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The London Marathon: Batman, blisters and PR campaigns

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I may be preaching to the converted here, but you’ve gotta love London. A lot of people – and certainly the majority of Creativepoolers – would say it’s the centre of the creative industry, and not just in the UK. But even leaving the creative industry aside for a minute, sometimes I forget how lucky I am to have lived (till recently) in such a sensational city.

OK, I’ll admit it: I’ve been on a massive natural high for the past 24 hours because...

..yesterday I competed in my first London Marathon.

It’s not just the feat of running non-stop for nearly 4 hours (3:57:08, since you ask), the result of six months’ worth of gruelling training and sometimes equally gruelling physiotherapy that have put me on top of the world. Nor is it just the constant shouts from complete strangers to “keep going, Ashley!” or the sweeties proffered by children at the side of the road (and the look of delight when someone grabbed some jelly babies or gave them a high-five). Nor is it just the magnificent buildings, the street bands, the wannabe DJs blaring out tunes and shouting encouragement as we thump, thump, thump our way around the capital.

In short, it’s not just the fact that we were running through the biggest and best street party EVER – and we were the stars of the show.

No, it’s mainly what that the Marathon means to the people running. Whatever charity they’re running for, with pride and perseverance...

..today is ultimately what makes all the pain worthwhile.

Funnily enough, over the course of six months’ training, I didn’t get one single blister. So I was pretty annoyed to say the least to find that, after six miles, I felt two forming on the sole of my right foot – and then another on my left foot at eight miles. With the realisation that I would be running a further 20 miles with blistered feet – and given that I have the pain threshold of a toddler in any case – I somehow managed to find a core of inner peace, telling myself it was “only pain”, because there was simply no way I would be coming in over four hours.

But during those four hours, apart from overtaking Michel Roux, Batman, a big green Samaritans phone, and being able to glimpse the elite men run past me in the opposite direction around Limehouse, I was also taking in the myriad of charities that people were running for. With 36,000 runners (most of whom were running for charity) and a reported quarter of a million spectators, it’s an epic operation; and the charities themselves do a spectacular PR job. At some point, we’ve all complained about jobs where XYZ couldn’t organise a p***-up in a brewery, but the sheer logistics involved in charities organising support for their runners is astounding.

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From the t-shirt designs, to the course awnings, to the branded “clappers”, to the round-robin weekly emails…these campaigns represent the very best in terms of organisation, effectiveness, relevance and engagement. In short, they are as PR-savvy as any mega-buck organisation with a budget a thousand times larger. Hats off to all the runners, but equally, hats off to all the charities and their PR teams too.

by Ashley Morrison

Ashley is a copywriter, editor, blogger and marathon runner

Follow him on Twitter

Header image: SussexSportPhotography.com

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