Talkback: Share Your VLM Stories

My name is Alex Milne, I am 20 years old and this was my third (consecutive) London Marathon. The last two I ran went horribly wrong. The first one I was aiming for 3:10, finished in 3:30. The second one I wanted sub 3 and finished in 3:22, with a halfway split of 1:28!

However this one was a totally different story:

The first 10 miles passed fairly quickly and I paced them well (stuck to 5:55 pace which was my aim). I passed halfway in 1:17:48. Even at 15 miles I was feeling great and still on my pace.

By 18 miles I was starting to feel my legs getting heavier, but I could still run at the pace I wanted to. I think the wall hit me at 20.5 miles. It got progressively worse as I got closer to the finish. All my muscles were in pain, my vision was completely blurred and flickering strangely, I was feeling sick and my hands had gone tingly and numb!! I just forced myself not to stop and walk as that was one of the main goals that I had in my head, otherwise I wouldn't have counted it as running the marathon properly.

I eventually crossed the line to my relief in 2:39:26 (my aim was sub 2:45) which was a PB by 43 mins! I half collapsed and had to be looked after by a first aid team for nearly an hour until I had 'recovered'. However, I did get an amazing massage!

All in all, I'm not sure if the amount of pain I went through was worth it, but it's amazing how quickly the mind forgets what happened. I told myself, 'never again', but now I'm not so sure.

I'm very happy with my time and I was the fastest out of all the 18-21 year olds! Still can't believe I did it. One of the best days of my life.



  • My name is Gareth Davies, and I didn't run the London Marathon, but my wife Janet did...and she did superbly well by finishing in 5 and a half hours.  My story is one of a "moan" really.  When she collected her running number, goody bag etc at the Expo on the previous day, the man handing over the goods engaged her in a bit of light chat, and then asked her how far she had run in training.  On hearing that Janet had run 20 miles as her longest run, he said that it wasn't enough!!!  Where do they dig these people up from?  The London Marathon is one of the most fantastic occasions in world sport, with over 35,000 people giving up a lot of time to train and in the most cases raising millions of pounds for vital charities.  Each runner goes through ups and downs during their months of training, and then there is the big day itself, which as a marathon runner myself is approached with a real nervous excitement and energy.  So to have to endure some miserable bloke offering an unecessary comment like that makes me quite angry.  The organisers need to tell volunteers to keep their views to themselves and let the runners enjoy the moment to the full.  Thank you.
  • Hi guys

    Congratulations all! Please send us your stories via this page rather than posting them here - that way, they'll be stored as articles associated with your member profile once they're set live.

    Thanks and all the best for a speedy recovery,


  • Hi Catherine,

    Last year I shared my story and it was published, yet it's not showing in my "articles".


  • My longest run was also 20 miles. I finished in 5.20. Just before the start a seasoned runner asked me how far I'd gone and told him my longest run was 20 miles and he said to me that was plenty. I guess everyone has their own opinion. The fact of the matter is, if you want it enough and you've done enough training for your mental ability to push yourself to complete it, then you will complete it. Well done to your wife, Gareth.
  • Im no runner.............

    I was lucky enough to secure a place in the VLM back in november last year, I have trained up to a 20 mile distance which was acheived with confidence and some energy in the bank. Over the months I have bought the gear, the trainers, the leggings, the shorts to cover the leggings, even a rucksack to carry the essentials. Come race day I felt very confident in my ability to cover the distance within the 4 hour mark however, I decided not to use the gels that I had used on my training runs because they gave me belly ache and associated 'troubles' so thought I would stick to water and kendle mint cake. The first half went well I was taking it nice and slow for a faster second half but then without warning my left leg cramped up. This began to spread from my toes to the hip. Then the right leg cramped up again from the toes to the hip. I have never suffered cramps before and found it almost unbearable and even if I could have suffered the pain my legs simply did not work. I felt spurred on by the crowd (one of whom caught me when both legs went at mile 19) I was determined to complete which I did but well outside of my time. This was both the worst and one of the best days of my life. Thanks to everyone who shouted my name and encouraged me along, thanks especially to those who straightened out my feet and legs when they were twisted below me.

    Im was no runner, but now I have the kit, Ive done the miles and I have a story to tell...... Im a marathon runner and I am hooked. 

  • My name is Louise and this was my first Marathon.  I found the whole experience fantastic.  I knew from August last year that I had a charity place and built my training up gradually from being a complete non-runner through to Sunday in finishing the Marathon in 6:04:39. 

    I had suffered from ITB during the last few weeks of my training and the furthest I had managed was about 14 miles, but I did do this on several occasions, mixed in with 6 and 7 milers every other day or so.  I rested completely for 10 days prior to the Marathon and the ITB didn't kick in until about mile 16.

    My split times were 10 miles - 2hrs, 20 miles 4 and a half hours and finish as above.  This is because I power walked/hopped/hobbled the last nine miles but I was determined to finish.

    I cried as I saw the 800m to go marker and really started sobbing when I went under the 385 yards to go banner, so much so that I was given the best hug ever by the lady who gave me my medal.

    Highlights: Crossing Tower Bridge and the hug from the lady giving out the medals, the fantastic support from the crowds

    Lows:  The pain!  The sticky road surfaces after the gel stations, not nice to run on!

    It's a fantastic feeling and even though the pain was bad, I won't say never again!  I'm now wondering what I could have acheived had my knee held out?!!

  • This was my first London Marathon and I would just like to thank the lady runner who helped me get to the finish I was doing find up to 13 and was on track for a 4.20 finnish. At about 18 I started to lean to one side no pain but felt very unstable when this very kind lady came along side me and started to talk to me and gave me some glucose sweets and got me some water. She then ran with me to the finish which we did in 5.05. If it wasn't for this unselfish runner who gave up her target time and the crowd who shouted that I could do it I would be still runnig now. That is the true spirit of this lady who all I know is she lives in London was 47 has three daughters and her dad is 75 and had also run London thankyou so much hope you get to read this.   From Wendy 3744 running for the Stroke Ass.
  • I hadn't run very far at all prior to my first Marathon (VLM). I wouldn't advise my preparation as I'm sure it can cause long term damage but I managed 4hrs 30mins on true grit and stamina coupled with the thought of the charity I was supporting. Well done to all who completed it in whatever time

     Kevin (8 training runs - 13 miles being the longest)

  • everyone's an expert aren't they!?

    my longest run for the marathon was 21, i finished in 3hr 6mins - this was my first marathon so I was well chuffed.

    your right these people need to keep their opinions to themselves, take it with a pinch of salt - well done to your wife!!!!

  • MACbMACb ✭✭✭

    my longest run was under 22 miles, I only ever did one run over 20 miles too. But I managed a 3h18mins. However, I did struggle in the later stages, so maybe a higher mileage would have helped me, but it may have also fatigued me.

    So I also take peoples advice on board, but we are all different, so what works for one person may well not work for someone else. I guess the more advice we hear the better judgement we can make. But sometimes we learn the hard way.

    A great event for me, a real mixture of emotions, from an odd calm at the start to a elated feeling at half way to a distraught and very tired finish - but I am smilling like never before at the end so I guess I enjoyed the journey.

  • this was my second London marathon. I got to Maze Hill for the 3 quarter of a mile slog up the hill to the Green start. Just as we were about to start the skies darkened and the Heavens opened?! What a joy? The gun was fired at 09:45 and we were off...

    The first mile went with no incident. I was on my race pace of 7:45-8 min/ mile. At 2.5 miles just after Green and Blue starts merged. Someone crossed my path sending me down into the road?! My race was ruined from then on? Although, I knew I had to finish...

    Must say the atmosphere of the London Marathon is magical. The tip ofhaving your name on your vest  really is great motivation. When you hear the crowds cheering your name, egging you on.

    The rain subsided to replaced with increasing temperatures. At every drinks stations I took on the much needed fluids. I continued on through mental strength. Knowing that I had to get to the end. Was only when I got to Parliament Square that I heard a familiar voice of a fellow Ashford & District Road Runner, cheering that helped me get up Birdcage Walk to the Palace. Then above me was the 385yards banner and I knew the finish was in sight. Hoorah!! 26.2 miles later the 1st Virgin london Marathon was completed. With sore feet I made my way back to Trafalgar Square and Charing Cross.

  • Second VLM, worst moment was when I realised that my ill friend's lucky mascot - a small grey elephant named Melanie - had dropped out of my fuel belt somewhere around mile 14 image

    Still managed to take 20 mins off my PB though, so not all bad image

  • Bloody hell! 43 min improvement on your PB! Very well done.
  • Well done to everyone who achieved their goals. This was my first marathon and my sixth "race". I managed to finish in 3hrs 10mins 16secs. I'm very happy with the time I achieved, but how the hell do you train for those last four miles! At 42 years old I think I may get a good for age entry next year.

    On the down side, my feet are killing me, I can only walk down the stairs backwards and trying to get off the bog seat takes me to another level of pain! I was beaten by a lepricorn? but, thankfully, I managed to out run Buzz lightyear and the bloke off Emmerdale in a nappy.

    One final thought. The crowds, all cheering for me. I couldn't have done it without them. Thank you.

  • MACbMACb ✭✭✭

    BB Mk II, sorry to hear that, let's hope you can find Melanie, it's along shot but you never know.

    Moof, excellent time for a first marathon, now I know I was beaten by the baby by 5 mins! I too have issues with going downstairs, people laugh at me at work for walking backwards down them. You are very true about the last 4 miles, I went to pieces, i've never felt like that before. One minute I was cruising and then it just went pear shaped! I wish i'd drunk the energy drinks more often.

  • Thank you very much Sarah.  I remember receiving a similar comment when I ran my first marathon in 2005, and I guess sometimes these people are looking at it from their own perspective. 
  • This was my 1st ever marathon, I'm 29, ran it for charity and at 5'10" and 16 stone 10lbs it was an epic journey for me.

    My longest run during training was 18 miles (completed in 2 hours 50) - which I did twice. I did about five 12-15 miles runs. My last run which was 2 weeks before the marathon was a 13 miler in 1 hour 59 mins. However, 9 days before the marathon I pulled my hamstring playing football.

    On the day I was flying along at approx 10:30 per mile for the first 8 miles, at which point both calves cramped. So for the next 18 miles I couldnt run for more than 2 or 3 minutes at a time without cramping up.

    I'd never had a problem with cramp or blisters throughout any training so for both to happen during the marathon was a real blow - I can only assume my feet getting wet was the cause of the blisters?

    Anyway, I finished the marathon in 6 hours 9 minutes and 1 second....gutted, but at least I finished. There were plenty of people on stretchers on my way round.

    Highs: The lady with "Mac Daddy" written across her bum - simply divine and kept me going for ages. And my 7 mile battle with a big telephone called Dave!

    Lows: Cramp, blisters and the feeling that my day was shattered at 8 miles.
  • What a day, the highs and lows in 5 hours are enough to tire you out let alone running the 26miles. My second time at the London marathon,and had a ball. My wife and I ran together until mile 21 I had gone at mile 19 and everything was going to pot. So I pushed her forward to go get her time 4:46 and I then knew I had to get a wiggle on and make sure she was not there waiting until Monday for me to finish, shufffled round in 4:54 in the end. Funniest moment at mile 22 with a very funny celebrity swearing like a trooper at himself or about the crowd cheering him on with beers in hands, he was at that point where its hurting badly but your not close enough to relax. And then being overtaken by Sir Richard and convoy at mile 23, now that had to spur me on when we got to 400 metres to go and think its only 400 metres give it everything and get past them, and I did, a small achievement but put a huge grin on my face. Greatest marathon ever, and well done to you all, we all get the same shiny medal however long it takes and to somebody out there you are a hero. Well done and roll on May4th when we all apply again image

  • This was my first ever marathon and I was really nervous!  Having pullet my IT band earlier in the year my longest run had been 16 miles!  I was really doubting myself but I stuck to my 10 minute miles and crossed the finish line in 4:30.  I ran the whole way and enjoyed the great atmosphere and the cheering from the crowd!  I am definately a marathon adict and will try to get a place again next year!

    We ll done to everyone, it was amazing!!

  • very inspiring and congrats! Very well done
  • Its  great to see how may first time marathoners are posting here.  I was one too. A guy who at 58 has only been running 2 years prior to which I'd been a couch potato for 20 years! Even when my girls got me running and I got into Half marathons, I always said "no way" to 26.2 miles.  And then I won a place in the Sweatshop/Adidas draw when I never win anything, and my daughters who always win things didn't get in. Imagine the shock!image

    Training had gone pretty well - 2 half marathons, 2 x 18 miles, a 20 and a 21 - except for falling on the tow path of the River Medway 2 weeks before the marathon and damaging my ribs AND going over the edge (I was only saved from going into the river by a large bramble bush and my daughter grabbing my arm!!). But then 3 days before Sunday I went down with the heaviest cold I've had for years! 

    So with all thoughts of a 4:30 finish out of the window I decided to simply enjoy myself. And I had a ball!  What a fantastic time! I interacted with the crowds, stopped and chatted, high fived the kids - it was such a festival atmosphere I never, ever expected to enjoy it so much.  image I got round in 5:59:45, but that was fine, because I'd enjoyed my best day since my daughter's wedding 2 years previously.  Fantastic!  Roll on the ballot on Tuesday and they'd jolly well better give me a place or I'm contacting Channel 4!!!!!

    Highs? Everything.  Lows?  No energy gells when I got to the gell stations.  Most memorable moment? Passing a row of guys having a pee in bushes then catching a glimpse through a gap of a row of bare ladies bottoms! image  Most angry moment? All those bottles of water and energy drink wasted on the ground - that really annoyed me. image  Best moments of all?  Doing it; my supporters; the crowd support; the support from Macmillan Cancer Care, crossing the line; getting my medal; and seeing my wife!  Oh yes, and being able to eat donuts and chocolate again (at least for a few weeks!) 

  • Unbelieveable day, one I'll never forget until next year! My 1st marathon; managed to get round in 3:29. The last 4 miles hurt but well worth it, can't wait until next year to have a crack at 3hrs. A big thanks you to the crowds, you were immense!
  • What an amazing day. My first marathon and managed 3.28.

    High points were definitely the crowd all the way round

    Low point - the start and people starting far further forward than they should have been so slowing down faster runners!

     All in all though a brilliant experience. Will be sure to enter again next year.

  • London was my first attempt over the marathon distance and what a fantastic day I had!

    I was advised to have my name on the front of my shirt and it certainly made all the difference as I was going around.

    The noise at Tower Bridge was unbelievable - it really was a cacophony of sound as we crossed - you could not even hear yourself think!

    One of the many highlights was seeing the men elite athletes going between 21 - 22 miles after 1.45 as I was heading towards 14 miles. I was going along really well at this point.

    I got to mile 15 and things changed. I just did not seem to have the ability to lift my legs! Very strange indeed. I struggled then all the way to 18 miles and then I decided to break the rest of the race into one mile blocks and just kept ticking off the miles one at a time (something that Clive Gott emntioned to me on the Saturday - just run 1 mile 26 times - simple).

    I eventually saw my family (just) at mile 23 and a bit as I was completely in the zone and determined to get to the end.

    I still can not believe that a man almost 47 who only took up running 2 years ago to make up a team to do a 5km run finished his first ever marathon in 3.44.18. However I have a T-shirt and medal to prove that I did. Where's the next marathon?   


  • I ran for the 2nd year in one of the rhino's. thanks to all the runners who were at mile 20-21 "on the way home" who clapped and shouted support to me as i stumbled from mile 13-15 - gave me huge encouragement (and made me cry!)

    Like Wendy says - it's the support of those around you that really help you to then end.

    glad to get my medal at the end and put the rhino out to pasture (til next year!)

     rhino lou

  • Louise, I guess aka 'Rhino Lou'(?!), we were supporting my girlfriends father (70, 1 year after hip replacement, Parkinsons, 49th marathon, got round in just under 7.30 hrs......) and cheered both yourself and Rhino Jo on on many occasions, at least 7 or 8 times, all around the course. You did yourself proud for Save the Rhinos, very well done to you and all the team.

    And you gave us one of the biggest giggles of the day after you passed us on Heron Quays, your little tail was wagging side to side in such a sweet way!

     Best wishes



  • Rhino Lou you were amazing.  You came past temple tube (25 miles) at around 5pm still running and giving it your all.  It was really inspiring to see you giving it everything, 7 hours after the start.  I hope the support we gave you help in some small way.
  • Hi - My name is Beth ( 49 yrs) and this was my first marathon - and my training regime was not brilliant but I did it and I got the medal to prove it, I wont lie it was so much harder than I thought, and I know the time of 6 hours and 20 minutes is nothing compared to some of the times mentioned earlier but it was a day I will never forget, to me the whole experience was awesome. The spectators all around the course plus the other runners all encouraging and gee-ing you on absolutley brilliant.  The stories of the other runners as to why they were doing it, so humbling in some cases and the determination to finish inspring.  I loved it all and whilst I cant see me doing another marathon I will continue with my running. A brilliant day I will never ever forget.
  • It was my first marathon and I absolutely loved it, every single minute.  I decided that I would some raise money for Bliss, the premature baby charity, whilst sitting in the NICU unit with my little premature sick baby 5 years ago.  Well I've done it now.  It wasn't fast, it wasn't pretty and there was a lot of toilet queuing (misjudged water/heat ratio!) but I did it and I am proud. It's a bit of a shame that all my little boys could say when they saw me was "look mummy there's a womble!!!" It is a day I will never forget. 

    Funniest moment: Seeing my husband's face drop when I declared "NY next!"

  • Catherine RW wrote (see)

    Hi guys

    Congratulations all! Please send us your stories via this page rather than posting them here - that way, they'll be stored as articles associated with your member profile once they're set live.

    Thanks and all the best for a speedy recovery,


    Not sure if those above got your message.
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