Ex-‘footballer’ tackles the London Marathon

Remember Michael Dobson, the ex-pro British “footballer” I interviewed a few weeks ago who was training for the London Marathon in honor of his father who’d died of cancer?

Well, yesterday was the big race. And it was cool to discover I could monitor his progress simply by typing his race number (42215) into the official marathon web site.

When I checked in on him around 6 a.m. Indiana time Sunday, he was at the 15 kilometer mark (with 25 to go), averaging around 4 1/2 minutes a kilometer. The race site estimated his finish time at 3 hours, 8 minutes, 43 seconds.

By 7:45 a.m. my time he was at the 35 kilometer mark, with just a 5K to go. The computer was now estimating his finish time at 3:23:42. According to his chart, he’d maintained a  4:19/k pace through 25 kilometers, slowed to around 5 minutes/k to the 30-kilometer mark, then dropped to about 6 1/2 minutes a kilometer.

More than 37,000 people run in the London Marathon

As I headed out for a quick run of my own at that point, trying to get in a couple of miles before church, I wondered how Michael’s knees were holding up. I knew they hurt him every time he runs; otherwise he’d still be playing soccer. He was a great player, too. As the former captain of Walsall F.C., he put in an appearance at a game last week as part of a cancer fundraiser related to his run.

“It did seem kind of surreal … wandering around the stadium and seeing my face everywhere in pictures on the walls and having fans coming up asking for autographs and photos with them again,” he wrote on his blog last week. “It’s strange to think people look at me in that way any more and I felt very privileged and proud to be a big part of Walsall’s history.”

By the time I got back to the house and checked the website, Michael had finished the race in 3:46:48. He’s likely disappointed by the time, though it seems to me that breaking 4 hours in your very first marathon is nothing to feel bad about — especially after he raised £3900 for Macmillan Cancer Support.

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