London Marathon 2021 was a long time coming. However, better late than never; it finally arrived on 3rd October.
This year due to having to transport a 9kg tractor to Blackheath the journey to the start was far easier. Ian George had kindly agreed to borrow a van and drive my wife Sam and myself there. Thankfully we managed to get to within a ten minute walk to the start.
Once in the start zone I had to go and get the tractor checked by the Guinness World Records. It was great to chat to many of the other runners attempting a record. I finally didn’t feel like the only lunatic! From a rubicks cube to a chap running in ski boots; there was plenty of other fools here. We all had our reasons and it was inspirational to here their stories. I shared Bens story and felt overwhelmed with what I was attempting. I knew it was going to be a tough day in more than one way. I also knew Ben was with me.
At 9:49am I crossed the start line and was quickly into my somewhat shortened stride. Running in the tractor suit was ‘restricting’, along with the obvious added weight I had to hold onto the frame to prevent it bouncing all over the place! Nevertheless, I found myself running the first mile far quicker than I’d planned! And there at the first mile marker was Sam cheering me on my way. Thank you Sam x
The first six miles flew by and I was going well. My pace was good, too quick I kept thinking! But I felt okay and the support from the crowd and fellow runners was outstanding, like nothing I’d experienced before. ‘Go tractor man’ and ‘Go Team Ben Hammond’ were to be ringing in my ears the whole way! Along with ‘Can I have a lift’ from what felt like hundred of runners!
At the Cutty Sark I was keeping my eyes peeled for Steve and Sheralyn. It was just fantastic to see them and give them a high five. It gave me such a boost and felt a wave of determination come over me. They really are an amazingly courageous and brave family, my inspiration.
A couple of miles further a Surrey Quays I still felt okay. It was fab to see Susie and Otis here not once but twice within a mile or so. Such support is always such a boost. I thought back to watching Otis run Brighton Marathon a few weeks before. That boy sure can run!
Next just before Tower Bridge at around mile twelve were Nick, Claire and Nell. More amazing support as ever.
Across Tower Bridge I continued which was its usual cauldron of sound! The amazing support just kept on coming! As I past the half way mark I was desperate to see Sam and Tommy, the pain was becoming difficult to manage and I needed them. It was great to see them. I later learnt that Tommy had only got into position a minute or so before I arrived!
I’d run the first half around twenty minutes quicker than I’d needed to and over the next couple of miles the pain and realisation I wouldn’t see another TBH supporter for over ten miles began to make me slow. The straps were digging into my shoulders, the pain becoming too much. I needed to walk to try and take the weight off just for thirty seconds or so. It helped, but not much! At mile twenty I just about managed to do the maths to realise if I just kept on running I could do it. Yes I’d slowed, but I’d banked time in the first half. It was on, and it gave me the encouragement I needed. Along the embankment I saw all the TBH supporters along with Corrie, Jason, Laura, Jim and Grace. Just what I needed exactly when I needed it.
I couldn’t quite believe I was going to make it but just before 2:40pm I crossed the line and had bagged the Guinness World Record for the fastest heavy goods vehicle. It was the best feeling to finish, and know that somewhere Ben was laughing at me. He always laughed at me and my terrible jokes! Thank you Ben. Miss you x.