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And you run and you run to catch up with the sun

But it’s sinking
Racing around
To come up behind you again

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free and I’ll give you the Abbey Massive on the second cold Tuesday in September.  Hand rubbing, self-hugging, foot stamping, clad in nowt but triple-layered lycra long johns and luminescent yellow jerseys (has anyone else noticed how many Tour de France winners there are in Abbeyville?), they low like cattle indignant at the unannounced and unwelcome annexation of their hay manger by a newly awoken one-in-the-eye-for-Dawkins infant (I am categorically NOT going to mention how many shopping days it is until Christmas at this juncture) and shiver, shake and shudder as if their quivering, in itself, will generate the will needed to overcome the nagging feeling that an evening at the bar would be a better way to spend the next sixty minutes.

However, whilst that was true the second Tuesday of September, it was so not the case two weeks later.  The seasonal mayhem that is so random it’s predictable, and to which by now we ought to have become accustomed, particularly as it can be blamed for everything from late trains to poor high street sales figures, played its anarchical hand and delivered not so much an Indian summer as a sub-Saharan heat wave.  Just when you’d put all those skimpy summer shorts and variable velocity vests (no I don’t know what I mean by that either) at the bottom of that smelly kit drawer, the mercury soars ever upwards like an atom bomb about to oh oh oh oh oh explode, breaking all records on its way (in fact, I understand, a record previously held by my county of birth was broken by my adopted county…if the fates are trying to send me a message there it’s far too cryptic; please hang up and try again).  It’s too darn hot and I for one do not like it.  No I do not.  When Blighty-hot has been and gone (and once again failed to outstay its welcome) its return is as welcome as Nick Clegg in a student union.

As we enter October 2011, month of 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays and 5 Mondays, (apparently the first time, since 1188 trivia fans) it should be mild, it should be clement; it should be autumnal, dammit.  It’s just too confusing for a bear of little brain to experience simultaneously, concurrently, contemporaneously and undoubtedly unnecessarily tautologically the blazing sun baring down upon me as the falling fruit of the chestnut, beech and oak bruise my battered back (wow, even I think that sentence is just trying too hard!).

For those who plan to run a North West Marathon on 9th October, I can report that Michael The Fish says you won’t need the sunscreen and there is absolutely no risk of a hurricane.  For anyone who ran on 1st – 2nd October, the doctor will see you now.


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London calling

Yes, I was there, too
And you know what they said?
Well, some of it was true!

I confess that on Sunday April 17th I was there too, some of it was true, but at various points I wished I wasn’t and it wasn’t.  You can’t always have what you wish for.

Say London to a runner and it means but one thing: the Marathon formerly known as Flora, now loudly and proudly Virginal.  It’s fashionable in certain circles to slag off the London Village Marathon with its focus on “charidee” and “fun” and suggest that it isn’t a serious marathon.  But 26 miles and 385 yards of tarmac is 26 miles and 385 yards of tarmac wherever it lays its hat and running a marathon is a serious business whether you’re garbed in singlet and shorts or dressed as a Rubik’s cube.

And there were a lot of silly outfits: rhinos, Mister Men, daft buggers carrying white goods, mankinis (no need!) and pink tutus.  Someone even went dressed as Will Young.  Furthermore, no doubt in a nod to the sponsor, I clocked sixteen vestal virgins who, l later learnt, failed to finish, and were last seen leaving for the coast, a pail of shady White’s (secret Lemonade drinkers the lot) in hand.

Me, I went to the party heavily disguised as a serious runner, hiding my natural grizzly state.  I can tell you, it’s no mean feat squeezing 600lb of hairy bear into a human costume.  Three hours it took me to shave my chops (thank you Gillette, the best a bear can get), Vaseline up and compress my enormous frame, Slitheen-like, into my “Spitfire thin strung like a violin” athlete’s attire.

In the end it all went pear-shaped, or perhaps bear-shaped.  In a fit of public service altruism I had donated my left arm to medical science just days before the big race, thinking it would make little difference, me being right-handed an’ all.  As all you smarter-than-the-average-bear-BooBoos know, Aaron Ralston took 127 hours to cut off his arm, which by some extraordinary coincidence is about the same length of time it took me to run London Town.

But, if at first you don’t succeed, then just enter another.  Despite my never-again mantra, muttered from Cutty Sark to Buckingham Palace, once I’d crossed the finish line, blubbed in the arms of a marvellous marshal, refuelled on bananas, Boosts and badinage, I had completely forgotten the bad bits (me, running) and only remembered the good bits (everyone, cheering).  Frank Shorter, an Olympic Marathon Gold medallist said “You have to forget your last marathon before you try another” and I can tell you I’d erased all the pain, self-pity and ineptitude by the time I stumbled onto the train at Kings Cross.  So I’ve entered Chester in October.  And I’ve entered London. Again.

What can I say?  An elephant never forgets.  A one-legged Kenyan gathers no moss.  A bear in the bush is worth a head in the sand.  Or so I’ve been told.