It was Sunday the 22nd of April, unlike the average spring day we had been experiencing a heat wave for the past week. So, it was yet again another scorcher. I decided to head into central London to cheer on the runners who were taking part in the 2018 London Marathon. Who doesn’t want to spread some positivity to all those brave (much braver than me) people battling against the heat to complete a run of 26.2 miles from Greenwich to Buckingham palace, raising money for the many deserving charities.
I had watched the marathon on TV before, but never been lucky enough to cheer on the runners in person. As I walked through Green Park towards Buckingham Palace I could already hear the shouts of encouragement from the hundreds of spectators as the most elite runners finished the grueling course. The atmosphere was intoxicating. I love London on days like this, it’s very rewarding to be a part of it all.
I stayed watching from the steps of The Victoria Memorial, as Mo Farah crossed the line finishing third. Further down the course he had problems with picking up the correct water bottle, which subsequently slowed him down but Mo couldn’t disappoint, the crowed roared when he came around the corner for the last stretch. Watching Mo run was surprisingly emotional, I think it comes from the fact he trained long and hard, and now after over two hours of non stop sprinting he finally did it.
Throughout the day temperatures began to rise to over 24 degrees, which made it the hottest London Marathon on record. As I was standing there for hours cheering on the vast array of people pushing to cross the finish line, I began to feel the heat and became shaky. So I can’t even begin to imagine what these people were feeling as they continued to navigate the hot streets of London.
I started to see the toll when people began to stop and collapse near the end. I was at the barriers near a sign telling the runners they were on the home stretch, but the heat and exhaustion got the better of them and their legs gave up. It was heart breaking to see these people and their faces, they had worked so hard but their body could not endure the temperatures.
Just as I thought the sun had won, human spirit kicked in. Strangers started shouting at them to keep on going “Go on! You’re nearly there!”. A fellow runner would help the dazed person up and start to walk them down the track, the crowed carried on their encouraging chants as their shaking legs tried their best to carry them over that finish line. This made me very emotional, the atmosphere was electric and engulfed everyone! We wanted every single person to cross that line.
I have always loved events like this as they have a way of bringing people together. All those hundreds of people turned up not just to give support to their friends and family, but to support strangers who needed it to complete a journey they started to help others in need. It sounds very cheesy, but this is how I sum up the human spirit.
I had no reason that day to shout at strangers, telling them how great they were doing. But I did it because they were putting their bodies through extremes to raise money for charity’s, or complete a goal they had been training endlessly for months. That deserves a cheer and an applause. I wish we could all do this a bit more often.
I walked further down the course and passed a guy making his way down, just so he could shout congratulations to the runners struggling as they neared the end. It was heart warming, a small thing to do but it meant a lot to those runners. Maybe if we could all pull together like this, supporting our neighbours and cheering each other on, it would set an atmosphere of community rather than a world of differences that struggle to be inclusive of everyone.
There were so many people running; different nationality, sexuality, race and religion. Despite this, no one picked or chose who they supported. We didn’t even think to see past the fact that they entered this marathon and deserved an applause for not giving up. This is a prime example of community, so why can’t we just transfer this onto daily life?
Let’s try to see how contagious the human spirit is, and how important it is for us to keep going. If we took the inclusive atmosphere of the London Marathon and supported our neighbours with their many different ventures, then maybe we won’t have to wait for a special event to congratulate a stranger. Maybe we can just congratulate them now, and keep on doing so.
“Love is the “why” of life,
why we are functioning at all.
I am convinced
it is the fundamental energy
of the human spirit.
the fuel on which we run,
the wellspring of our vitality.”
― Gerald G. May, Living in Love