David’s London Marathon Odyssey

David Gallagher, through a rigorous an exacting selection process of picking names out of a hat, won the BARF entry to the London Marathon in 2022…

After my defeat on the Ridgeway 40 where my uncle John, Big John as he’s referred to by some, beat me by well over two hours having left me at 14km, later stating that “We ran together up to 40km when David hit the wall. I made sure he was comfortable and left him with his hip flask, service revolver and one round of ammunition and went on🏃🏃🏃. I didn’t expect to see him again.” But surprisingly enough even to myself I did not need to spend any ammunition, I mustered up what I could to trudge along until I was finally able to complete the last 26km. In the wake of this colossal defeat I had to make peace with the fact that I was the loser and any ridicule or slegging must be duly accepted until such time that I could redeem myself, it is for this reason I had to do what I could to run with Big John again, except this time I’d have to be the one waiting for him at the finish line!

After months of training and licking my wounds, it was finally time for redemption, so early one Friday I set off for the The City Of London where after leaving my bags off I set out to meet Big John and his wife Liz. Upon meeting them, pleasantries were exchanged but it wasn’t long before we got down to the real talk… John’s time in the Berlin Marathon the week before (3.16), our thoughts for the impending run and of course plenty of smack talk!

We then went together to the Expo to look around, there were many stalls manned by barters from near and far, there was a tremendous buzz about the place, we were in the pursuit of clothing garments and accessories to aid us in the battle that lay ahead. Such items I acquired were Runderwear, Socks and Electrolyte Drink Powders. Of course when I showed John my Runderwear he told me “You’re going to need it if you want to stay ahead of me!”. As well as these purchases I also ran on a large scale treadmill to see what time I could achieve in a 400M run, especially to strike fear and doubt into the heart of John! I ran as fast as my legs would carry me and I implored the Mill Operator to hasten the speed but he refused my pleas, forcing me to run it in no impressive time having been told several times to slow down, regardless, I could see John was shook to the core and I seen in his eyes the same fear and doubt that would fester in my mind and take the very heart from me!

By the time our satchels were full, our pictures had been taken and our bellies were stuffed with free sample energy bars and flapjacks we set off again together, making for The House Of My Fathers Cousin, it was here where we feasted and broke bread together one last time before what would later come to be known as quite possibly the greatest show down between two generations of our time! Well at least in my reckoning.

The following day was spent marching around the city with my brother, scoping out much of what was to be the next days battle ground, the preparations were already well underway especially around the Palace, I didn’t see the starting line but I seen the finish… arguably the part that matters the most, as its not always about how strongly you start but rather how well you finish.

When we were content with the scouting expedition I bid my brother “fare well” then returned to my Chambers in the House Of

My Mother’s Sister where I spent some time practicing the Wim Hoff Breathing Technique and I dabbled in meditation, pondering about the day to follow, what it may hold from glory to failure, what I knew I was capable of and what I may have to resort to… of course this was but idle contemplation as rarely does a strategy unfold the way one hopes. With time to spare I entered a deep and lengthy sleep. I woke early feeling invigorated and most importantly, ready to run.

I decided to take my cousins advice and set out on my travels without a meal, the intention… to let my hunter gatherer instincts kick in and not to carry anything in my stomach that may bare an unperceived burden, some… in fact many may advise against this practice but I was glad of the advice and pleased with the result.

After traveling many leagues across the city I finally arrived at the starting area where I met with John again to exchange well wishes and tidings of good will before ultimately devolving into gnarly death stares and battle cries as after all… this was no wee thing, the man had beaten my best time (3hrs 21mins) and sought to do it again, would I let him? Neigh!! If anyone was to beat my best time in this great odyssey I had to be the man to do it!

I waited in a seemingly endless line for half an hour to relieve myself in the facilities before commencing my warm up (The warm up I use for boxing training). It wasn’t long before I was called to attention and began the shuffle towards the front line along with the battalions of other runners, before our lines broke for the charge we stood together in the same place for the first and final time, people wished each other well and swore allegiances to run at the same pace while others took no shame in the steamy discharge they left at the side of our line, perhaps it was the nerves, perhaps ritual… but more likely it was to rid themselves of any unnecessary burdens before the final charge.

Quickly through the commotion a silence fell and the anticipation built. but not for more than a matter of moments before it was broken by the clap of a gun ringing out! The crowd erupted with cheers and battle cries of their own people as we advanced! “Let’s go!” “Wooooo!” “Let’s go!” And of course “Barf! BARF!! BARFFFF!!!”

An oath I swore to run alongside a small band of men intending to complete the campaign before the third hour, the oath of course was to run together for as long as we kept up with each other, these were dire times and the time could not be afforded to hold back for each other. For miles I ran with them through the cheering crowds, the pace was easily kept and somewhat steady, while the crowds were many along the whole side of the war path and all were in high spirits! Particularly the Old Man standing in front of his deck chair in his dressing gown and slippers as he was cheering and roaring at passers by as he guzzled down his bottle of bubbly from a small green plastic cup.

After approximately ten kilometres the band of men I swore to run with fell apart and I was forced to secure my own pace, the main struggle at this point was not keeping up speed but knowing when I was going too fast as speed was not yet an issue and there was quite a distance left to cover. I heard a woman being commended for her steady pace keeping so I decided to use her pace for the next while but after only about five kilometres I let myself hasten my speed leaving her in my wake as I no longer resisted the urge to charge ahead, a mistake? Most definitely, she passed me later on at that same steady pace as my sense of urgency somewhat lessened, I never regained the ground between us.

As I entered my thirty first kilometre I found myself starting to tarry with the lack of external support in the somewhat barren docklands. When I realised I was doing this, then and every time after this I would at the top of my lungs belt out, “BARF! BARF!! BAAAARF!!!” to which any on lookers to the carnage would return the cry “BARF” “Go on BARF!!” as well as a host of their own battle cries “Go’wan son” “You’re flying!” “You’ve got this geeza!” And believe it or not, their cries were almost enchanting as they not only encouraged me but they sparked within me the spirit not only to carry on but to charge harder and not relent! I had also noticed a fellow runner skipping along rather than running, as I ran absolutely bamboozled by this act of lunacy, I wondered why they would do such a thing and swiftly I decided to follow suit to see what benefits it held… if any at all. I skipped and as a matter of fact I found myself gaining on those ahead of me yet exerting myself less, this trick however was short lived as it was only easier over short stints and especially on down hills, otherwise it would surely cost a lot of energy over a long distance. The trick was also beneficial in that it made the crowds cheer more as they may not have seen such antics before but also it was something different from what they’d been seeing all day.

As I entered the fortieth minute of the second hour I realised that there were only about five kilometres left, I knew that I would have to run a sub twenty minute five k so I sped up and ran as fast as I could, completing a kilometre in a time just shy of four minutes, as I ran I thought for the most part that I was keeping my pace, occasionally slowing slightly when I found my lungs whimpering but picking up the pace again as soon as I could, pushing through every bodily sign that told me to stop… although I did not realise it I did not run as fast in the next few kilometres but as I reached the barracks of the Palace, a place I had scouted out in the day hitherto, I knew the end was just around the corner so I mustered the last of my strength and sprinted as best I could, passing several comrades who had previously gained distance on me, and as I ran with all my might past the Palace Guards and down the corridor to the great arches marking the end, the hordes of celebrating on lookers cheered and shouted to all that approached, one final time I belched the word BARF! as my final cry lulled I crossed the line as fast as I could and after a few paces, ensuring I hastened not before the line, I halted and crumbled into a crooked position bending over with my hands on my knees and finally… I breathed the free air… I looked around at my fellow contingents and joined the floundering movement away from the line, as I did so I looked behind me to spy the result of my campaign and seen that the time was 3.02.38… I was ecstatic to be finished, proud to have beaten Big John and heartened by the fact that I had beaten my best time, but as I’m sure most runners will know… Still I was left wanting, as although I had done most of what I set out to do, I had not completed my mission within the third hour… thus I have no choice but to attack the course (or another) again to struggle and endeavor until I achieve my goal.

In the end The London Marathon was a great experience that anyone who gets the opportunity to run definitely should take, my time was 3:02:10 and Big John’s time was 3:19:47.