There are two ways to run a half marathon.
1. Go off like Mo Farah and complete the 13.1 mile course in an hour.
2. Lumber around like Lurch, putting one foot in front of the other because that’s the safest way of not falling over on your face.
After months of training, yours truly decided to take option two at the Great North Run last Sunday. And what a fat lot of good it did.
Long-distance masochists sometimes talk in reverential tones about the runners’ high, the wave of euphoria that overwhelms you many miles into a long run. Believe it or not, it’s real. I felt it at last year’s event at the 10-mile mark, even though the wet and windy weather that day would’ve had Noah searching for his toolbag.
This year, however, I went one better and had an epiphany.
A moment of true clarity that was so pure I feel the need to share it with you all right now.
It came after 11 miles in what felt like brutal heat and blistering sunshine, but was nothing more than a pleasant late summer’s day to everyone who wasn’t running around the North East like Lycra-clad buffoon.
And here it is, the brutal, undiluted truth. I’d trained for the best part of three months - on my own, I was running the event - on my own; and because I’d ‘won’ a place in the general ballot I wasn’t even raising money for charity. So what the f*** am I doing here? This isn’t doing anybody any good at all.
To be honest, there was no answer to that.
The sun shone so brightly during the race that last month’s Mallorcan tan went a few shades deeper on the Ronseal colour chart.
Apart from that, at a world-class event which this year welcomed its millionth finisher, I was numb from running when I crossed the like – overtaken by a man in a giant Lego suit 800m from the finish.
Anyway, that’s it. I’ve done the Great North Run three years in a row now and got the medals to show for it. Any more than that and a hobby gets reclassified as a fetish.
So the next time my chiminea gets lit, those running shoes are getting burned.