Lovely London Sunday

One of the most prevalent questions I get here in London is along the lines of “What are you doing here?!” It seems that most people don’t understand why an American would choose to live in London despite the fact that it really is the best city in the world. (Maybe I’m just a little biased.) Sometimes, when it is raining sideways, dark at 3pm and I’ve had to deal with the lack of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, New Belgium and customer service, I wonder what I’m doing here, too. However, then there are days like today, which will go down as one of my best London memories EVER, and I’m reminded why I love this city. So. Darn. Much.

The lovely PR maven HH secured two VIP tickets to the London Marathon and invited me as her +1, so I awoke very early for a Sunday (although not as early as the runners, I suppose) to join her.

We spent a good 45 minutes navigating our way to the grandstand from St James’ Park. The crowds were enormous; you not only have all the people watching the marathon, but clueless tourists who wander into the thick of the event completely unaware that something is even happening. Despite what would usually be a 10-minute walk taking so long, being a VIP had its perks, including free food, drinks, accessible toilets and, of course, the opportunity to see all the action up close.

 I watched Wilson Kipsang smash the London Marathon record, finishing 26.3 miles in just 2 hours and 4 minutes, and Mo Farah come in a few minutes afterward.

As the pros finished and “real” people started coming in, I got more and more inspired. Looking in from the outside, I was so impressed by all the people competing. Old, young, fat, thin; 37,000 people ran in total, and very few looked like typical marathoners. There were a lot of people who looked like they had just woken up for a morning jog, crossing the finish line as one might a lope around Regent’s Park. There were people who ran the whole thing in the most hilarious get-ups, including a man in a London Pride bottle, and still managed to finish with an impressive time despite the obvious issues such attire would cause. Then there were people who puked coming down the home stretch, or were carried by fellow runners. Most people ran for a charity, and my favorites were those who dressed up, or carried a sign or wore a jersey for someone they cared about. I teared up quite a few times seeing the proud faces of so many people as the crossed the finish line. Yes, I know. I’m a “sensie.”

All in all, an amazing, inspiring and really emotionally cathartic way to spend a lovely Sunday in the city. Watching so many people join together to do something so amazing- and challenging- really made me proud to be a Londoner!

HH and I made a pact to run the marathon next year…I fear I’ll be one of the many being carried across the finish line, but I’ve already started to plan training for the next year. Now I just need to find the charity I want to run for! I’m thinking of Mind. Any other suggestions?

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