Friday, October 15, 2010


The monst'rous marathon mail

Just to update everyone on how the Loch Ness Marathon went, and very big thanks to those of you who donated to Macmillan Cancer Support via our Justgiving page; we've raised over £500, which will:

a. Provide more good days for people living with cancer

b. Land Macmillan another couple of London Marathon places, so some other pair of willing idiots have to pester their friends for something in the region of six grand

Either way, I'm sure you'll agree that's an outstanding result!

Right, how it went - I'm sure you're all dying to hear about how we faced and overcame our biggest challenge since illiteracy so I'll spare you details of our travel (which was a marathon in its own right) and skip to the race.

The course begins at the south end of Loch Ness and follows the main road all the way up into Inverness. The road is closed to traffic for the day, with the welcome exception of ambulances and the occasional hearse.

Not deeming the marathon sufficiently hellish in its own right, the organisers lined us up an hour-long bus trip to the start line. To be more exact, the bus dropped us off ten minutes from the start. Twenty minutes before the start. So long warm-up.

Just in case we were still suffering from any lingering vestiges of optimism, the morning had settled into the kind of steady, persistent drizzle which gives the people of the highlands their cheery disposition and impressive suicide rate.

Then some funny bastard put "500 miles" by the Proclaimers on the PA system and a couple of thousand soggy joggers lurched out onto the road, bound for Inverness.

The first nine miles or so were fairly steep downhill, which probably sounds ideal - it's not. Your legs get pulverised. After this, we emerged onto the side of Loch Ness for the next nine miles, which were flat and scenic.

Unfortunately, with all the damage wrought by the first section and the prospect of many, many more miles to come, you tend to plod along thinking things like: "I've stacked this," and "Marathons are rubbish".

Not being a big city marathon, there aren't the throngs of people cheering that you'd get in somewhere like London, New York or possibly even Leicester. This changed after around 17 miles when we went through a place called Dores.

People lined the streets of the town, cheering runners on and handing out sweets and drinks, not because they like runners, but simply because they're a collection of nasty, twisted perverts.

The reason is, straight after the town, from mile 18 onwards, is THE hill.

So, once a year the people of Dores take a break from watching Songs of Praise on the telly and take to the street to derive sadistic delight from encouraging a bunch of sweaty, exhausted runners to put on a bit of a spurt, knowing full well that they'll get overexcited and waste a bunch of energy. Then, when they're faced with a two-mile incline, they'll have shot their bolt and they will, in all probability, expire in a ditch.

(In fact, I went past a collapsed guy being loaded into an ambulance on this stretch, so the people of Dores can have a good laugh about that one.)

Fortunately, once you've made it up and over the hill, it's then plain sailing to the finish. Although it does take about an hour.

By this stage, the sun had at last come out, as had the people of Inverness. In one last twist of the knife, you go past the finish on the other side of the river before crossing and retracing your steps.

I crossed the line in just under 3h 30 and waddled off to get a coffee. Ed arrived just over an hour later, looking every inch the shot putter in his wicked Macmillan vest.

Both of us were walking like we'd had our first shower in prison. Of course, we were now free to get on the keg for the first time in a month. Sadly, the first pint we had was foul - some pubs just have no sense of occasion.

It was hard, our legs hurt, and our mouths tasted like we'd been eating bees. Nonetheless, we had made it through the marathon - it's a great feeling and I'd recommend anyone to have a crack at doing it*.

Anyway, if you've made it to the bottom of this rambling, please dry your eyes and pull yourself together. Many thanks again for supporting our effort and don't forget to check out the photos on our Facebook page.

*Except normal people

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Congratulations on this fantastic achievement! Your #1 fan in Canada is cheering for you!
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