While I was visiting Brighton, the town's first marathon took place. Obviously I was supposed to be entering this. Sadly, for the second year running, I put myself out of a marathon through injury. This year my back gave out on me while I was lugging around a heavy bag while on holiday.
As much as I wanted to do the marathon, it seemed sensible to drop out. With the cold snap, travel and the injury I was falling far behind in my training. I could probably have made it round the course but it seemed more sensible to defer my entry. All the official guidance suggested I risked a serious injury competing with insufficient preparation and I wasn't sure I wanted to limp in around the six hour mark.
One of the things I love about running is that it is inclusive. And it should be. All you need is a pair of trainers and even the least healthy person can start run/walking their way to fitness. I'm hardly a paragon of athleticism, and I'm happy to have found a sport I can enjoy. The important thing is that you are out there training, rain or shine, not how fast you are. And some of the slowest people in are race are those facing the greatest personal challenge.
But, knowing this, I still felt a twinge of annoyance on Sunday when I watched the marathon. Even near the four-mile mark, where I was watching, it was obvious many of the competitors were aiming at a post six-hour time. I regretted not doing the same thing and wished I hadn't given up my chance to enter the inaugural event.
Despite my jealousy of those running, it was still a stirring occasion. The runners received a great response from the crowd, particularly those in fancy dress. In the skies above, empty from the ash cloud, a single propeller plane flew, trailing a banner reading GOOD LUCK BIG BIRD I♥U. If I ever make it to the event's starting line, I want a plane urging me on.
Everyone involved in the Brighton Marathon deserves congratulation – not just the finishers, but everyone who made it to the starting line – something I failed to do. I've deferred my entry to 2011 and will be taking my training very slowly this time. I'm already looking forward to the second Brighton Marathon.