As we reported last month, shoemaker Paul Bennett from Winchester was determined to run The London Marathon in brogues, and we are pleased to report that he beat the blisters and completed the race in an astounding 3:24.
‘Race prep was key,’ Paul told The Running Bug. ‘My plan was to run a 10K, then half marathon and then finally London. I did the Winchester 10K in February and it went well for a 40.29 finish, but my feet were in real pain and I had to stick back some skin onto my foot as it was so sore! Basically I had no plasters or Vaseline and this was a big mistake.’
Thankfully Devizes half marathon was more of a success. 'I had better planning and I had protected the foot area where the last problem occurred, but as the race was double the distance and it was a really hot day my toes were a new problem,' he says.
'I had to stop halfway to change my socks and cover and Vaseline my toes (I didn’t have any but a walker gave me her lip gloss which did the trick!) I finished it in 1.37 and I was very pleased with the time. Although it did look like I had red jelly sweets stuck onto the top of my little toes!’
By London Marathon day Paul had a strategy in place. ‘I prepared my feet for the marathon,' he explains. 'Also I knew I would have to stop as my feet would get too hot and socks too damp and this would affect the Compeed plasters. I got to 8 miles in good shape but felt feet and toe pain and knew that I would have to stop soon. I made the decision for the mile 10 to be first pit stop, so I got my shoes off, socks off and then tried to dry my feet and had to remove the plasters on my toes.’
The day was not without its challenges. ‘The first mistake was I had a roll of plaster but no scissors! So had to use another corn type plaster which went over the toe but was very loose. All 10 Compeed were in good shape with some part lifting due to the moisture but they stayed glued to my foot! With fresh socks on and Vaseline everywhere I carried on.’
‘The next painful juncture was about mile 18, as another new part of my foot hurt but I knew if I stopped I may uncover something which could stop me in my tracks so I pushed on to mile 21. Once past mile 21 my toes and big toe joint were an issue but I knew that the pain would pass, and fortunately it did and having the family all waiting for me at mile 25 pushed me through.'
Pushing through the pain
Paul beat the odds and managed to complete a marathon in leather brogues. ‘The final 1.2 miles was incredible as I had managed to hold my time to the 3.25 hour band which I picked up at the expo and managed to even take a selfie in front of Buckingham Palace before crossing the line in 3.24!’
‘Everything hurt at some point in the marathon. Having been fortunate enough to run ultra marathons which last for over 24 hours I have learnt it is not a questions of if there is pain, only when…’
The impressive crowd support helped Paul push through the pain. 'London Marathon is unique as it has the best support than any race I have ever done,' he enthused. 'The crowd are really behind everybody, from holding out sweets, to helping boost runners when they are slowing. As I was able to enjoy it most of the day without racing flat out, I even managed to take a few snaps on the field of the Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge and Buckingham palace.’
‘Starting in the red start was great and very memorable but this was nothing in comparison to seeing my family at mile 25! The worst part was probably when I felt a large piece of skin come off my left toe while running, it felt like a red hot nail going into it, but the pain lasted about 3 minutes… for now anyway!’
So did he set a world record? ‘I applied for a Guinness World Record for fastest man in brogues but they mentioned that it was not currently a record, so perhaps it is an unofficial one!’
Paul Bennett is raising money for The Patten Makers Charity, who fund orthopedic footwear for servicemen and women at Headley Court Rehabilitation Centre. To donate click here or follow his journey on Twitter @Shoerundiary