Surrounded by so Great a Cloud of Witnesses

The day has come and gone, the marathon has passed and I have succeeded in completing the course - Whew!

Firstly, I want to say a very big thanks to everyone who has supported me in every way through all the training and on the big day.  I am very pleased that I was able to complete the course and my great hope and prayer for the day was that in all things, God would be glorified. I continue to pray that now as extra donations continue to come in and as I speak to people who are all asking how it went.

I have had so many thoughts surrounding the day that I won't bore you with all of them, but I will write about the event to give you some idea of how things went and give you a little insight into the day.

On Sunday morning, I travelled up from Kent where I had been staying with family for the weekend with my wife, mother-in-law and 5 week old daughter who were coming to support me.  The three boys were staying with their granny and other family and taking glimpses on the TV through the day to try and see me.

The train was delayed in to London, so by the time we had changed onto another train at London  Bridge headed for Maze Hill, changed on the train...

Togging up on the train

I had followed signs to the Red Start...

 Red Start

stowed my bag on the truck...
Kit truck

and set off for the start, the race was just under way. Don't panic, though, it takes a looooonnnggg time for 35K people to start, even if they are on three different starts. At that point, there were still runners sitting on benches in the park, stretching, going to the toilet etc. because they obviously knew from past experience that it takes 23 miles for the pack to break up a bit.

Walking start

If you can see the blue shirt behind the guy with the yellow shirt, that's me.

The pack was very thick and we walked for 12 minutes before reaching the start line. I had the idea in my head that after the first few miles that it would break up a bit and I'd be able to get into my stride, but it was a bit like running on a treadmill which is too short for your legs or driving in a traffic jam - you ain't going nowhere fast. The density of people only really started to ease coming back along the Embankment past 22 miles when lots of people were walking and the road was nice and wide.

There was one time when everyone slowed down to a walk during the race as there just wasn't space to run, but even when there were two lanes of road, getting past people was very difficult as they tended to run in groups although plenty of people managed to get passed me :-)

My cheering party was stationed just before the 12 mile mark and I managed to see them although they didn't get a picture of me at that point with all the masses of people around.

This is what the runners looked like at that point:
12 miles

I was doing okay at this point although I was feeling very cramped - not in my muscles, but in the way I needed to run to avoid tripping on people who were trying to cut through or people who were dropped their drinks, phone, MP3 etc but that is part of the deal I suppose.

Through the docklands, I walked past a number of the drinks stations, just giving my legs a break and then once we were were back on a straight road back along the embankment, the pack eased up, notably after Charing Cross where I felt for the first time that I could actually run properly.

The number of people spectating and cheering us on was astounding. If you think about a route of 26 miles or 42 kms and then line it with an average of 3 people deep on both sides of the road packed next to one another, you will get an idea. There were people hanging off bridges and roofs and flyovers and balconies. People pressing in to get a glimpse of the runners as they shuffled past.

Derek Prince used to say, "This is so vivid to me..." when he spoke of a verse of Scripture which the Lord had illuminated for him. Well, I was often reminded of Hebrews 12:1 which says, "Therefore (read chapter 11 of Hebrews to find out what its there for) since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." When I considered this picture of saints who are cheering me and every one of us on in the race of faith and then I looked at the crowd which was at times up to about 10 people deep, I was deeply overwhelmed.  As the Scripture in Hebrews goes on to say, "Let consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men and not grow weary and lose heart"

I finished in the Mall in 4:34:20
Finished and then walked the mile of The Mall to retrieve my bag, get my goody back with some refreshments in it and find my family which was a very welcome sight.

P  N

Peter and Keren

What most people want to know is: How do you feel now?  Well, two days after the event, my legs are a bit stiff and I have some blisters on my feet, but I'm fine and looking forward to a run in the next few days.

It was a good day and I am sure that I will continue to mine the day for gems of experience in the months that lie ahead.

Thanks again for all your support.
Every blessing
Peter, and of course, I write on behalf of all those who will receive the benefit of the funds raised, the children and widows in Ethiopia.

Peter Lindop, 27/04/2009