12 magical moments from the Belfast Marathon

Some of my social media friends will know that at late notice I was asked to run the final two legs of the Belfast Marathon in support of Action Mental Health.

Despite having done absolutely no training or preparation I was delighted to help.

Today I completed the 11.1 miles. I’m sore now….but still smiling.

Here are my highlights of the day:

1 Getting off the bus at the starting point at the Falls Road and then realising I would have a 3 hour wait before my changeover. The guy sitting next to me said; ‘Sod this, lets go get a fry.’ I was tempted but declined.

2 Meeting a lovely family from the north coast who were running to raise money for cystic fibrosis. One excitedly told me that she had found a cafe on the Falls which had a notice in the window which read ‘Kangaroos tie their own shoelaces’. She then did an impression of a kangaroo before adding ‘After I thought about it for a while I realised kangaroos don’t even wear shoes.’

3 The man from the same family who realised he had forgotten his running shoes and was reduced to approaching relay finishers and asking them if they were a size 11.

4 Starting to run only to be inflicted with a stitch after about 300 yards. I kept running despite feeling like Darth Vader had stabbed me with a light sabre under my ribs.

5 The woman from St John’s Ambulance at the side of the road who kept shouting ‘Do NOT eat the Vaseline!’

6 The guy running right in front of me who suddenly bent over on the road. When I enquired after his health he assured me that he was fine, but had spotted a 20p coin on the tarmac.

7 The funny placards. My favourites were ‘You’re running better than Stormont’ and ‘1 in 100 runners poo in their pants. Will it be you?’

8 Overtaking a man dressed as a Minion as he slowed down to blow kisses and wave to the crowd.

9 Ten minutes later being overtaken by a man dressed as a Minion as he slowed down to blow kisses and wave to the crowd.

10 Being asked by a breathless red-haired man how far it was to the changeover and having to tell him we had passed it a mile back.

11 The crowd. The wonderful support from thousands who lined the route cheering, clapping and handing out water and sweets. The noise on Ormeau Bridge was magnificently encouraging. Best summed up by a placard being held by a young woman which read ‘Random stranger, you’re a hero.’

12 Crossing the finishing line. Getting a T-shirt and a medal and a cuddle from my wife. And deciding immediately that I want to do it all again next year.

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