The Dublin Marathon website informs me that in 1 day, 10 hours and 8 minutes I will be running. Running 26.2 miles.That is well over 40,000 metres.
Good thing that I have these fancy trainers. They are called Lunar Glide, you see. Perhaps they will propel me along Dublin’s roads, bouncing lightly like Buzz Aldrin on the moon. Will it feel like one small step? Nope. I just know I’m going to look and feel more like Arnie in Total Recall when his helmet comes off on Mars. Have you seen it? I have, and its not pretty.
Truth is, its not going to be like Science Fiction at all. It will be more historic. There’s something truly atavistic about running events. They are the modern day equivalent of a Celtic battle. Competitors turn up early, swathed in the liveries of their various tribes (now charities). Milling around and trying to stay warm, emotional farewells are exchanged with relatives, and then the warriors head off to the battleground. We go quietly, contemplating the gruelling feat that awaits us. Gone is the Woad battlepaint, but in its place is fluorescent phyiso strapping, with the odd slash of UV lip balm. As ever, the strongest fighters form a shield wall up front, and they are exposed to the watchful eyes of the leaders and elite. Up on a gantry, their battle speeches are replace with blessings and encouragement via a megaphone, yet they are no less intense. Thankfully I will be crammed in to the bulk of runners behind the professionals. We shuffle nervously, and check our weaponry (shoelaces and timing chips, mostly), offer up prayers to the Gods, and wait for the inexorable countdown.
Then we wait a little more. As time draws out, the war-cry comes with a cheer, and we all shed our outer layers and throw them to the elements. Then comes my favourite sound, namely a panolpy of beeps, chirps and tings as the warriors start their satelite watches. I suppose that bit is Sci-fi. I imagine that the historical equivalent would be the grating of sword-blade on scabbard, or shield-thumps. Then it begins. I am a solitary runner, and always feel very alone at the start. Odd, when surrounded by thousands. Fortunately for me, it is not armed adversaries that I run to confront, but the stretch of looped road that forms the course. The only enemy is weakness, of body or spirit.