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May 28, 2008 > Across the Pond: Notes from the London Marathon

Across the Pond: Notes from the London Marathon

"Where are my legs?" asked son Joe as he unpacked the ostrich outfit he planned to wear in this year's London Marathon. Without legs and feet it wasn't much of an ostrich. With no time to contact the fancy dress hire shop, wife, Cat, nobly sacrificed a pair of her old maternity trousers, setting to cutting, altering and stitching. Stuffed with old newspapers and finished off with an ancient pair of Darth Vader slippers, the lower half was now passably ostrich-like.

Meanwhile I was en route from Newark on the National Express (not always but that's another story), ready to join other son Tom and family who'd travelled from Nottingham the night before and daughter Lucy, who lives in London and had therefore been appointed group navigator.

Thank goodness for mobile phones. How else would I have found them amidst the thousands of cheering supporters lining the Marathon route? Just as I met them at the Cutty Sark, the heavens opened. As I struggled with rain hat and umbrella to the despair and embarrassment of Tom that only a son knows, I also discovered I'd missed Joe and ostrich by ten minutes. As we set off to search for a convenient place of shelter; Tom was glad of my umbrella in the torrential downpour. Who's laughing now son? We quickly dived into the coffee bar of a bookshop packed with steaming, soaking onlookers with the same idea. Nicely enfolded in the heavy warmth, we had a great view of Marathon stragglers through the upper floor window, running past just as the barricades were being removed. I felt sorry for them with barely a soul left to cheer them on.

Nicely dried and refreshed with coffee, we travelled to Canary Wharf where we planned to catch another (first for me) glimpse of Joe and ostrich. The route was packed with supporters shouting encouragement and cheers. What a wonderful atmosphere; such a sense of fun with the charity runners. There were Wonder Women, gorillas, fairies, a woman on stilts (amazing), a man wearing a thong (bet that would chafe), Masai warriors wearing rubber tyres for shoes and ostrich. I was so relieved to see he hadn't passed out with heat from the outfit or collapsed under its weight now that it had absorbed a fair portion of the torrential downpour. Joe had lost his Darth Vader slippers but otherwise looked surprisingly fit and fresh. As Joe and ostrich galloped over to us for a word, a camera crew swooped and interviewed him at length, much to his sister Lucy's delight.

Next time we saw him was in front of Buckingham Palace at the finishing line. Looking like a man who'd lost his horse, he explained that his legs had been "cut to ribbons".....not surprising considering he'd run in his wife's trousers stuffed with newspapers! But to Joe and all the other fun runners raising so much money for so many good causes, particularly the giant robot that didn't finish until the following Friday, we salute you.

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