Marathon (Wo)Man

I just want to say a vaguely impersonal, yet none-the-less heartfelt, thank you to everyone who has supported my beloved daughter Kimberly in her attempt to help the homeless, by running around London yesterday, in a giant circle.

She started London Marathon Day being forced-fed porridge, chock filled with bananas for potassium, Lady C’s honey for energy, blueberries for colour and nuts for something good which momentarily escapes me. And, with every mouthful, she assured us ‘never again’.  She’s been looking forward to this day for months, mostly, I think, so that she can stop spending so much of her free time running ever-increasing distances. We’ve also been looking forward to it. Mostly so we can stop buying her new trainers to run around in.

Rather late, she set off to the starting point, somewhere in the depths of southeast London. Shortly thereafter we  started off for our viewing point, on our bikes. A mere two hours and 15 miles later (Tom had mapped out a seriously insane, round-about way to get where we were going, which involved going west and north before heading south and east. The policeman who wanted to give me a fine for cycling through Kensington Gardens agreed that it was a bit off the beaten path for people heading off to watch the marathon). Anyway, hours later, and without a fine (an American accent and the words ‘I’m so sorry Officer. I’ve never been here before’ worked wonders) we were stationed in sunny Shadwell and we settled down to wait…and wait…and wait. We didn’t see Kimberly as she passed the 12 mile mark on the other side of the road. We did, however, see Mo Farrah as he streaked past the 21 mile mark, on our side. It was exciting, but I would have preferred to see my daughter.

We also didn’t see her as she made it past 21 miles. I don’t know why. We were certainly standing there long enough, and watching everyone who passed. We saw the two guys dressed as a camel, and running 26.2 miles, one behind the other. We saw the man with two blades for legs absolutely flying by. We saw an entire marching band run – well, march – past. Playing. We saw more rhinos than a person normally sees in the course of a day. We saw a few guys go past in thongs. With their running numbers written on their chests. One of them wasn’t too bad. The others needed to rethink the look. We saw Elvis, who at 12 miles was working the crowd, saying ‘Thank you, thank you very much’ every few seconds. We also saw him at 21 miles, when he was concentrating more on breathing than on connecting with his fans. We saw the fit, the fat, the serious, the funny, the crazies and the brave. And the brave crazies.  And the crazy brave. And everyone we were standing with, with whom by this time we were very good friends, agreed that we were watching humanity at its best. Pushing themselves beyond their limits. Doing some good for others while achieving some goals for themselves. And we congratulated ourselves on our abilities to stand there, for hours, shouting out non-stop encouragement to everyone who ran by. And to those who limped by. And especially to those who stood there in front of us, absolutely still, looking dazed.

An hour or so after she had undoubtedly passed by, unseen, we suddenly realised that we were no longer watching people who could actually run (Kimberly, I have no idea how or why, is beautiful to watch) and so we got back on our (blasted) bikes and headed for the finish line. Which was swamped. Everyone who had finished, or had supported someone who had finished, or was looking for someone who had finished, or not yet finished, or who had nothing better to do on a sunny day, was there. Milling around. We spent an hour shuffling along in a giant crowd, going somewhat in the direction of the Meet and Greet area. A-C section. Sadly for us, we were shuffling along behind a toddler, and unhappy toddler, held face-high by his father. I admit that I felt like crying, loudly, by this point too. Unlike the toddler, I restrained myself.

But eventually we were reunited with our Marathon runner, who was bedecked in an enormous smile and two medals – one from the marathon itself and one from the grateful charity for which she ran, and you supported. And she told us how her goal had been 4:30 but how she had done it in 4:23:01. She was ecstatic, and looked like she had just been out for a stroll around the park. The adrenaline was obviously still kicking in. The aches and pains were to come. At least ours, I don’t know about hers.


And then she said those dreaded words…’I can go faster next year’.

As we got back on our bikes and began the tediously long journey home, I thought about that. And I realised that I was proud of her. Very proud of her. Some people never get up off the couch. Some people make excuses for why they can’t do things. Some people just do it. And then want to do it better. I just wish I had seen her doing it.

I don’t know where she came from, but I’m glad she’s here.

And, I’m thankful for your support in helping her achieve her goals. Without you, she couldn’t have done it. Without you, she can’t do it better next year…

You have been warned.

And, just in case you haven’t supported her yet but would like to, the place to go is:

With thanks,

Not Leo Tolstoy (aka Eileen Riley)


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4 Responses to Marathon (Wo)Man

  1. Joanne Murphy says:

    Dear Eileen,  so impressed!  We watched the Vienna marathon the same day, not at all like the spirited London event.  I’ve missed your posts, not sure if I’m off your list or you’re taking a break.  Either way, keep me up to date, I love your blog.  Read anything good lately?  I’ve gone back to reading favourite classics mostly, but am about to start The Luminaries.  Read The Goldfinch this winter, found it annoying in large part but somehow also couldn’t stop reading it either, rather like stupid magazines in the dentist’s waiting room.  Anyway, hope spring has sprung in London and that all is well.  xo Jo


  2. mdcs2011 says:

    Dear Eileen

    Having arrived back from Zim on Sunday, I forgot that it was Marathon Day and that Kimberley was running. Abject apologies. I will “post-sponsor”. Please remind me. I wish I could do it again, run the Marathon, I mean, and that I had done it when I was younger. It was a marvellous experience.

    Best wishes


  3. Eileen Riley says:

    I didn’t know you have run the Marathon. Well done you. But, why can’t you do it again? We can form a LATV team, complete with team t-shirts!

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