A man whose right leg “snapped” just metres from the Virgin Money London Marathon finish line in 2018 said this year’s event will be “emotional”.
Last year Angus Cameron, 46, was close to getting a personal best of under three hours in his fourth London Marathon when his femur (thigh bone) broke and then displaced, leaving him collapsed on the ground.
It was a heart-breaking and painful end to his race but Angus, a senior lecturer in tumour biology at Barts Cancer Institute, at Queen Mary University of London, said it has not put him off one day running the marathon again.
“I have had some amazing experiences doing it and some not so amazing,” said Angus, who is head of a research laboratory and lives in Reigate, Surrey.
“I’d hate to put anyone off running the London marathon. It’s such a great event.”
Remembering the dramatic end to his race last year, Angus said: “I was trying to fulfil a life-long ambition of running a sub-three hour marathon.
“I was 30 seconds from achieving that when my leg snapped.”
The keen runner said he had suffered a very sore hip two months before last year’s race but carried on training, not realising there was a stress fracture in his femur.
“I just kept pounding on the fracture. I didn’t realise how serious it was. I should have been not doing anything. I was running 60 miles a week and grinning and bearing it.”
As he neared the finish line with around 500 metres to go “there was the most almighty pop”.
“I heard it pop. The pop was my femur fracturing.
“It shook me almost like a shock through my body but also audible.”
Angus said it did not initially cross his mind that his leg had broken although pictures from the race show he was in a lot of pain.
“I was thinking ‘I have been training for months and I’m not going to make three hours’. That was what was going through my head.”
The bone displaced with 50 yards to go and Angus hit the floor immediately.
“I knew I had done something very serious.
“Everyone assumed I had collapsed due to the heat.
“I was lying stricken on the floor, 50 yards from the finish line with hundreds of people screaming at me to get up.
“The stewards came out. I said ‘I think I have broken my leg’.
“They wheeled me to the finish line. They even gave me a medal.”
His leg was “extraordinarily painful”, he said: “I have never had pain like it. They had to realign it. It was eye-watering. They had to give me ketamine, the morphine didn’t even hit it.”
Angus was taken to St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, and his leg was operated on the following day.
“I had this GPS going from the start line. My fastest kilometre was the ambulance ride.”
After almost a week in hospital, Angus was welcomed home by wife Amy and their children Lola, six, Fraser, three, and Edith, one.
“When I got home they had made flags and banners. I thought ‘life’s not that bad’.”
Angus said he owes a “huge debt” to Amy, 38, a secondary school science teacher, who has been “amazing”, coping with what he described as the “huge workload” of family life with three children.
One of the positive things to come out of his experience was that it helped him to raise more than £5,000 for the charity Brain Tumour Research, he said.
“It massively boosted my fundraising. I was desperately trying to get to my £3,000 target and it went straight through the target when I broke my leg.”
He was running for his lifelong friend Edward Morrison and university friend Nick Greenfield, who had both developed brain tumours. Mr Morrison died before last year’s London Marathon and Mr Greenfield has died since the event.
“As perspective goes, I only broke my leg,” Angus said. “These things happen. There is not much you can do about it. You have to take it on the chin.”
Recovery is taking longer than he would have liked, and although he has been off crutches for six months, he said: “The road back to running has been slower than I hoped.”
Angus’s dream of running the London Marathon again has been postponed for at least another year and he admitted: “When it comes on next week there’s no doubt it will be a massive emotional response.
“I hoped to do a Parkrun on the weekend of the marathon. I can’t really run. I can just, but with a bit of a limp so it’s not a great idea.”
He added: “I was really hoping to apply for the marathon as a positive thing, looking forward rather than back.
“I still hope I will run another marathon although my wife won’t be very keen for me to break my three hours.
“Because you don’t run in a straight line, my GPS said I had already run more than a marathon last year so my wife is saying ‘that will do’.”
He added: “I will apply for next year. It’s the best event. I absolutely love it.
“Whether people are running it in eight hours or two hours, you are all in it together. It’s really democratic in that way.”