I can say with all honesty that I've lived in London for most of my life but until yesterday, I had never watched the marathon. Why? Well I guess I had always figured if I could be bothered to get out of bed that early on a Sunday morning, I could just watch it on telly.
I got up early yesterday to perform at the 11 mile with the South London Jazz Orchestra because I had been invited so often, it seemed a little insulting not to make an effort and am I ever glad I did! It was a warm day so I expected the sunshine to life my spirits. I didn't expect my spirits to be lifted for other reasons. Not only did I have a chance to exercise the chops and catch up with fellow musicians, I got to talk to a few runners.
The first one I spoke to was one I met on the tube. He seemed a little nervous about running the marathon and confided to me that he hadn't had a pint of Guinness in twelve weeks. He was looking forward to the finishing line so he could quench his thirst. I jokingly asked if he had pasta for breakfast but he said he had a big pasta dinner Saturday evening and had eaten porridge for breakfast. I told him I admired his determination and self discipline and said I would be playing in the jazz band at the eleventh mile. He told me the entertainment on the side lines was what experiened runners talked about afterwards (it was his first marathon). It was a distraction from the pain and monatony of the run. We chatted for a bit longer about little things until his stop at King's Cross. Suddenly, I needed to know his name.
"Martin," he said.
"Good luck Martin," I said being a bad commuter and holding the door open, "I'll watch out for you!"
"I'll look forward to the eleventh mile," he said.
Suddenly, he leaned forward and kissed me.
OK, that last sentence I made up.* Martin did not kiss me (I wouldn't have minded if he did!) but he did ask my name and really did say he'd look out for me at the eleventh mile.
As it happened, there were so many runners and we were so busy playing (my chops are still swollen) that I didn't see him. But I did notice that the runners applauded for us as they passed by. They waved and shouted their thanks. And I played a little better because I remembered what Martin said about the distractions along a difficult journey.
I hope Martin made it. He was such a nice man.
There were other really emotionally touching things in the marathon that I never knew before. There were lots of wheelchair runners who were the first past us. Running a marathon on two healthy legs would be challenging enough but hand pedalling must be far more difficult. There were also blind runners who ran with guides. Again, such bravery for these runners and the sacrifice their guides were making made my eyes water.
The elite men runners came next. Of course we were playing when Mo Farah ran past and we completely missed him. I hope he remembers us when he talks about his efforts.
The elite women runners were next.
And then we started seeing alll sorts. The first costumed runner I saw was a Thunderbird--I read in the Metro that he had broken a record for being the fastest runner dressed as a TV character (David Stone 2:49:51). I also saw the guy carrying a refrigerator (Tony Phoenix-Morrison) and the fastest man in a wedding dress (Lee Goodwin 3:00:54). I'm pretty sure I saw a very fast man dressed as a tiger (Alex Collins 2:48:29) and if the man dressed up as lungs was Adam Giangreco (3:36:42) then I also saw the fastest runner dressed as an internal organ.
I was delighted that a few of the photos I managed to get on my i-phone were also taken by professional photographers. I got the telephone. . .
The man carrying a tiger
and a few notable others. . .The shark man
A horse being carried by 4 runners. . .
By far, my favourite was the Janis Joplin look-a-like carrying a small red plastic trumpet. I don't know how she did but I hope she finished.
Oh and hats off to the Huddersfieldd marching band who played and marched and finished at 6:56:44. Give me a call next yesr, eh?
*I've been writing a lot of fiction during Easter break so sometimes my imagination gets a bit carried away. . .