Today marks the 33rd year of the London Marathon and is my first running one of the world's most popular races! I will be amongst some 37,000 running the streets of London.... This year I was lucky enough to be accepted into the 'Good For Age' group, which is for athletes, who qualify within a select time at previous marathons.

After a short train journey from London Bridge, I head towards Greenwich Park with my partner Sunday. Hundreds of runners are distinguished by the red virgin drop bags. I can see the hot air balloons in the distance. Today is due to be a comfortable 14c with clear skies and light winds, so I have opted for just my vest top, Skins and a buff.

With just 40 minutes to spare I say my goodbyes at the good for age entrance. Only runners are allowed from this point. With two red pens, blue and green I can feel the huge scale of runners participating and it is like no other race I have witnessed. It really is the people's marathon!

I am in the second section behind hundreds of faster runners. We squeeze up into the start pen, shoulder to shoulder. Nerves and excitement can be felt all around. I can see runners from New York, Chicago, Canada, Spain.... all nationalities, together to run London. 

Just last week the Boston Marathon was targeted by two explosions at the finish line with two deaths and hundreds of injuries. Today I am running for those who suffered in Boston and will be wearing the black ribbon provided. 

A whistle is blown to start a 30 seconds silence for those in Boston, which is followed by a huge applause amongst us. All the super elite runners are introduced, before a loud send off signalling the start.

It takes a good minute to reach the chip mat to register crossing the start. Garmin and Runkeeper Live is set, so friends and family can track my progress. 

Let the fun begin!

Mile 1-10 (pace/mile)
6:54 6:37 6:43 6:34 6:46 6:50 6:55 6:38 6:44 6:52
Elbow to elbow, runners head out fast, bunched together and weaving in out the best they can. It takes a few miles to find any room, but with all the cheers and excitement I just take in the atmosphere. After two miles the road meets the other runners and we filter together to run the streets. 

Live music and bands play along the road side. Everyone has come out to cheer on this glorious sunny day. 

Water stops are frequent and congested, so I have to signal with my arm to move across the road. At one or two stations I miss catching a bottle but luckily other runners pass bottles down the line. I offer to others, who may need water more than I do. 

Around the boundaries of Greenwich and then by the water edge at the famous Cutty Sark. The crowd support here is amazing and a sea of colour. The film crew swoop down low and everyone waves, thumbs up and smiles for the camera. It is so loud and overwhelming from all the cheers.

Miles 11-20
6:38 6:43 6:48 6:29 6:23 6:04 7:03 6:46 8:13 6:41
Keeping a fast, steady pace, but also aware I am not half way. I eat a Nakd bar in small bites and sip some Nuun water I packed with me. Still feeling strong.

Through Bermondsey then heading towards Tower Bridge, I slow to take a photo. This is where the route just starts to even out and other runners slow down and even start walking. The view is spectacular from the bridge and is one of the highlights so far.

17 miles and passing through the Docklands, I start to feel slightly fatigued, so eat some salted nuts, banana chips and coffee chocolate beans. I keep hydrated with water and my electrolyte solution. 
Reaching Canary Wharf the crowd support is just crazy.  It is so loud from the shelter of the huge skyscrapers and the feeling is amazing. Just running through the business district is like nothing I have experienced before. Under the river through a tunnel, words of encouragement are displayed on inflatable lighting along the road side. 

Miles 21-27
7:00 6:58 6:53 5:39 6:42 6:52 6:22
After St James Gardens the route heads back down the Highway passing the other runners.  It is great to see all the fancy dress and colourful display.  

Running the Thames and through Tower Hill, Monument then onto Embankment. The crowds are packed on each side by the thousands in the heart of the city. Up above on bridges, shouting my name. I hear 'Go Bosh!' a few times, but I cannot place anyone in the crowds. I look out for Bosh-Run (Facebook group) spectators, but it is impossible to spot anyone...

Huge laughter as I approach a runner in a Mankini, it is so hilarious to see. 

Big Ben is ahead, so I know we are close to the finish line. Up along Birdcage Walk and around the bend towards Buckingham Palace. The roaring cheers are so intense here, I can feel a lump in my throat. Runners start to sprint past the palace as quick as they can. 385 yards to go, and with all the strength left in me I race to the finish on The Mall.... 

I look up at the clock and see 2:58... With my hand on my heart for Boston, I cross the finish line. I feel amazing and so chuffed.... after a year of hard work I finally made my sub-3 hour goal! I collect my medal and tears of joy start to flow...

All smiles about to reach the finish

The first call I get is from Helen, screaming down the phone with excitement, 'Oh Lukey, I knew you could do it, I've been watching you live and saw the time'. 

Slowly heading through the finish pen, bag collected, I make my way to meet Sunday and Karen. I didn't see them during the race but they saw me at Canary Wharf.
So in two weekends, two marathons, two personal best times and no longer a London virgin. I am already looking forward to next year and hope that Sunday can join me too.

A personal best on road still came with a price! I prepared my feet and toes as I normally do, with grease, plaster tape and Injinji socks. I still managed to get 5 small blisters around my toe nails.... I did no different than Brighton marathon last week, so I can only put it down to the lack of road miles before these two races...

I would like to thank everyone one of the volunteer's, support and marathon teams for making one of the most memorable experiences, a smooth and safe one. Thanking all my Bosh running buddies and friends for making the trip to London and their continued support and encouragement. Thanks to Karen for her brilliant hospitality and a pleasant stay at short notice and my sister for her continued updates, despite being distracted from my parents at a National Trust house.
Finally a huge thank you to my adorable partner Sunday for being the best supporting partner anyone could wish for and putting up with my crazy race calendar...



Today is the 4th Brighton Marathon for the south coast city and for myself. Since the very first opening marathon in 2010, Brighton has always been close to my heart and remained my all time favourite road marathon. 

Brighton is my home city and I have met many other runners of all abilities through Bosh-Run group on Facebook.  Many have become good friends, whether local or from afar. The group support has inspired so many others to run and reach their goals. I have rarely run a race without a Bosh runner to share the experience.

Feeling tired from a busy week at work, finishing nights just yesterday, and the 100 miler still in my legs. I really am not so sure how the run will go today, so am just running on feel. Sunday (my partner) only got an hours sleep, so is not rested either, but the excitement and nerves certainly kick in as we walk to the park...

Nat, Lucy, Sunday, Tristan and John

With just a little time to spare we meet up with the Bosh runners for pre-race chat and pictures. I say my good byes and good luck to everyone, Lucy and Sunday. Then jog up to the Elite starting area a mile away. 

Withdean Park is still on London Road, so once Elite runners begin we will reach the mass start, further down at Preston Park a mile away. Kenyans are running hill repeats around the park and I watch in awe at their stride. We assemble into the start pen, waiting nervously behind the super Elites. Bosh runner Scott jumps in beside me and we talk how crazy it is, being in the front white corral. We wish each other the best.

Elite Start

Miles 1-10 (pace per mile)
6.34 6.26 6.30 6.28 6.34 6.43 6.50 6.44 6.45 6.44
We set off down the road chasing the Kenyans, but they are soon out of reach. Once at Preston Drove, already the mass start runners are tearing down the hill to join us. The starting pens are still packed full of runners. 
My pace, maybe a little too quick, although it feels comfortable for now. The first Iconiq water handed to me has not been opened, so it just explodes into my face, I manage a quick slurp from the bottom before discarding it. 

Towards the Pavilion then around the level. Already the super elites are racing down on the other side. Heading up a slight incline on St James street, then eventually on to the seafront, towards the Marina. So many supporters, clapping and cheering as we pass them. I group with the runners for the time being, through the next water station and up the hill towards Rottingdean. A shout out from Scott 'go Lukey boy'. 

After the turning point and back towards Brighton, I shout out to the passing Boshers, Nat, Stu, Trefor, Kevin then Sunday. Further up towards the Marina I see Lucy with a huge smile and thumbs up, 'go Bosh', I head over to her side to high five. 

Miles 11-20
6:34 6:26 6:17 6:34 6:46 6:57 6:53 7:11 7:05 7:04
I have a Nakd bar with water at the next station, this time without any troubles. I thank the team. Lots more screams and cheers, shout outs of 'go Luke' and 'Bosher'. A shout out from Bosher Mark. After half way at the West Pier, the sun is shining and it starts to feel warmer very quickly. I remove my gloves. Heading up into Hove and down Church road. The support is amazing, and there are no quiet spots, just a steady stream of clapping and cheering. 

My legs start to tire, so I have some dates and chocolate coffee beans, then few Cliff shot cubes that are handed out. I see the first lady already heading back on the other side of the road. Then turning back from Portslade to the way we came. My pace has slowed to a minute less now. I drink more water. I see Scott and Stu, high five to them both. Then Mum, Dad and sister Sam shouting, I smile and thumbs up. 

Back on the seafront heading away from Hove, but first passing Bosh HQ. Huge shouts and cheers from Ash, Lucy and Louise 'amazing running Luke, keep going', she calls out. I smile and thank them all. 

I question my time and if I will make my sub 3hr body already feels so tired and I want to just walk. The cheering supporters are the only thing stopping me from doing so. 

Miles 21-27
7:14 7:14 7:23 7:29 7:42 7:04 6:37
I question my goal time.... my body already spent I just walk. The cheering supporters are the only thing stopping me from doing so. 

After a lap around the power station and past the live singing band, another Nakd bar and some dates, then its back onto Hove seafront for the last leg towards the Pier. The water stations are more frequent now, and I drink the entire contents each time. 

The wind is stronger this side, so I cover my face with my buff. 

At 24 miles I can start feeling my legs getting tighter, then suddenly my left hamstring cramps. I stop and rub the area. Limping on, then eventually jogging until it subsides, I can only run as fast as my legs will carry me. I feel so fatigued, and suffer so much more on road. 

I push through the discomfort, it starts to ease, the huge roaring from all the crowd support and hearing 'come on Luke, you can do it' lifts my spirits. I feel a lump in my throat.... I see Mark again then Domingo and Katja screaming from the side, I high five and then further on I see Lizzie from Bosh too. 

Approaching the pier, just 800 metres to go, I thumbs up to the film crew. 400 metres, I can see 2:59 on the clock in the distance. I sprint with all my energy I have left, but it is no good, the seconds tick over...

'Luke Ashton finishes in 3hours' I hear being called out. I collect my medal and then space blanket from Bosh runner Nik. Which is a nice surprise.

I finished my 4th Brighton marathon with a personal best time, just seconds from my target. I am so exhausted but try to reflect. I feel happy but also dissapointed. I gave it everything I could today. I really think my body is still recovering, so under the circumstances, a personal best is still a personal best! 

3:00:18 Chip time in 70th position
64th for my age group

I would like to thank the amazing support from everyone at Brighton Marathon and Bosh-Run. Helen, Tanya, Jacqui, Darren, Thomas, Ian, Domingo, Katja and Sunday for a wonderful pre-race dinner.

Then not forgetting my family for their continued support and believing in me...


Today I ran in Injinji lightweight crew socks and the DryMax Hyper thin socks. 

Using a coolmax material to wick away moisture, keeping feet dry and cool. The double layer, special anti-blister materials used make these the perfect choice for keeping runners feet blister free!