When this blog was in its infancy this time last year I wrote, to universal acclaim, about my experiences at the Birmingham Half Marathon, now called the Great Birmingham Run as it is sponsored by Bupa. I had a fairly disillusioning race to be honest. The Mambo is used to sporting excellence. I was not excellent that day, and was in fact beaten comfortably by a man in costume. Not very pleasing, all in all.
This year the Mambo returned to the fray, and Sunday’s fun and games provided me with the added bonus of having an excuse not to go the anti-cuts demo in London the day before. It’s a bloody long way on the coach; I have to sort out a massive cold lunch; to be honest I’ve yet to go to a peaceful demo that has ever actually changed anything; and I’ve only ever gone to them in recent years out of sense of guilt as much as anything else…… at this point I know the word ‘dilettante’ is the one on your mind. To which I reply: what of it?
I had promised myself that this time things would be very different. And although I was significantly faster than last years abject failure, and reliably informed that no one dressed like a big banana beat me, I am still hugely disappointed with my time.
Anyway, I would like to make a couple of observations about the day of Mambo mediocrity.
Firstly, kudos to the people along the route who put up anti-Bupa posters in their windows along the route. They heartened me greatly and provided a wonderful antidote to what are normally days when corporations and sponsors are uncritically celebrated and one is by necessity forced into taking on the role of a walking advertising hoarding. Righteous, especially in these times when the NHS as we know it is in danger or being broken up. Endurance sports in particular are either deeply apolitical or often very individualistic, right-wing pursuits, and I enjoyed seeing that discourse questioned, however fleetingly.
Secondly, just a word for the moron spectator who I exchanged pleasantries with in Edgbaston at about the eleven mile mark. Breathing cigarette smoke out onto the course is the height of stupidity and bad form. I meant every word of what I said and I only regret not squeezing more expletives into my pithy, satirical putdown. If you are there next year and we cross paths again expect an even more withering slice of rhetoric.
Thirdly, I will be back. Of that dear reader, be in no doubt whatsoever.