I was recently reading about the London Marathon which takes place in a few weeks and this got me thinking about when I lived in Greenwich not that long ago when I popped round the corner to watch the runners coming past. I’d watched some of it on TV over the years but to be honest, had never really paid that much attention and this time I was going to experience one of the city’s most well-known events as a spectator.
The first thing that struck me was the wonderful community spirit. Everyone was smiling, happy and cheering all the runners on whether they knew them or not. In what I then found to be such a cynical and negative society, it was lovely and quite refreshing to see London and Londoners in such a positive light reminiscent of the city I had experienced during the Olympics in 2012 which had been a fantastic example of this community spirit.
During the race, it was also wonderful to see so many people running to raise money for their chosen charities, but they were also very much running their own race. Some people just wanted to finish, while others wanted to beat their personal best and a select few even wanted to break records.
However different the reasons were for taking part, each person did it at their own pace and in their own way. The fancy dress costumes of course have now become an integral part of the race and that year, among the many weird and wonderful outfits including Goldilocks accompanied by the Three Bears, I even saw three rhinos and it’s not often you see those running down the street. Not in Greenwich anyway…
Runners were focusing on how they themselves were running, where they were going and how they could keep going to the finish and yet, this was far from a selfish activity. It was very much an event which people shared and from time to time, you’d see someone struggling and within seconds, another runner would be stopping to help them. It was a sweet reminder of how generous people can actually be with each other.
On marathon day, everybody was running a different race because everybody had their own ambitions and goals and yet, although they were running individually, running their own race, they also ran together to help each other achieve their goals.
For 95% of those who have taken part, charity marathons stopped being a race many years ago and they have now in fact become more a way to challenge yourself to achieve something while raising money for charity and proving that the positive spirit of community and helping each other can only be a good thing for society. The irony is that even though it is no longer a ‘race’, everybody wins.