The sun is shining. Early morning London stirs, its arteries held for the later procession of humanity. Road side places are captured, banners are hung, flags are raised as bleary eyed runners and families emerge from planes, trains and tubes. The stories are about to begin.
There are few words that sum up the unique and humbling collection of inspiration that is The London Marathon. Every year, from near and far, 36,000 take to the streets to achieve their personal challenge spurred on by a story. It may be their own recovery or survival, or it may be their memory of someone they love or have loved. Perhaps some connection they made that sparked a promise to do this huge feat to support a cause, some personal promise to another, some private moment we may never know. All matter. It’s a celebration of everything remarkable. Its spirit.
In the roads around the running stories are more stories. Streets swelling with crowds of families, friends, volunteers, charity staff, onlookers detached but swept up in the atmosphere. Hand made notes mingle with branded balloons and the noise of names called, and charities shouted for, and fancy dressed brave eccentrics sprinkling the never-ending tide of vests, numbers and names. Every one a story. The mother or father seeing their son or daughter defiant and alive achieve. The children, anxious for a glimpse of mum and their pride at their triumph. The partners who woke at 6 every day as their loved ones drove themselves to this beautiful sunday. Groups of supporters raising money because that is the best way they can help out, take part, belong, do their bit. Charity staff whose whole day for weeks, even months is taken up with the love, care and nurturing of their team. Charity staff who have turned up to cheer, first timers and veterans, and volunteers and supporters anxious to lift their people and help carry them over the line.
Story is at its heart. Struggle, resolution. No one leaves the London Marathon quite the same. Its humbling and inspiring, its dramatic, its warm and human, its full to the brim of the best where ordinary meets extraordinary. Monday, sore feet and legs, and the glow of Sundays achievement can soon get forgotten. So what can we learn and maybe do differently or a little better in the glow of sunday sunshine. 5 reflections.
- Every story should be heard, acknowledged and shared. Every story. It’s all personal.
- Charity staff should attend at least once wherever you work, whatever you do. It’s the most perfect opportunity to connect with donors
- Every family member and member of each runners group need as much recognition, love and looking after as each runner. They are as important
- Shared experience never dies. Connect them, keep them together, share memories and through them inspire others
- What could be better next time and how? The best time to make next year really wow is in the next few weeks
Not every one can do a marathon. But everyone should bow their heads in respect to the amazing culmination of personal journey and collective good. It’s what we are about.