It’s been a solid start to marathon season for several Alton Runners this year.
Nine club members took part in the recent TCS London Marathon, with many of them reaching their goals of completing a marathon, achieving personal bests and raising a lot of money for their chosen charities.
Lydia Andrews had a ballot place and chose to raise some money for a cause close to her heart, the National Autistic Society.
Lydia said: “My son is currently being fast-tracked for an autism diagnosis, so I decided to raise some funds and awareness for the National Autistic Society.
“I am pleased to report I’ve raised nearly £950 for the charity.
“Before I joined Alton Runners, I didn’t think I would ever be able to complete 26.2 miles.
“I was never going to be the fastest – my aim was to get around the course and tick ‘marathon’ off my bucket list.
“The atmosphere was brilliant. The crowds really do push you to keep going – even in London’s April rain.
“I am over the moon to have completed the marathon – and now I have the medal, and blisters, to prove it!”
Other runners had personal bests in mind. After achieving a good-for-age place last year, Alex Hall hit a much-wanted marathon goal.
Alex said: “I felt really good for 18 miles, then hit a wall.
“My watch ticked over, and seeing the split convinced me to push on.
“My aim was anything under 2hr 50mins, so to finish with 2hr 45mins was an incredible feeling and a whirlwind of emotions.”
Alex also raised £1,426 for St Michael’s Hospice.
Some runners were keeping it in the family.
Andy and Abbie Hook and Abbie’s dad, Andrew Tarrant, ran the marathon after being given club places.
Abbie said: “I was very lucky to get a London Marathon place through Alton Runners, having volunteered at the 2022 marathon helping with the baggage.
“Unfortunately, my training didn’t go to plan as I’ve had a peroneal tendon injury since November 2022, so my training was to try to get round!
“I really enjoyed the first half of the marathon, despite it being heavy rain.
“I knew the Cutty Sark was about a quarter of the way round, and Tower Bridge was halfway, so it was great to count down those milestones!
“The second half was a struggle – but the crowd were fantastic and I was delighted to see Big Ben and then ‘600m to go’ by Buckingham Palace.
“It was a fantastic day – London has been on my bucket list for 12 years, and I’m very grateful to the club for playing a massive part in helping me to tick it off.”
Rachel Walsh raised £2,500 for the charity White Lodge in Chertsey, which provides opportunities for children and adults with various learning disabilities to enable ability.
Rachel said: “London Marathon was an amazing experience.
“Raising money for White Lodge made it even more special, and I’m fortunate to have completed my first marathon here.”
Lisa Lisle also achieved her dream of completing the marathon and raised £4,200 for her chosen charity, Naomi House.
Lisa said: “I enjoyed every single moment, even when the going got tough in the last few miles.
“The crowds are insane, carrying you around every mile.
“I set out with a goal time in mind, but I knew I wanted to enjoy the race too; with a great training plan and moral support, I achieved both.
“It was lovely to find some members of Alton Runners on my baggage lorry, and it set me off crying and hugging everyone.”
Alistair Smith, Sam Larcombe and Richard Taylor achieved sub three-hour marathon times at Manchester Marathon.
Richard crossed the finish line with a minute to spare at 2hr 59min.
He said: “The morning of the race, I bumped into Sam at the bag drop.
“Having run the same event last year, he had some helpful tips about the start process.
“But one thing in particular has stuck with me. He said ‘the halfway point is the 20-mile mark.’
“This nugget of wisdom couldn’t have been more true.
“Those remaining 6.2 miles took as much effort as the first 20.
“I told myself this was going to be my best chance to achieve a sub three-hour time – all I had to do was maintain the pace and the dream would come true.
“It worked! Not only that, but I earned a London 2024 Marathon good-for-age time, more than ten minutes quicker than the qualifying cut-off.”
Other recent marathons include Southampton, completed by John Arbury, and Brighton, completed by Chris Buckle.
Some runners chose to go further afield and get some bonus sunshine.
Sam Larcombe and Andreas Palikiras took part in the Seville Marathon in February under testing conditions.
Andreas said: “I sat down and was battling with heat exhaustion for half an hour in the 23C heat – so many runners suffered.
“However, the 26.2-mile course did deliver a personal best of 3hr 19min, which I’m happy about.”
Alton Runners hold various training sessions and welcome runners of all abilities.
Club sessions are on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.