Saturday, April 12, 2008

FLM Photo Shoot

The good news is that Mike was able to come with me which made me feel heaps better. The morning started bright and early with me getting up at around 5am so I could feed the animals and then get myself bathed and dressed. Tinker resigned himself to a day alone as he recognised the 'going-out' signs. He took up residence on my side of the bed in the hope that me not being able to make the bed might somehow cancel our trip.

We'd allowed 3.5 hours for the journey, even though it should only take about 2 hours 'cos 'you never know what might happen'............Well 'it' did happen and when we arrived at the railway station we discovered that there had been delays earlier due to ice on the tracks and the trains were running 3 minutes late (or so they told us!). We weren't unduly worried as we had plenty of time. However, the train was on a go-slow for the first half of the journey until we merged with the main line and we really started to worry that we'd be late. Finally it went up to full speed and we arrived at London Bridge with enough time to enjoy a riparian walk along the Thames to Tower Bridge Hotel which is where the Press Conference was being held. That was all very well except that I'd planned on snatching a cup of coffee and a croissant for my brekkie when we arrived but I didn't have time.

It was very blustery but thankfully not raining so it was a pleasant walk. When I first moved to London may years ago I worked in an office in Hays Galleria alongside London Bridge so I know the area well. This is a view across the Thames. I love the different shapes of the buildings all squashed together. The cigar-shaped building is affectionately known as the gherkin! I always think the pink coloured building looks like a fairy tale castle.

This is HMS Belfast. She has played a very important part in our naval history, serving throughout the Second World War. It's really interesting to walk round and take a look below deck.

Quite a nice view of Tower Bridge. There is an exhibition centre there now and it's well worth visiting as it has an interesting history. The hotel can be seen in the background on the left hand side.

City Hall, home to the Mayor of London. I think it looks like the tail-end of an armadillo burrowing into the ground!

When we arrived at the hotel, the Press Conference with the elite runners was in full swing and there were photographers, celebs, wannabes and FLM crew bustling around all over the place. We signed in and got our passes and were directed to a room to await our turn with the paparazzi. Behind me, beneath the FLM sign, you can see Amanda Holden (a TV actress) and to her right is Buster who is claiming to be the oldest man to run a marathon. He was trying for a Guinness World Record but has not been able to provide any documentation to support his claim.

A wannabe 'fastest Elvis' and a young man who intended to bounce a basketball all the way round the marathon with me and last years scarf sandwiched between them. I have no idea how he will manage to bounce his ball amidst 35,000 runners without either losing it or impeding other runners. We shall see!

The same line-up plus Buster (as mentioned above) and his personal trainers (aka work colleagues) from Pimlico plumbers. Whilst Buster's actual age is in doubt, he is obviously an old man and to complete the marathon will be a fantastic feat.

Elvis mistakes my knitting needle for a microphone!

This is 22 year old Michelle who is going to walk the marathon on 4 ft high stilts. She has done a 1/2 marathon on them in 4 hours and is hoping to complete the full marathon in between 8 and 10 hours. Fantastic stuff.

One of several Masai warriors who have come to take part in the marathon to get sponsorship for a project to bring water to their village. There has been much media interest in them. There is a brief article here and I love the headline - "The marathon is easy. There are no lions"!!!

Then it was time to head off to the Expo at the Excel Centre in Docklands to collect my number, chip etc. whilst Mike went off into London for a look round. On my way to the railway station I couldn't resist snapping the Tower of London with washing hanging on the line. Classy!

The entrance to the exhibition. It's very slick and well organised so that you collect your number and chip and then walk around the stalls of exhibitors before collecting your goody bag at the exit. I didn't spend long there as I wanted to get home before the rush hour.

One high spot of the Expo was finding Mick'n'Phil inside. They were on a high from having won a prestigious award from Runner's World the night before, the Jane Tomlinson lifetime achievement award. Very well deserved it was too. Even better, after many years of trying to get in, they have subsequently been allowed to take part in the marathon on Sunday on a trial basis. Previously wheelchairs being pushed have not been allowed to take part.

A couple of sights I snapped from the railway: the Millenium Dome and Canary Wharf (the tallest building in London)

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