the group and chasing others but savouring every moment watching the sun come up and the world around me wake up and people appearing from their front doors.
As I approached Greenwich I came aware of the masses of activity of water stations being stacked, barriers being pushed together and marshals blocking roads meaning the cars would soon be gone and I would have safe passage on the road. Turning around Cutty Sark yet again the "photographer" jumped out from behind a barrier and snapped a load of photos of me and waved me on my way, I went on I then saw my two running club friends Martin and Mike, a welcome face when you have been out for a few hours so I stopped for a brief chat before they went off about their marathon duties.
The last 6 miles flew by with fleeting conversations with passers by, marshals and Police Officers, the last 2 miles probably the hardest as it is all up hill but the idea of getting breakfast with the others spurred me on such that I glided to the entrance gate to Red Start on the Common at the wonderfully accurate time 8.03 am exactly 4 hours and 30 minutes from when I started, a scarily perfect paced run!
As I arrived I heard a shout "Jerry!" to see James, another nohtaraM ehT walking towards me and then another guy looking lost but we all joined together for the all important walk to the Cutty Sark cafe which had line side views of the marathon unfolding in front of 15 of us as we tucked in to our bacon rolls and full English breakfasts laughing and joking about our night time journeys.
A brilliant run and all the better after a gathering at the end....loved it