They Did It! Runners Update

Jon Copestake With His London Marathon Finisher’s Medal

They did it!

The BMA running team’s long distance runners have now completed the first round of challenges. Last Sunday, the 30th April saw Owen Pugh complete the Hackney Half Marathon in a super-quick time of 1:34:32.

Previously, on 23rd April, Jon Copestake finished the London Marathon, also with a quick time, of 3:41:20. He was ranked 8,489th, from over 39,000 finishers, placing him in the top quartile of participants.

On 9th April two of our runners participated in the Brighton Marathon. Mark Whyte made a time of 4:43:24 and Karen O’Brien came in at 6:01:54 – two excellent times considering the sweltering heat that weekend!

Two weeks before the Brighton Marathon, Mark Whyte ran the Garioch Half Marathon and on Sunday 21st May he’ll be competing in the Stirling Marathon. May 21st just happens to be Mark’s wedding anniversary and we wish him good luck and congratulations all round!

Mark plans to compete in other running events, over the summer, all culminating with Glen Coe Mountain Marathon in October.

Away from these endurance events BMA also enters teams into the less arduous of long-distance running events. We are currently offering free places for the London 10K, in July, along with Brighton’s 5k ‘Color Run’ event in September. Please contact [email protected] if you’d like to find out more or get yourself registered to compete.

Jon Copestake recounts his experience of running tha London Marathon:

“So on Sunday I managed to complete the Virgin Money London Marathon on behalf of the Bhopal Medical Appeal. Thanks to those who supported me on the day, those who sponsored me and everyone at the Bhopal Medical Appeal for giving me the opportunity and all the encouragement that they did.

“I finished in 3 hours 41 minutes and 20 seconds. I was ranked 8,489th out over 39,000 finishers which put me in the top quartile of participants. I overtook almost a quarter of the field during my run. It was 11 and a half minutes faster than my previous personal best and well inside my target time of 3.45.

“London was my fourth marathon but it was my first *big* marathon and there was nothing that could prepare me for having hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets, shouting my name. It was amazing and, at times, intimidating. Even after I finished the marathon and was limping to the pub for some much-needed refreshments strangers would accost me in the streets saying “well done Jon”. Sometimes it would take a few seconds to register that they were even talking to me.

“I won’t lie or sugarcoat it. It was a tough run. The weather forecast was for perfect running conditions: chilly but not too cold, cloudy but not humid, the possibility of light showers but no sodden downpour. The reality was very different. The sun shined and it was warm, to the delight of the crowd but not the runners. It was probably only about 15 degrees but on the course it felt like 25. By about mile five I had to strip to the waist to take off my compression top and put my vest back on (a complicated manoeuvre when running, but thanks to the group of girls who gave a little whoop when I took my top off). I could have thrown my compression top away but it quickly became useful to mop my sweat. By mile 13 my baseball cap had taken on so much sweat that the peak started dripping.

“Everyone always has the same advice about marathons. “Don’t go off too quick” but in the case of London it’s impossible to heed. Imagine waiting hours then being penned in for half an hour for a race you’ve trained months for. Then being made to slowly walk to the start line before you can even start running. Once you get going you can’t help yourself. The first five miles also includes lot of downhills and lots of slow runners who you need to get around. I found myself sprinting sections needlessly just because I was enjoying myself so much. Hi-fiving kids at the side of the road, singing along to my playlist (especially the Britpop) and just enjoying the moment. When I arrived at the Cutty Sark the sight and sound of the crowd had me pinching myself. This can’t be real.

“I knew this euphoria wouldn’t last and I was right. I’d targeted 3.45 but my pace over the first 10 miles had me closer to a 3.30 finish. I passed the halfway mark on about 1 hour 45 which is actually my second fastest half marathon time in its own right. Not that I regret going off too fast. I made hay while the sun shined but by the time I reached Tower Bridge reality was setting in and from here on in it would be a slog. No more high fives. No more merrily weaving in and out of runners. It was time to get my head down and just keep moving.

“Anyone who has run London will tell you that the darkest, loneliest part of the run is the Isle of Dogs. But knowing this didn’t make it any easier. After Limehouse crowds give way to half empty streets and scattered applause (if you ever want to support friends and family as a spectator this is the place to make sure you get to see them and give them a lift). I spent my run there counting down the miles and focusing on the feet of whoever was in front of me. The good news was that, by mile 19 I knew I’d beaten the hardest part of the course and would finish in my target time. My pace had slipped as expected but it hadn’t fallen off a cliff. Coming into Canary Wharf I got a rush of euphoria when the crowds reappeared, but it was pretty short lived. It was still four miles to the home stretch from Tower Bridge and places like Poplar or Westferry did little to raise my spirits. What did raise my spirits was seeing my family cheer me on when I got to Tower Bridge but now it was time to dig deep for the last few miles. I wish I could say that the crowds inspired me here but I’d be lying. Having people shout my name was sometimes confusing because I thought they might be friends and looked up only to see a sea of strangers in the crowd. I remember running under the bridge at Blackfriars and being relieved to have a break from all the noise.

“By the last two miles the race had taken on a surreal quality. It seemed to be divided between runners in a state of exhaustion and runners who were upping their pace for a strong finish. St John’s Ambulance crews were everywhere tending to those who were injured or had collapsed they did an amazing job because there seemed to be so many casualties. Many runners had simply started walking which I couldn’t even fathom. Why start walking with just two miles to go? I tried to maintain my pace. My legs and lungs were still in the game but mentally it was getting tougher with every step.

“A friend had advised me to soak up the atmosphere on the Mall. So I took my earphones out when I got there but the cacophonous din that hit me made me feel so intimidated that I put my music back on and wished I could turn the volume up to 11. I saw the 800 metres to go sign and thought “nearly there” then I saw the 600 metres to go sign in the distance and thought “no I’m not”. That had to be one of the lowest points of my run.

“With just 200 metres to go those who were still running started sprinting. I tried to join them. I really did. But I had to slow down to normal pace after about 30 yards. Just as someone dressed up as a pint of London Pride sailed past me to finish ahead of me. That was the only fancy dress runner that I remember being overtaken me on the entire course… in the last 100 metres!

“I have a lot to be pleased and proud about from the run. I kept to a decent pace (only a few of my mile splits were outside 9 minutes) and I beat my target time. I also completed one of the biggest and most prestigious marathons in the world. But after I crossed the finishing line it was all I could do to stop myself from either being sick or bursting into tears or both. My trudge through the medal and goody bag stands was slow and dejected. I had nothing left… I couldn’t even feel happy. It took until I’d drunk my first glass of celebratory wine to really recover my senses.

“A few hours later, feeling restored, I wandered down to embankment to see if it was still going. It was! The sweeper vans were coming through and the roads were reopening but people were walking towards the finish line, determined to complete. Amazingly several hours after the start there was still a team from the Anthony Nolan Cancer charity cheering every single straggler with the same enthusiasm that they would have for the elite runners. I think that was when I knew that I’d done something really special.

“Thanks again everyone”


Girl with candle Bhopal

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