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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.

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