A perfect day in London is not necessarily a perfect day for running a marathon. The city lies under a shimmering blue sky dotted with listless white wisps of cloud that evaporate under the fierce scrutiny of the intense sun. It is warm, and getting hotter. A faint shimmer above the tarmac is the first sign of a heat haze that will make the packed streets uncomfortably hot for the runners.
I have lived in London for ten years, but have so far managed to miss seeing one of its greatest spectacles. But this year I had an incentive and duty to cheer on two friends running the seventh of seven marathons completed over the course of a week. It is an awesome, audacious attempt – making the usually gruelling prospect of a single marathon seem strangely lacking in ambition.
So I took to the streets, heading down with Jimmy to Narrow Street to try and catch the elite runners. The women just pass, a blinking flash of flesh and then empty road until the other accomplished runners outside of the chasing pack start to pass. The atmosphere is fantastic, with the sound of hundreds of claps and cheers echoing along the cramped road.
I have been supporting the boys in their 7 in 7 attempt, and already the seed of starting training for the 2010 marathon had been planted. Watching the crowds cheer and the runners pass the seed quickly sprouts into a fully germinated obsession. I will train, and I will take part. This is the missing challenge I have needed to focus my training. This is my last chance to get fit and regain focus. And I am strangely confident in my new ambition.