Training for a marathon is (I have it on good authority), gruelling in the extreme. Training in the first few months of year in London, calls for running in the dark, the cold, the slush, snow, rain, fog. You name it. My intrepid, youngest sister, Lindsey, teacher, mother-of-two young children, athlete extraordinaire, runs the London Marathon, on Sunday, April 13th, 2014.
This is a photo of Lindsey's feet after once such training run. Lindsey's very glam in her usual guise, but I'm sure she won't mind me sharing her instagram selfie-snap.
I almost feel like I'll be running with Lindsey this time. A continent apart, I've never seen her run a marathon, though she has a few under her belt. This time, though, I will be there in person, on the sidelines, cheering her on.
Lindsey is running what she says will be her final marathon (how many runners, say that?) in memory of our late nephew, Teddy, who passed away in Melbourne, Australia, to the heartbreak of his parents and our family, last year. Out of the darkness, Team Teddy, an International circle of caring friends, family and coworkers, emerged and continues to honor a little boy's brave and beautiful spirit, in the most uplifting way, raising tens of thousands for easing the suffering of children around the world with serious illness.
Click here for Lindsey's fundraising page. Monies raised by Lindsey's London Marathon run will be directed to UK-based heart kids foundations.
The London Marathon course is relatively ﬂat and fast. It starts in Blackheath, heads east through Charlton and Woolwich for three miles, turns west to pass through Greenwich and round the Cutty Sark ship between six and seven miles. It crosses the River Thames at Tower Bridge just before half way then loops around the east end of London, through Mudchute and Docklands, before heading west again along The Highway and Victoria Embankment to Parliament Square, Birdcage Walk and the ﬁnal corner in front of Buckingham Palace.
The ﬁrst London Marathon in 1981 ﬁnished on Constitution Hill between Green Park and Buckingham Palace. From 1982 until 1993 the race ﬁnished on Westminster Bridge. But in 1994 repair work to the bridge meant the ﬁnish line was moved to The Mall where it has remained ever since.
An Historical Jog Around London’s 26.2 Miles:
Mile 3 Runners pass the Woolwich Royal Artillery Barracks which has the longest Georgian facade in Britain. This was one of three 2012 Olympic Games venues in Greenwich borough.
Mile 6 On the runners’ left is Inigo Jones’ Queen’s House built in 1616 for Anne of Denmark, James I’s wife. On their right is Christopher Wren’s spectacular architectural creation, the Royal Naval Hospital. Runners pass prime meridian in front of the National Maritime Museum, which was the start line for the Tour de France in July 2007.
Mile 6.5 The runners loop around the Cutty Sark, the famous tea clipper built in 1869, which held the record for the fastest loaded voyage from Australia to London carrying wool.
Mile 8.5 Runners reach Surrey Docks and, for the ﬁrst time, the London Docklands area. This was the only dock complex built south of the river Thames. The ﬁrst dock opened in the early 1700s and several more were built between 1807 and 1926. Only two of the docks survived a programme of in-ﬁlling in the 1970s before the Docklands Development Corporation was set up in 1981.
Mile 9.5-10 The route passes Greenland Dock and new residential areas, as well as the Surrey Docks City Farm and the four star Holiday Inn. This is next to Nelson House, built in 1740 as the home of a wealthy ship-builder.
Mile 10.5 The route passes within 250 metres of the Mayﬂower public house. It was here that the Pilgrim Fathers originally assembled to set sail for America. They ran out of money and the ship was moved to Plymouth to avoid mooring dues.
Mile 12 As the runners approach Tower Bridge they pass by Butlers’ Wharf, an old warehouse converted into business ofﬁces, apartments, Sir Terence Conran’s ‘Gastrodrome’ and the Design Museum. Tower Bridge was built in 1894. All the original machinery for raising and lowering the drawbridge is still in place. It has never once failed to raise the 1,000 ton bascules.
Miles 13-14 Once over Tower Bridge, the course turns eastwards along The Highway towards Docklands, passing St George-in-the-East (built as a result of the 1711 Coal Tax and designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor). The Highway was formerly known as the Ratcliffe Highway and was inhabited by sailors. The literary ﬁgure Thomas de Quincey wrote in 1827 that the Ratcliffe Highway was a “public thoroughfare in the most chaotic quarter of eastern, or nautical, London”.
Mile 14 The route passes near the western entrance of the mile-long Limehouse Link Road Tunnel (opened May 1993), built by the London Docklands Development Corporation under Limehouse Basin, home of the Cruising Association. It links through to the Isle of Dogs. Just after mile 14 the route passes St Anne’s Church, designed by Hawksmoor and built between 1712 and 1730. The church has been extensively refurbished over recent years with money from the LDDC. The herring gull sculpture on Narrow Street is by artist Jane Ackroyd. To the right is the Grapes pub,
a listed building constructed in 1720 which was originally a tavern serving the workers on the Limehouse basin. There are unsavoury stories about the antics of watermen in the pubs along this stretch. As a child, the author Charles Dickens was made to stand on tables and sing to the customers.
Mile 15 Runners pass under Westferry Circus and on to Westferry Road which takes them down to the tip of the Isle of Dogs peninsular, originally known as Stepney Marsh. Dykes and windmills were constructed by Dutch engineers in the 17th century to drain the marsh. The earliest reference to the area as the Isle of Dogs is on a map of 1588. It was given the name because King Henry VIII kept his hunting dogs there.
Mile 16 East Ferry Road is on an area of the peninsular called Mudchute, formed in the 1840s from the spoils of the Millwall dock excavation. Silt from its channels and waterways was dumped on nearby land, creating a “Mudchute”. It is now home to the biggest inner city farm in Europe.
Mile 18 Competitors passing by the City Pride pub, sadly now closed, can see runners still heading east three miles behind them on the other side of the building.
Mile 19 Runners pass the base of the 800ft tower, One Canada Square, sited at the centre of Canary Wharf, one of the largest single business developments in the world. The tower is ﬂanked by the HSBC and Citigroup towers as well as the Barclays HQ building which housed the ofﬁces of Locog, the London 2012 Olympic Games organising commitee. Canary Wharf is built into the West India Dock which opened in 1802. It includes 13.1 million square feet of ofﬁce space and more than 75,000 people work on the estate, including approximately 7,500 people in the main tower itself. Over 200 shops, bars and restaurants are now open in three retail malls.
Mile 22 Past St Katharine’s Dock, with wonderful views of Thomas Telford’s 1828 warehouses, and the Tower of London, the turreted castle-cum-prison founded in 1066 by William the Conqueror and now ofﬁcially known as Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress.
Mile 23-24 Into the City of London, past Billingsgate Market, no longer the ﬁsh market of London but still retaining three feet of perma frost created after centuries of cold stores on the site. Since 2008 this has been where the Mini London Marathon starts.
Mile 24 Cleopatra’s Needle, one of a pair that originally stood at Heliopolis in Egypt. Its twin stands in Central Park, New York, just a few feet from the New York Marathon course. Neither of them has any connection with Cleopatra. On the opposite side of the Thames, runners can see the Southbank Centre, including Festival Hall, the National Theatre, Haywards Gallery and the National Film Theatre. Further on is County Hall, once home of the Greater London Council, and the London Eye.
Mile 25 Up ahead is Parliament Square and Big Ben, a sign that the race is almost over. There is now just a mile to go as runners turn right into Great George Street and Birdcage Walk.
Mile 26 The runners turn past Buckingham Palace to reach the ﬁnish in London’s great ceremonial avenue, The Mall.