Steph Marsh targets RideLondon-Essex 100 to conquer the London Classics and join family celebrations
As the stereotypical competitive older sibling, it was a painful experience for Steph Marsh to watch her mum and younger sister complete the famous London Classics challenge without her.
The trio were inspired to complete the London Classics after finishing their first London Marathon together in 2019. They had intended to go on to take part in the two other events that make up the London Classics – the RideLondon 100 and two-mile Swim Serpentine – but the pandemic threw those best laid plans into the air.
Meaningful marathon memories
“The London Marathon was a truly unforgettable experience,” said Steph, 29. “None of us ever thought we’d do something like that, but a family friend was diagnosed with cancer, and we wanted to do something to raise money – so we signed up to run the marathon for Leukaemia Care.
“It was incredible. We didn’t run together but we all met up at the end and it was quite an incredible experience. Gavin, who we were running for, was hoping to cheer us on, but sadly he passed away before getting that opportunity. But his family came down to support us and seeing them there on his behalf was quite emotional.
Taking on the trio
“After that, we thought ‘Never again!’ – but I suppose a seed had been planted. We found out about the London Classics and thought the marathon must be the hardest of the three, and we’d already done that – the other two would be a little swim and a little ride. Admittedly, this was coming from someone who hadn’t swum since they were a kid and who didn’t own a bike, so I guess there was a bit of naivety there!”
The family – mum, Rona, 56, and sister, Isabel, 27 – planned to take part in RideLondon in 2020, but the pandemic meant the event was cancelled. In its place, a virtual RideLondon 100 was organised, which Rona and Isabel decided to do. Steph, however, wanted to take on the real thing.
Swimming the Serpentine
With the virtual ride counting towards the London Classics, the two-mile Swim Serpentine last September became the final event in Rona and Isabel’s challenge – and Steph’s second.
“None of us had done any open water swimming before, but I became quite obsessed with it,” said Steph. “In fact, I have carried it on since Swim Serpentine.
“The event was fantastic, but seeing my mum and sister get their London Classics medals afterwards was a tough feeling. I had to congratulate them – but deep down I was disappointed I didn’t have a medal, too!”
Completing the cycle
As soon as Steph heard that RideLondon would be returning in 2022 with a new slot in the calendar (Sunday 29 May), and with a new route starting and finishing in central London, taking in 65 miles of Essex countryside in between, she made sure she was one of the first to enter.
“I’m really looking forward to the RideLondon-Essex 100 and have started my training,” she said. “My mum and sister won’t be doing it with me this time, but hopefully they’ll be there to cheer me at the Finish Line at Tower Bridge! We’ve always been a close family, if not geographically (I’m in Devon, my mum is in Scotland and my sister is in London), and these events have brought us even closer. The shared sense of achievement we’ve experienced has been fantastic – I’d recommend the events to anyone!”