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OMG! A warm VMLM!

by Mike Clyne
Thursday 19th April 2018
For the first time in ten years I will not be at the London Marathon on Sunday.  Don't feel sorry for me, it is because I will be on holiday, but I do admit to feeling a little pang of missing the whole VMLM atmosphere.  For the past three years I worked as a finish line volunteer which was amazing and for the previous six I ran (although it regrettably included a DNF in 2014).
If you look at the stats below you will see how the number of applicants has grown each year and the number accepted to run has crept up a little but one thing is remarkably consistent and that is the finisher percentage.  If you look at my previous Run 247 articles on this ('I'll take those odds!' 'Possibly the best odds available in sport') then I have speculated as to the reasons for this but one thing is for sure, if you get yourself to the start line on Sunday you have an enormous chance of getting over the line on The Mall some time later.  The only variance is whether the time is different from what you planned and how much pain will be involved.

London Marathon stats 2018

This year the current weather forecasts are predicting a warmer run than we have had for a few years and so I wanted to try to give you my thoughts on running in a warm VMLM.  Look at the stats below and you will see I have highlighted three years where the temperature was the warmest in the 37 occasions the race has run.  In all three cases, the finisher percentage is NOT significantly different from the years either side of it.
I was a spectator in 1996 and remember it well, yes it was warm but not scorching. I ran in both 2007 and 2011 the first of those as an official Pacer.
Let's look a little more carefully at the 2007 stats.
There were 36,396 starters at 35,729 finishers for a 98.17% finish rate.  This means that 667 people who started the race did not finish.  In the following year the rate was 98.86% finish so if that percentage had happened in 2007 there would have been 35,981 finishers.  In other words if you assumed (and it is a big assumption) that the temperature was the only significant difference between the two years then only about 250 more people did not finish because of this.
Now I'm a 'glass is half full' sort of person and when I'm doing the London Marathon I go into it with my glass pretty much overflowing so I see that as a minimal issue and frankly one that I have little control over in comparison to many other aspects of my race.  So here are my tips and thoughts for running on Sunday and coping with temperatures that may be slightly higher than normal:
  • Read the final info for runners put out by the organisers
  • Prepare for Sunday just as you were going to do ie get as much sleep as possible, eat well but not too much, get your logistics sorted early and just look forward to it!
  • If it is warmer for you it will be for every other person out there.  If you are racing against people then they have the same conditions, if you are out there ‘just to run’ then you are the same as thousands of others
  • Don’t go mad on drinking water, follow the advice given to runners by the VMLM organisers – they know what they are talking about!
  • Don’t grab extra water to douse yourself along the way – take one, have a small amount to drink and then offer the rest to those around you
  • Some aid stations are trialling compostable cups (good news) so be aware of this
  • There are SIX showers on the course that you can run through to cool yourself (details in the runner info you will have received).  These were first used by the London Marathon more than 20 years ago and were a great introduction
  • You don’t need to drink at every one of the many aid stations.  They come about every mile from 3 – 25 so there are way more than you need
  • If you are someone who can be affected by warmer conditions, you may want to review what you are wearing – maybe wear a light coloured hat, maybe a lighter top, t shirt rather than vest etc
  • Use a good waterproof sunscreen especially on the back of the neck, shoulders, face etc
  • Wear a Buff around the wrist to wipe off the sweat and to keep wet to cool yourself
  • Whenever possible run in the shade – it may not be practical to carry a parasol to give yourself shade (!)
  • The warmer weather will boost spectator numbers – use this to your advantage in whatever way works for you
  • Pace yourself sensibly and follow one of the many RunnersWorld pacers.  You can find out about that at the expo at their stand
  • Did I mention to READ THE INSTRUCTIONS FOR RUNNERS – every year when I have run the race I have met and talked with people who haven’t read any of it which is, to be blunt, stupid.  You’ve trained for months.  Set aside 10 minutes to read it!
The above advice is from a self-confessed non expert but I have completed the London Marathon on 14 occasions, have run 21 other marathons as well as 10 Ironman triathlons and many shorter triathlons.  Many of these races over the years have been in much hotter conditions that we expect from Sunday and I have lived to tell the tale!
Finally, go out on Sunday determined to enjoy your race.  It is a life affirming experience.  The whole city is wishing you on, the spectators will cheer you, the volunteers will look after you and your fellow runners will smile and cry with you.  Be proud to run for whatever reason you run, be pleased with your efforts whether you hit your targets or not; and revel in the joyous nature of a mass participation event that has inspired millions of people over the years.
Run well and good luck.

About The Author

Mike Clyne

Mike has been writing the occasional article for Run247 for the past few years.
Since his debut marathon (Abingdon 1983) aged 16, he has now completed 34 stand-alone marathons and has completed 10 Ironman triathlons (that include a marathon at the end).  He has finished the London Marathon on 14 occasions and has also run a few times as a Runners World pacer hitting his target every time (except his 2014 DNF).  Mike is currently targeting the Comrades Marathon on 10th June and, yes, he is nervous about this!
When he isn’t plodding around these races he can also be heard on the microphone as commentator and announcer at a number of events.
You can follow him on Twitter @IronmanMike and on Instagram @Mike7Oaks

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