20 Jan

An Imperfect Day

Number 13

I had a little smile to myself when 13 arrived in the post as my race number a few weeks ago. But no more than that - I'm not overly superstitious. Now the event is done, I am wondering if it was a bad omen after all.

The Exeter First Chance 10k on Sunday 18 January was my first race of the year. I had entered months ago and though I wasn't feeling particularly fit, it was a good chance to get my legs turning over quickly again.

There was also a big entry from my running club - Teignbridge Trotters - so an atmosphere of camaraderie was guaranteed. I set off with my family in good time and arrived with 25 minutes until the start.

But parking was a nightmare. After circling the roads of the city’s quayside for 15 minutes, we finally found a spot a fair stroll from race HQ. Unfortunately, my two year old twins were in no mood for a stroll and had to be carried kicking and screaming (literally) towards the start.

Time was getting tight. By the time my wife and I had a settled the dynamic duo, I was well aware that I had missed the start of the race - something I had never done in 15 years of running. I actually had to run 1k to the startline. I was even heckled by some supporters now making their way from the start to the finish.

By the time I had reached the startline, the chip timing equipment was being packed up and the officials yelled at me that I wouldn't be getting a time. Ah well, I wasn't expecting a PB anyway. I caught the stragglers about half a mile into the race. Ironically it was Superman who was bringing up the rear.

I wove my way through the pack coming across many club mates on the canal side route. At around 6k I caught one of them who I knew had been chasing a PB. I resolved to run with him and try and pull him through to it.

At least I could salvage something from the day. I encouraged him through and he did run a best time. It was the one silver lining of the cloudy day. I somehow missed collecting the goody bag and finishers' souvenir towel. Worse was to come though.

There was much back slapping and hand shaking between club mates at the finish. I went to give a congratulatory pat on the shoulder to a fellow Trotter. But she turned at that exact moment and I patted her in a place no man should pat a woman who is not his wife or girlfriend. Even then, he could expect a slap.

Now, you'd think that would be a momentary embarrassment at such an accident. Not so. Not today. Unfortunately - as I saw later - that split second moment had been caught on camera and was uploaded to Facebook for everyone's amusement.

And I was left to feel like the unmentionable body part. Number 13? I think I'll have a lie in next time.