Sue and I travelled down to London on Friday 1 October, taking five hours including breaks for the 206 mile journey. Whilst the carriageway going north was closed in a couple of places due to a breakdown and a rather dramatic vehicle fire, the only queue we encountered was right at the end of the journey, thanks probably to people wanting to fill their cars with petrol - a rare commodity in London. Wisely, we had filled up before setting off from Manchester.
Once installed in the Ibis Budget Hotel in Barking (£216 for three nights' B&B), we set off for the ExCel centre on the tube. Getting a 'ticket' was a new experience - you just have to touch in with your debit card, and touch out at your final destination. About half an hour's journey each way cost £3.20, though I didn't discover that until I got home and looked at my bank transactions.
We had both taken Covid lateral flow tests earlier in the day, and were required to show the NHS app's confirmation on our phones of a negative test before entering the centre, and on numerous other occasions during the course of the weekend. The London Marathon registration email that I'd printed off was also needed from time to time, as well as photo ID.
I hobbled through the massive centre to the hall where kitbags with any clothes you wanted at the end of the marathon had to be handed in. These had been sent by post to all runners, but mine hadn't arrived. A spare bag was soon found and my kitbag was left to have medals, t-shirt and some drinks inserted in it before being taken to the end to a location that would be indicated on my bib.
Next, bib collection in a different hall. There were lots of registration desks, with some for 'Good for Age' runners who receive two bibs (and thereby two timing chips) for the two events in which they are enrolled. I duly collected both my bibs - no safety pins provided, I'd brought my own - and we had a quick wander around the Running Show before getting the tube back from the Prince Regent (Docklands Light Railway) station to Barking.
At the start, a deluge of faster runners from Wave 2 stormed past. I found the wide elephant very useful for a while, and I trotted along in his slipstream, with the overtaking runners needing to keep a wide berth.