London Marathon Review

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What a day it was! On April 23rd 2006 Mike Kelly and I ran the London Marathon to raise money for Scotty. One month on and the aches and pains have subsided as have the memories of those last few tortuous miles. Now, in my mind, that final plod down the Mall is a full blown sprint and the chronic leg spasms after just mild cramp. What still feels the same though is the sense that Scotty was with us that day, every step, and that it was his bravery that inspired us and carried us forward mile after mile. Here follows the story of the day.

The morning of the run was perfect marathon running weather - cold and drizzly. We had had a lovely evening the night before gorging on tasteless pasta and drinking water in the hotel restaurant while Wade, Stephanie, Hugo and Kimberly dined from the a la carte menu and sipped their wine. Luckily Liverpool (Mike and I's team) had earlier destroyed Chelsea (Hugo and Scott's) in the FA Cup Final so nothing could dampen our spirits. After the meal we left the beautiful, plush hotel restaurant of the Novotel and went back next door to the perfectly dreadful Ibis hotel where, unfortunately, we were staying. Stephanie has asked me to point out that this was entirely Wade's fault as he had made the booking but we all agreed that, this being a Scotty weekend, it had to have its dramas and peculiarities!  It wouldn't have been right if everything had been right! I dreamt of Stevie Gerrard and Robbie Fowler and slept like a baby.

Next morning we awoke at 6am and went down to join our fellow runners at the Ibis breakfast buffet which consisted mainly of stale cereal and weak tea (sorry Wade). Stephanie was concerned that we would be late arriving at the start and so asked us to rendezvous outside the hotel at 7.30 so that we could make the five mile trip to Greenwich and be there for the start at 9.45!! In true Hampton fashion Wade and Stephanie managed to get lost in the hotel car park and eventually picked us up at 7.50. The plan was to get changed at Kimberley's as she lives only half a mile from the start but, unfortunately again, as we neared the area we saw that all the roads had been closed off. This of course induced mild panic in our driver Stephanie and much confusion to Hugo who was following behind us on his motorbike. After a number of diversions we got to within a mile or so of Kimberley's but saw that the road to her house was blocked off and that the police were not allowing anyone through. Anyone who ever witnessed Scotty persuading bouncers to allow him into a nightclub when not on the guest list would understand where he got his negotiating skills from if they had witnessed Stephanie persuading the police that they simply had to let her through as "I am carrying runners in the back here!!"  The police, like the bouncers, were simply given no choice – they HAD to let us pass.

At Kimberley's we got changed and covered ourselves in Vaseline (to prevent chafing in certain sensitive areas). We drank our seventh pint of water of the morning, having been told that one must be fully hydrated before the race. We then put on our special running vests which had Scotty's beaming face on the front and which prompted little Elly, Scotty's niece, to cry "its Scotty!!" Wade, Stephanie and Hugo (hereafter W,S and H) then came to the start with us and Hugo took us through a rigorous warm-up which lasted about thirty seconds. We then said our goodbyes and took our place on the starting line along with 35,000 others. The race started at 9.45 and, having told Mikey before the race that I didn't need to go to the toilet, after 200 metres I desperately needed to go to the toilet and had to stop at the side of the road – those seven pints had rather caught up with me! Not a great start, especially as were determined to beat 4 hours and couldn't afford toilet breaks every 200 metres! We saw W,S,H plus Kimberly, Theo and the kids at the 2 mile mark and have to say we were having a ball for the first few miles. The atmosphere was fantastic and people kept shouting "come on Scott!" so it felt like he was running with us. After about 8 miles I got this pain in my left thigh which I have had a few times when I have been training. The difference being that, in training, it had come on after about 12 miles – this time it had come on after 8 and I thought "this is going to be hell, I've still got 18 miles to go!". I said to Scott "I'm gonna need some help here mate" and I swear to god the pain went away. After that every time I felt bad I thought of him and immediately felt better.

We got to half way in 1hour 54mins which was just about the pace we had planned and, at this stage, were in great spirits. Passing over Tower Bridge was wonderful with all the crowds and Mike said hello to Colin Jackson who was interviewing for the BBC but who didn't want to interview us and probably would not have been able to keep up with us even if he did! The next part of the race was the hardest. After Tower Bridge you go out to Docklands again and the crowds thin out a bit. I saw my dad at 14 miles which gave me a lift but missed the rest of my family (about twenty!)  and Annabel, my girlfriend, who were watching at that mark as well but on the opposite side of the road to where we had agreed! From 16-21 miles it was sheer mental torture. My thighs were really sore and the thought of 10 more miles of pain was hellish. But we kept spurring each other on and, although we slowed, we kept going. At 21 miles, just when I was reaching the end of my mental tether and all thoughts of sub 4 were leaving me, we saw W,S and H again followed shortly after by some of Mike's family and it gave us a huge lift. It really does help when you have people cheering you on. From 21- 26 miles things started to improve and we were able to up the pace again. The crowds along the Embankment were incredible and everyone was shouting "come on Scott" and I blubbed about five times in the last mile. We realised at about 24 miles that we still had a chance of breaking 4 hours if we could up it a little and so we dug deep and went for it. As we entered the Mall we could see that the clock was ticking towards the four hour mark. This was great as we had crossed the start line after 1 minute 20 seconds and so had that to spare. We joined hands and ran those last few metres as we had run the previous thousands – side by side. We crossed the line in 3 hours 58 minutes and 51 seconds!!

It was a very strange feeling after crossing the line. As soon as you stop running your legs seize up and I was finding it hard to breathe. It was sheer exhaustion but also overwhelming emotion. We were proud to have finished obviously but more than that we were proud of Scott and what he meant to so many people. It was his day not ours. I honestly believe that he was with us on that run – I don't think we could have done it if he hadn't been.

We all met up afterwards in a pub off Trafalgar Square and had our first pint of beer for a few weeks, a bit of a laugh and rested our legs. I got home at about six and watched the highlights of the race on television, desperately looking for a glimpse of us but alas…. I hit the hay at about nine and dreamt of roads.

As I say, a month on and the only memories that remain are happy ones. Thanks to the generosity of all those who knew and loved Scotty we managed to raise a good amount of money and The Scott Hampton Foundation is well and truly up and running. We are talking about going to New York in November to run there but, if that does not happen this year, we will definitely be running London again next. It was an emotional and uplifting day and I would like to thank all of those who came along to cheer us and to especially thank Wade and Stephanie for their unwavering support. Their undying love for Scott and the courage they have shown since his passing is truly humbling.

Scotty lives on in all our hearts.

Jonathon Bacon
May 2006