This morning thousands of people gathered in the rain at the stadium in Marathon waiting for the starting pistol for this year's marathon race. It was a very different scene to last year's race where the sun shone but made it even harder for those 22 kms of uphill running. This year the weather is frankly awful but at least the wind is behind the runners and so they haven't got to run into it as well as face that relentless hill. It counts as one of the hardest marathons in the world which is one of the reasons that it doesn't get the big names because no one wants to bring their times down. It's the same one that brought Paula Radcliffe down but my friend managed to complete it in pretty good time last year. Every time the Athens marathon is mentioned I point out that my friend ran it hoping that by having rubbed shoulders with the great some of the sparkle will have dropped down to me.
By no stretch of the imagination am I an unfit person but I cannot run. I've tried all the things of alternating running with walking and I once managed to get myself to the point that I could probably run about 5kms slowly but by that stage have the look of the person who has run a marathon really quickly. Apart from this I don't have that style that runners have; that effortless elegance that tends to sit well within tampon advertisements where tanned, slim women with no spots are running along a beach. My arms and legs won't coordinate and I look rather as if I'm fighting my way through spiders webs. The whole thing of running appeals to me; I've bought into the idea that it's liberating, it makes you fit, it's relaxing and energising at the same time.
Although I could easily walk the distance of a marathon it's not got the same edge to it. That's plodding and determined whereas running is for the swift, the quick. Going out for a run implies energy whereas going for a walk could just be about going out for a pint of milk.
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