Marathon Day Madness

26 04 2010

Bradders writes:

Yesterday saw that great sporting event of the British calendar, the London marathon, run by 35,000 (slightly mad) men and women. From my comfortable seat in Dubai at the Compulsive Hooker HQ, I would like to applaud my friend Si especially, but also every one else who ran, for their huge efforts, not only on the track, but also for their stupendous charity fund raising.

Marathon day in London is always an event that seems to bring out the best in people. Suddenly there is a palpable community spirit and sense that everyone is rooting for each other, something that is sadly lacking in much of modern day life. At this point I must point out that I have never even contemplated a marathon, let alone run one, but simply by being there you get caught up in the event as a whole.

It was at the marathon a couple of years ago, that I saw what was probably the most moving spectacle in a sporting situation I have ever seen. I was standing at the final turn around St. James’s Park waiting for a friend who was running that year, when a young lady came steaming round the bend. One moment she was fine and then, as they are wont to do when that terminal point of exhaustion is reached, her legs just suddenly collapsed under her. She got up once and immediately fell down again and despite several further tries literally couldn’t get back up to her feet. By this point she was in tears and the crowd were cheering her, willing her to get up and make the last 300 yards to the finish. Looking back and seeing what was happening, two other runners, one of them memorably dressed as a penguin, then turned round, came back for her, and with one of her arms over man and penguin, helped her slowly and sobbing to the finish.

Perhaps it doesn’t sound much written down in black and white, but I assure you there was not a dry eye around that bend at that moment as we all collectively willed her on.

This coming together, though, is what all great sporting events do for a nation or a city. They bring everyone together and provide a focus for a mass outpouring of joy and solidarity. The English as a whole are not normally an overtly patriotic people in the same way the Americans or perhaps the Irish are, but anyone who remembers the tumultuous scenes on the English rugby teams arrival back to Heathrow and the subsequent open bus tour that followed in 2003, can surely still feel the tingle of high emotion that surrounded these events. The Ashes in 2005 again, when every English man and young boy wanted to be an cricketer was another instance of this. The marathon of course is slightly different, in that it is not simply a British or English event, but an international one thrown open to all comers, yet this same ‘joie de vivre’ is present and for one day at least, we are all one big happy family.

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