‘It’s a marathon, not a sprint!’

The Drop catches up with third year history student Nick Preston who took part in The London Marathon 2012 on 22nd April.

fitness marathon running

The Drop catches up with third year history student Nick Preston who took part in The London Marathon 2012 on 22nd April, completing the 26.2 miles in an impressive 4 hours and 11 minutes.


First off, Congratulations – completing a marathon is such an achievement! What made you first decide to run the London Marathon? It's not a decision made lightly!

The London Marathon was something that I’ve wanted to take part in for a long time, especially as I’ve watched it on the television almost every year. I have always enjoyed a challenge and felt that the 26.2 mile course would be an ideal way to challenge myself both mentally and physically!


I applied last year but unfortunately did not get a place. I decided to go up to London on the day anyway to soak up some of the atmosphere and support some of the runners. Seeing the huge crowds and the thousands of participants definitely inspired me to apply again for this year’s race and I was lucky enough to be given a place.

Tell us a bit about your charity and why you chose PAPYRUS:



I decided to run for PAPYRUS, a UK based charity which aims to prevent depression and suicide amongst young people. Tragically, almost three years ago, the older brother of one of my best friends took his own life. During the immediate aftermath, I found out about the valuable support which PAPRYUS offers to bereaved relatives and close friends of suicide victims. I was also impressed by the work they do to help those experiencing mental health issues which might lead them to contemplate suicide. They are only a small organisation and I felt that anything I could do to spread awareness of their efforts would be worthwhile.


To find out more about PAPYRUS UK, visit their website at: http://www.papyrus-uk.org/

And what about your training? Just, how tough was it and how did you stay motivated?


My training began towards the end of last summer when I ran a couple of half marathons which went really well and gave me confidence in my fitness as I had never covered this sort of distance before!


However, I increased the distances I was running in February of this year as well as trying to do three of four runs a week. I would do a couple of 5/6 mile runs along with a 15 mile run every Sunday. It was difficult to get motivated when the weather was really cold at the start of the year, especially when it started snowing – a bit of an obstacle!


There were a few setbacks during my training, including an injured right ankle and a swollen left knee but, luckily, I was able to overcome these quite quickly. As the weather started getting warmer, it actually became really nice to run along the quay in Exeter and I would often run the course of the River Exe through Topsham and down to the coast to Exmouth. As a third year history student, the training certainly offered a great distraction for the ever increasing essay deadlines!

We've all heard (and the couch potatoes among us have seen on the TV) that the atmosphere in London on the day is something pretty special – what was that like and how did you feel as part of it?

I experienced some of the atmosphere when I went to watch the Marathon last year and thought it was amazing. Nevertheless, when you are actually taking part yourself, you realise just how exceptional the crowds are!

There must have been hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets along the whole course with people constantly offering support and cheering everyone at every stage of the route. Also, running with thousands of others was a fantastic experience, especially as so many of them have such inspirational stories to tell. It was just brilliant to be part of something where almost everyone was raising money for charity and truly make a difference for such great causes.

During the event, did you come across anything (or anyone!) particularly interesting?

There were quite a few interesting sights during the run, particularly those dressed in fancy dress; I saw people dressed as babies, someone running as a Lucozade bottle, a couple going for the world record as the fastest Mario and Luigi and even a man who was running with a 20ft Blackpool Tower attached to him!

I was also lucky enough to be starting at the same line as the celebrities so I ran a couple of miles alongside Greg James (Radio 1 DJ) and even overtook Gordon Ramsay with a few miles to go!

What was the worst moment and were you ever tempted to drop out?


I had heard many stories before the marathon about hitting the so-called ‘wall’. After about 21 miles, it is fair to say that I definitely experienced this! There was pain spreading all over my body, from the soles of my feet to my upper back and my legs felt incredibly heavy. Luckily, with only four miles to go, I knew I had to dig deep and push myself – I managed to run the whole distance in the end and completed it in 4 hours and 11 minutes which was much better than the four and a half hours I had aimed for!

How did it feel to cross that finish line?

It felt fantastic to finally cross the finish line as I realised the true scale of my achievement. Unfortunately, the pain and stiffness in my legs kicked in almost straightaway so it was rather uncomfortable to walk to the train station afterwards to head home!

And finally, what did you do that afternoon and evening to wind down and celebrate? I hope it involved a massive consumption of food…

Having lost almost 4,500 calories (according to my watch!), I was absolutely starving so ate almost all afternoon and evening to try to make up for what I had burnt off! Having cut down on snacks and totally stopped drinking alcohol for over a month beforehand, it was a great feeling to treat myself to a McDonalds and have an ice cold beer…or two!

After such a long day (I had woken up at 5am to get into London), I decided to have a warm bath before getting an early night. Although I vowed on Sunday afternoon and Monday when my whole body ached never to run it again, I am now fairly tempted to re-apply for next year…looks like I might have caught the marathon bug!

So far Nick has raised over an astonishing £3700 for the charity PAPYRUS and is still going! To support him, visit his ‘just giving’ page at: www.justgiving.com/nick-preston7