2006 LONDON MARATHON RACE REPORT - Fiona Oakes

Just a few lines to members, and other interested parties, who have been kind enough to support me in my bid to raise awareness of the Sanctuary and Veganism, in the London Marathon.

I will keep it brief as I know running is not everyone's 'bag' so to speak.  I had trained very hard for London in not ideal conditions.  Martin has been semi-out of action due to his hernia operation and the winter is always a difficult time for me as there is much more animal related work to do as all the majority of the 'gang' are inside the stables most of the time because of the cold and wet weather.  I had managed to battle on and put together a decent training Programme and up to three weeks before the Marathon - ironically enough when you can start to put in less running and more resting - everything was going to plan and I thought I could run a good race.

However, the recent events of losing Simon and then Pan just 9 days later have really taken their toll on me.  I have been very upset and don't think I have managed a decent night's sleep in 2 weeks.  This, coupled with the fact that I have not been eating, are conditions that do not bode well for preparation for a good Marathon!

The day before the race I was in all sorts of trouble.  I felt quite poorly and, during the 2 days prior to the race, had developed a very sore and itchy rash on most of my body which seemed to flare up at the slightest prompt.  In  the end, on Saturday night it got so bad, I had to take medication for it - the only problem being that the tablets had the side effect of making you drowsy and lethargic.  I decided that there was absolutely no way I could run without help of tablets so at least there might be a chance if I took something.

On Sunday morning I felt a bit better but still very lethargic and apathetic.  I suppose some of this was down to the fact that Marathon running suddenly didn't seem very important after the death of two of my 'friends'.  I discussed it with my Mum and decided the only thing I could salvage from the race was to go to the start and at least try and get some publicity for Veganism by standing at the front and trying to get on camera for a few hundred meters into the race.  It was then my plan to find a convenient place to pull up.  I tucked a lock of Simon's mane into the pocket of my shorts and set off to the start very worried.  However, as anyone who runs will know, it is very difficult to stop running when you have started so I decided to carry on and see how far I could get.  I felt terrible from mile 1.  I had stitch - which I never get - which developed into stomach cramps and total lack of energy - not muscle or lung fatigue - just no energy.  As you will probably know by now, I managed to finish in my highest ever position in the London Marathon but I am disappointed with the way I ran but there was no way I could have run any faster given the circumstances of the past two weeks. 

On reflection I suppose to sum up my race I would say that if you had told me three weeks ago that was going to be the result I would have been disappointed with it but if you had told me one week ago - after Pan and Simon's death - I would have grabbed it with both hands as I really didn't think I would have the energy or enthusiasm to run at all.  I honestly didn't think it would be possible to keep running feeling so ill but I just couldn't bear the thought of giving in - if only for Simon and Pan's sake and all the other animals who live with me now and might stay here in the future.

What was rather annoying though was the fact that Martin told me that early on in the women's race, someone texted in the question "are there any vegan or vegetarian Marathon runners?" (bearing in mind one wearing a Vegan Runners vest had just run past on camera) and the commentators both said words to the effect that they didn't think so as you needed to get your iron from red meat.  Oh well, I guess by coming 22nd I proved them wrong if nothing else!