98 – Marathon

Today I watched as thousands of people ran away from me. Occasionally I made inarticulate noises of encouragement. Some of them were my friends but I didn’t spot them – it’s hard to recognise people from the back and above. I was on the footbridge at Embankment, right at the end of the route. People were battered by then. I kept my shouting generic. Cycling their names would’ve gotten old quickly. I just shouted “Aaargh euurrrgh yarrr” which is the socially acceptable encouragement (or piracy) noise in London as far as I could glean from those around me. Well done to Maz, Chris, Ben, David, Sarah and all the other maniacs known and unknown to me who put themselves through that extended hell. If I had to run more than 10 miles the lower part of my right leg would unscrew itself, my lungs would start fighting each other and my heart would fly off to rejoin its brothers and sisters on Pluto. I’ve no objections to doing difficult things but I’d probably not attempt that one unless I was being chased by a very persistent very angry, very hungry slug.

I picked my way through crowded streets. Enthusiastic stewards with no clue what they were being employed to do barked arbitrary orders if you caught their eye, so they could look and feel like they were working. “Go the other side of that gumstain.” “Cross the road with your left foot first.” “Don’t stand so close to the road.”

The runners who had finished were wrapped in foil surrounded by excited people, like Thanksgiving turkeys. Many of them already looked cooked. Some were overdone. Policemen maintained a quiet armed presence, and in a new but sadly necessary tactic, parked their vans to block roads and encouraged official coach drivers to do the same.

People were everywhere. This city is ramjammed. Even the runners looked like a factory conveyor belt as they rolled under the bridge. I imagined myself having to sort them into categories.


Plucking out the rotten ones, labelling the plump ones “Finest”. Putting the ones dressed as goldfish into the “party food” section. I should probably stop comparing the runners to edibles. They’ve raised tons of money for good causes across the world. Perhaps I should put myself in the mix for next year and do something genuinely hard for a good cause. I’m scared I’d cripple myself, but if it’s just irrational fear that’s stopping me then that’s not enough.

I left the area once again marveling how many people there are in this city. For the evening I went to visit one of my friends who lives close to me. There are so many hearts packed into such a small space in this city, and it’s important to see them outside of the Facebook screen. I’ve spent a Sunday afternoon curled up on a sofa with Flavia while her 3 year old veers from Lego aficionado to penguin expert to breadstick maniac and back again. It’s alright being three. Right now he’s sitting watching Lego Batman clips on YouTube and I’m thinking about how i met the guys who made this at the premier two months ago. I tried showing him the photo of me with Lego Batman but he refused to be impressed. I guess the one I met was just an overheating actress in a suit and he can tell that. “But I’m friends with one of the producers” doesn’t cut it for a three year old. Or anyone else for that matter.


Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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