David Mann runs the Paris marathon for LandAid
Firstly, a huge thank you to everyone who has sponsored and helped me raise more than £5,000 so far. I am going to continue fundraising until my 50th birthday on 22nd June by which time I hope to achieve my £10,000 target. Needless to say, any further help would be really appreciated. You can visit my fundraising page here.
On the walk to the start, I was resplendent in my new ‘Marathon de Paris’ T -shirt with the tag-line ‘RUNNING IS LIFE’. I would beg to differ with this sentiment at the moment!
It was a fantastic experience and Paris was so beautiful on a lovely sunny morning. Seeing 55,000 runners mustered along the Champs-Elysees at the start was quite an emotional sight – as was the queue for the toilets!
My favourite part was running along the Seine at 15 – 16 miles and I even managed to accidentally pocket phone my sister to both of our surprises but got some welcome encouragement!
Less enjoyable was the seemingly endless and monotonous pounding of my running shoes on the tarmac and cobbles. This was only equalled by the thump thump thump of the banging house music streamed from my SoundCloud App, which maintained a steady rhythm and has often been my only companion on those long cold training sessions. Today was in fact the first time I’d only worn shorts and a singlet in the last few months.
It was lovely to see so much support for all the runners – so many expectant faces waiting to see their loved ones, a friend or even a complete stranger. The Brits were particularly supportive to me. At times I forgot I had my name and GBR on my bib and wondered why so many people were shouting ‘Allez David’.
Little things make you laugh en route like someone holding up a piece of cardboard and hand written on it: ‘MOTIVATIONAL SIGN’. I was also particularly proud of my ‘Eiffel Tower hat’ selfie at 18 miles. Looking down the route at the ant-like procession, it felt a little like a less flamboyant Gay Pride march, considerably less diverse with much worse personal hygiene!
I have a slight confession to make now: my Brighton Half Marathon was the longest training run I completed! So when I reached the half way mark it felt like I was entering unknown territory. I have to admit that I was carrying a Metro ticket in my bum-bag just in case. That said, at no time did I feel like giving up and letting down everyone who has helped and supported me.
The last 8 kilometres were very painful, mainly in my hip flexors. Around me it became a bit of a ‘Ministry of Silly Walks’ as the task at hand took its toll. On a serious note, it was awful to see so many people being helped by paramedics and connected to saline drips. Victims of dehydration. It made me appreciate that you shouldn’t take on a Marathon lightly.
A huge thank you to my wonderful partner Glen for his patience during training and enthusiasm on the day. Seeing his face periodically through the crowd was a huge boost.
I finished in 04:34:41. I guess a personal best for my first and last marathon … probably!