Darren Turner completed his first London Marathon yesterday in just over four hours, raising almost £7,000 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association along the way. It was only at the finish line that the British racing driver confessed he had only got up to 13 miles in his training runs, so his time of 4:12:14 was all the more impressive.
"My training programme was perfect, for someone doing a half marathon, but I just didn't have the time to complete the programme," explained Darren. "The first 10 miles were ace as the atmosphere in London was incredible. I met Andy Priaulx at the start and as we were both looking at a four-hour race target we decided to run together. It was great as we could support each other and get each other sweets from the people giving them out along the way. It's the only time I would recommend taking sweets from strangers though!"
After a fun first half, the realities of marathon running kicked in when Darren reached Tower Bridge, the halfway point.
"After Tower Bridge I was going into unchartered territory so I had no idea at that point if I would even finish. We were still keeping up a good pace and I was okay until we got to the 18-mile mark. I don't really know what 'the wall' is but at 18 miles I was knackered! Andy went on his way at this point as I didn't want to hold him up and the next five miles were a killer."
Race day was hotter than anticipated which made it tough on the runners, but Darren's competitive streak kept him going.
"When I got to the 23-mile mark I told myself that all I had left was a lap of Silverstone. I know I can do that so it really helped me psychologically. It was a fantastic feeling to get to the finish with no injuries and a big pile of cash for the MND Association."
After a drink and a massage Darren reflected on his first London Marathon.
"It's an incredible event and I would love to do it again next year. There are people lining the whole route, pushing you on all the way. When you are running you see people of all ages, from all walks of life, and you're part of something very special. It's definitely more of a physical challenge than the Le Mans 24 Hours as there is no respite. Once your legs get fatigued it just gets harder and harder, but it's worth every step!"
"I would like to personally thank everyone who sponsored me," said Darren. "Knowing people had put cash down made it impossible for me to give up when it hurt!"
Kirstine Knox, chief executive of the MND Association, said: "We cannot thank Darren enough for his support and commitment. He has helped to raise awareness of motor neurone disease within the motor racing world as well as raising a fantastic £7,000. The money he's raised will fund much-needed research to help us find a cure as well as providing vital support for those who are affected by this devastating disease."
The final word goes to Darren.
"I think I've earned myself a day off now. After that it's back to the day job. I'm looking forward to testing this week with Aston Martin and then of course the first FIA GT race of the year in the Nissan GT-R at Silverstone."