It sounded like a read through for an episode of Doctors, Casualty or Holby City as the restaurant at the Tower filled up on Saturday night.
Moans about dodgy knees, colds, ankles and goodness know what else were everywhere as folks adopted the “get your excuses in early” strategy. Everyone stopped the talk of niggles when they were around non-running cheerleader Bertie as he had just returned from rowing, yes ROWING, the Atlantic. Dawn and Ken gave the instructions that everyone needed to be up and in the breakfast queue by a little after 6 and then it was straight to bed (via the bar for some – more of that later).
The weather was set to be rain and more rain on Sunday morning but it started off bright and breezy and there were a few brave members of the team who were thinking of personal bests. Blackheath was looking fabulous for somewhere south of the river and the steel band was on hand to welcome us to The Clarendon: so nice that they let us have teas and coffees and a room gratis (nobody can say no to Ken especially when they’re also called Ken).
Now back to late night bar activities - rumour has it a bit of a scuffle broke out between John and Tony all over who pulled the best pint. John(nie come lately in the Rovers Return) has clearly been in training and Tony (Hope springs eternal in The Woolpack) came off worse. How could Tony turn up to Breakfast with black eyes, and a busted nose. As resourceful as ever, he threw away the Beyonce outfit he had planned to run in and donned half of the schoolboy/schoolgirl outfit he had brought down to London for the night (we don’t want to know). It worked a treat and the bouncing, skipping, jumping, Just William got a cheer from everybody. I guess we can all look forward to seeing Tony’s Beyonce (big hair and leotard) at the Great North Run.
Runners got ready, had a stretch and a massage courtesy of Robert and off outside for photographs – some with all manner of gels, and power bars strapped to their midriffs. Then it was off to the start as the rest of us jumped on the coach and headed to Greenwich. Greenwich is another smart area, and as the coach pulled up next to the park we could hear people yelling “Tarquin”, “Arabella”, “Purdiah”, and they were just calling their dogs. Despite the salubrity of the area we still managed to find a greasy spoon for a second breakfast (if it’s good enough for Hobbits, I always say). Michelle made the mistake of asking for what I had ordered but tackled it bravely. I’m not sure the Turkish owners have fully embraced the concept of All Day Breakfast (order number 6) as I heard them saying as we left at ten past ten, “sorry, we stop serving that at ten.”
So to the seven-mile mark and all the runners looked in great shape as they passed. Of those we could see Nick was going great guns and then a gap to George, Jeff, Helen, and Tony jumping and skipping along with Jay chomping at their heels. Matt, Chris and Shaun were next, then Sarah looking to get one over on Ray. We didn’t spot one or two but it was good and noisy as people ran towards The Cutty Sark. I think people standing around us thought we were just shouting out random names in the hope someone would turn round.
On to the finish and somebody had stolen our slot -the nerve of it. Still, probably a good job we weren’t ten feet away from the ice cream van this year. Just after the three-hour mark our runners started appearing. Nick finished in an outstanding 3 hours, just 1 minute behind James Cracknell; sadly Nell McAndrew did an extraordinary time of 2:54 to be the first celebrity runner home –I have been doing extensive research of the glamour model on Google images so I will be sure to recognise her next year. In they all came. Jeff had no sooner registered his PB just outside three and a half hours but he was online checking the Everton v Man U score. Deep joy when Everton pulled back to 4-4 from 4-2 down.
The Manchester diet is obviously working well for John as not only did he PB, (is that now a verb? The verb to PB?) he looked great when he got to the coach to see the assembled Michie clan.
Eventually everyone got back safe and sound and a great time was had by all (well nearly all, Ben have you recovered?). We had interviews galore and lots of money and our profile raised so a thousand thanks all round.
The weather behaved until late in the afternoon when a sudden downpour left a vibrant rainbow painted against the backdrop of a stygian sky. What a fitting climax to a lovely weekend.