A bit like the Marathon March itself, this piece is a team effort. Julian Tucker and I (who has written about previous Marathon Marches) are here to share our thoughts on the event last weekend.
The only fitting way to start is to say that the Palace for Life Marathon March is turning into one of the highlights of the year for me. When else can you spend over nine hours in the company of a succession of Palace supporters who have two things in mind – surviving 26 miles of almost non-stop walking and raising as much as possible for a very worthy cause.
The Palace for Life team (hello Mike, Donald, Grace and Tash) have hit upon a great formula – a non-competitive event which is definitely a challenge physically but at the same time encourages people to socialise and talk to take their mind off of the 63,000 or so steps needed to complete the walk.
In addition to my old chum Julian, (more from him later) and Jay and Dan from TEB, I spent time on the walk with Pat who I met and wrote about last year. As it happened Pat was the first person I saw when I arrived at Selhurst Park on Saturday. When he said that he just seen the piece I had written last year which featured his heroic efforts to finish the walk with a bad knee, I was a bit worried what was going to come next. Thankfully it was not a complaint about breaching his data privacy rights but a thank you for capturing his and everyone’s spirit on the day. I should have known, a typical Palace supporter, for all the very best reasons!
I am not going to reel through all of the other people I chatted to during the day, but everyone I spoke to had an interesting story to tell, Palace related or otherwise. I do have to mention Kent and Mikael, however, who had come all the way from Sweden just to join the March. I spotted them as we walked through Wimbledon Common. The Swedish flags attached to their rucksacks were a clue! They have both been Palace supporters since the seventies which showed me up as the nouveau supporter that I am – only a fifteen year vintage. I really hope they enjoyed the day enough to make it back next year.
For me (Julian here) it was my third March and as a testament to that I was given Andy Johnson’s Magic Hat for my efforts. My two key achievements were:
- Number one – to get Mark to do it last year, enjoy it and want to do it again
- Number two – to get my brother Adam (a United fan by the way) to do it this year.
I managed both.
One thing Mark has omitted to mention was the weather… it rained literally all day, mostly drizzle but proper pouring by the end. Did that dampen sprits (pardon the inevitable pun) – did it heck! With a spin on the song “Walk in the rain and walk in the sun, we are South London’s number 1” we set out from Selhurst at 8.05am to Eddie Izzard’s horn blast.
One thing I picked up on, like Mark, is how far people had travelled to do the walk (Sweden being the furthest I believe – see above and thanks for the Sweden pennant, guys). Adam and I walked with Sarah who like us happens to be a Tucker. She had come from Portsmouth. We met walkers from Brighton, Letchworth and beyond. They all wanted to be part of it and that’s what makes it special.
For those with an interest in London the route is both scenic and interesting. Richmond, Wimbledon and Mitcham Commons as well as the banks of the Thames for long stretches. Weather hardly mattered.
I certainly think that surrounding my brother with Palace supporters helped, he is coming with Mark and me to Arsenal away!! He also raised over £1,000 in sponsorship. Respect bro’. He even, whilst sober post walk, promised the CEO Mike he would do it next year.
It was fitting that the first finisher was our youngest walker at just 13 years old. Fitting because that is one of the core age groups the Foundation works with, both in its sporting activities/projects and mentoring/lifestyle support.
Like me and, I believe, Mark there is something so unique about this event that it does make people want to do it again. I am trying to enlist my other brother to do it next year. I’ll be there all being well.
So that’s it for another Marathon March. October 2020 awaits. For those that sponsored any of the walkers, heartfelt thanks. I hope Mark and I may have raised your interest in perhaps taking part next year.
Finally, it is not too late to donate via the Palace For Life Foundation website.