Remember You’re a Womble – Barcelona Marathon

Hello all,

For one last time, I would just like to thank you for all the support you gave me. I met my target by running the marathon in under four hours by finishing at 3:59:19. Considering that I am usually late for my appointments, it was nice to be on time for once.

The beginning of the marathon was disconcerting. For starters, even before the race began, there appeared to be a devout group of people whom are best referred to as the Bin-Liner Brigade. Even if there was a possibility of rainfall (which fortunately did not materialise), I still cannot comprehend how wearing a bin-liner over your body would make any difference whatsoever whilst running a marathon.

More seriously though, three minutes into the race I tripped over the pavement. I fell no more than three inches away from the sharp corner of what I think was the ornamental base for a row of plants. Without exaggerating, with less fortune I would have been concussed at best and suffered brain damage at worse. The fall took a great deal out of me, but there was no time to wallow.

The route was pleasant enough, passing through the usual attractions: The Nou Camp, Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila, Las Ramblas and so forth.

My actual run, on the other hand, was not quite so endearing. Disappointingly, my legs began to tire at 25km (a marathon is 42km). This was not a good sign. However, at no point did I hit the sensationalised ‘wall’. So somehow, I managed to keep on moving throughout, never stopping to walk – although, quite like John Terry in his best-mate’s house, the temptation was always there. If anything, what I experienced of ‘the wall’ was more like running with cramp for two hours. You should try it some time.

At 35km, the situation became more acute. This was not necessarily owing to fatigue. Rather, whilst running through the Old Town, the organisers of the marathon had an enlightened idea: to have a heavy-metal band entertain the runners. Not only did I almost lose the will to run, but I almost lost the will to live too.

So, to rejuvenate myself, I needed a mental stimulus. By this point lurid images of Carol Vorderman were losing their allure. Similarly, picturing neon law books chasing me from behind, as one friend suggested, no longer seemed effective. I needed something uplifting and inspirational; a shot of morphine interlaced with haribo into the arm. And so, by the lowest common denominator, I was left with the Wombles’ theme tune.

It worked like a treat.

Thus, for the last 5km or so, I was singing “Remember you’re a womble”. I probably looked delirious, but it was worth it.

During last stretch, with the finish line visibly ahead of me, the overhead timer stated that the marathon started 4hr 4min ago. Utterly dejected at having missed my target, I began shouting obscenities. But then I remembered that I had not actually crossed the start line until after six minutes into the race.

Without meaning to dramatise the final hundred yards in any way whatsoever, it felt like watching the ending of Armageddon, only that I was not wearing an orange jumpsuit, nor had I just saved the world. In another way, it was akin to the finale of An Officer and a Gentleman, except that I was not Richard Gere, and rather than carrying a beautiful woman, I was just about carrying my legs.

Now I feel like a pensioner after rediscovering how to do the Twist: elated, but in absolute agony.

More importantly, with the marathon aside, just under £700 (or well over, if including Gift-Aid) has been raised for the Disaster Emergency Committee. This contributes towards vital resources for rebuilding communities, lives and infrastructure. Even as much as my legs are expressing regret, my heart and mind are saying thanks.

So: Thank you!

P.S. Remember you’re a womble:

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