London Marathon, 23rd April 2023

Maria Dueñas was representing Claremont in the 43rd London Marathon this weekend, the first time it has been run in Spring since before the Covid pandemic. Here’s how she got on:

“This race report starts back in 2022 when I found out I didn’t get a London place through the ballot. Even though I had no place, I decided to book accommodation right away “just in case” I managed to get the Club spot… and I did!

I had a very ambitious goal from the start to try to break 3:30 (the Boston Qualifying time for my age group) even though my PB (3:42:10) was set back in 2018. I followed the Hansons Marathon plan and set myself with an A (3:30), B (3:35), and C (get a PB) goal to keep me motivated throughout training and the race. I really enjoyed this training cycle, especially the long Sunday runs with fellow Claremonters, so thank you guys!!!

Now for race weekend:
After my not so pleasant experience at the Berlin Marathon (way too much sightseeing and tourism prior the race), I decided to take it easy in London. I started Saturday by going to Victoria Dock parkrun for an easy run, followed by the Expo to pick up my number. In the afternoon, I went to the West End to watch a musical and had a very early dinner with a friend.

Race day:
I woke up at 4 am and was too excited to go back to sleep, so I decided to start the day early. I had a relaxing morning and started off toward the start line around 8. I followed the crowd (it was like herding cattle) and arrived at the start area around 9. This gave me enough time to queue for toilets (twice!). My wave opened at 9:52 so I set off to meet the 3:30 pacer and patiently waited for the race to start.

I started with the pacer and ~15 other runners with my same goal. After the 5 km mark, I noticed that the pacer was going faster than advertised and although I felt great, I didn’t want to jeopardise my goal. I decided to leave the pack and run my own race.

The atmosphere and spectators were amazing and kept me motivated. I had friends spectating so I was really excited when I heard my name a few times throughout the course. I hit the 30 km mark with one minute in the bank and felt really strong. The struggle began as soon as I hit 37 km. I’ve always had problematic and extremely tight calves and at this point my right calf started spasming. It was in the verge of cramping so I decided to slow down but that didn’t help. I had sporadic and painful spasms and at km 40 the other calf started doing the same! It was painful and a bit disheartening knowing that I was so close to finishing yet so far. My right calf did cramp but luckily I was able to push through the pain and managed (barely) my A goal: 3:29:58!

The finish was extremely emotional. I was in a lot of discomfort but it was completely worth it. Getting back to the hotel was very painful. A kind soul helped me up a set of stairs while exiting the Finishers area. I wobbled to Picadilly station (no lifts again..) and headed to the hotel to shower, eat, and relax.

Overall, I really enjoyed this race. The organisation was perfect! All the instructions were clear and detailed. The crowds were loud and motivating even though the weather was not very spectator friendly. 10/10 recommend! Now to the next adventure….”

Laurie Johnson -
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