There was an advert – for Lucozade, I think – at Custom House, the DLR station for ExCel, that read: ‘ When all you think about for 3,29 is 3,29.’ What runner could not empathise with that? There lies a runner’s obsession: time.
Tsegaye Kebede wants to break the world record tomorrow, dipping under 2,04 in the process. Dwight Yorke wants to run beneath three hours; Matthew Pinsent wants a sub-four hour effort; Joe Pasquale wants a five-and-a-half hour marathon.
The Holy Grail time of 2,45 has consumed my thoughts for months. So much so, I’ve run almost 30 marathons – more than 750 miles – since January 1 in pursuit of just one marathon of that time. But why? No-one cares but me. Should I run 2,50, for instance, my family won’t disown me, my girlfriend won’t call the wedding off, the world won’t spin off its axis. But it does matter, every second matters. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t be a runner.