Wacky races

Sporting events are marvellous, but many-a weekend plan is blown asunder, as no one can get anywhere

Peter Edgerton
PETER EDGERTON

Congratulations to the Kenyan Mark Korir for an excellent performance in the Malaga Marathon last Sunday. His winning time of two hours, seven minutes and thirty nine seconds was, in fact, depressingly close to my best ever half-marathon time. Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Tseginesh Mekonnin Legesse triumphed in the women's race, completing the course in just over two hours twenty four minutes, which, according to our cleaning lady is about how long it took her to get to work from just down the road on the same morning because of the bus cancellations and re-routings and everything. She ended up walking all the way to the pub but even that involved endless redirection, apparently.

These sporting events are marvellous, there can be no doubt about it. They bring colour and excitement to the city and encourage us fatties to get off the sofa and run around town for a few hours in the wake of the likes of Mr Korir and Ms Legesse.

The thing is, as our cleaning lady will attest, the whole city is shut down for hours on end. This would be fine - it is a Sunday after all - but that side of things isn't given very much publicity and, as a consequence, according to the tales I heard over the next few days, many-a weekend plan is blown asunder, owing to the fact that nobody could get anywhere.

Next year I propose newspaper headlines and billboards at bus stops during the fortnight leading up to Marathon day, with snappy captions like 'Any plans for Sunday? Not now you haven't' and 'Pub to clean? Set your alarm for 3am, madam.'

As things stand, unless you're taking part, you vaguely know that the race is on at the weekend but you don't give it that much thought until the day arrives and you find yourself making a detour via Burgos just to buy the morning paper.

I've never dared to to do a full marathon, concluding - quite reasonably, I think - that if my body feels like it's been hit by Morrissey's ten ton truck after thirteen miles, the sensations after twenty-six must be equivalent to those of a bloke who just asked Mike Tyson's girlfriend if she'd care to dance. What I do remember from the half marathons though is how well organised it all is.

There's only one thing missing then - prior warning that if you want to go about your everyday business in the customary manner, you can't.