Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon 2015

On the weekend, I competed for Welsh Schools for my sixth and last time at the Mini London Marathon.  The race is the British Road Championships and is run over the last three miles of the London Marathon course.

I enjoy competing on the streets of London as there is always such a great atmosphere on marathon day and this year was no different.  When the under 17 girls were called from the starting pen at Old Billingsgate and took to the road for a five minute warm up, I remembered standing on the start line six years ago, a bag of nerves unsure what the race would bring.  This year my nervousness about the race left me and I decided that I was just going to enjoy it.

Team Wales 2015
The start was very fast as usual and I held back slightly making sure to not get carried away in the mad dash and to save something for the end of the race. Heading through the long tunnel in the first mile I passed lots of people and came up onto the shoulder of my old Welsh rival and friend Cari Hughes.  Cari and I have been competing against each other for a number of years now and it is great to have such a rivalry between the girls within Wales.  We pushed each other throughout the remainder of the race, passing other runners and jostling for position.  It was amazing to be running along with a fellow Welsh athlete and the crowds shouting "Go on Wales!" to us.

At Big Ben which is about a mile from the finish, Cari and I were neck and neck fighting for fourth position and it was great to hear my old primary school teacher, Mrs Baynham, cheering me on from the crowds.  Running along Bird Cage Walk towards The Mall the crowds got louder and our pace got quicker.  Rounding the bend into the mall at the 400 metre sign I picked up my pace as Cari was still on my shoulder.  I knew that is was going to come down to a sprint finish between the two of us and I gave it all that I had.  I got ahead of Cari just as another athlete came tearing past us.  I raced after her just overtaking her before the line.  I was pulled over by the officials and I couldn't believe that I had finished fourth overall and third in the regional challenge! I had never finished in the top ten before at this event so I felt very happy to finally achieve this.  Cari finished sixth and is still eligible to compete for Welsh Schools' next year!

I met the rest of the Welsh girls whilst walking along The Mall, it was great to hear how everyone did within the Welsh team and there were some really good performances by our athletes in other age groups.  The Under 15 boys were team of the moment taking team gold in a really strong age group. I can't believe my brother Luke broke 16 minutes and will be back to race in the same age group next year.

After what must have been hundreds of photographs taken by proud parents on Horse Guards Parade it was time to say goodbye to the team and for all of us to go our separate ways and enjoy the rest of the day in London.

After a late breakfast at an Italian Cafe, it was impossible to get anywhere near The Mall when Paula Radcliffe finished her last ever competitive marathon and my family and I had to be content with hearing the commentary over the loud speaker.  Paula Radcliffe is a fantastic role model within the sport and it is amazing that the world record she set in 2003 still stands today; this is a testament to the determination and the dedication that she put into her running.  Paula has and will always inspire me with my running and totally deserved the fitting send off at the London Marathon this year.

Before my family and I left London, we were sure to wait for Justin Baird-Murray from The Metropole Hotel in my home town of Llandrindod Wells to cross the finish line.  The hotel sponsors my brother and I to support our running.  Justin ran the London Marathon raising money for Pancreatic Cancer UK and completed it inside three hours 20 minutes which is 10 minutes quicker than he ran it two years ago!
Luke, Justin and I

Finally, I would just like to say thank you to everyone at Welsh Athletics who has supported me over the years at the Mini London Marathon.  The last six years have been full of amazing experiences and it will be weird not running in the event next year.  Also thank you to all my family, friends and team mates that have been with me each year and also to all the strangers that have cheered me on!  Good luck to all the athletes that compete in both the London Mini Marathon and the full Marathon in the future.  One day I hope to run the full marathon; although I'm not sure yet if this will be competitively or just for fun!

Now time to get running up some big hills ready for the mountain running season!

No comments:

Post a Comment