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Sunday, April 17, 2005

Run, London, Run

This morning, went to watch some of the London Marathon. Actually, it's more "went to stand along the road and cheer" than really watch, as once you've seen one skinny-yet-oddly-muscular runner stumble by, you've seen 'em all, and stop paying attention to the person running by.

We started out at the Cutty Sark, in Greenwich, but it was really busy there, so all I could see were the backs of the people standing in front of me, and now and then, the head of a runner bobbing along the course.

The marathon is precisely 26.2 miles long, and goes from Greenwich to Green Park, looping around all over the place along the way.

After getting sick of Cutty Sark's crowds, we walked under the river through an underground tunnel (pretty cool) and eventually found a less busy patch of road to call our own.

The women start first, so the first person we saw run past was the eventually winner (and now three-time winner) Paula Radcliffe. Missed getting a photo of her, as I messed up with the camera (hey, it's new! what can I say?) and she really does move fast. I mean, the average person couldn't even walk that in a day, let alone run it at the clip she does. Even the other "elite" women, as they're called, were no where to be seen. (She eventually finished in 2 hours 17 minutes, six minutes faster than the next woman, and behind the men's top finisher by about ten.)

She crapped out in the Athen's Olympics, and dropped out mid-race or something, so when she apparently stopped later in the race (we didn't see this) people were worried. She wasn't crapping out, she was just taking a crap. Seriously. By the side of the road. She was, unsurprisingly, rather embarrased. BBC quoted her saying:

"I must have eaten a bit too much, I waited a bit too long. I didn't really want to have to resort to that in front of hundreds of thousands of people."

Anyways, a few minutes later, more women followed. The runners out front were all kinda freaky looking--super skinny bodies, loaded with muscle, all running with seriously pained looks on their faces. As the minutes raced (ha, ha, ha) by, and the less "elite" women followed, they started to actually look human. So good on them for managing to complete a marathon, in good time, without contorting their bodies.

Actually, now and then, the odd person would run by with a smile on their face--clearly, they're nuts. The marathon takes months to prepare for, hours to run, and weeks to recover from. Runners have to coat parts of their bodies with vaseline so their clothing doesn't chafe. I don't really want to think about that.

The wheelchairers were next.
I liked them the best--it just looks fun. No, not the paralysed part, but the barreling along on wheels. The men followed; there's was a closer race. The first of the men, like the top women, aren't jogging--they really fly by. I mean, if I'd stood up and started running alongside, they'd still outpace me, and they're mid-marathon by this point. (This is of course assuming I didn't get shot, and the cop standing across from us just didn't look capable of that. He also looked really bored.)

I left after a while, to meet my Grandparents, who are in town (and fed me better than I've eaten in months) so I missed the "amateurs" and the costume guys. ("I wouldn't say missed, Bob." I mean, how much can you watch?) According to my friend Scott, one year, a guy dressed in full divers gear and took eleven days (yes, that reads "days") to finish.

A few more photos here:

Aside: Camera working like a charm, now I've got it figured out. Very quick, so the pics aren't all blurry, which is awesome for a digicam. Still haven't managed to turn the sound effects off, tho...


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