Matthew Munson: Powering through the finish line

Matthew and Di have completed their 14th marathon

As I write this column, I am operating on about 90 minutes sleep in the last 40 hours. I tell you this not for sympathy, but as a mere explanation as to any sudden tangents or odd digressions you might encounter during the course of this column.

The reason I’ve had so little sleep is entirely of my own making. I actually left our fair island for a couple of days to take part in an overnight marathon with my pal, Di, who I suspect goes along with my crazed plans at least partly to check that I don’t go off the deep end and press a button that destroys the entire world.

Shine 2017 is actually our 14th marathon in five years, which is quite something, and each one has something unique about it; this time, there was the moment we ran across a six-lane road of traffic because we couldn’t – couldn’t – stop, and were shouted at by a steward. We shouted back, so that was fine.

Irritated

We were also cheered on by other very friendly stewards, and even woke a few more who seemed to be resting their eyes on their shift. Meeting stewards with wigs, fancy dress, cross-dressing, and boundless enthusiasm when I have a haunted look in my eyes at 24 miles is so rewarding; I judge how close I am to hitting “the wall” (oh yes, it does exist) by how irritated I get towards their jolly cheers and welcoming demeanour. When I start saying, “Oh god, here comes another one with a smile on their face,” I know I need to deal with my own mental attitude and work through the pain.

Mind you, the chance for me to dress up myself is always one I will grab; Di and I always go to these marathons in fancy dress, everything from clowns to Thunderbirds via Romans. This marathon featured us as two hippies, and I had a voluminous wig to top it off (I’m usually clean-shaven on my head, so this was more irritating than I expected it would be). The looks we got on the tube as we travelled to the start line were fine; everyone was terribly British and didn’t mention a thing, bless ‘em.

‘We walked past her’

Not many people join in the whole dressing-up theme, which is a shame, because I suspect it would be a reminder that the event is supposed to be fun and to raise money for a good cause first and foremost. You do see people who take the event far too seriously, which is ghastly; one woman was scandalised last night when we walked past her, and she was no longer leading that particular pack. We hadn’t any particular desire to lead, but we happened to be walking faster than her; and she  clearly wasn’t alone in thinking like that.

The finish line

But we did it, dear readers; we got over the finish line in 6 hours, 8 minutes, and came 8th out of quite a large number of people. We don’t do it for any specific time, but to be quite so fast, and quite so “high up” on the leaderboard, was quite a thrilling sight, I must confess.

Now I have come back down to Earth, and must get back to work – but maybe first I’ll look at my medal just one last time …

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