EXCLUSIVE: Cantab Tom Ash on Running The London Marathon

History student and Marathon runner Tom Ash and speaks to The Tab ahead of this afternoon’s big race.

Boston Cambridge London Marathon Terror Thomas Ash

Following the tragic events that unfolded in Boston earlier in the week, attention has never been greater on today’s London marathon.

Security has been increased by 40%, as police attempt the impossible of ensuring the safety of a 26.2 mile-long course.

It is a daunting prospect for the marathon’s 36,000-strong band of runners, ranging from Mo Farah to Cambridge’s own Tom Ash. Tom is racing today in aid of the PSP Association, the only UK charity dedicated to fighting Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.

Registration: Our Tom is taking on the London Marathon

Good luck Tom! Ash taking on the London Marathon in aid of the PSP

The impact of the heightened security operation is inescapable. Competitors have been sent daily updates since the event occurred. They will have seen the chilling images shared on Twitter of those who lost limbs in Boston – pictures too vivid and distressing for any media outlet to reproduce.

Eight-year-old, Richard Martin, was among those killed by the Bostom bombs.

Eight-year-old Richard Martin was among those killed by the Bostom bombs.

Black armbands will be worn by runners as mark of respect. There will be a moment of silence as London shows that it stands united alongside our cousins across the Atlantic.

Tom’s chosen charity, The PSP Association, is having a post-race reception which now has a tightly controlled guest list. 

After a week that demonstrated the worst – the pure evil – of humanity, Tom believes that we will now be treated to a display of powerful, spirited defiance. The message is that the show must go on.

Suspect: Nineteen-year-old Dzhokar Tsarnaev and his older brother Tamerlan are believed to be responsible

Suspect: Nineteen-year-old Dzhokar Tsarnaev and his older brother Tamerlan are believed to be responsible

He explains: “It’s important that the race still went ahead. There’s a lot of solidarity within the running community.

“There certainly wasn’t any palpable tension or fear at the registration and pre-race exhibition today. Of course the thought is there, at the back of your mind, but my biggest worry is still making sure I finish!”

The butterflies will be fluttering a touch more vigorously, the security fears adding to the challenges that marathon runners must confront.

The nerves, the carbohydrate overload, the fear of injury, hitting the wall… So, how has Tom gone about training for a London Marathon while also preparing for the Cambridge exam term?

“With difficulty!” Tom says, “Training itself has been very intense and a bit of a drain on revision time. I’ve been doing 4-5 weekly gym sessions and going for 2-3 hour runs for the past 12 weeks.

“But, luckily I am a historian and that allows me a fair degree of flexibility. It also a great way to relieve stress. Although, don’t tell my DoS but I’m not exactly best prepared for the mock he has conveniently planned for the day after the race!”

Nothing like a good welcome back, eh? In London today, the runners will be cheered on as thousands defiantly take to the roads of the capital, with Tom’s friends and family dotted along the route to offer him encouragement.

Awash with colour: over thirty-five thousands runners will take part in the landmark event

Awash with colour: over thirty-five thousands runners will take part in the landmark event

But never mind the security, the fitness, the fear and the stress, what The Tab really wants to know is….”What happens if you need a wee?”

Tom replies: “There are toilets every two miles; although you could take the Paula Radcliffe approach and go alfresco.” If you gotta go, you gotta go.

PSP is caused by the continual death of nerve cells in the brain and affects around 4,000 people in the UK. It is rare and often misdiagnosed. Though there is no effective treatment, there are many therapies that can help manage symptoms. You can support Tom here.