The Bupa Great South Run 2011

With true grit and a dash of finesse, our resident columnist Phil Wilding takes on The Great South Run 2011
Phil Wilding GSR Phil Wilding - with tactically placed hands
Imagine over 20,000 people; now imagine them in shorts, some quite ill fitting, others with their hand down their shorts applying Vaseline. That’s what it’s like at the Bupa Great South Run, at least Neil and I were near the front; one can only imagine the horrors that lay behind us. In a brisk breeze and the kind of drizzling rain that hangs on you like an old memory we set off around a course that the presenter from the local commercial radio station talked about as if they’d once had a special weekend together and he still cherished the memory. He was as annoying as your average bout of rickets, but at least we could outrun his voice in a matter of minutes. It’s strange running among so many people, the first half mile was a battle of elbows and the kind of looks that you usually reserve for nightclubs when you’re nineteen, but then the field panned out a little and Portsmouth became vivid and welcoming through the mist of rain. People found their pace – that is they all went past me like I was standing still apart from a fat girl who I assumed was lost and had wandered on to the course by accident, she was panting like a dog with its head out of a car window - and the flat, welcoming course came into its own.GSR 2011Given that it was the kind of weather that drives most people to the pub, the locals were out in force along the entire route (and I apologise to the child I high fived and almost took off his feet, I was in the zone) and very vocal with it, but not in the way that makes you want to peel off from the pack and push someone in the chest, they’re good the people of Portsmouth, very supportive. Though no amount of literal good cheer could prepare us for the last mile and a half along the front. Nick, our publisher, had warned me of the wind that comes in off the sea at the tail end of the race, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the mix of salt, sand and rain that whipped along the coastal road for the last leg of the race. If you weren’t eating sand then you were wiping it from your eyes, my hands felt clammy like I’d been handling a malfunctioning glue gun. Happily, the Bupa Boost Zone appeared like a vision through the gritty mist and a girl handed me probably the best jellybeans I’ve ever tasted, there was also the offer of Vaseline, but we’d only just met. Sadly the local radio jock was braying through the PA like a storm warning, though that probably only helped my pace as I put my head down and ran as fast as I could past the speakers littering the roadside. Neil got around in just under 86 minutes, I came in at 88:07, Neil, who enjoys anything free, hopped up on the Bupa massage table and asked the girl there to rub him down, sadly, she was only there to see her boyfriend who was on the next table along. Once we’d sorted that mess out and Neil felt life coming back into his thighs (he’s been married for ever, it’s been a long time) we retreated to the VIP tent where Brendan Foster asked me if I was enjoying all the cheesecake I’d hoarded. I nodded dumbly and told him I’d see him next year if they’d have me back. For more info on the Bupa Great Run visit: www.greatrun.org

Comments

  • Posted:
     For this year's Bupa Great South Run I challanged my older, fatter brother to run with me. The problem that I hadn't planned for, was the fact that my brother would take it seriously and train for it. So after 8 and a half embarassing miles when I never got close enough to him to ask if he could slow down, we reached those wonderful Jelly Baby ladies. My brother's 'fat gene' stirred and he took the first 'jelly baby'... no time for her to re-stock for my turn, not a problem I thought, i'll get the next one. My brother then proceeded to take every damn Jelly Baby from each of the 5 girls in turn, leaving his wheezing brother to go without. Then imagine my joy when he mistook the 'Vaseline Man' (who must of regretted turning up late when the organisers were giving out jobs) for the 6th Jelly Baby provider. Without a second look at the warm mound of Vaseline he had in his hand he stuffed it into his mouth to join the 5 half chewed Jelly Babies. How I laughed as he had to stop and spit his Jelly sweet / vaseline mixture into the nearest bush. Yes I could of trained as i had planned to do but I'm so so glad I was behind him just for that wonderful moment. Thankyou Vaseline Man. Nice work.
     
    For this year's Bupa Great South Run I challanged my older, fatter brother to run with me. The problem that I hadn't planned for, was the fact that my brother would take it seriously and train for it. So after 8 and a half embarassing miles when I never got close enough to him to ask if he could slow down, we reached those wonderful Jelly Baby ladies. My brother's 'fat gene' stirred and he took the first 'jelly baby'... no time for her to re-stock for my turn, not a problem I thought, i'll get the next one. My brother then proceeded to take every damn Jelly Baby from each of the 5 girls in turn, leaving his wheezing brother to go without. Then imagine my joy when he mistook the 'Vaseline Man' (who must of regretted turning up late when the organisers were giving out jobs) for the 6th Jelly Baby provider. Without a second look at the warm mound of Vaseline he had in his hand he stuffed it into his mouth to join the 5 half chewed Jelly Babies. How I laughed as he had to stop and spit his Jelly sweet / vaseline mixture into the nearest bush. Yes I could of trained as i had planned to do but I'm so so glad I was behind him just for that wonderful moment. Thankyou Vaseline Man. Nice work.
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