Having completed my first marathon in April of 2012 I had been bitten by the bug.
One of the most enjoyable parts was the fund raising for The Foxes Foundation, a charity set up by Alan Birchenall MBE at Leicester City Football Club.
One of my most trusted friends (Richard Gamble) and I got talking one night and decided that we’d like to run together, literally, together.
We hatched a plan to support Sports Chaplaincy UK and The Foxes Foundation.
We would run attached to each other in a giant Leicester City shirt. All that remained was the destination. Bangkok Thailand of course.
We wanted to thank the Leicester City Thai owners for what they had done for the club. The Srivaddhanaprabha family have invested tens of millions of pounds. That year was also a celebration of Queen Sirikit’s 80th birthday and with the royal family meaning so much to the Leicester City owners, it seemed perfect to have their football shirt make its way around the stifling 26.2 mile course.
The training involved sweat suits (glorified black bags around your top and bottom half to help acclimatise) and also getting used to running in the giant shirt together. Not easy given one of your arms can’t really swing.
Upon arrival we were treated like royalty ourselves by the staff of King Power, the duty free business of Leicester’s very wealthy owners.
We stayed at the King Power Stadium where the food and service was first class and gave us both the best chance of being fresh on race day. A race which had £10,000 riding on it for the two charities.
We’d allowed a couple of days to adjust to the 8 hour time difference and also the 30 degree temperatures. The smog was something we couldn’t train for and you don’t realise how bad it is until you’re there, as you can see from Richard’s face.
The Marathon kicked off at 3am so as to allow runners to experience the coolest temperatures possible, they were still 30 degrees plus at the finish line.
Hydration and fuel was taken care of by the hotel staff and off we went to the start line, with a vehicle kindly supplied by King Power.
The race was eventful to say the least. The air was barely breathable and sweat was dripping from people’s faces on the start line. One of the toughest things was the longer you took to finish, the hotter it got as the sun continued to rise.
Richard hit the deck 6 miles in – and given he was attached to me in a giant shirt – that was a challenge.
He had a viral infection which manifested itself as dehydration and general lethargy.
He insisted I carry on whilst the medical services attended to him (you know it’s a tough marathon when there’s smelling salts at just 4 miles on the central reservation to bring runners around who may have passed out)
We had to get the shirt around, there was £10,000 for the charities riding on it. I carried on and certainly had to dig in at time as I was carrying the rest of the shirt in one hand whilst wearing the other, on the third tier of an elevated motorway where it was even hotter.
Richard was ok. My wife called me from the UK to tell me he refused the ambulance and instead went to the finish line to cheer me on.
I met Richard at the 42k mark and he reluctantly, as he felt like he was cheating in crossing the line, joined me. I needed him. He’d got me through those dark hot miles which included what looked like crocodiles coming out of the river near the city (although armed guards were ready to deal with them if they did venture too close to humans)
Richard and I had trained together, fund raised together and travelled together, his sickness could not get in the way of us finishing together.
My Dad had travelled from the UK to watch me cross the finish line with Richard which was a real boost.
Home in time for tea and medals.
A hot, grueling marathon through a bustling city. Well organised with excellent water stations and tremendous support but don’t expect to get a PB, breathing is an achievement.