A while ago the good lady wife won a place in the Virgin London Marathon for 2014. She failed in the annual ballot but then entered a competition on a bottle of Lucozade Sport and won it. This meant deferring her place in the Manchester Marathon until 2015.
Running London requires at least two trips down the smoke – one to visit the Expo to pick up your number and one to actually run the race. We didn’t fancy consecutive days so seeing as the race was during the kids’ Easter break we decided to go down on Friday and Sunday. The kids didn’t come to the race but did come to the Expo with us.
So on the Friday morning we all got up nice and early and headed over to MK Station for the short hop down to Euston. From there we took the tube round to Bank and then the DLR over to the Expo, which was being held at the ExCeL. I’d never actually been out this way before and it’s not quite what I expected, especially the part where you approach and pass Canary Wharf and the train runs on some elevated sections. It’s all very big and modern. And, if you look the right way, you can see the ArcelorMittal_Orbit over at the Olympic Park. All very impressive and architectural.
At the ExCeL itself we joined what felt like a bit of a crush coming off the train but once we got inside the building our lack of concern for all things commercial and the relatively early time of the morning meant that we managed to get in fairly quickly and Kas had her entry pack before you could say “discombobulation”
OK, maybe not that quickly, but quicker than I was expecting.
Just inside the entrance was a great big carved out “London” that participants were invited to sign. It was also a challenge trying to find where anyone else from our club had signed it.
We did a bit of shopping, partly to acquire some t-shirts for the kids bearing a bold statement about “Mummy’s running the London Marathon” – it had to be done.
While we were in there we also found Julie, who was at the Expo on the marketing stand for the MK Marathon.
We also found the guy who makes the nice medal hangers we have at home, found the NSPCC stand as Kas was running for them, and spent some time looking at nutrition products.
We also made the necessary trip to the Lucozade Sport suite as Kas had a short appointment with them for marketing purposes, seeing as they’d paid for her entry and clothing and supplied a not insubstantial quantity of refreshing beverages over the past few months.
We also went to find the bit where you could have you portrait taken and printed immediately, which we did as a group, like you do.
All in all we probably only spent and hour and a half in there.
Having done that we needed to find a few things to fill some time before going “up west”, so we walked around a bit of Victoria Dock and tried to find a cache, but it was inaccessible due to building work.
At this point we saw a little plane fly right over us on its way into City Airport and at this point we seemed communally to try to use as many different types of transport as possible while we were here. Well, so far we’d done cars, mainline trains, tube trains and the DLR. Next up we spied the impressive looking Emirates Air Line from ExCeL over to the O2 and decided we had to give it a go. It was as close as we were going to get to flying.
I have to say it’s not the cheapest way of getting from A to B but it is one of the more spectacular ways. It travels about 90m above the river level and gives great views all around on a clear day.
Once we got into Greenwich we took a quick look at the time and decided we needed to get a move on up to the West End, and pondered on the best way. One option that seemed to be available was to catch a river bus up to County Hall and leg it from there. Well it was a nice day and it added another means of transport, so why not ?
The river bus was fully enclosed and a bit bigger than maybe I was expecting, and a pleasant experience, especially when the kids raided the snack bar.
The river bus parked up by the London Eye and by now we were a bit tight for time for our appointment with Happy Hunter HP20 for a bit of urban geocaching. We’d agreed to meet him somewhere near Westminster Abbey, where there is a rather special church micro (CM4000) to have a go at. The girls were feeling a bit the worse for wear just here so we left them chilling on some grass outside the Abbey while myself and HHHP20 went off to find the church micro cache and a handful of others in the area.
After coffee we mooched in the Square for a bit before agreeing (again) that myself and HHHP20 could go for a quick walk to do a handful of caches while Kas and the girls were chilling, drawing, sketching and generally not doing anything involving physical exertion. One of the caches we did (Nightmare (not) on Downing Street) was a comfortable walk from here, but I can’t say where because this would be giving the game away. It wasn’t far though. We also returned to a couple of virtuals just south of Trafalgar Square that I’d failed to log the previous year when I’d forgotten to take the required photos.
By the time we got back to the Square it was time for HHHP20 to scoot off elsewhere and for us to head home. We’d been up a long time and the girls were getting tired.
We walked up towards Leicester Square, as we had a requirement to buy some touristy stuff for the girls, and we took the opportunity to grab some food in one of the many chain restaurants up there, Garfunkel’s, I think.
And from there it was a matter of grabbing the Northern Line back up to Euston and getting the train home. What a busy day.
On the Saturday we were joined by Dennis and Linda, who’d agreed to come down and look after the girls on both Saturday and Sunday nights. This made our lives very easy, especially when it came to Sunday morning.
Oh dear. Sunday morning ! We had an appointment with a coach leaving Stantonbury before 6am which was going to drop us off in Greenwich Park in time for the race start. We stopped at South Mimms Services on the way down for a coffee and the bus took us into London down the M11, past the Olympic Park and through the Rotherhithe Tunnel. We arrived in good time although the bus had to drop us off a short hike from anywhere useful. We had a large group from our running club on the bus so we had a photoshoot before I said goodbye to Kas and set off on my caching day, while Kas prepped herself and started her little run. In truth I have no idea what goes through her mind on such a long run and will probably never understand, much in the same way as she probably wouldn’t understand why I spend so long looking for bits of tupperware in the countryside, but you can get a glimpse of her mindset in her London Marathon: Dreaming Big post. The rest of this post is unashamedly about my day of caching.
This began with a church micro in Greenwich Park ( CM3711 ) and proceeded with a bunch of traditional caches and virtuals in and around Greenwich. At one point I managed to get myself a little bit lost and more than a little frustrated with the number of people around, as I had to queue to get into the Cutty Sark DLR Station so that I could ride one stop to Greenwich Station just so that I could get underneath the marathon course.
The fourth of these involved a walk under the Greenwich Foot Tunnel to the north side of the river and the Isle of Dogs. Whilst I was up here I checked my watch and guessed it was about time to go wife spotting. I tried a roadside spot on the Isle of Dogs just west of Millwall Park. I 100% failed to spot Kas. I saw a bunch of other Redway Runners but not Kas. It turned out that she was having a bit of a nightmare and was by this point a long way behind her original target, but I wasn’t to know this. What I also didn’t know was exactly whereabouts on the course I was, so picking where I should have been and when was tricky.
There reached a point where it occurred to me that it would be a tight run thing in a race between Kas finishing the course on London roads and me trying to get to Westminster on public transport on marathon day.
Kas had got there before me but then had spent ages getting through the finish funnel and it took us a while to meet up, before going into the NSPCC hospitality suite for a drink and a sit down. Kas had finished in 4 hours and 12 minutes, give or take, and looked both tired and elated at the same time. A fantastic effort despite being a bit behind plan.
It took a bit of effort to get 400 metres up the road to meet our bus on Haymarket but from there it was relatively painless getting home again, and the car was where we’d left it, as was everything else.
When we got home we had a bit of a clean up and then went up the town centre to meet some other Redway Runners for tea at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen, who were foolishly offering a free burger and small bottle of Prosecco for anyone carrying a London Marathon finisher’s medal, which meant about 8 of our party of 12. Bargain ! Although apart from us it was surprisingly quiet in there.