Those people who follow me on Twitter know that I got a coveted press pass for the London Marathon enabling me to go where the public cannot e.g. start line, finish lines etc.
I got the confirmation email around 3 weeks before the Marathon, it was a Friday and I was out shopping and refreshed my email list and it said congratulation with the marathon as a title. It stopped me in my tracks as I waited for the bus.
I re-read this and yes I actually get a press pass. WOW on my first try, mind you it probably helps that I have now set up “The Disability Sports Network” and in the application, I said I wanted to look for disabled persons to photograph as well as the fun runners.
Now you all know with FND the tiredness and feet problems you get with FND were potentially going to be a problem, so I took extra socks, plenty of food and drink, plus told myself to pace myself during the day (I didn’t). It was a very early departure from my house at 5.30am to get a 5.45 bus as I had to get from Kingston to Black heath for the starts at around 8.30 and remember there are lots of starts as they have to let 48,000 people go I believe the last start is 11.00 and everything starting over the line for 11.30 ish. That’s a lot of people as you have elite runners, wheelchair users, fun runners, running clubs and everybody else.
I was sent on a wild goose chase to a press area that I never found, not very good signage. However, that miss direction got me in a prime spot to see sections of the runners coming down the road at me and I could be in the middle of that and get out of the way before they passed me. I took that position for around 40 mins, and then I had to move on towards the Cutty Sark area, well that was going to be my jumping-off point to go to canary wharf. As I slowly made my way down to the cutty sark there were plenty of opportunities for photographs along the way.
When I got to the Curry Sark the crows were immense and you could just move through the crowds cheering on the massive set of runners going around the cutty sark. I however was looking for a vantage point and I saw a fellow accredited photographer with a start tabard on the terrace above Nandos there. I made my way to the restaurant and was going to ask permission to photograph from the terrace (no staff were around) and there were people having lunch inside as it was raining and had been since 9.00am I made my way up to the terrace and the view, well it was me and 2 other photographers up there. I got some shots and videos of the race. So then started to head off to the train station, however, the crowds were too busy to allow me through, then I said I will go on the tunnel and some police officers past me and trying to get to the tunnel, why? There had been an incident, so for now the tunnel was off limits. So how do I get to Tower Bridge the direct queue to that area on the uber boat was massive and probably needed 4-5 ferries to get rid of this. Then a helpful Uber boat employee asked where to do need to go as I still had my press tabard on, and she suggested I go to North Greenwich as no one was really going that way and get the Jubilee line to London Bridge. A plan!. I got on the 2nd boat to North Greenwich and was on my way to London Bridge very quickly. Enough time to eat some sandwiches on the 4 stop train journey to London Bridge.
Got there and again the crowds were heaving and I jumped the queue this time to get onto Tower bridge, as I had a time press ticket into the tower and still had my tabard on. So they let me through. The tower staff were amazing despite being 45 mins late due to crowds they changed my entry time and I went up as they have glass panels you can see the road from on the walkaways. Got what I needed and headed down I decided to go towards the north side of the bridge and saw 4 police standing behind a chain and asked can I come the other side, the said yes with no problems. I settled in as it was a great spot and no crowds to jostle me and I had 4 police around me if anything kicked off. I must had spent 40 mins there and chatted to the inspector and we both commented that the vibe, enthusiasm given by the crowds and runners was amazing energy.
So far I have got the start, cutty sark, tower bridge and now off to the finish line, and finish off the day. Again a train journey from London Bridge to Charing cross was just the time I needed to relax, get into my finishing tabard (different colour) eat something again. They walked down the mall to the finish line, and got in with the finishers I saw tears of joy, pain, injuries, exhaustion, and elation, in fact, every emotion you can imagine, it was there. So what to photograph? I had to walk nearer to the actual finish line to see people in not so much distress, as that happens once you have been given your medal just a few meters across from the line. You could see relief on the runner’s faces, some people broke down, I even saw a young girl do some jumping jacks at the end, she had either too much energy or the adrenaline was way to high.
I was slowly getting tired and needed a rest, So I headed off toward the press tent, where tea, coffee and snacks were and more importantly a sit-down. My FND was being good to me, I was slowly getting stiffer in walking, so got myself a cup of tea and relaxed for a few mins then decided to see what I had got so far today. I uploaded the files to the computer and flicked through around 1000 images, they looked good, I had a wide range of people eg elites, wheelchair users, fun runners and generally everyone else. I was very happy with the results despite it raining for almost the whole race, they were all in focus, correctly exposed etc.
As I was hydrating myself the sun was starting to appear and the rain had stopped, I briefly chatted with a few photographers, and she said are you going to keep editing or go out and shoot some more. OK it’s me I said last push for a few extra sunshine photographs, might get some interesting shadows, so loaded up with new memory cards and a fresh battery and off I went then after another approx 200 finishers photos I was done for the day, headed back and gave in my tabards and headed home.
My whole body was stiff and sore, feet really started to hurt on the way home. However, the fact that I had a great set of photographs from the day, and my legs did not spasm was amazing. When I got home and had a shower, and some tea I looked at my photographs, and yes I was very happy with what I got. I even had time to do some small videos of the race which are up on TikTok for you to view. The only thing that marred the day was the non-existent of good wifi in London etc, as there were so many people watching the race with phones in their hands, chatting, uploading photos and videos. The phone did not receive any texts or emails until I got home to my own wifi then that was not working as it should nor did the 4G signal I have in my area. In the end, I gave up. The next morning everything was back to normal so was able to upload to anywhere I needed to, whilst nursing my sore body with tea and painkillers until late on Monday when I needed to get some milk I had forgotten to get the day before.
Anyway to look at the whole set of photographs head over to
Will I do it again, if I am around probably Yes, but will do things a little differently now I know some of the pitfalls and maybe miss the start and go to the Cutty Sark, Docklands, well let’s see what happens in my life between now and then. So enjoy the photographs.
So why did my FND not act up? there are two things that come to my mind
I was doing what I loved and that was taking photographs of lots of smiling and different faces.
The extra energy that the crowd gave off as well as the runners, were helping me along, it was only when I stopped and headed home did a lot of the pain come back to me and all through the next day that I had expected.