Capital Chorus at the London Marathon
One of the highlights of the Capital Chorus year involves being invited to sing for runners and spectators at the London Marathon. It's happened for the past three years and whatever the weather it's always a day of excitement and surprises. Our preparations always begin with an early roadside warm-up at 9.15. This year we were placed in Docklands, beside the 18 mile marker, and our audience consisted of race-stewards and paramedics. It must have been odd for them to see 20 or more blue-shirted enthusiasts pop up on the pavement singing silly rounds and doing penguin jumps. But at least we were able to ease some of the pre-race tension and before long our warm-up had an appreciative audience of people decked out in official day-glo orange or yellow tabards. It's amazing how the excitement builds. First to come barrelling through at a tremendous pace are the elite wheelchair athletes. They're followed by more paralympians, then the elite non-disabled women and men, the club runners and finally the thousands of regular folks who've put their all into raising money for myriad good causes. Some have also put considerable effort into their imaginative costumes. We saw bright yellow emojis, several bears and a crocodile run by and that's before we'd been to the pub!
It's a privilege to sing, to wave and cheer all the participants on towards the finish, and for the chorus it's a marathon performance in more than one sense. Our set list included ten of our most crowd-pleasing songs. This year we sang the entire set four times, with a break for take-away coffee between each performance, and the chance to shout some encouragement to the competitors. This year for the first time we started cheering on by name those who'd had their own names emblazoned on their shirts. Greg Nixon, one of our leads had recently run the Manchester Marathon and he told us that hearing spectators urge him on by name had given him a real lift - we hope we were able to do the same for others. For us, the stand-out moment of the 2017 marathon came when a man who'd just run by suddenly stopped, turned around and came back to film one of our songs on his phone. It must have added at least a couple of minutes to his time, but we hope he'll enjoy replaying the video he captured of us providing a spirited rendition of "Drunken sailor". The chorus would like to pay tribute to all those who put such amazing effort into running the London Marathon. It's one of the world's most spectacular sporting and community events and it was wonderful, as barbershoppers, to be included. We can barely wait for next year.