My experience - London marathon 2019

Anagha Shukla|2nd May 2019

It all started with a whim, around this time last year. Or at least, Simon Young - our comercial director, had the crazy idea of forming a BLH London Marathon team. When that email came around, I signed up, most recklessly. All I knew was that I wanted to run one in my lifetime, and this was my golden chance.

In the original team of eight who signed up, I think only two of us had done full marathons. Some had done half marathons. I had officially only run a few 5Ks!

Right from the moment we set foot on the 6.54 train from Colchester, we could feel the buzz. The train was packed with runners and their families holding motivational posters for their loved ones. I travelled with my 17-year-old daughter who gave me plenty of pep talks and positive encouragement throughout the journey. A definite role reversal!

In Blackheath, the starting point of the marathon, bins were overflowing with bananas and Lucozade bottles. The morning party had begun. Runners were kitted up in the coolest running gear – multi-coloured track pants, suits, tea cups, rhinos, unicorns, fairies, a life-size spiderman hoisted on shoulders, dinosaurs, and much more! I thought to myself at least, I don't have to lug additional baggage across my 26.2 mile odyssey.

I cannot put in to words how amazing the crowd was in London. I was just an ordinary woman who had only done a 5K and kids were holding out their tiny palms to high five me, as though I was a sporting legend! There were rock bands singing, drums rolling, bagpipes playing and live bhangra dancers dancing (I couldn’t help doing my bhangra moves whilst running). Who needs a playlist when the people of London are out there cheering for you?! The atmosphere was simply electric and one could not help be motivated to run.

There were some really funny posters I spotted: “You make Brexit look fast” or “You run better than our government” or “I have been training really hard to hold this poster for you”.

I had a great crew with me; my brother-in-law, (who has run marathons across the world ) flew down from India the day before just to cheer me, and Alam, my husband ran with me at around 27K when I was struggling a bit. My five-year-old son had ear-to-ear smiles every time he saw his Mum, despite the fact they had been running from pillar to post, through the crazy crowds just to catch a glimpse of me.

The sights that I was sane enough to enjoy were the Greenwich Museum, the Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf and Buckingham Palace, of course!

There were complete strangers trying to read and scream my name (Anagha) in time. I applauded every time someone did, it made me so emotional. But most importantly, I can’t begin to tell how very energising it was to spot a familiar face in the crowds. It was like a triple-power SIS gel shot. It was so awesome to see fellow BLH colleagues including Chris and his daughter on Tower Bridge and in the last mile, Simon, Ankita, Ditte and Emily. Thank you for being there!

Most importantly, I want to thank each one of our awesome BLH staff, for sponsoring me and for your words of encouragement. You all have supported me throughout this entire journey. It’s teamwork and our spirit of camaraderie that gets us through the toughest of things – whether it’s a pitch, a difficult project or a fundraiser. Team BLH rocks!

Thanks Simon once again for not just dreaming this, but for making sure each one of us had a place, and for seeing that we trained hard enough, did our half marathons and long-distance runs and for giving us kudos on Strava every time we did.

My marathon colleagues Adrian and Dave killed it, in 3.41 and 4.48, respectively. So proud of you, guys! Me in 6.30.

And I for one am looking forward to the 2020 Marathon adventure! 


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