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Running on empty
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Running on empty

A chap performing a warm up routine reminiscent of Torvill and/or Dean (which was which?) stopped and informed me that Malaga's full and the half-marathon started at the same place, adding – with a sinister grin – 'after that, it's every man for himself'

Friday, 15 December 2023, 16:12

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Reasons for not sitting in front of the telly, watching re-runs of 1980s quiz shows at five o'clock in the morning while chugging back three pints of lager are many and varied. Add to this illustrious list the fact that you need to be up at 7.30am to begin the Malaga half-marathon at 8.30am and the folly of your actions is quite clearly off the scale. However, as anyone who has ever worked a twelve hour shift in any job knows, it's impossible to go home immediately and conk out because your head's still fizzing with all kinds of stuff and nonsense. And so it was that I found myself in the wee small hours staring blankly at people with highly dubious perms and very white socks throwing darts and answering questions in an attempt to win a speedboat even though they lived in a landlocked town somewhere in the north of England. (The programme is called Bullseye for anyone who doesn't know it and many episodes including the perms and the socks are readily available on YouTube).

And so it came to pass that two and a half hours after my last sip of beer, I was leaping from my bed and heading for the start of the race. Well, I would have been, if anyone had known where the start of the race actually was. Three policemen didn't, two runners didn't (they were doing the full marathon – maybe you need five hours sleep to prepare for that) and a couple of bewildered passers-by certainly didn't in spite of my impassioned pleas. Eventually, a chap performing a warm up routine reminiscent of Torvill and/or Dean (which was which?) in their pomp, stopped to catch his breath and informed me that both the full and the half-marathon started at the same place, adding – with a sinister grin – 'after that, it's every man for himself', before resuming his quite startling pirouette routine. Some of those warm-ups were truly absurd, let me tell you; they included shadow boxing, hand jives (I kid you not) and swathes of people adopting a posture in the style of the statue of Eros, to what end I'm not entirely sure.

Anyway, I took my rightful place right at the back of the throng and crossed the start line a full seven minutes after the big boys. Bullseye was soon but a distant memory as I plodded gamely on, variously accosted by a bloke with a ghetto blaster (I kid you not once more), a person with headphones singing what I think was Ed Sheeran but which was so out of tune, it could have been anything from the Teletubbies to Telly Savalas, and - most impressively - two middle aged women who, for reasons best known to themselves, decided to run one directly to my left, one directly to my right before proceeding to indulge in an in-depth conversation about their respective husbands' impressively wide-ranging ailments, all at a decibel level which would have shamed a Boeing 747. (I cunningly gave them the slip by running more slowly).

Eventually, a full two hours and ten minutes after I'd begun, I stumbled over the finish line, had a plate of meatballs and chips plus two more pints on the way home and went back to bed for five hours.

I'm not sure any of this routine is in the official training manuals, but I could be wrong.

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