Sunday, 13 March 2016

Run

So the time for the Bath Half-Marathon has come round again already? Yes it has, and the town is now packed with thousands of semi-healthy people with their families and supporters and I am trapped in its centre without access to the car. Well, it's a good day for it I suppose - sunny but cool - and the restaurants and cafes will do very well. I am trying to put a brave face on it, as you can probably tell.

More school days. Because I was tall and gangly when about 13 or 14, I was always entered into the cross-country race for the school annual games events. Not only could I ever run faster than 6 miles per hour without looki9ng like an ostrich, but I could never read maps or hold my attention long enough to get my bearings as soon as any urban landmarks were left behind, so I was always the last to cross the line - by a very wide margin.

I remember one race when I was so late to finish (as finish I must) that I appeared to be the first to cross the line in the next race, and the crowd of parents and other on-lookers were astounded at my Olympian-standard quick time.

The cheers and applause of the spectators soon turned into jeers and laughter when the headmaster loudly proclaimed over the Tannoy, "EVERYONE STOP CLAPPING PLEASE. STEPHENSON IS NOT FIRST IN THIS RACE, HE IS LAST IN THE PREVIOUS ONE." I had to cross the line - trying to hold my shorts up with one hand and wave with the other - and pretend to find this humiliation as amusing as everyone else did.

Outside in the Half-Marathon, people are far kinder to the hopeless entrants who are about an hour later than everyone else, when all the Kenyans are showered, changed and receiving their cheques, and clap them warmly simply for taking part. It's for charity, so be nice.

There is a lot of money in charity events, and it doesn't all go to charity.

18 comments:

  1. Oddly enough, I also have less than happy memories of school days; other than the one time I stood up for myself.

    She'd stolen a bespoke ring from me and gotten caught, which she blamed on me, so arranged with some of her mates to catch me in the bathroom. I stuck her, headfirst, in a used toilet.

    No more trouble thereafter, of that sort anyway.

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    1. I'm not going to mess with you, then.

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  2. Tom, your school's headmaster sounds like a rather mean spirited man. What on ear would have been wrong with having folks cheer to you the finish line?

    He could could have then waited for the winner of the next race to make his announcement about that race.

    When the NY Marathon is run in autumn, many streets are shut down along the marathon route. It's pretty hard to get from the east to the west sides of the city ...except via the subway train system.

    I don't share the runners' enthusiasm for marathons. To each his own, I guess.

    Best wishes.

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    1. The Boy ran it this year, and has just called round to try and locate his family using my phone. No phones are working in Bath, because the system is overloaded with 30,000 people all using their phones. Another way of being isolated.

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  3. I applaud your stick-to-it-ness!

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    1. I had a gun trained on me the whole circuit.

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  4. Growing up in Germany we had the annual dreaded 'Bundesjugendspiele'. You got a certificate if you ran fast enough, jumped far enough and threw a small ball far enough. I throw like a girl, and the ball always plonked down not far from my feet. Ahhh, good old school days!

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    1. I can see it now - all elbows and effort, with a scream when you throw.

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    2. And add a beet red head of embarrassment.

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  5. We had an annual 'School Cross Country Race', when EVERYONE was obliged to take part. Several hundred of us lined up in a huge field, then made for a small opening on the opposite side, where the real running business began. It was chaos, some were never seen again.

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    1. If I could have kept running away from the school, I would have done.

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  6. Your last sentence? how true..and how awful.

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    1. I hope - like this one - it wasn't my last sentence.

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  7. Your school running experience may well have scarred you for life and could explain a lot!
    Agree with that last sentence sadly.

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  8. I loved that story of you, Tom - too late in the first race and too early in the second. Well you got there and that was the main thing.

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