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The Richmond (London) Run-Fest marathon was scheduled for Sunday the 10th of September 2023.  Weather forecast had predicted late summer temperatures of >30 degrees Celsius.  It was the hottest marathon I’ve ever run; I had never seen so many ambulances at a race!

I approach races with an open mind, curious to learn something from each experience. Some reflections from that event and the marathon as a metaphor for life, business, leadership or whatever one considers important:

  • A pacer is a good thing.  Pacers had been dropped with Covid-19 as organisers tried to minimise the number of people at events.  It was good to have them back. What are the benefits?
    • Knows the route (the last thing you want is to get lost and add more miles to an already arduous experience!) and a good pacer takes the guesswork out of pacing, so that you simply focus on running.
    • Someone who knows the ropes, providing guidance, support or mentorship can be invaluable.

If the relationship does not work or is not beneficial, be honest, reassess and be prepared to (cordially) part ways (I had to abandon the pacer when the heat proved too much. I later saw him walking around mile 24, not sure why, but likely linked to the hot conditions).

  • Your health is paramount!!  Health is wealth is a well-known expression and nothing is worth sacrificing it for, not a Personal Best (PB), some arbitrary time goal or work pressure.
    • No one is indispensable at work; we can and will be replaced.  You are irreplaceable to your family and your loss will be life-changing for them.
  • Resilience is key! Running a marathon in early September should mean autumn conditions, but the joys of the British weather meant that late summer kicked in that weekend, producing 30+ degree Celsius heat!
    • A PB was out of the question; race organisers even offered marathoners the option of dropping to the half or 10k.
    • Hot weather necessitated mile by mile assessment of my physical state and adjustment accordingly. 
    • In life resilience means adaptability, being willing to accept circumstances, embrace them and adjust accordingly.  A tree that will not bend in a storm will break!
  • Training consistently is critical; the marathon distance is so long that inadequate preparation will find you out and any weakness will be exposed.
    • A learner mindset, curiosity, openness to new ideas, ongoing self-assessment, feedback from trusted sources etc. can be factors in personal growth and development.  Life-long learning is unending.

I later learned from a friend, whose husband ran the same race, that the event was forced to close.  There had been so many casualties mid-race and even at the end that the authorities cancelled the event and insisted that the remaining runners had to walk.  I can’t imagine the frustration for slower runners who had endured the heat and gruelling race and then were forced to walk.  Thankfully, there were no fatalities!