Respect for all those who finished the London marathon today – I was roasting in the sun as a spectator, so I can only imagine how you all must have felt running 26.2 miles!

Unfortunately, I woke up a bit too late to catch most of the elite women at the halfway mark, but I did spot the elite men as they crossed Tower Bridge and again from my viewing spot around mile 22. Here are some photos from my two hours of spectating:

I would have loved to have walked down the remaining miles of the course, as I did last year, to see some of the more exciting costumes and to soak up the finisher atmosphere, but I had to take off around 1pm unfortunately. I did get to see the masses through the 3:45-4 hour finishers at least!

One of my favorite moments of the day, however, was on my walk home in the late afternoon. I was cutting through a small park in my neighborhood, and saw a man walking (well, limping) by himself with a finisher’s bag and medal in front of me. I congratulated him and asked him how his race went, explaining that I ran Paris in far less warm weather and really struggled towards the end so I really admired all the runners today. He collapsed on a bench and asked for some recovery advice (it was his first marathon), and said he was struggling to even make it home. After a few more minutes of chatting, he asked if I was walking in the direction of his flat (I was) and so I helped him along to his building. He was grateful to have someone to talk to and to keep him going all the way home – the second finish line!

It was a brief encounter, but reminded me how much I love marathon day. The marathon is such an emotional and, particularly if you’re a runner, humbling experience. Everyone becomes so friendly and eager to connect with one another – it’s refreshing when you live in a big city.

The London Marathon 2012 ballot opens on April 26th – I am 100% entering it!