I finally gained the club place for this marathon after about 7 years of trying. I had already entered Manchester for the following week, but quickly changed my plans. The last three marathons I ran were all the Eryri (Snowdonia).

The thing about London , if you buy into it, is that it is a massive occasion, an iconic race, people book the weekend miles in advance, hoping they will be one of the 500, 000 ballot entries to gain a place. I’ve realised that I was a bit bah humbug and actually preferred the turn-up-five-minutes-before-the-start of the Eryri marathon.

London this year was full of extra rules due to COVID. You couldn’t leave any baggage, which made it hard to run without an assistant. There were also start waves; this meant there was no sense of being paced or trying to pick people off as you had no idea when they started. There were no formal pacers, so it all felt a little uncertain.

The crowds were certainly loud and supportive, something runners always comment upon and love. Apparently the crowds were down to half a million this year, rather than the usual 750, 000, but my God, it still was massive to me. The course has its iconic moments, but the majority is winding round parts of east London you would never normally frequent.

I found it hard running from the start, the unedifying flat tarmac (hey, I like my roads!) stretched on and on. When the sign came for 600m left, I felt no joy, just a “thank God” moment. I swayed through the finish in 3.52.13, a passable good for age time, but a little disappointing to me.

In summary, I want to do it again knowing now what to expect. Hopefully I will get a GFA place for next year. I prefer the tranquility and iconic beauty of the Eryri marathon and its elevation. I don’t think I am a good responder to crowds (I’m definitely not a high fiving runner) and would happily run a marathon in solitude. Training-wise, I should have done all my long runs on tarmac, not trail. But most importantly, thanks NLFR for giving me the place this year!

Lisa Rudkin