It’s Sunday and I arrive on the first train into Birmingham. The purpose of the morning is to be a roaming spectator at the Birmingham BUPA Great Run (Half marathon) and cheer on two friends and former colleagues. Brave enough to take part, but the strength to finish? Based on past performance, surely no problem.
Leaving Moor Street I meander towards milepost 10-ish. Shortly after leaving I come across milepost 1 by accident and literally within a minute who else but my friend Paul flies past round the corner. “GO ON PAUL! PAUL!!! KEEP GOING!” No reaction. Note to self: shout “Clarkey” next time! As Paul disappears into the distance it’s roughly 10:40 at this point so all’s well so far. As I walk towards milepost 2 where the course intersects nicely with roughly 10.5, (surely the runners are missing a great trick here!), it strikes me that soooo many people did not get to go to the toilet before the start; there are literally people peeing everywhere! And not shy about it either!! At least we are spared a Paula Radcliffe moment!
At mile 2 I decide to make my way to Edgbaston instead of my plan A of catching them at 10 miles. Between mile 2 and mile 3 it becomes apparent that many people have not really trained very much. People are already walking, faces puce with exhaustion, and I am overtaking them at hardly a brisk walking pace. Some are already being tended to by St. John’s ambulance crews.
Along the route a few locals have set up unofficial cheering points with music; the theme from Rocky and then Spencer Davis Group – “Keep on running” on a continual loop, camping chairs and not forgetting a few beers! Everyone is getting into the spirit of things this morning!
At Edgbaston I head for Cannon Hill Park and find a good spot for spotting Messrs Browne and Clarke. As it turns out later I must have literally missed Ian by a minute or two, cause as I wait and wait it becomes clear that he’s not coming and must be well headed towards the finish already. Deciding now to make my way back to plan A, I suddenly spot Paul. “PAUL!” No reaction. Again. I start running after him, as I check my notes. “Clarkey!! “ Finally, head turns and big smile, fist bump and he’s off. I’m puffed out and return to walking again. En route to 10.5 I see the weird and the wonderful, including a man in a dress, a storm trooper in full uniform and someone running with a, I kid you not, a mattress on his head. Is this in case he needs a rest?
As I arrive I catch a final glimpse and manage to take a (poor) photo of Paul as he starts the incline towards the centre of town. He still looks in fine form.
That’s it, me done. I feel exhausted on their behalf and I never get to see Ian. Apologies to him… …I’ll make a better effort next time! Warwick, March 2015?
At the end I have clocked up 6 miles in trying to support them so I have done nearly a quarter marathon myself. Not bad. And I ran 50 yards! As I head towards the station, the final runners are struggling past, about to complete their SECOND mile. Runners amongst this lot are the exception, they are barely walkers and if not careful they will shortly be swept up by the road sweepers looming behind them. The determination on their faces however, no less than on those that passed in the “elite” groups earlier. Signs are being taken down, barriers dismantled and disgruntled drivers are once again allowed to fill up some of the streets. “I’m going to report you to the council!!” “Go ahead! You’re still not getting through, and it’s the council that has approved the road closure!”
It’s been a great morning, 19 October, but more like a summers’ day, bright sunshine, 18 degrees and LOTS of money raised for lots of charities. Short-cutting through M&S on my way home, however, it’s like a time warp as I pass through their Christmas department!
Safely on the train I decide the last experience of seeing reindeer and x-mas mugs must be my imagination. Back in my home town I get picked up from the station; to go home for Sunday lunch? NO! Christmas shopping in Stratford! Arghhhhhhhhhhhhh…
Back in the REAL world, Paul and Ian raised hundreds of pounds and awareness for good causes.