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Let’s get the depressing bit out of the way first. A few years ago my granddad passed away from pancreatic cancer. The man was a legend; he opened the first LloydsTSB bank in my home town of deepest darkest Colchester, famously protected a pregnant woman from an armed man and was a local hero. He was also my hero.

When he passed away I was devastated, and in a moment fuelled by grief and maybe a glass (bottle) of wine, I signed up to run the London Marathon for a male cancer charity called Orchid. Some laughed; the rest thought I would simply keel over half way through. After all, I was a good 18 stone and when I ran I looked like an asthmatic lava lamp.

Training, though, worked wonders; I dropped almost four stone and three waist sizes, and I ran the event. But I couldn’t stop there; the following year I ran Brighton Marathon, the year after that I ran Milton Keynes and this year I’ll be doing MK again with a splattering of halves around it. However I remain gutted that I am not running London this time around.

London Marathon is like no other. London is where it happens. We read in the press about London being a boiling pot of cultures; we read about the crime, the awful transport system, the pollution and the endless, endless politics. But rarely do we read about the crowds on marathon day. From start-to-finish, the crowds are five deep, with every person offering sweets, food, water, drinks, beer and support. I simply couldn’t have got through it if it hadn’t have been for the random woman yelling ‘RUN YOU CRAZY SEXY B*****D, RUUUNNNN!’ We don’t read about the packed shops offering free drinks and food to spectators and runners. Or the houses lined with people having parties in their front garden and offering barbecues to random strangers. London comes alive during the marathon. And THAT’S the London I love.
So this weekend I will be training all weekend for my marathon, while the 100,000-odd runners in London will be at the end of their training schedules and will be pounding the roads and pavements of our nation’s capital. When I run, I’ll be in my own little world; but I’ll wish I was in London. There’s always next year but until then, good luck to all the runners from all of us here at Publicity Engineers !

by Toby Waltham