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6 October, 2022

It didn't break me - TCS London Marathon 2022

Completing the London Marathon was unlike any event I've experienced before. The crowds, the adrenaline, the atmosphere, my pal Nikki. It truly was an unforgettable experience. Emotions were high throughout, was it going to break me?

Running in the London Marathon 2022

Starting with a stutter

Hobbling to the start with my damaged knee, wondering if I could complete the 26.2 miles laid out in front of us was intimidating slightly and I was definitely more anxious than I’ve ever been before at an event, but it didn’t break me.

Running with my pal Rachel for the first few miles, letting the anxiety out with smiles, cheers and loud music, didn’t break me.

Hearing the jeers and “bants” from the “blues” as the red and blue waves merged was electrifying.

It didn’t break me.

London Marathon training

An unwelcome 'ping'

Meeting my pal Nikki for a hug at mile 4 as we met to run the rest of the route together was one of the most welcoming sights on an endurance run like this, but it didn’t break me.

The crowd roaring, as we turned around the Cutty Sark was unlike any noise I’ve heard. I could possibly only relate it to being at the 2012 Paralympics as the crowds roared for the superheroes taking to the track. That didn’t break me.

My calf going “ping” at about mile 18, almost broke me, but the incredible first aid team massaged that straight out of me and off we went. It didn’t break me.

The lady that fell in front of us, legs completely taken by cramp, as we helped her to her feet, her emotions running high, it didn’t break me.

My knee feeling pretty rough and ragged at this stage and Nikki’s ankle (unbeknown to us at the time) was slowly swelling. We were both running a little broken, but the spirit of London Marathon pulled us through. It didn’t break us.

Being spurred on by the regular donations that were flying in thick and fast on our marathon effort for my amazing friends at the charity AFK, didn’t break me. Each donation pushed us on further.

Nikki grabbing my arm as she slipped on a discarded bottle and rolling her ankle pretty badly, meaning she pushed through unbearable pain for the remainder of the run, didn’t break me.

The searing heat as we ran down through the city, along to Canary Wharf, feeling every ounce of liquid being zapped out of us as volunteers handed us yet more water, didn’t break me.

Running London Marathon

Home stretch

My knee really buckled, at some point. I can’t remember the mile we were on. I knew we would finish, but I thought of my friends we lost in the past, taken way to young. They fought for every single breath they could and there was no way I’d give up on them. My pals Emily & Tor came to me, screaming at me to carry on as I snapped out of it, with the crowd at the barrier screaming the same. We carried on. It didn’t break me.

I felt for the lady we helped to bang the wheel of her wheelchair back on, with only a few miles left to go. It inspired me to keep going knowing she’d just taken on this immense course, the same distance as us, but through the seat of her chair. She pushed on. It didn’t break me.

Seeing my family just after mile 24, with only a little bit left to run, was like an emotion I’ve not felt before. I could see the pride in my eldest’s eyes as they saw us getting close. I ran strong then, chest out, big and tall, showing them what we could do when we set our mind to something. It didn’t break me, it fired me up to finish.

Just after my family were the wonderful pals from AFK, there to cheer us on. They have supported us so much and on many ridiculous challenges over the years, I started to well up. It didn’t break me.

With half a mile left to run, we saw Nik’s family. Seeing their overwhelming outpouring of love to their mother for what she was about to achieve was a sight to behold. It was truly beautiful. But it didn’t break me.

I saw a young man running in memory of his recently lost mother. I hugged him and told him how proud she would be of what he was about to complete. He burst into tears, hugged me back. I hid a tear as I thought of the battle my own mother has been through this last year. It didn’t quite break me, but my god I was close.

We rounded the corner, running arm in arm to the finish, seeing Nikki’s husband and son in the grandstand cheering loudly for us to cross the line. It didn’t break me.

We crossed the line. Emotions started to flow, but we held each other together. We collected our medal. We waited for our families. It didn’t break me.

We grabbed a man that was passing out. Put him into recovery. Sprinted to the medics. He was going to be ok. It didn’t break me.

After the event, we continued to see the donations rise. The amount of fundraising we achieved for AFK far exceeded our expectations and knowing that this money is going directly to people who so badly need the help was nothing less than inspiring.

Reading the messages that had been sent throughout the day and the following few days and the messages myself and Nikki shared about this incredible experience we had achieved together, was pushing my breaking point. It almost broke me.

Catching up with my mom, telling her about all the amazing people we met and experiences we shared over the 26.2 miles through London was amazing. We both nearly broke as I recanted the story of the young man I met near the finish. But it didn’t break me. It took a lot to hold back, but it didn’t break me.

What do you get for finishing London Marathon

It broke me...

Three days after completing London Marathon with my best pal Nikki, I did a little shake out run to go see my dad’s grave on what would have been his 98th birthday. I so wish he could have seen and listened to what we did this weekend. I stopped at his grave, shared with him my medal and silently told him what we’d been through. I took a deep breath, turned and continued on my run. I was sad, but it didn’t break me.

I got home, flicked on social media and saw we’d raised another £500 in the last few hours. I couldn’t quite believe it. I was feeling incredibly humbled by all of your amazing donations. These donations go directly to people that need help, so thank you a million times thank you. But it didn’t break me.

Then I saw two more donations.

It broke me.

It came from my beloved friend Tor and Emily, who we lost way too young. Some people are dealt some really shit cards in life, but these wonderful human beings continue to inspire me.

Thank you, beautiful angels.

You’re forever in our thoughts.

I can’t write any more write now.

I’m broken.

Nikki, our families, AFK, our donors, London Marathon. Thank you.

If you'd still like to donate to help support this amazing charity, please visit the link below.

justgiving.com/fundraising/afk22


Matt Coyne

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