Pain by the Thames


No more dreams. Only the grim reality of a five-mile Surrey League fixture at Ham, a muddy cross-country on the banks of the River Thames.

These Surrey League races are fast and frenetic; it is no wonder when runners of the ilk of Phil Wicks – a man who can run a sub-29 minute 10k – head the field.

So competitive is this league, sneeze and a runner loses 10 places. I did a great deal of metaphorical sneezing. I started too fast, maintaining the pace for two miles before dropping back, fading badly.

I toiled. I was running through treacle, battling a relentless Patagonian wind. Runners streamed past me, my marathon legs screamed. I fell over the finish line in 76th position, reminding myself the real finish line is the London Marathon in April.

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