Staying the course

I ran in a marathon recently.

Ran in, not ran. I didn’t start and I didn’t finish, I just did a few hundred metres towards the end.

So why bother running a couple of hundred metres on a decidedly hot spring day, in a race I had no intention of even entering?

The truth is I was helping out a friend who actually, and heroically in that heat, ran the race from start to finish and even ended up with a medal to prove it.

And the winner is...

I’ve been to a few events before, the most memorable of which was a time trial for the Tour de France in 1999 where I saw UK cyclist Chris Boardman take part in his last Tour. It was a fun day and I did my bit cheering Boardman on, but I didn’t allow myself to believe he might win the day.

And that’s the reason I’m not a fan of spectator sports – they only work when you’re rooting for someone. You have to have a stake in the game. Why else would you care about how it ends? And most of the time I just don’t give a damn who wins.

But when keksofant ran in the Hamburg marathon we went over to cheer her on and I can honestly say it was the most exciting spectator sport ever.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, maybe that we’d see her off at the start and idle a few hours until she passed the finishing line.

But keksofant had a better idea.

She planned a route for us, calculated on travelling times on the underground system and which side of the street we’d emerge from the subway stations. We had timings for her expected best and worst pace and a strict timetable. And I ended up being the one in charge of ensuring we kept on schedule.

Ross had printed up some Team RonTM T-shirts for her supporters to wear, which turned out pretty well, since not only did we have the perfect theme for a group 52 weeks shot (taken in Timmendorfer Strand on the Baltic sea), but it meant that keks could spot us as she zoomed towards us.


I am proud to say that despite some initial confusion at the start and some unscheduled photo stops at the 10K mark, we made almost all the meet up points (except the one that keks expected us not to). The sun shone, one of the team brought along cup cakes, and we whiled away the waiting time snapping each other and sometimes even took a shot of the runners.

By sultry kilometre 25, keks was struggling and moxiee valiantly stepped up to the plate and walked the next 2k with her. And at the next stop, kilometre 39, it was my turn to do the first 0.2k I have run all year. I hadn’t planned to do it, but it just felt right. Hardly dressed for the part in my jeans, but at least I had trainers and not high heels on, I set off. After a few paces I was a little out of breath, but as we went a little further, I found myself actually enjoying the feeling. I was running. Ok, not far. But I was running.

Keksofant did an amazing job, with temperatures in the mid-twenties and having only just recovered from a particularly evil gastric flu ( I know it was evil because I came down with it the next day) she carried on all the way to the end while others were dropping like flies and completed the course in an incredible 5 hours. She is truly a star.

And though I was nowhere near earning a medal I took away two of the most valuable things: I took away a sense of team spirit, true team spirit that means that you’re not working for yourself but contributing to a bigger goal. And in that 0.2k I remembered how it feels to run.

It’s high time I dusted off my running shoes and got back out there.



  1. Great story, Ronet! It’s good to hear it all put together after seeing all the photos and descriptions everybody’s posted. I just had a little Flickr conversation w/ Rustyboy about being a pacer for these races, and it sounds really great. Your entry helps cement the idea that I want to volunteer for a race, and share in that team spirit.

  2. This is really beautifully written, Deb. Thanks for sharing all this and putting it through this lens. Keks will be touched. Wish I could have been there with all of you!

  3. I AM touched!

    Not just by this amazing post but mostly by the fact that you all came to see me run. It truly means the world to me.
    But what makes me really happy is that it inspired you to run again. I believe there is noting better for anybody than to run. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t do it so much.

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