Pre-race moment of silence was ‘incredible,’ says Newfoundland marathoner
Ian Royle registered a personal best time at the London Marathon earlier this month, but for the St. John’s runner, that wasn’t what was most memorable about the race. — Submitted photo
Newfoundland marathoner Ian Royle never heard anything like it before — the sound of silence amid a crowd of thousands.
That’s what stood out. That’s what caught the St. John’s native’s attention as he waited at the start of last week’s London Marathon.
Organizers held a moment of silence in tribute to those killed and injured at the Boston Marathon six days earlier.
For 30 seconds, many of the runners and spectators, estimated at close to 700,000, lowered their heads.
“It was incredible,” Royle said. “I’ve never experienced being around so many people and no sound, except for birds chirping.”
Coming so soon after bombing tragedy in Boston, Royle had every reason to be a little nervous, but he wasn’t.
“Not at all, really,” he said. “If anything, because of what happened in Boston, I figured security would be enhanced and I heard it was. I was told the number of police and security along the course was increased by 40 per cent this year.”
In fact, the mood during race day has been described as both festive as well as defiant, and Royle figures that’s because Londoners are used to dealing with such things.
The London Marathon raises thousands of dollars for charity annually and it was reported race organizers pledged to donate $3 for every finisher to ‘The One Fund Boston’ which has been established to raise money for the bomb victims.
Royle said he really didn’t sense anything ominous at the start, or during the 33rd annual event that attracted about 35,000 competitors.
The only thing he said that was on his mind as he ran the course was his split times.
“I kept checking to see where I was on the course and whether or not I was (in time); where I wanted to be and how I felt,” he explained.
His time of two hours, 36 minutes and four seconds over the 26 miles and 385-yard course was a personal best, one second faster than he ran in the Chicago Marathon last year.
There was a time during the 32-year-old’s marathon training when it looked as if an injury might keep him from competing.
Just over a month before the event, Royle experienced shin splints in his left leg ,which hampered his training.
“At one point, I found it pretty hard to run at all, so I took four days off in a row, which is a lot for me because I usually only take one rest day every two weeks.
“I was really starting to get worried and was pretty discouraged about getting the opportunity to run in London. But after the rest, while my leg wasn’t 100 per cent, it slowly began to feel better and better each day and it didn’t bother me at all in London.
“It’s very satisfying to make a personal best,” said Royle, who finished 70th in his age group (18-39 years), and 84th overall according to the official results posted on the event’s website. He believes he was the second fastest Canadian overall.
“I’m not in a class with the Kenyans and Ethiopians,” noted Royle, “so, at the end of the day, a personal best, even if it’s just one second, feels great.”
Chris Holden’s 2:24.18 time, which he set in 2002 in Chicago, is the fastest any Newfoundlander has ever posted in a marathon.
Royle picked up marathon running in 2006 after running various local road races from 5K to half-marathons early in the decade.
Meanwhile, Royle, who ran the Boston Marathon in 2007, has no plans to run that race next year.
“It’s a great race and I love the course,” he said, “but there are a few other races I’d like to check off before I consider returning to Boston.”
Royle, who runs one marathon every calendar year, said he’s thinking about running in Berlin next year. The Berlin Marathon, like London, is one of the six World Marathon Majors. The others are New York City, Chicago, Tokyo and Boston.
He’s also run in five Tely 10s, but hasn’t decided if he will run in the province’s biggest race this summer.
“We’ll see how the legs feel,” he said with a laugh.