To believe this story you must believe the human race be one joyous family, working together, laughing together, achieving the impossible. – (Chris Brasher 1979)
Big events are BACK! First it was Challenge Roth, then came the BMW Berlin Marathon, and then finally, there was London. The London Marathon has had a special place in our hearts at Sports Travel International for many years. The world’s biggest annual, one day, charity fundraising event, there is always an incredible buzz around this race. One of the six Wanda Abbott World Marathon Majors, London is one of the most sought after races in the world. With over 400,000 applicants vying for one of only 50,000 places, it is one of the toughest races to get into in the world.
In 2020, the race was held as an elite only race, due to the COVID – 19 pandemic. However, after 30 months with no London Marathon, on 3rd October 2021, London was ready to run once more!
The London Marathon Running Show (EXPO) is the stuff of legend. Exhibitors from the biggest and best sports and active lifestyles companies around the UK show off the very latest and greatest developments and innovation on the market. It’s a great chance to test out some new kit, grab a bargain, and meet like minded people, who will soon all be lining up to take on the marathon of a lifetime. As Europe’s leading specialist Sports Travel Tour Operators, as usual, we were right in the mix. Fidelma, from our Dublin office, arrived at the Expo on Wednesday. She said of her time in London
It was natural to be a little concerned about travelling again, after the last 18 months, and given the circumstances. However, arriving at the airport, going through security, getting on the flight; it was all simple. I certainly didn’t need to be concerned about it. All the necessary precautions are in place, and people have just got on with the business of getting to their destination and looking forward to travelling again.
Then, getting to see one of the Abbott Marathon Marathons up close was fantastic. People cheering, waving and clapping together. Seeing the support from friends and loved ones; it really reminded us why people love running marathons. It’s a truly rewarding experience.
For Fidelma, this was her first Sports Travel International trip since joining the company in early 2020, and she loved finally getting to meet all you lovely runners in person!
Carol, Joan and Anne all running for the Children’s Health Foundation with Sports Travel International
It was great, for all of us, to soak up the pre-race excitement. To chat to everyone about their running journey and their thoughts and feelings ahead of the big day. The atmosphere was infectious. Ellie, from our Manchester office admitted.
‘Even though I was not going to be running the marathon myself, I couldn’t help but feel my nerves kick in for them!’
All too soon it was Saturday evening. It was time to pack up the expo stand and prepare for race day. I, Meg (Content Editor at Sports Travel International) was lucky enough to be staying with our runners at the Melia White House Hotel. There was a palpable buzz around the hotel on Marathon eve. The hotel provided a superb pre-marathon meal, and myself and Fidelma loved chatting to everyone about their race plans and their hopes for the day.
A few Sports Travel Reps past and present, outside the hotel
It was also great to meet the other reps. People who have been travelling on Sports Travel International trips for years, who have such a great rapport and relationship with all our runners. We talked with Eugene and Martin about London in years gone by. Eugene Coppinger actually ran the first ever London Marathon while Martin Joyce (founder of Sports Travel International) was running his first ever London in 2021. It was great hearing people swap stories from over the years. I felt like, in London, I really became part of the Sports Travel family!
Before long, it was time for an early night ready for race day. I was so excited to see my first London Marathon, I barely slept a wink. It felt only moments since I’d fallen asleep when my alarm clock started blaring. Race Day was here!
I came out of the lift at 5:20 AM to the sound of London Calling being played out of a mobile phone, and a babble of excited chatter round the lobby. The ladies, fundraising for the Children’s Health Foundation, were ready in their ‘jammies’, and assured me it was going to be a wonderful day.
Now there was just time for a few last minute group photos outside the hotel, before boarding the buses down to the start.
Great to see a big group from the Southern Area Hospice Service
Team Sports Travel ready to go in London
En route to the start!
The race was, I am glad to report, a major success. The conditions were fabulous (if not a little warm at the height of the day), and the crowd support around the course was, as it always is in London, superb. Myself and Fidelma enjoyed a successful afternoon of marathon supporting. It was so great to be able to see a major event happening in person after such a long break.
London Marathon 2021 – Reflections
A personal highlight for me was spectating at Tower Bridge. Here, not only do you find yourself among the some of the most iconic landmarks of London, but you are at an intersection of the course where you can see both Half Marathon and mile 22 simultaneously. This section of the course also has great crowd support. The atmosphere is absolutely electric and it’s a definite must see spot for any supporter.
The crowd was electric all the way along Tower Bridge
After the race, it was great to come back to the hotel, welcome everyone back in, and celebrate their achievements. There are very few things quite like the feeling you get when you complete a marathon. It’s something less than 1% of the world’s population has achieved. It was so special to share that moment with all the runners. To be able to chat to them about their race experiences, congratulate them and see them with their medals was wonderful.
Martin Joyce with his well earned London medal
All too soon, it was time to head home. London was everything I expected and more. I can only hope that our incredible runners found the experience as exciting, inspiring and heart warming as I did. As per tradition, I entered the London Marathon Ballot on the train home. But, this year, more than ever, I’m crossing everything and hoping I get in. I’ve been to plenty of marathons before, but I’ve never experienced one with an atmosphere quite like London.
The ballot might be closed now, but never fear, you can still guarantee your place on the start line of the London Marathon 2022with Sports Travel International. Hopefully I’ll see you there!
We’re still buzzing 1 week on from the NYC Half Marathon!🏃🗽 @nyrr
The route delivered an impressive 13 mile tour of the Big Apple, through the concrete jungle of Brooklyn & Manhattan & past NYC’s most iconic sights & landmarks, including through Times Square🙌