Nov 11 2017

… for Unsung Heroines

By the time the last runners had schlepped and shuffled their way across the finish line at last month’s Putney half marathon, a consensus had been reached on one key issue:

Self-Styled Grumpy Old Woman Denise Bates had just run the worst race of her entire running career.

But as the abandoned bananas were being swept away along with all the other post-race flotsam and jetsam, it became apparent that even on one of her bad days, even with a dickie leg and an even dickier attitude, this group publishing director is pretty much unstoppable when it comes to taking on and triumphing over other baby boomers. Even when she simply “phones it in”, as the contemporary idiom goes, Denise Bates can leave Ethel, Doris and Mabel for dust. Yet again, the local running community was treated to the sound of her name being read out with that recognisable nasal twang that results from over-reliance on a megaphone as she tried – but failed – to hoist herself up onto the podium (podia are not designed for the over-fifties).

Renaissance woman and friend-of-the-club Jenni Cunniffe, local estate agent Chris Peskett and appendicitis survivor Costa Ghioules competed alongside her with varying levels of success and flamboyance.

Also distinguishing herself was Meg Davies, competing in her last European race before she takes on the 250 km Patagonia stage of the 4 Deserts Race Series. Meg has either won or come second in practically every single marathon/ultra in which she has competed this year, confirming that a caesarean, twins, 11 months of sleepless nights and a great deal of uncertainty regarding her future in pre-post-Brexit broken Britain are no obstacle to triumph, provided one is prepared to just knuckle down, buck up one’s ideas, pull one’s finger out and jolly well get on with it. As these words are being sanded down in preparation for a final coat of varnish, Meg is settling into the Runners’ Village in Patagonia alongside 299 other elite athletes. You may “track” her, leave her a message (of encouragement or other) and find out more about the five stages of this most prestigious (and – according to some – quite tricky) endurance race series by clicking here.

The weekend before the Putney half-marathon, on the upper reaches of the River Thames, another club member was proving that if at first, second and indeed eighty-third attempt you do not succeed, you should keep trying: there is every chance that success will be yours on the eighty-fourth attempt. Serial underachiever Liam Whelan finally won a marathon.

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