Superstar Ben's Marathon Run

Superstar Ben's Marathon Run

Marathon Superstar Spark supporter Ben Joyce ran the London Marathon for Spark in October. Here he tells us about the whole gruelling experience - including how the thought of the families he was helping through his generous sponsors kept him going! Spark would like to say a heartfelt thanks to Ben once again for his support - and a big thanks to all the people who sponsored him, as well as his workplace for the generous match-funding.

As I walked through Greenwich Park to the start, feeling considerably fresher than I knew I would a few hours later, the familiar combination of excitement and dread began to take hold. I had a plan for the race in terms of pace and refuelling, but the marathon distance has a habit of rendering such plans redundant, and the fear of the unexpected therefore lurks in the back of your mind...!

I was pleased to see that the weather was virtually perfect – cool, still and overcast, and the new starting configuration, staggering smaller pens of runners over a longer stretch of time, may have been a change enforced by Covid, but it was certainly a welcome innovation from my point of view. In place of the slow trudge to the start line was a brisk walk a few minutes before our allotted slot, after which the hooter prompted us to commence our long journey to The Mall. 

Perhaps the weather contributed to my falling into the classic marathon trap of running the first half of the race too fast, but regardless of the cause, my feeling of confidence as I passed and crossed the most exhilarating landmarks in the first section of the race – the Cutty Sark and Tower Bridge – soon turned to a grim determination to finish come what may. 

The final 8 or 9 miles in particular were tough, but as I battled through the onset of cramp and painful blisters, the knowledge that I was completing the challenge for all of the people that had generously sponsored me, as well as the young people and families that would benefit from the funding, was the main thing that kept me moving forwards. 

I eventually crossed the finish line, exhausted, in front of Buckingham Palace in 4 hours, 28 minutes. 

Not my best time, or my most enjoyable marathon, but still hugely satisfying to make it through 26.2 miles, a satisfaction accentuated by the marvellous sight of the ever-supportive crowds returning to the London streets to urge on friends, families and strangers. 

As I walked through Admiralty Arch a short while later in search of refreshments, my first thought was: ‘Never again!’ This was swiftly followed by: ‘I need to do it again, but faster!’ So hopefully I have one or two more encounters with this famous race left in me...

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