On Sunday my wife completed the Manchester 10km run. I saw her off at the start and mooched around town carrying her bag of stuff. Alas the finish line wasn’t really an option for me because we were already utterly confused by the maps (despite knowing Manchester well) and we wisely decided to meet in a pub rather than at the end because judging by the start it was chaotic and way too packed (and when your wife is 5′1″ it is tricky especially amongst the costumes and general hullabaloo - I also figured it would be very difficult to infiltrate myself into a place to get a good photo). It’s a huge event these days and when we got home we watched the recording of it from the BBC. The likes of Brendan Foster was wittering on (he is World Class at wittering on in much the same way Alan Hansen is World Class at doom-mongering) about how it gets bigger every year. I honestly don’t see how it could get any bigger without changing the route (well the start and end anyway) dramatically.
So I looked around a couple of bookshops (why is it I can always find a really cool book for 50p in Empire Exchange or nothing?) and was accosted outside a hotel in Piccadilly by a middle-aged woman with a clipboard who asked me, “Do you like porridge?”*. I said, “No”. She said, “Oh, that’s OK then.” and turned away. I completely forgot to buy a couple of specific things (like an HDMI cable - I really ought to get that via my usual supplier - Aria Tech anyway) so I bought a Sun and went to the pub we’d selected as a rendezvous. It was The Moon Under Water**, Deansgate. Not somewhere I’d normally go but it was big enough and town was very busy. I got a bottle of Baltika (yeah, in a Wetherspoons! It’s not bad. It was a better option than their other ‘exotic’ which was Efes from Turkey - it’s very like certain abysmal American ‘beers’. I am well aware they make excellent beers in the USA but they just don’t sell ‘em here) and flicked through the paper for that was worth.
Soon enough, Lizzy appeared looking radiant (I suspect I would have looked not so much as the walking but the crawling dead) with a finisher’s goodie-bag. She even got a medal! She was well chuffed. I was really proud of her because she only took up jogging quite recently and she was one of those many, many people who hated the enforced physical jerks of school PE lessons and especially the grim route march which was the cross-country run. I have long suspected school PE lessons do vastly more harm than good. The number of people I have known who have hated the grim ordeal of school PE who later found they enjoyed the sport of their own choosing is enormous (me for starters! - badminton, five-a-side and rounders oddly enough). Indeed on the way back to the station we watched a bit of the women’s pole-vaulting. This included, apart from some veritable Valkyries, Britain’s best hope in this event for 2012. I’d seen her on the telly-box earlier and she got into it not so long ago due to a “have a go” day at her local athletics club.
Lizzy started in the pink wave (the final one - like I said she’d never done anything like this before so was being cautious) and it was set-off by Haile Gebrselassie who had run the elite race in a time not dissimilar to what it takes for me to amble down to the ATM and then the local convenience store, buy a Coke and some Monster Munch and exchange pleasantries with Sayeed then amble back and see what is being shown on ITV3 (probably Poirot). The great man had had time to come round and start Lizzy’s wave and the one before that… That was kinda cool.
What was cooler was Lizzy really enjoyed it and I can see now why they call them “fun runs” (most of my previous experience of running had best be filed under “scarpering”). She said she felt really good afterwards and that she could have done better if she’d started in the wave ahead - which had fewer people dressed as lions or deep-sea divers etc. The loneliness of the long-distance running widower beckons!
She told me one thing in particular that amused me greatly. The course swung past Old Trafford. The blurb beforehand had mentioned the lounge there was an ideal place to watch from. Well more than a few runners, as they passed by, started a chorus of “Blue Moon”. Tickled me that did. I guess the race stewards round there had to have nets on poles to catch Sir Alex’s flying monkeys.
So now for some pictures. This is before the the start…
This is the start (almost)…
… And this is afterwards…
Sorry no finishing-line piccies. We were waiting on the official ones (which is why this post is somewhat belated) but they turned out to be poor so you are stuck with what I managed to get.
All of this brings me to my ultimate point. Lizzy ran for the charity Animals Asia and I posted about her run a while back asking for sponsorship. Well, those of you who gave deserve to know how it all turned out and I am glad to tell you how it turned out and thank you all again for your kindness. Moreover I’d like to thank you all for something else I hinted at above. Lizzy ran not just for the bears but herself and knowing you were backing her must have helped her running and that matters for it’s own sake - moon bears or not. As I said I’m very proud of her. Her school PE teachers would be astonished but then a good cause, personal motivation and knowing good people have pledged money matters so much more than the rote nonsense of National Curriculum physical jerks and the petty sadism of PE teachers.
Now, for all you sports fans out there here are the results…
Lizzy finished 25,013 out of 40,000+ in a time of 1 hour 13 minutes.
I reckon that is pretty good for a first-timer starting in the final - slowest - wave. Some of those were “teams” running together in silly outfits and therefore difficult to get past.
Thank all of you for supporting her. It meant a lot to Lizzy. It means a lot to the bears (and the cats and dogs) and it means a lot to me.
Oh, and Lizzy is well on course to exceed not only the 10km but her fund-raising target of £415 - the cost of gall-bladder surgery for a rescued bear “milked” for it’s bile in the most horrendous conditions.
Anyway, it’s not too late to give (and that total is just via that site - there has also been cash - and it is a pukka charity in case you are concerned on that score).
Otherwise you could always even adopt a bear. Lizzy did and the bear is called January and don’t worry the bear will live in China or Vietnam - you won’t have DHL deliver a big box full of growls. I was iffy at first. I mean we’ve got a big garden but the cat (His Feline Majesty) would have kittens and seeing as Timmy is a neutered male that would make zoological history.
We can change things but we have to think small scale. We can’t change everything nor should we even attempt it but if all of us who care try to change one specific, targeted, achievable thing we as a civilization can do wonders.
So thanks to all of you! Lizzy was brilliant. So were you.
*Same hotel I was once accosted at and made a fiver for answering some questions. I was quizzed over the cover design for the DVD of the “Incredible Hulk” movie. A movie I had not seen and had no desire to buy the DVD of.
**Yes, I am aware of the bitter irony of that name for a chain-run mega-pub. It’s almost Orwellian…