After I had left him with Asthma UK I realised I was missing something, so I e-mailed Asthma UK about the possibility of running as Puff in London 2014 and was told they would love it and so they couriered Puff to me just before Xmas.
When he arrived it was on with the trainers and costume, and off I went on my favourite route with him; up & down the bypass. It was just like he had never been away, with cars beeping horns and people waving. Having never gone above 13.1 miles with Puff before I knew I had to up the training and miles with him, so was going running with Pufff twice a week and a normal run twice a week, in between I was also swimming to try and build my fitness up.
March soon came and along with BRC members Sophie and Ed Beards, and Natalie Carr we entered the Blackminster half marathon with me running as Puff. As usual Ed was nowhere to be seen as the starting gun went off he was gone into the distance, but, thanks to Sophie and Natalie for the excellent pacemaking, Puff managed a PB of 2hrs 03 mins. Ideal preparation for London!
Marathon weekend arrived and along with my wife Tina we set off with Puff on the train to London. On the way we met a young Irish lad on the train who asked me about Puff and the marathon, when he got off the tube he wished me luck and shook my hand. It was not till the doors opened and he got off I realised he had give me £20 and shouted to put it to my charity. Kenneth you are a top bloke!
After carb loading for 2 days it was time for the Marathon on the Sunday. Even leaving the hotel at 7am to go to the start line, people were amazed at this green thing walking down London City road to the tube station 500 yds away. I must have stopped for 10 photos before I got to tube. On the tube and Puff was definitely a celebrity with more photos. We arrived at Greenwich park for the start and the atmosphere was buzzing, there were huge TV screens in the park. Within 5 mins Puff was on the tele and must have had a further 100 photos. We also met up with the rest of the Asthma team for a team photo,and a fellow Shropshire runner Richard Twigg from Alveley.
Even at 8am the sun was beating down and I knew it was going to be a warm one, so took shelter where I could, we were called to start line at 9.45 ready for 10am start. The gun went off and off Puff went on his long journey of 26.2 miles.
I felt really good for first few miles considering the heat, too good in fact as when checking the times at the mile markers I knew I was going to fast at just over 9min miles, which would have been suicidal if I had kept that pace up. I found it really hard to slow the pace down, I was aiming for around 10.30 min miles, got to Cutty Sark and the noise was incredible, then onto halfway Tower Bridge and still the noise was deafening. The London crowds are amazing and I was still feeling good approaching Canary Wharf at 18 mile point and thought I was on for a sub 4.30 finish, then it all started to go pear shaped. The BBC asked me if I would pull over for an interview. My first thought was to mind my Ps&Qs, they asked me about Puff and who I was running for, told them about Bridgnorth and Cameron's fund, and all the attention he was getting. They must have only stopped me for 4 mins tops, but I could not get back into my stride and rhythm (and they did not even show the interview!). I tried my hardest to pick the pace up a bit, but got to 20 mile point and knew my sub 4.30 was out the window. At 23 miles both calfs cramped up AGAIN this is the 3rd time this has happened in the 8 marathons I have run, the pain was awful, I understand it's mainly to do with hydration and electrolytes but I really thought I was getting enough fuel and drink on board at all the water stations. I hobbled/limped to the finish line on the Mall in 4hrs 51mins which was under my target time of 5hrs, but disappointed I did not do sub 4.30 as was on course for it until I got stopped.
After a massage at the Asthma reception and meeting up with Tina I reflected on the run and in hindsight I should be pleased. That was my first marathon in Puff and so it must mean a PB!
Now then onto London Marathon 2015! Having written to the Guinness Book of World Records and registered my interest, I will be attempting a world record next year, they are looking at my application and will respond within 4-6 weeks.
The only problem I may have is if they decide Puff is an animal, the record for a animal costume is around 3.30 which is way beyond my capability, But if they class Puff as a mascot I may have a chance as the record for a mascot is 4hrs 16. Which with some serious training I think I could give it a good go, so watch this space!
Many thanks to everyone connected with Bridgnorth Running Club for all your support before, during and after the 2014 marathon.