London Marathon brings memories flooding back of my run 25 years on

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Wensum, by Jim Harding, Tuesday, May 2

It’s always a stirring experience and took me right back to 1992 when it was my turn to pound the streets of the capital over the testing 26.2 miles from the Blackheath starting point.

In that era the run ended half-way across Westminster Bridge and not the impressive stretch along the Mall which concludes the event these days.

In the immediate aftermath, with my legs still aching from, it all I wrote this in my weekly column.

‘It was a super weekend, made more so by the camaraderie of the thousands who took part and the thousands who lined the streets in support.

‘Crossing the finishing line on Westminster Bridge in a time under four hours was a personal triumph.

‘But the most enjoyable part of the run was during the first half.

‘The carnival atmosphere was then at its noisiest with rock groups, jazz bands and stereo units blasting their welcome and crowds jamming the pavements cheering us on.

‘The impact of turning a corner to be confronted by the mighty Cutty Sark after six miles was stunning and to be given the freedom of crossing Tower Bridge a memory to cherish.

‘Part of this pleasure was the fact that I felt so good during these early miles.

‘Once into Isle of Dogs territory and the Thames Embankment the legs had lost their spring and my progress towards the end could best be described as plodding.

‘Though I did manage a final flourish with the bridge in sight.

‘Indeed a day to remember.’

As this year marks the 25th anniversary of that achievement it’s also a reminder that our third son had been born a matter of a few weeks before my run.

Just prior to the 2017 marathon I met Anne-Marie Chilvers in the Fakenham bank where she works.

Like so many other participants, her first attempt was not only a big physical challenge but also a charitable commitment.

In her case to raise funds for the Break children’s charity which, amazingly, she did to the tune of around £3,000.

Hats off to all of you out there, especially from this area, who ‘went the extra mile’ to finish the 2017 event, however long it took you and however much you raised.

For the best part of two weeks workmen have been repairing and tidying up the two old bridges on the former Fakenham East railway line.

For safety reasons one of them needs new railings and the other what I would describe as a ‘spring clean’.

Two mechanical diggers have been hauled in to level the ground, coats of paint have been applied and a mass of ivy removed.

I presume the whole exercise will have cost some thousands.

The only people who now venture this way are walkers, lots of them attached to dogs.

Is it unreasonable to ask why this territory has suddenly become the focus of such attention? And such a slice of whatever cake is covering the cost.

It is definitely off the beaten track and whilst I can appreciate the safety aspect of filling the gap in the railings, the rest hardly seems to be a priority.

Our voluntary Fakenham Area Conservation Team regularly cuts the undergrowth when it invades the paths and clears fallen bushes and trees, a service much appreciated by us walkers.

But I’m bemused by all the other goings-on and as to whether they’re strictly needed.

What a pity such care will not be given to cutting and tending all the grass verges in the town this summer if recent history is anything to go by.