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May 15, 2010

Inspired by a comment left by the lovely Susan (@marshklein) on my last blog post, I thought a postscript of sorts might be appropriate.

Yes, the story of my marathon journey was a pretty jolly one, tinged with a little sadness and a lot of responsibility; I’d already talked about my reasons for running on the eve of the Marathon.

Post marathon, lots of people had said to me that it was a shame they didn’t get to see more of the “fun runners”. It made me think, I mean, it’s all well and good to celebrate the elite athletes breaking world records and amazing us with their athletic prowess – they should be celebrated, they’ve worked hard all their lives, they are talented, inspiring and their achievements are admirable. I do get frustrated, however, when a select handful of elite runners say that the London Marathon is no longer a “serious” event because of the amount of “fun runners” who now participate; what do they mean? Do they mean that Ben McBean, the soldier who lost an arm and a leg in a bomb blast and who I ran next to for two or three miles, isn’t a “serious” athlete? What about my friend Angie, who works tirelessly for the Children’s Trust and who, in spite of an incredibly painful leg injury she was advised not to run on, decided to go ahead anyway because she’d promised a sick young boy her medal. Then there’s my friend Donna, who ran for Barnardos, in memory of her beautiful son, Josh; she ran every step of that route for him, is she any less of an athlete because it took her five hours and not three? There’s self-confessed chocaholic, Marathon Mummy, my pal Rachael, who ran for Heart Research UK in memory of her lovely dad. Terribly ill with a bug that day, she pounded the streets knowing that every step was a step closer to the finish and she’d have done it for her dad. What about my friend, Dean, who ran 26.2 miles dressed as a womble and raised thousands for charity? I’d say he’s an athlete, wouldn’t you? My chum, Karen, put her heart and soul into training and running for her little cousin, Gina, diagnosed with Hodgkins disease at the age of 12. I’d say she’s an athlete anyway, seeing as she’s in the sub five-hour club.

Each and every one had their own particular reasons for running, reasons, bigger and more important than winning any gold medal or breaking any world records. Surely, running for someone you love or for a cause you are committed to is just as admirable as shaving a split second off your PB to make you World Champion. This little postscript is therefore dedicated to all of my friends, as well as those I’ve never met, who ran on the 25th April, no matter how quickly or slowly. Record-breaking athletes we may not be, but we ran with all our hearts and we’d do it again in a second.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. hfos permalink
    May 15, 2010 1:01 pm

    Hear hear! For me, the mass participation and peculiarly british style of craziness are what make the London Marathon great. The elite runners get to run unimpeded, so what does it matter to them what/who comes after them? Not to mention that most of the people out there cheering, come freezing rain or baking sun, are there to support the ‘fun’ runners, not watch the elite ones. I work for a charity which has wonderful people running for it every year and consider it both a privilege and a pleasure to go and cheer them on. I stand in awe of them, everyone who runs and fundraises for a cause, and everyone who runs to push themselves further or do something they didn’t think they were capable of.

    • May 15, 2010 1:15 pm

      You’re so right. I have to say, I really have encountered only a small amount of snobbery when it comes to “fun runners” but I thought it was worth mentioning.
      As you rightly say, the people who come to cheer are worthy of much praise and thanks, we’d never get to the end without them.
      I can’t top what you’ve said, Helen, you’ve said it all so beautifully.

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