This year’s London Marathon was met with perfect weather conditions for runners and a great deal of excited anticipation throughout the City. Londoners, beset by Brexit blues in recent months, needed a reason to cheer and they certainly found it on Marathon day. Thousands of spectators and hundreds of charities, from Save the Children to Save the Bees were lining the route, cheering on courageous runners raising money for extraordinary and life-changing causes. As ever, people from around the world were there, participating and supporting loved ones on their epic feat of running 26.2 miles in one go (wow).
Reflexation Therapy was there this year as part of the LSSM (London School of Sports Massage) effort to provide soft tissue therapists for 14 charities and their hundreds of runners. I was privileged to offer post-event therapy treatments for Team Tommy’s runners. Tommy’s is a baby charity funding research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. Tommy’s’ brave and brilliant runners were treated to a festive reception at Mabel’s cocktail bar in Covent Garden, only a short walk from the finish line (easier to say if you haven’t run 26 miles, perhaps). We set up therapy couches in a bar area adjacent to the main hubbub of Tommy’s staff and families celebrating with their runners, and worked our way through a cheerful but weary queue of very tired legs in need of rest and recovery! It was touching to hear the runners’ stories and in many cases to see and hear their precious little ones nearby; families proud that they’re raising money for a cause that means the world to them.
Before post-event therapy work started I watched the first runners going past Cleopatra’s Needle, just past mile 25. It was exciting to soak up the London Marathon atmosphere and see extraordinary elite athletes, seemingly taking it in their stride, followed later by many more fighting with all their heart, body and soul against wrecked hamstrings and pure exhaustion in the last mile. To one side of me the St John’s Ambulance crew were busy at the side-lines offering immediate help to those with rebellious hamstrings, getting stuck runners to relax and release painful muscles with simple exercises so that they could stay in the race. On the other side of me Dementia Revolution supporters were having a great time, certainly making for the noisiest charity on the Embankment and one of the most well-represented in terms of runners.
I was fortunate to spot a Team Tommy’s frontrunner go past around the 3 hour mark (good job!) and several other Tommy’s runners cut a great pace. Perhaps the best fancy dress costumes I saw among the front runners were a man dressed in a wedding dress (Cancer Research) and another dressed head to foot as a bee, flying along to raise money for our precious bees in danger. Among the Cornish runners, I spotted mighty members of Carn Runners and Hayle Runners powering along and I know that my home town club of Falmouth Road Runners, and of course the epic Cornwall AC were represented too. Although it’s not easy to spot everyone hurtling by in the last mile, one runner for Pancreatic Cancer UK caught my eye as he ran by, the back of his top aptly reading, “Pancreatic Cancer is tough. So am I.”
The toughness and determination of all the charity runners that we worked with at the London Marathon was both moving and humbling and we hope that after their post-event soft tissue treatments, a few shattered legs swiftly started to feel a lot better. It was touching to hear one runners say she felt she had “a new pair of legs” after her treatment! As a therapist I certainly learned a lot from the experience myself and even after giving treatments for nearly 5 hours solid I can imagine coming back for more another year! I wasn’t quite inspired to run a marathon myself, but I was inspired to move forwards more courageously with the things I do best, that make me “me”, and the sports that I love to do. I’m thinking of committing to some short running races and overcoming my fears for what (if I do indeed overcome said fears) will be my second performance of aerial acrobatics at my circus gala in Penzance this autumn. Watch this space…
Update: I ran my first 5K a month after the 2019 London Marathon and did my second aerial silks performance at the Acorn Theatre in Penzance in November 2019. Thanks all those London Marathon runners for a dose of fear-busting inspiration.
A Feature Article version of this blog was published in the ISRM Newsletter Issue 36 October 2019. You can view it here: ISRM_Newsletter_Feature.