Dale Lyons, Centurion Road Runners ex-Sphinx AC (Coventry)
‘I DID IT MY WAY!’
REMINISCENCES OF A MARATHON JUNKIE
LONDON MARATHON’S 1981 – 2017
LYONS - aka THE GALLOPING GOURMET
So what was special about my London
Marathon 2017? Being one of eleven Ever-presents to complete their 37th
London? Running my 100th marathon? Reaching my 80th
birthday through clean living? Being featured on BBC & SKY TV and en
route by BBC’s Ore Aduba the Strictly Come Dancing winner? Given VIP
status for the 1st time at the Green Start? Oh yes, and
raising almost £900 for Sense the blinddeaf charity? So nothing
I actually enjoyed my 37th
26.2. The weather was great and the EPs were on the front line. My
daughters Kyla & Iona with partner Janet and friends Dick & Ellen
cheered me en route. The spectators and bands were as usual fantastic
and I fizzed through ½ hour faster than last year – crutch aided because
my reconstructed ankle is not up to a marathon unaided. My pedestrian
time of 6:23:06 still had 1,760 behind me at the finish.
But was it really 1981 when I said
‘I’ll just do one London as it’s the first? Among the lucky 7,000 we
battled through foul weather cheered on by Chris Brasher the London
creator. With the only marathon dead heat and a PB of 3:10 it was a
memorable London. I even had time to revive the knackered Blue Peter
presenter Peter Duncan with my glucose lozenges.
I was now on a roll with a PB and set
a Guinness Pancake record of 3:09 in 1983 and to 3:06 in 1986. Dressed
as a chef was now my default marathon attire culminating in a ‘Best
Marathon Costume’ Mirrorthon medal in ’89 – an unexpected surprise.
Ten years on there were 90 odd
‘Ever-presents’ n 1990 (EPs) including two women but too many for
special recognition. By 1995 the numbers had been shaved to 42 and
Chris Brasher decided to create the London Marathon Ever-presents – a
unique group you could only leave. The deal was, keep up your London
sequence each year and you’ll be given an automatic entry – simple.
These fortunate 42 were each sent a
congratulatory letter and a magnificently engraved medallion set in a
leather bound presentation case. The wheels were in motion and shortly
after a specialist website was created by Mike Peel to log the names and
statistics of this select band of brothers –
www.Everpresent.net. The medallion was followed in 1992 with an
personally engraved plaque insert with two marathon medals presented by
London Marathon to the surviving Ever-presents. Commemorative ‘T’
shirts for 35 continuous Londons were then presented to the surviving 12
In 1992 Harry Carpenter the face of
BBC Sports sportingly ate my pancake for a £50 donation to Muscular
Dystrophy unaware it was a spare concealed in my shorts for 26.2
miles! So with one Guinness record under my belt a local Childrens
charity asked if I would set another record and raise funds in the
This was the Longest Egg & Spoon Run
in the World and set at 29 miles in 4:18 as a Guinness Record. With
the support of Chris Brasher in 1991 setting a measured 4 mile course in
Greenwich Park before the marathon ( I had to complete 30 miles and the
marathon is only 26.2). I duly broke the record with 30 miles in
4:17. N.B. It was a fresh guinea fowl egg and not stuck to the spoon!
Another Guinness record followed 1995
with a Massey Ferguson R.C. runner Dave Pettifer. We established the
first 3 legged World Marathon record in 3:58:33 after an unsuccessful
attempt three years earlier when we ill advisedly tossed pancakes all
But, not content with one 26.2 I was
encouraged to complete TWO Londons on the same day to increase my
charity fund-raising with my family and friends in support. I completed
the official 1987 London in 3:50 and the 2nd in 5:09
totalling 8:59 for the 52.4 miles finishing according to Big Ben at 8.46
p.m.. I then completed another commemorative double London in 1989 in
memory of my good friend Pat Churcher a fellow marathoner in the faster
time of 8:48 with splits of 3:50 and 4:58. XXX
Not content with a double I attempted
but failed a London triple in my 60th year (1997) justifying
my madness by raising more for charity. A year later in 1998 and by
running my 3rd 26.2 which was the official London I duly
completed the Triple in 17:12. My Guinness Record application was
rejected because ‘it wasn’t fast enough’! but, my Cancer
Research charity was royally boosted with triple funds!
Disaster struck in 1992 when training
for the World Triathlon Championships. A Leamington Spa roundabout,
heavily coated in diesel removed my bike and gave me in return a broken
leg! The clean break was screwed together and with some heavy
wheelchair competitions (including the Abingdon Marathon in 3:17) I was,
six months later ready for the 13th 1993 London. Hobbling
along, crutch aided I managed to toss (pancakes) all the way in a
Charity sponsorship have always been
my justification for remaining an Ever-present and the pain inducing
26.2 so in 2005 I ‘flew’ the London dressed as a Bustard to help bring
the big bird back to Britain after a 100+ years extinct. Despite the
feathers and bird-head the wings slowed me to a 5:12:46 pace but
Bustards benefitted by over £1,000 with the help of a Daily Express
Another good cause was sponsoring
AgeConcern (now AgeUK) for the 26th London in 2006 - I might
need them soon so I adapted a Zimmer Frame as my marathon prop.
Unfortunately the Zimmer wheels weren’t permitted so with some lateral
thinking I rigged a strap and carried it the 26.2 in 4:45:04.
As all the Ever-presents would testify
– bloody-mindedness is their lief motive for survival and in 2010 there
were 21 left or the original 42 and my right knee was riddled with
arthritis. Biting the bullet I had a full knee (Oxford) replacement
installed in June 2009 and all went well with the operation. Then
after more wheelchair therapy and physio. I tottered through the 2010
London on two crutches in 6:40:53 to remain an Ever-present. As EPs we
must all be masochists!
The Ever-presents were shrinking at an
average of two per annum so by 2022 it would likely be the
last-man-standing. ‘Shouldn’t there be some record of this unique
band of brothers?’ I asked? The EPs agreed to a man but there were
no takers. Eventually in 2012 I counselled opinion on who would
contribute of the surviving 16 EPs - 15 agreed. I was unanimously
elected as author, being the only one and with my autobiographical
experience I set to find the other 23 EPs (3 had died by 2010).
Eventually almost 70% contributed i.e. #27 to the research with 1st
hand accounts of training, races, charity fund-raising and personal
To the delight of the EPs I was able
to complete the book ‘THE REAL MARATHON MEN – LONDON MARATHON
EVER-PRESENTS’ in 2014 due to being incapacitated by a replacement
ankle. According to the surgeon the new ankle was not designed to
complete 26.2 but nevertheless it has already completed 3 more Londons
I was however given a reprieve from
crutches for the 35th London when Hugh Brasher provided me
a Standard Wheelchair place. My 4:36:16 was my fastest London for 10
years and my legs didn’t ache one little bit! Londons #36 and #37 have
been crutch-aided as the Standard Wheelchair applicants have increased
and are decided by ballot so I’ve since missed out for two years.
Anyway, now I’ve completed my 100th
Marathon is it time to quit? Hang up the marathon trainers, crutch,
training schedules and moth-ball the wheelchair? My partner, daughters
and ankle/ knee surgeons certainly think so. Quit while you’re ahead
and don’t wait until you have to is the advice. There is a certainly
some sense to this argument but if commonsense prevailed I doubt there
would be any EPs left in 2017! Will 11 turn up in 2018? The jury is
Dale Lyons May 2017
THE 36TH LONDON MARATHON 24TH APRIL 2016
HAVE CRUTCH – WILL FINISH!
For the 36th London Marathon 12 rather special
individuals lined up at the Green Start for a unique presentation
ceremony; but more on this later. The weather was cool and damp but the
early rain had stopped and the sun was breaking through to what looked a
good day for running. These ‘special individuals’ are the London
Marathon Ever-presents (EPs) i.e. those who have run every single London
since its inception in 1981. But what’s this? Wheel-chairs in the Green
Start? Maybe Hugh Brasher had taken my advice after all. The Green Start
is the least crowded of all three starts with about 4,000 geriatrics,
stars of stage, screen and labour exchange and MPs who want to polish
their egos. The masses congregate in Greenwich Park (Red Start), taking
the lion’s share and include all the fruit-cakes, fun runners and
outrageously turned out Guinness Record wannabees. The Blue Start on
Blackheath comprise the Elites, virgins and good club runners.
This year some 40,000 will start and 39,057 will
finish with a medal with those outside the 8 hr+- cut-off won’t get a
time, medal or goody bag! Hopefully the EP group will beat the deadline
with ease although our times are slipping exorably towards the deadline.
Our ‘baby’ Chris Finill, is a youthful 57 and our ‘ancient’ is Ken Jones
a sprightly 82 and I’m not far off! ‘Show us your numbers’ shout the
ever zealous volunteer Green Start gatekeepers to the colourful charity
runners. Around 80% will be supporting charities making the London the
largest fund raising Marathon World-wide! Mine is AgeUK as they have me
in mind as a prospective customer. The queues for the loos grow ever
longer as the 10.00 am start time approaches (2 -300 metres long) with
many unlikely to get any relief before gun kick-starts the 40.000
hopefuls. With my crutch to protect the suspect ankle I take almost 5
minutes to the start but as we’re all computer chipped my time starts on
the start mat. Janet waves me away and photos my retreating derrier.
I’m soon at the back but once the Blue start
merges at the mile mark there’s ‘000’s behind me. Similarly, as the Red
Start merges at the Woolwich 3 mile mark the heavy mob appear and then
I’m passed in a flurry of Rhinos, Wolverhampton 3 man bob-sleigh team
(honest!), a Well-Child Nurse 10’ high, The Grim Reaper, a 10’ long
Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Red Indian 2 man canoe and a caged Gorilla! They’re
not all locked up yet, believe me! I’m nursing the ankle and being
back-slapped with ‘awesome’, ‘you’re a legend’, ‘amazing’, ‘you’re
putting us to shame’. Of course I’m wearing my Ever-present ‘T’ shirt. A
Welshman joins me with a dodgy knee and I speed up and run and chat for
10 miles until I realise my speed might not get me under the cut-off as
my 1st half (13.1 miles) took 3:43.49. Over Tower Bridge, past half-way
and deafened by a mobile Ghetto Blaster I speed up leaving the Welshman
and bump into Janet and my daughter Iona at 21 miles. I’m now passing
loadsa knackered runners, rueing their lack of training and paying for
Over 6 hours crutching and the magnificent crowds
are still cheering – Da-yel! Da-yel! The ankle is still holding even
though I’ve ‘speeded’ up to 12 min. miling through the City, under
Blackfriars underpass and onto the Embankment’s home stretch at 24
miles. Wow! In the last 7k I’ve passed 550 and none have passed me
(post-marathon stats.)! I’ve now caught the Rhinos; Bobsleighs; Grim
Reapers; Indians; Large Ladies; and Caged Gorillas. Ha! Great feeling,
though-but (Geordie expression)!
My body’s telling me to slow down through the last
mile and up to Big Ben then the crutch misbehaves! Parliament Square
rises up as I trip full length, cut, bruised and undignified. Four young
female runners help me upright but I can’t chat as I’m away up Birdcage
Walk, past the Palace (no HRH) and into the Mall’s last 0.2. I see
myself on the giant screen as Geoff Wightman, the finish announcer calls
my name, rank and serial number –“here’s Dale Lyons who’s run every
London and written the Ever-presents Real Marathon Men book!” Good
publicity as I check my Garmin time of 6:52:33 – much better than
expected. Get the medal (none for the crutch), goody bag and tote bag
then find someone’s nicked my commemorative Marathon ‘T’ shirt – the
thieving ##$**+@!!!!’s – but, will the organisers send me a replacement?
I almost forgot – the special presentation! Every
EP was given a beautifully engraved glass trophy bearing their name to
mark their 35th consecutive London Marathon – see photo. They are not
easily impressed but are completely gobsmacked. More importantly I’ve
raised over £600 for AgeUK!
So will it be a crutching Dale or a Wheelie in
2017? It’s down to the wheelchair ballot and London Marathon – no
exceptions for EPs I’m afraid!
RUN STATS. Time 6:52:33 (1st half 3:43:49. 2nd
half 3:08:54). Position 38,397th i.e. 660 runners behind at 26.2.
Average pace 15.44 mm. Slowest mile 18.28 mm. (13th). Fastest mile 10.45
1ST EP. Chris Finill 2:56:05. Weather – Cool / Dry – Perfect!
THE MAGNIFICENT LONDON MARATHON DOZEN
DISPLAYING THE AARDVAAK TROPHIES
Jones, Bill O'Connor, Dale Lyons, Jeff Aston, Chris Finill, Roger Low,
Charles Cousens, Terry Macey Mac Speake, Steve Wehrle, David Walker,
THE WHEELS STAYED ON FOR 26.2 – A
‘WHEELIE’ GOOD RUN
LONDON MARATHON REPORT SUNDAY 26th APRIL 2015
Then there was twelve! Thirteen Ever-presents started the 35th
London marathon after fourteen had survived from last year. Dave
Fereday succumbed to lack of training through illness and Pat Dobbs our
fastest Senior was ‘felled’ by an errant water bottle at the Cutty Sark
only 6 miles in.
Generously, London Marathon presented the EPs a bright orange ‘T’
emblazoned with ‘35 AND COUNTING’ at the Green Start.
Unfortunately I had to get to the Red Start and that’s when the
trouble started. Officials first barred the way until I was escorted
in my Bromakin wheelchair to the Red start. Arriving in Greenwich Park
I was then ‘arrested’ by the Marathon ‘Police’ whose said they had no
record of my race number or my wheelchair entry. Obviously I was a
‘rogue’ wheelie and in addition the wheelchair’s front wheel was illegal
and a danger to the runners! The start time was getting perilously
close and my demeanour bordering on the fragile. But with Geordie
calm and reasoned argument, common sense prevailed and I was shepherded
into corral 8 about 5 minutes before the off at 10.10 am. Not the most
auspicious or calming start to my 35th London I can tell you.
Ten minutes after the Gun the front wheel crossed the start-line but not
before I was herded aside by three, yes three Rhinos – could it get any
worse? My team of Janet, Dick and Ellen then flash past but did they
get a photo?
The Red route is the most testing especially for wheelchairs. Why?
At 2.5 mile near Charlton Village is a steep hill and rise. Imagine if
you will a steep hill packed with thousands of runners wall to wall and
a standard wheelchair with no brakes to speak of. Both my klaxons are
going full volume (one a 140 db Hornit) and me screaming “wheelchair =
keep left”. Not a recipe for calm or a lower heart-rate. Then the
reverse up the other side when I’ve little momentum and wondering
whether to stop and drag it up! I just made it approaching Woolwich
where all three routes Red, Green and Black converge occasioning much
ribald jeering by the runners.
What are most taxing features for standard wheelchairs in this
marathon? Firstly we are nudged in with the masses on the most
difficult route unlike the elite wheelchairs who get an hour’s free
start on the rest of the field. Secondly trying to pass the 20%
or so runners on headphones who can’t hear your horns or screams makes
passing almost impossible. Thirdly the increased London numbers
(37,541 finishers is a record) critically restricts the opportunities
for overtaking. Not until the Embankment at 24 miles did passing
become easier. Fourthly the casually discarded water and
Lucosade bottles are real obstacles for three or four wheels. But
apart from these minor issues it’s plain sailing!
It’s worth noting that these problems could be the reason for only 5 or
6 standard wheelchairs taking part out of the 12 that were scheduled.
My pre-marathon attempts to get the Marathon management to change to an
easier route i.e. Green or Black for the wheelchairs fell on stony
All along the route crowds are baying and screaming at fever pitch, the
noise is quite painful at times but it spurs you on nevertheless. More
and more bands and groups sideline the course. Trad and big band
jazz; silver bands; pop groups; reggae spots; Scottish pipe bands;
steel bands; drumming groups (one under the Blackwall Tunnel approach
vibrated through the wheelchair like an electric shock!) and I probably
missed a few!
This year changes to the route through the Isle of Dogs and Docklands
and into Canary Wharf made the geography difficult to figure at times.
Not that many of the fun-runners noticed. I passed a kaleidoscope of
costumes and outfits e.g. a Bottle of Fullers Beer; two Rhinos; a
Rocket Ship; a Telephone Kiosk: a 12ft Giraffe!; and various
Supermen, Elvises, Men in Tutus, men as Large Women (scantily clad) and
of course the Wolverhampton 2 man Bobsleigh Team – they’re not all
locked up yet I can assure you. Yet all this carnival hoo-hah has an
altruistic motive too with over 70% of runners sponsoring good causes
I’ve now past Tower Bridge, the last real test for me and the wheelchair
and onto Commercial Road, towards the City and East End; over halfway
with the Capital Radio mobile home belting out the latest pop. Across
the carriageway in the opposite direction are the fast guys going
through 21 miles – show offs! The last 10km is where the marathon
really starts it is said. At 15 miles my right wrist starts to ached
but with the supports I’m not too worried until at 17 miles I fear for a
possible DNF (did not finish). A head-phoned runner crosses in front
of me and I crash into the barriers bending the fragile steering rod
with the watching crowds shocked into silence. Gently I ease the rod
close to the original position and nurse the delicate mechanism the last
9 miles home – another moment of “will I make it”? Offers on the
inclines to push me I decline until at 20 I’m being pushed up a rise by
one of the Ever-presents – thanks Steve (Wehrle). It must have
exhausted him – he was 20 minutes behind me at the finish!
Through Canary Wharf, past the Tower of London and under Blackfriars
Tunnel. I get up my speed to over 10 min. milling (i.e. 7+ mph) as the
running thousands slow, walk, stop and move to the fringes of the
Embankment nearing Waterloo and the Hungerford Bridges. My team and
eldest daughter Kyla are there but I’m too busy avoiding runners passing
the 25 mile mark. I wheel into Parliament Square jammed with the
cheering masses, passing Big Ben, Churchill and the Cenotaph. Finally
only Birdcage Walk and spectator crossings to negotiate then I give HM
The Queen a wave as I pass the Palace and fizz down The Mall.
Flashing through the finish line in 4:36:16, it’s my fastest London for
10 years! My legs aren’t aching or tired at all! The top half
however is a different story and feeling the effects of the 26.2 mile
push. Of the 12 EP finishers I’m 4th overall – last year I
was 14th out of 14 so another reason to celebrate! Chris
Finill our fast guy was first in 2:52 and last, our only Irishman Ken
Jones in 6:53 but he made it under the wire.
A marathon official guides me through the runners and I get a young lady
to hang the medal – much bigger than last year. “Don’t I get another
for the wheelchair?” I ask innocently, but no dice. A warm welcome and
drinks await at the AgeUK reception where my support team now include my
Grand-daughter Anna and her friend. I get lots of hugs and well dones.
Then it’s off across the West End to Covent Garden for a proper drink
and quality nosh, naturally in the wheelchair. Will I back in 2016 for
the 36th – what do you think, I’m only a youngster?
RACE RESULTS AND STATS. The Ever-presents are now down to 12 with Dave
Fereday a DNS (did not start) in addition to Pat Dobbs DNF (did not
finish) at about 6 miles.
My overall position was 23,361st and 42nd in my
o/70 age group (why not a o/75 group?) A record finishers total of
37,541 (over 14,000 behind me - wow!)
Dale’s time 4:36:16 – 1st half 2:11. (6 mph) 2nd half
2:25. (5.42 mph) Average speed 10.53 min.milling 5.70 mph.
Sponsorship for AgeUK including Gift Aid should generate over £700
thanks to generous support from my family, friends, runners, Rugby
Rotary Club, Sutton Park Probus Club, Fircones French class and West
Midlands Inner Wheel clubs (District 6), Wheelchair by Bromakin
Check out the Ever-presents on our website
www.everpresent.org.uk it’s a cracker and organised by Webmaster
Mike Peel a restin Ever-present.
Dale Lyons aka The Galloping Gourmet 29/04/2015.
MORRELL MAD DASH SATURDAY 14TH FEBRUARY 2015
‘WHEELCHAIRS WILL ROLL’
As the only Centurion to brave the 20k testing
course over the precipitous and undulating Cotswold course at the
Warwickshire Agricultural College I was bound to be the first. I was
also destined to be the first wheelchair entrant – because there was
Unfortunately the forecasters got it wrong again with a light drizzle
before the race making the first quarter-mile a severe downhill of speed
bumps, giant potholes and sundry horse detritus particularly hazardous
for wheelchairs let alone runners. Almost out of control I just survived
but was coated in muddy rubbish.
The race however was excellently organised and marshalled for almost 300
runners (200 in the 10k and 90 in the 20k) by Joanna Welsh.
Apart from a mile or so on a B road the country roads were almost
traffic free and for a wheelchair with no brakes quite manageable and a
really good workout. On ‘That Hill’ I virtually came to a standstill on
the return so on the second lap decided that discretion the better part
etc. etc. and as my aching muscles required saving for the run-in I
leaped off the wheelchair – ta dah! - and walked up and around the speed
bumps and potholes.
Eventually, to a cheering crowd of three I wheeled across the finish in
2:07:40 in 78th place at an average speed of 6.08 mph and dying for the
little boy’s room. The reception greeted me with an amazing assortment
of bananas, apples, tasty sandwiches, crisps, yogurt and chocolate bars
in the College’s Bar/ Café – oh yes and a rather attractive medal. I
think they over-catered judging by the piles of leftovers which we were
encouraged to take away. My partner Janet also supplied me with a well
deserved pint so all was well.
Next up is the Coventry Half which should be a little kinder to
wheelchairs and then the Silverstone Half for a faster time provided we
don’t have the rain and wind of 2014. After that London beckons in April
and a much faster time than my PW of 7:12:45, albeit crutch aided.
Centurions - give me a cheer if you’re in any of these races.
Dale Lyons aka The Galloping Gourmet
THE 34 LONDON MARATHON with CRUTCHES TO THE FORE! -
13th April 2014
Despite the vagaries of a new STAR (Scandinavian
Total Ankle Replacement) ankle replacement and a serious lack of
training, me and my NHS adapted crutches lined up with 13 Ever-presents
on Blackheath's Green Start for the 34th London (my39th). Between
marathons we had lost our EP legal eagle Jeff Gordon “just too much
training” he said - he is after all in his '80's. In glorious sunshine,
a light breeze and an ideal temperature of 14c I crossed the start line
in 3.5 mins.with about 37,000 and hoping to finish after 26.2 miles in
the Mall under the 8 hours cut-off.
This year, only 11 Ever-presents had lined up for
the pre-race photo minus 3 laggards, sporting our AgeUK donated 'T'
shirts sporting 'DONE EVERYONE SINCE '81'. I was just ahead of the
Huddersfield Brass Band, 31 strong going for the fastest 'Band in a
Marathon' Guinness record and a host of other weidos (Wolverhampton
Bob-sleigh Team; a fibre-glass War Horse; a 42 kilo Fridge-man; a
walking Telephone Box; a Bagpuss twice my size; a Bridge & Groom, and a
'Virgin, Virgin' Michael Owen looking rather nonplussed after I told him
I'd done every London.
I nursed the ankle until I passed the 10 mile mark in 2:48 (Mo and the
elites were long finished) and 'speeded up' to 16 min. miling feeling
good. By then I'd been passed by 3 Rhinos and a lifesize tiger! A South
African runner turned and shouted “I bought your book!” Then Denise
Lewis our Golden Girl heptathlete nobbled me for a TV interview on Tower
Bridge around 12 miles (3:20). Then a crutching lady from Scotland
passed me in a surgical boot, what cheek – I'd have my revenge at 22
miles though! Then along Commercial Road into London's East End with the
fast guys flying through on the other carriageway – show offs!
The 'Death Zone' of the London is the Isle of Dogs
aptly named, between 15 and 19 miles – littered with St. Johns helpers
and knackered runners where the infamous 'Wall' intervenes. The
Galloping Gourmet was going well however, passing through the East End
at 20 miles encouraged by the Steel Bands, the massed banks of charity
groupees and volunteers, dodging the ½ filled lucozade and water
bottles, and the cheering crowds buoyed with marathon fervour and booze
– a real festival atmosphere the TV can't replicate.
Hey what's this? I'm speeding up to almost 4 mph
and ignore the growing heel blister but then have to stop to give my
team of Janet, Dick and Ellen a hug at 22 miles. I do my fastest mile,
at 23, over 4 mph and even manage a 'negative split' in 93 marathons
(faster 2nd half). I pass a disconsolate trombonist on her own “where's
your band” I ask “miles ahead” she cries! On the ground I see a
disembodied band music holder. The crowds had heard about the
Ever-presents and chanted me all the way to the finish with Da-yul!
Onwards past 25 mile at Embankment and across
Parliament Square a runaway pedestrian ahead is chased along the route
by a sprinting Bobby to be apprehended by Green Park in a pincer
movement. The lady in question looked rather flushed Up Birdcage walk
the sign reads 'Only 800 metres to go' so the crutches get another gear
and spectators still 4 deep!
I eventually raced in crutch-aided, in 7hrs. 12
mins. 39 secs well inside my target time and actually enjoyed it. That
is until I crossed the line and after being hung with the best London
Marathon medal ever both achilles seized, the heel blister burst and the
toes bled – a relatively small price to pay for a lovely day and the
All the other 13 Ever-presents headed me home and
I even managed to raised some funds for AgeUK as I might need their
support soon! Roll on 2015 – in a wheelchair perhaps?
Run Stats. Overall position 35,519th Age category
70+ 131st. Behind me (at the cut-off) 248 runners (including Batman!)
Winner = Wilson Kipsang 2hrs.4 mins. and a bit -just ahead!
p.s. Prior to the Marathon I was the guest of
the Road Runners Club at the Excel Exhibition to sell The Real Marathon
Men book and apart from getting Ronnie O'Sullivan's autograph and
meeting the winner of the 1982 London Hugh Jones (he remembered my
London triple!) I did sell lots more books than expected. I've a few
left at £7.99 revised edition
LONDON MARATHON REPORT – DATELINE BLACKHEATH COMMON
17TH APRIL 2011
NOT SO MUCH A GALLOP – MORE A STAGGER!.
do I put myself through this 26.2 miles torture every year? I can’t
really think of a good reason other than wanting to be the last
EVERPRESENT standing, which is highly unlikely especially as the
youngest (and fastest) is nearly 20 years younger. Oh yes! Sponsoring
charities is I suppose a very good reason – about £50k raised so far,
but it’s a pain chasing sponsors after the event!
Mind you, each year we lose 1.5 EP’s every year and this year we lost 2
so if I keep marathoning another 12 years i.e. until I’m 86 I could just
possibly be the last man standing. We’re now down to 18! This year I
injudiciously decided to toss (a pancake) the 26.2. Having speed-walked
the Ashby 20 in a very respectable 3.47 a similar pace plus a bit for
the London would give me a finish of 5.15 and almost an hour better than
In the event I staggered in, in 5.52.29 having run out of steam as early
as the 15 mile mark. So why was I so far out from the plan? Compared to
last year my training plan had been spot on with my Rotary mate Colin
Goupillot chivvying me through the races and sub zero training runs
around Birminghams canals and Edgbaston Reservoir – thanks Colin. So
where did I go wrong?
Was it the heat on the day? It wasn’t that fearsome. Did I over-train?
The 40 mile weeks allowed plenty of pre-marathon recovery time. Did I
allow enough rest-time ? I did chill out 2 week before in Lanzarote with
swimming and a little road work. Was it the effort of tossing? The
pancake weighed about 12 ozs but it didn’t feature in my training. Who
knows? All I know is from the 6 mile at Greenwich I knew my target time
wasn’t on. Anyway enough of my problems, what about the event?
I arrived at the Green start early, at 8 am for the 9.45 kick-off with
Dick my mentor. My partner Janet was sick and couldn’t make her annual
pilgrimage in support. Maybe that’s another reason? My daughter Iona
came down from Leeds to cheer on Dad and so we had a number of group
Me & Dick; Me, Dick and Iona; Me, Dick and Dwight Yorke. Yes, really the
ex Villa, Man.Utd stalwart was also running & did a very respectable
3.35 – a really nice guy. We almost nabbed Will Young for a photo but he
was too far away. All around the Heath hot air balloons were being fired
up, some with observers in the baskets. And a truly enormous balloon of
a motor-cycle and rider totally dominated the scene – how do they do it?
On the ground a brass band played favourites and we chatted to a female
runner in dressed as a carrot who was going for a Guinness record as the
fastest female vegetable – apparently she achieved her target of 4.15
for the record!
Then another group photo with the EVERPRESENTS - about 8 of the 19
running. Another Guinness hopeful being interviewed by the BBC was a
young man keepy-uppying all the way. This involves, for the uninitiated,
keeping a football off the ground all the time whilst ‘running’ the
26.2. He was being followed by a brass band who were PLAYING whilst
walking the 26.2. Obviously they are NOT all locked up yet! No one
wanted to interview something as boring as a pancake tosser evidently.
BANG! And it takes me 2 minutes to get to the start line. This year the
fine weather has brought out masses more than last year. I’m a constant
source of amusement with my Galloping Gourmet Chefs hat and I flip away
with reckless abandon in the early stages. Mike Peel, the EP’s webmaster
catches up at the mile mark and we chat and run together until the 6
mile mark at Greenwich when he ‘peels’ off to see friends. This year the
Cutty Sark is under fire damage repair so we shortcut onto Creek Road
through Deptford where a steel band gets in their stride. Assorted
debris litter the road, a dead mobile phone, caps, gloves?, T shirts,
unused power gels and even pound coins. We turn into Surrey Docks at
about 9 miles with the first en-route shower to be avoided - can’t have
the pancake waterlogged! It must be well into the 80’s now and no shade.
I’m beginning to realise it’s not my day. My pace has slowed to 12.41 at
10 miles and I’m taking on loadsa water with my Hi5 carbo gel. Just
beyond the closed Blackwall Tunnel a big band is playing Glen Miller’s
‘In The Mood’ which I’m definitely NOT in. Every year more and more
bands and music line the route which creates a real carnival atmosphere.
Rest homes and Care homes along the route bring out their patients for a
rare treat and sunbathe for a ring-side seat. They must wonder at the
suffering huffers and puffers who still manage to give them a wave.
Other viewers offer orange segments and jelly babies along the route.
The pubs spill their drinkers onto the pavement who call out ‘toss that
flippin pancake Dale’.
The EP’s have ‘31st London and ran every one!’ on their vests & T shirts
so we get lots of ‘well done’s’ and ‘amazing’ and ‘fantastic’ and
‘unbelievable’ and ‘incredible’. Some runners slow for a brief chat and
some a give a pat on the back, pleased they’ve actually seen an EP to
tell their friends.
Crowds across Tower Bridge hardly leave room for the runners then it’s
onto the City’s Commercial Road. Fast guys are passing us at 21 while
I’m labouring at the 13 mile mark with 2.36.51 on the Timex but still
they won’t break 3 hours! In 1986 I was faster at 3.06 for a pancake
tossing world record. Ah, happy memories! I try to raise runners spirits
at 15 miles at the Isle of Dogs underpass with a piercing Ogi! Ogi! Ogi!
– nul response as the ‘runners’ are hanging on for dear life with still
11 to go! My mile splits have eased up to 13.29 min. so I try to raise
the pace with a mantra ’only 10 to go’, ‘only 9 to go’ but despite
regular doses of carbo gels my pace slows to 14.09 at the 17 mile mark.
Fortunately we’re into the Canary Wharf complex with a cooling breeze
and mega spectator support . The pancake looks pretty good as I do a
double flip into the wind.
‘Hey remember me, Graham Swann (not the cricketer)?’ calls out a runner
in clowns gear ‘you know, New York ’81?’ This is a regular marathon meet
over the years and yet I know as little about him now as I did when we
met in the ’84 London. ‘Only 6 miles to go’ I repeat watching the
back-markers struggling through the 13 mile mark. Another clown
collecting in a bucket pushes a supermarket trolley laden with assorted
packages and dolls. Behind him the 2 man London Bus look-alike
struggles. Behind them the clearup brigade is champing at the bit but
they’ll be out there for another 6 hours at least! I’m now over 4 hours
into the run and slowing to 15.21 miling retracing the Commercial Road
and unlike the early miles a noticeably thin line of runners. Most are
walking, few are jogging slowly. Then, through the 35k mark my EP pal
Dave Fereday calls ‘you’re jogging’ as he strides past at a metronome 12
min. miling to finish 20 mins. ahead. I’ve never in all my marathons
been able to do even pace running. At last, downing my last carbo gel
and walking at a steady 15 min. mile (4 mph) I get a hearty response to
another Ogi! Ogi! Ogi! through the Blackfriars underpass with 2.5 miles
to go. It’s now over 5 hours since the start at 9.45 and still the
embankment is awash with cheering spectators. They obviously want their
money’s worth. I can just about manage a few tosses to keep ME going
never mind the crowds. So, it’s under Waterloo Bridge, past Cleo’s
Needle, under Hungerford Bridge, past the 25 mile balloons, right at
Westminster Bridge, Big Ben and Parliament Square (no protestors).
Birdcage Walk seems endless abutting St. James Park and there’s no
hiding from the cheering crowds with half a mile to go. So I stop
briefly passing Buckingham Palace, no Queen again., and raise a prolong
cheer with a triple flip then it it’s down the Mall for the last 200 and
the glorious finish at 5.52.29. I even get a cheery mention from the
loudspeaker as I cross the computer mat. The volunteers chorus a ‘well
done’; on goes the 31st medal and off comes the timing chip – no chip no
time. I grab a goody bag and look for my baggage bus – luckily the first
one. There’s precious few bags left as I totter to a seat outside the
St. John’s first aid centre. ‘My wife’s in there’ a seated runner points
inside the marquee, ‘but she’s alright’. he laments.
After 2 bottles of water I manage to remove a sock and discover an
enormous blood blister on my toe. ‘Would you like that seen to’ asks a
St.John’s volunteer? ‘No thanks’ I reply ‘it’s too far to walk in my
delicate state’. Slowly I change, beset with leg, foot and thigh cramps
and set off gingerly for our meeting place at the Cancer Research
reception. Well, at least I was 20 mins. faster then last year and I
wasn’t tossing which is some consolation. And, more importantly and
thanks to my Rotarians, friends, neighbours and family around £1,400 has
been sponsored for Alzheimers Trust and Cancer Research UK.
CODA The Cancer reception team are entirely gobsmacked with my
‘achievement’ and offer food, a massage and tea – I thank them and take
the tea and an official photo. Dick, Ellen and shortly after Iona, my
daughter arrive and after a brief sunning on the terrace we meander to
Rossi’s restaurant in the Haymarket for a well earned ice cold beer and
meal. I feel I’ve earned it! After #86 is it the last marathon? No. Next
up the Keilder Water marathon and the 32nd London in Olympic year – roll
FINISH TIME 5.52.19. POSITION 31,101 with 3,609
behind me! MALE WINNER 2.04.19.
LONDON MARATHON REPORT 2010 THE KNEE RULES O.K.!
forecast was for blue skies and temps. around 22 c so naturally it was
cool and raining heavily before the start! At 8.30 fourteen Everpresents
were interviewed on BBC TV with Jonathon Edwards who asked ‘you’re not
tossing that thing are you?’ referring to my pancake. ‘No’, I said ‘it’s
just for the interview’. The Mayor of Greenwich set up off at 9.45 and
after a leisurely start at the back I briefly chatted with Richard
Branson (dressed as a butterfly) leading Princess Beatrice's
'caterpillar' going for a Guinness record for the fastest group tied
together. Along with these exhibitionists was the 15’ high Angel of the
North and a look-alike giraffe going for the tallest entry at about 20’.
As my new bionic titanium knee was 45 weeks old and an unknown quantity
for the distance I decided to race walk and set off at a 12.5 minute
mile pace with my Everpresent colleague Dave Fereday, a veteran of this
The starting arrangements for this marathon, for
those not in the know, there are 3 starts for the 37,000 field. Red
numbers go from Greenwich Park (22,000) including fun-runners; Blue from
Blackheath (14,000) including Male & Female elites, and Wheelchairs and
Green (2,000) Personalities/ VIP’s & Geriatrics e.g. Everpresents. The
starting line-up is Wheelchairs first, Ladies then Elites and everyone
else at 9.45.
After 1 mile the Greens merge with Blues Shooters
Hill when chaos reigns. Route marshals man the road humps and things
settle down for another 2 miles when the Reds converge just above
Woolwich. Each group jeering and whistling good naturedly at the other.
Shortly before this I’d ‘speeded’ up to 11.40 min. mile pace and lost
Dave, never to see him again! In the event he passed me at about the 7
or 8 mile marker. I’m enjoying the atmosphere; the weather has improved
and the crowds are in great voice ‘get a move on’ one shouts. At this
stage the runners are about 30 abreast and most are passing me at a lick
doing 9/10 miling to my 12. Oops someone has dropped their mobile I just
avoided stepping on. I doubt it’ll be in good shape for long. One thing
puzzles me at 2 miles. There is an enormous queue of runners at a bank
of portaloos. Why didn’t they go before the start?
My training this year until 3 months before was on
target until sciatica and ham strings injuries laid me up. I could
hardly walk so I tried Chinese massage, sports masseurs, osteopathy and
low frequency pulse treatment. All of this got me back to training only
5 weeks before the big day which gave no time for the long (20 mile)
runs I needed – my max was 15 with speed infills so I knew that at 16 in
the marathon I would have to wing it. With 29 Londons in the bag my
experience I reasoned would pull me through. Also my team would cheer me
en route (Janet, Dick, Ellen and in the later stages my daughter Kyla).
Advanced technology was also on hand in the shape of my other daughter
Iona who could track my progress on her i -phone through the computer
mats every 5k. These mats link to the runners’ computer shoe chip and
provide an exact timing for every runner. Cool n’est pas?
There are also a number of blind runners with
guides every year and around the 5 mile mark I passed one. A few seconds
later the same pair barged into my back and I had to resist saying
‘can’t you look where you’re going?’ Although I didn’t see them some
runners were carrying fridges??? Ladders? a Tiger (stuffed replica). As
if just running 26.2 miles wasn’t enough. At the 12 mile mark on Tower
Bridge two runners are dragging a sledge with a wall on it with a ‘break
through’ company message on it. ‘Whatever next’ I asked myself narrowly
being run over! Turning into the Commercial Road at 12 miles the fast
guys are running through 21 in the other lane and I thought they’ll take
about 3.5 hrs. I went faster than that in the ‘80’s!
Anyway I’m through the half in 2 hrs. 53 mins. and
slowing up with my miling around 14 mins. but feeling good and still in
control. My supporters give me a lift at 15 mile but have no drinks or
take no photos – what am I paying them for? I give a timely Ogi; Ogi Ogi
at the Commercial Road underpass and get a soto voce response. The drink
stations are running low as the temperature rises. I’m starting to
overtake loads of walkers which feels good. I take a handful of jelly
babies from a large lady and take my second hi carb jell which provides
a much needed boost through to 20. I’m jogging at 14 min. miling,
feeling good with the bionic knee in good shape too. An ambulance
screeches through and I see a runner vomiting curled up and in bad shape
surrounded by St.Johns aides. Large queues of runners line up for the
portaloos this side of Canary Wharf and I think ‘if they wait too long
they’ll seize up’
So far we’ve past jazz groups; big jazz bands;
steel bands; very noisy drum bands; brass bands; salsa bands; pop
groups; boy cadet bands; yes they’re all out there playing to the
biggest audience they will ever play to. And, new this year a gyrating /
swinging scantily clad group of young ladies – head turners all.
Spectator banners vie for notice – taller, wider,
more colourful, now with photos, exorting their runners ‘well done son!’
We’re now over 5 hours into the marathon around Canary Wharf and houses,
streets and buildings are still crammed with spectators shouting
themselves hoarse. I’m jogging along at a leisurely 14 min. miling and
passing ‘00’s of runners many the worse for wear and still 6 miles to
go. The clear up trucks are out; the millions of discarded bottles are
being emptied by the volunteers and bagged up. Steam hosers are vainly
trying to remove super-glued gel packets from the road.
Passing the Tower of London a lonely beefeater
shares some sympathy with an exhausted walker. The City of London
streets and along the Embankment are still packed and suddenly I hear
‘Daddy’ screamed from the pavement. It’s my daughter Kyla who finally
made the route at the 25 mile mark so we exchange hugs and arrange an
Admiralty Arch meeting.
Up Birdcage Walk and passed the Q.V.
monument, Buckingham Palace and down the Mall. But where’s H.R.H
Elizabeth 2? This is the 30th time she’s failed to give me a wave –
honestly! No-one looks up from the press box as I signal 30 completed.
They’re all waiting for the Gingerbread Man whom I’m well ahead of at
26.2., as well as assorted Star Wars warriors and Rhinos – and Gordon
Ramsey who wimped out earlier.
I meet up with my support team and changed under
the Arch then set off for St. Martin’s Lane and tapas and plenty of cold
beer with Janet, Dick, Ellen, Kyla, Anna (grand-daughter), Phil and Mina
(see pic.). Then back to Brum on the 19.17 – first class of course! What
Finally, a great day all round with appropriate cool weather for half
the course and loads of fantastic support - I lost count of the bands.
The knee held up well = in fact I jogged a few miles from the 19th mile
and eventually came in 34,635th with almost 2,000 behind me and 30 mins.
faster than last year – without crutches!
Hey! It may not be my last marathon after all -
but time will tell.
Unfortunately one of the Everpresents didn't make
it so we're now down to 20!.
Dale’s time 6 hours 11 minutes 12 seconds. 34,635th
Official finishers 36,524.
Marathon # 85
Charity ‘Thanks for Life’ End Polio Now campaign. Amount raised £808.20
Thanks to all my Rotarian friends, Midlands Fretted Orchestra, Fircones
French group, friends, neighbours and family.
April 2010. Dale (Galloping Gourmet) Lyons
CRUTCHES TO THE FORE FOR THE 29TH
ON FOUR LEGS
What a glorious day it turned out after the diabolical weather
predictions. Hot air balloons on the heath and
portaloos by the thousands – what more could one want?
With little training, owing to clapped out knee & underarm crutches that
were abandoned at enormous expense I turned to DWR (deep water running)
loadsa gym work and a modicum of crutch practice to keep my EVERPRESENT
status intact with 22 remaining at kick off.
Dick dropped me off near
Village a short walk from the Heath.
But, the start area (3 start points Red, Blue
& Green) is now so restricted and convoluted I had another 15 min.
crutch to my Green start area. Ah! for the halcyon
days of ’81 when you could park 30 secs., from the
Park start & only 4,999 runners (no
women). Still, that’s the price of success!
Only 12 of the Everpresents showed for a photo – all complaining of
restricted training but with my crutches I had the edge.
This start is supposed to be for celebs plus
a few geriatrics & virgins (1st timers) so it’s a comfortable
Gordon (Ramsey) gave me a dismissive look of recognition.
The other crutched athlete, an wounded officer from Afgan service
said he would take 2 weeks to complete at 2 miles a day – amazing!.
A Flora Marathon rep. Ben with whom I’d been involved introduced
himself. A group of 24 linked Welsh runners said
they were attempting a Guinness record – nuff said. Blind
Dave Healy walked straight past me until I cried “Blind Dave!” – then we
chatted. Finally, I allowed the Mayor of Lewisham
who was starting our marathon to be photographed with me.
was a leisurely start with me crutching at the rear but still passing
someone who was walking after ½ mile! Then chaos
as the Blue start runners joined in at the 1mile mark.
Similarly, just as the pace had settled we got to Woolwich and in
came the Red runners to catcalls and boos.
I was hopping, lopping, crutching along at a steady
4½ mph pace checking on the many pothole hazards.
My knee felt comfortable although my right hand was losing feeling.
Janet, my partner was supposed to buzz on the hour – nothing, so at 7
miles I tried her mobile to learn they had arrived at the 6 mile! Hey ho
– the best laid plans & all that. I’m getting
phenomenal support from the passing runners & spectators due to my
Everpresent status & crutches – very encouraging.
Coins, missing charity buckets, discarded bum bags, wigs?, T shirts
littered the route, as the heat built with no shade or breeze as I loped
towards Greenwich and the moth-balled Cutty Sark at 7 miles.
slowed to 4 mph stopping at every other water
station and got passed by 6 joined up runners in a Hearing Dog costume –
God I thought, they must be baking. Then my first
(lady) Rhino past – I could tell from the hairless thin legs & running
Displacement is a always a good way to minimise pain so for the next 3
miles I fantasised about the delicious meal we’ed booked in the tapas
Bridge I stopped for my 2nd
round of painkillers and was then interviewed on the Bridge by a
gobsmacked BBC TV personality Rob on seeing a crutched ‘runner’.
12 ½ miles the route is a dual carriageway for 3
miles with the fast guys & gals fizzing past having already completed 22
miles – showoffs! At the halfway mark I’ve been
crutching for 3hrs 4mins. so my ETA should be around 6 ½ hrs. & well
under the cut off time. My team are no shows again at 14 miles which is
very distressing when you’re expecting some TLC.
Anyway they eventually appear at 15, West Ferry – Isle of Dogs AND with
no jelly babies. Then we’re into the
Docklands 4 mile loop which drags on interminably.
I’ve slowed to around 15 min. miling i.e. 4 mph but feeling ok.
One problem with crutches you can’t grab assorted offerings from
the spectators such as jelly babies; orange
segments; juicy fruits; cans of
lager; ice lollies etc.etc..
most of which are not really advisable ‘treats’ during a marathon.
noise around the
Wharf is deafening echoing off the
skyscrapers with watchers screaming out Da-el; Da-el;
Da-el; as I limp past – I’m getting the
sympathy vote for the crutches! Slow as I am I’m
now passing assorted walkers and others collapsed on the pavement, some
throwing up, most exhausted others being aided by the redoubtable St.
John’s – they’re a godsend! Through
Wharf I then
leave Peter Andre & Jordan surrounded by media & minders, in my wake.
Only 8 to go as someone trips over my crutch – I
stop to pick it up and a blind runners partner offers his water bottle –
how nice! My team Janet, Dick & Ellen eventually
show up at 21 miles to take some photos and dole out water & TLC but
again no jelly babies.
“You’re amazing; incredible;
fantastic; unbelievable; well done; good job;
runners call out as they read the T shirt ’29
Londons & ran every one -
Everpresent.org.net.’ Well, as Max Bialystock said
in the Producers ‘if you’ve got it – flaunt it!’
runners have thinned significantly through the East End & along
Commercial Road but the crowds won’t leave as they
cheer another Elvis ah- hu- hu ing all the way. I
get on the shoulder of Barak Obama at 23 miles but he pulls away
embarrassed to be overtaken by an invalid. On the
adjacent carriageway other walkers & fun runners are still 10 miles
behind the crutches – when will they finish? At dusk
Then, just as I’m making a push for the tape – excruciating cramp in my
right thigh and another in my right calf. I stop to
ease & massage the pain away, taking off the knee strapping.
I’m now hobbling at less than 3 mph. Where’s
St. John when you need him?
He/ She turns up at 23 ½ miles approaching Blackfriars so I
succumb to the soothing hands of a matronly lady for 5 mins. – any
longer and I might not leave.
With a last gasp through the Blackfriars underpass I
give out a cri de coeur Ogi; Ogi; Ogi; to which a
few stragglers gamely respond and into the sunshine of the embankment
with 2 miles to go.
along and under
Waterloo & Hungerford
Bridges the charity groupies and a
faster EP give me a fantastic lift then its past the Sri Lankan
Birdcage Walk passed Buck. House (no wave from HRH); past a sign saying
ONLY 385 YARDS TO GO & down the Mall to the glorious finish line with
hundreds behind me. Just before the line, I stop
and give a crutch bow to the phalanx of camermen.
It doesn’t seem like 29 years since I completed the 1st
London – where did it all go?
That’s it! Next year I’m taking it easy in a
wheelchair as it’s downhill all the way! Or am I?
Whatever - roll on 2010 – and the redoubtable 21 EVERPRESENTS.
Congrats to Pat Dobbs 1st O/70 o/o
#94 3hrs. 31mins.03secs.
Later I learned the Everpresents have lost another so we’re now down to
21. Check all the marathon Info. Photos, Stats,
Runners on our website
Dale’s stats. Official finish time
6 hrs. 40 mins. 53 secs.
1st Half 3.04.32
2nd half 3.36.21
Average speed 15.30 mins. 3.92
Fastest mile. 12.42 mins. 4.70 mph
Overall position 34,546 th
Position in age group +70 cat. 84th o/o 94.
Finishers. Total 35,247
Men 24,230 Women 11,017
Slowest logged finisher 8 hrs.50 mins.41 secs. Dan
Number of unlogged finishers unknown.
Logged runners in Dale’s wake 701
Men 292 Women 409
Dale aka Galloping Gourmet.
LONDON MARATHON 23RD April 06 - ‘NO WHEELS ON MY
ZIMMER’ BUT I KEPT ROLLIN ALONG!
My 31st London Marathon (other
Everpresents #26) was completed in the relatively slow time of 4.45.04
on a rainy but mild day. However I was carrying (yes carrying) a
standard Zimmer frame as my wheeled version was judged ineligible by
London Marathon Ltd. I did attempt to get special dispensation for
the Zimmer and Aged Concern but to no avail ‘ you’ll be disqualified and
banned for life’ was the kindly reminder of the rules!
So it was a case of 'No
wheels on my wagon' for 26.2. As a result I rigged up a harness from
found bits the night before and up kept a steady 10+ minute miling all
the way - due to my rigorous training, general superb fitness and a
handy store of jelly babies! After 20 miles they perform miracles –
Before the start the Everpresent’s met at the
Greenwich Park Grandstand for a group photo – but unfortunately only 10
During the run the spectators and
runners gave me fantastic support and many couldn’t believe I was
carrying a zimmer. ‘Vos ist
das?’ A German runner asked – ‘ja
woll’ I responded. ‘Les
Anglais sont fou!’ two French runners
commented. ‘Qui, mais je n’est pas le trop fou’ I replied, thinking
of St. George pulling the Dragon who is going to take a week to
finish! They’re not all locked up yet are they?
Not having had time to
practise on the wheel-less zimmer I’d little idea of the possible
problems en route so kept to a relatively sedate pace early on. The
neck strap I’d attached slipped around a bit until the rain fixed it and
at fourteen miles I stopped and raised the height to stop it
grounding. After that it was mind over matter.
Again, the route had been changed
again this year just to confuse the masses so at 12.5 miles the route
took the right hand of Commercial Road into the East End and into the
Isle of Dogs loop the opposite way, exiting past Canary Wharf which as
usual was jammed to the rafters. The noise was deafening!
Then under the Blackwall tunnel
underpass and later the Blackfriars underpass I managed to kickstart a
Ogi! Ogi! Ogi! the runners marathon chant. In fact it’s become so
popular a DJ en route near the 11 mile mark exorted passing runners to
Ogi! naturally they responded.
The London has now become
as much a street party as a marathon run. Along the route spectators
had dressed up and waved flags, placards, names ‘Hello Dad’ and the
burgeoning charity worker groups with masses of message balloons
screaming their heads off when their runners passed. Big bands, brass
bands, steel bands, disco music, bagpiper groups, rock groups, R & B
bands – you name it they were there with the spectators urging the
runners to go faster than their fading legs would carry them.
Helpful runners offered
and passed me drinks – taking pity on me with some running and
chatting with me for a while. Distractions like that helped to pass
the time and displace the pain!
my partner Janet and friends Dick and Ellen being at the Cutty Sark (7
miles), Island Gardens on the Isle of Dogs (16 miles) and near
Cleopatras Needle (25 miles) I never saw them even though they saw
me. Unless spectators have some clearly noticeable marker – big
notice/ large balloons/ giant umbrella etc. runners just see a sea of
faces flashing past. Despite the rain the course seemed more crowded
this year with hardly a gap on the 26 miles.
For 1st time runners or those
whose training hasn’t been enough there’s plenty of carbo nourishment on
the route – apart from the official lucozade stands – such as orange
segs., bananas, chewits, lollypops, mars bars and best of all jelly
babies which give you a real sugar surge – especially for those who
really hit the wall!
I'm now known as the Zimmerman - what a Burden - and
was very briefly interviewed on BBC TV., by Colin Jackson (ex world
record holder) on Tower Bridge at the 12 mile mark. He was rightly
gobsmacked by my attire and almost lost for words.
I was still running around 10 minute miling from 20
so had the really delightful feeling of passing hundreds of static,
walking, shuffling runners – not so nice when your one of them! The
miles at this ‘speed’ seem to flash by. I stopped briefly at the
Aged Concern groupies at 25 mile mark who collectively gave me a rousing
cheer and thumbs up – I speeded up – briefly!
At the finish the crowds raised a cheer as the route
DJ called out ‘here’s the Zimmerman’ and crossing the line Sally Gunnell
shouted ‘well done Zimmerman’. Off came the computer chip (no chip no
time) which gives your personal times from the start and at 10 km, 25
km, 35km., and the finish – this removes the previous anomaly whereby
delays for the back markers were added to your overall time.
Finally the London Evening Standard met me for a
follow up to their Friday article on the Everpresents. Got the medal
over the Galloping Gourmet hat and felt really good! The Zimmer felt
At the Aged Concern HQ they were over the moon with the TV
publicity and provided lots of TLC with lovely cups of tea and buffet
snacks and massage & photos and seats!
importantly I've raised around £600 so far for Aged Concern - I might
need them sooner than later - so I’d like to thank all my sponsors
unreservedly for their generosity, good wishes and support before,
during and after the marathon. Well done!
Many thanks and best wishes.
Dale (Galloping Gourmet) aka Zimmerman
p.s. Overall this was my 71st marathon and it
seems the Everpresents are now down to 24 as four either didn’t start
or finish. So bring on 2007!
Dale’s run statistics. 10
miles 1 hr. 45 mins./ 13.1 miles 2 hr. 13 mins./ 20 miles 3
miles. 1 hr.14 mins. Overall mile pace 10.87 mins.
A QUARTER CENTURY OF LONDON MARATHONS ‘ THE GREAT
BUSTARD. FLIES AGAIN ‘
Fortunately the weather pundits got it
wrong again. The 17th April 2005 dawned clear, sunny and windless on
Blackheath – perfick for the record 42,000 entrants assembled around the
Churchill hot air dog.
The previous evening 14 of the 29
Everpresents were feted by Dave Bedford the Marathon supremo for
supporting all 25 Londons with a lavish East End feast – plus a ‘lecture’
on how lucky we were to get automatic entry every year – thanks Dave! This
year I spurned the Galloping Gourmet chefs gear and pancake in favour of
the more flamboyant Great Bustard costume – my sponsored charity. In view
of my 5hr 12 min. PW (personal worst) time, was this the right decision?
Eggs from Russia are being hatched into Little Bustards (extinct in the UK
for 200 years) and reintroduced to Salisbury Plains. So far so good eight
years on for the Bustards. Had I done the right training since my knee
injections of hydroluric acid? A testing 20 mile Ashby race in 3 hours and
long 17 & 22 mile cross country runs were about right. So what went wrong
– I was confident of a 4 hour time + or – 10mins.? My Bustard gear weighed
a mere 1.5 lbs with little wind resistance so was the problem a low carbo
The EP’s (Everpresents) were given a Green
start so I snuck into the Celebs. Area with 10 mins. to go and chatted to
Master Chef Gordon Ramsey who remembered me tossing (pancakes) in the
Great North last year (after a little memory jog). The Cheeky Girls were
just ahead – great motivation, and with a hard man from The Bill to one
side I was obviously in select company. The marathon attracts the great &
the recognised with Sue Barker interviewing Steve Redgrave and the EP’s
granted an official photo-shoot under the Green startline – thanks again
The Mayor of Greenwich officiated the start
in some heraldic finery which I had admired at close quarters earlier and
I was off flapping. Cruising through Charlton for a 8.40 min. first mile I
gradually subsided to 10 min. miles by the 6th at Greenwich and I already
knew things weren’t going according to the 9 min. mile plan. As I slowed,
passing runners pushed & shoved past – inconsiderate b******s. Others,
plus a few EP’s gave a merry salute. Spectators pointed and laughed with
‘Go you Bustard’ – and other words! Children shouted - ‘look a duck!’ I
flapped onwards, increasingly disjointed. At 10 miles I passed a fallen
runner . I learned later that a doctor acquaintance who was also a
‘virgin’ marathoner had given him the kiss of life. The 59 year old was
later pronounced dead.
Considering the numbers involved i.e.
572,000 finishers in 25 years, there have been few fatalities or serious
On to Tower Bridge at 12 miles and the legs
feel they’ve done 26. Then, Sally (Gunnell) for BBC TV stops me and asks
‘What’s a Bustard’ I tell her, flap my wings and stumble on. This year the
course has been ‘improved’ so no Tower; no cobbles; no Katherine Dock
chicane; no Beefeaters PLUS the whole of the City/ Docklands loop has been
reversed – very confusing. Paula didn’t like it either so take heed
I’d arranged to meet my Daughters Kyla &
Iona & Grandchildren Joe, Marisa & Anna at Canary Wharf the 16 mile mark
but as this was now the 18.5 mile mark they’ll have given up waiting I
thought. Rounding the last bend before the Tower there they were shouting
and screaming, waving a decorative homemade Bustard banner and grinning a
welcome – more I think from relief. A cooling draught of water and a chewy
fig bar later I trotted off feeling fresher and grateful for the boost!
Eight miles to go seems forever especially as the miles had lengthened to
14 mins. – my legs were leaden but why I asked? I’d done the training.
Answer came there none! Briefly I was tempted by a notice ‘free massage
for those worn legs here’.
Twenty of so male & female runners legs
were being caressed & soothed by oiled hands. A marathon official raised
the tape when he saw me but I stupidly resisted and stubbled on and into
the last 7 miles turning towards the City. Commercial Road stretches for
ever through the East End’s monotony, grime and lack lustre parade of
tatty shops and housing. However, we were briefly encouraged to see
‘runners’ passing on the other carriageway 8 miles BEHIND us being chased
by the marathon Clean-up trucks – how embarrassing! By now the Bustard
wings are chaffing my elbows and I’m getting a sunburned neck after almost
4 hours – Jeez I should be finished and onto the beers already! Instead I
work out I’ve another 60 mins. of suffering at least. I’m stopped again at
22.5 miles for another BBC interview and am glad of the brief respite. The
next 2 miles are a blur enlivened by a roistorous ‘Ogi. ogi, ogi under
Blackfriars tunnel. Along the Embankment the crowds are 4 deep and
enjoying the shambling, walking and stumbling (few are running) at 24
miles. Then there’s my partner Janet, her sons Daniel & Pat with Susannah
& Jo, my friend Dick, Ellen and assorted supporters. As I cry out ‘I’m
b****cks’ camera’s flash, water is offered, well dones are shouted and I’m
off for another 1.5 miles of agony. The legs have died so what’s keeping
them moving. Mind over matter that’s what! As Cleopatra’s needle hoves
into view I suffer the final indignity – I’m passed by a taxi cab
lookalike and worst of all the Rhino – it’s a very long time since the
Camel went by. The Bustard dies of shame!
At the finish the tannoy announces my
arrival shortly followed by two Wombles. My time of 5 hours 12 minutes 46
secs. Is 2 hours 15 min. 31 secs slower than my fastest marathon 21 years
ago and my slowest single marathon of the 69 I’ve run to date. My 70th
will be a lot faster – you have my word!
I collect my bag off the last truck – of
course, and am accosted by an Italian runner who wants to know how many
marathons I’ve done – despite speaking virtually no English. We converse
in sign language writing numbers in the dirt. He has done 65. Ha! I’ve
done 69 – molto bene! Feeling better I stagger off to find my family
thinking - will I be back again next year!?*?? Of course you will stupid!
SOME RACE STATS. Women’s winner Paula
Radcliffe 2.17.46 World record. Men’s winner Not English. Fastest UK man
John Brown 2.10. p.b. DALES SPLIT TIMES. 5 Mile 45 mins. 10 miles 1.37.
Half 2.12. 15 mile 2.35 20 mile 3.41. Last 1.2 mile 17 mins.! 1st half
2.12 2nd half 3.00 hrs. Average mile speed 11 mins. 54 secs.
‘Everpresents’ remaining, 28!
Dale (Galloping Gourmet) Lyons aka
Great Bustard. As a result of some inspired sponsorship the Great Bustard
Group charity will be over £600 better off – well done all my sponsors!!!
MARATHON 'WORLD' RECORD SET
A new Marathon World Pancake Tossing Record was created in the 24th London
(OAP's Section) on Sunday April 18th in a blistering time of 4hrs.
19mins.57 secs. (unconfirmed) by Dale Lyons the Galloping Gourmet. It
would have been faster but a waterlogged pancake slowed Dale down! Also
you could have seen Dale on BBC Telly (twice) being interviewed by Ricky
Pasad (12.30) and our Olympic Gold Medallist Sally Gunnell (hi-lites).
Unfortunately, these interviews further slowed Dale's record time overall.
He was however, glad of the rest.
For the 1st 20 miles Dale was cruising to a
sub 4 hour finish with pancake flipping energetically - then a combination
of mobile phone interference, the onset of drenching rain, pancake fatigue
and general debilitation slowed him down through the Isle of Dogs and the
He was further disoriented by being passed
by an assortment of 2nd rate fun runners in the shape of Wombles;
Telephone Kiosks; Geriatric ladies; Calendar Girls; Superman and worst of
all Batman & Robin! However he did not suffer the grosser indignity by
being well ahead of IDS and Lord Archer - thank God!
Dale's time put him respectably in the 1st
50% of finishers (15,883rd) with over 15,000 behind him! This was the 24
London Marathon and Dale's 29th having run 4 doubles & 1 triple London on
the same day - they're not all locked up yet! So it's now 67 marathons and
At the finish Dale was met by his partner
Janet (speedy) Tomlinson and his daughter Kyla, Simon and grand children
Joe and Anna who were mightily impressed with the medal and soggy pancake
- still edible. Afterwards he had a fabulous welcome at the UK Cancer post
marathon reception and was treated to an elite massage and weak tea -
fortunately just missing the torrential downpour which 'drowned' many late
finishers (they should have run faster!).
The important thing is, over £420.00 has
been raised for the Bobby Moore Cancer Fund so Dale thanks all his
generous sponsors - family, friends, neighbours and fellow Rotarians.
(cheques should be made out to the 'Bobby Moore Fund - UK Cancer ').
Dales next marathon will be in New York
City in November - for the 7th time - but not tossing this time!
May 5th 2004 Dale (Galloping Gourmet) Lyons
Dale, the Galloping Gourmet, is our super
star. He is the "Pancake Man" - I have only recorded his
fastest time of the day as he has run the
London more than once, several times!
1986 ran 3.06 for a World record pancake toss -
1987 ran there and back! 3.50 & 5.09 (Double London in 8.59!)
1989 3.50 & 4.58 ( 2nd Double London 8.48)
1990 Longest Egg & Spoon world record Guinness Book in 3:44
1992 4.17 Fastest 3 leg marathon (yes three legged) with Dave Pettifer
1993 4.54 Crutch aided after broken leg in August 92
1994 3.47 Failed attempt on egg & spoon world record
1995 3.58 New 3 legged world record Guinness book entry, again with Dave
Pettifer Massey RR.
1997 4.37 & 5.28 Double London but failed attempt on triple retired
after 61 miles.
1998 5.14, 5.23 & 6.35 Triple London in 17hrs 12 mins Guinness book
rejected (not fast enough!). Started Blackheath 22.00 hrs. Sat finished
Mall 15.12 hrs. on Sunday 26th April.
Does this mean Dale has done 30 London's? YES is the