The Greatness of the Great East Run takes some beating
PUBLISHED: 16:24 26 September 2017 | UPDATED: 16:24 26 September 2017
Life is full of special connections; the magical chemistry that passes between people and tells you whether you will be friends, or lovers, or mere acquaintances, or whether they will inspire you to nip into Boots with a sudden need for cotton buds whenever you spot them in the street.
I thought of this as I ran the Great East Run on Sunday. A magnificent occasion, which made the East seem truly great, it was filled, like all these races, with the good people; the kind who want to raise money to help a sick child, in memory of a much loved friend or relative or simply to do something a bit more rewarding than schlepping round the supermarket or the garden centre at the weekend.
Why do I run? I’m terrible at it, weighed down at the front, with no discernible talent for the sport, yet it gives me such a feeling of peace to be out on a beautiful morning, plodding away, when all you care about is where you will get your next swig of water, or bonus jelly baby, and whether you will get your medal at the end.
The streets of Ipswich were full of supporters, and jelly babies, I’m pleased to report. There were some great banners too: I particularly liked the little girl holding hers high above her head: You think you’re tired? My arms are killing me.”Meanwhile, the view down the hill from the village of Freston to the Orwell Bridge was quite breathtaking.
As a journalist, I knew the running field was full of stories; because of the signs people wore on their backs. I’m running for… Who was Amelia? Who was the little girl for whom two ladies were running side by side: ‘Proud to be her auntie’ and ‘Proud to be her mum’? And why was that man ‘running for Grandad’? Or ‘Dad and Mum’? I would never know the answers but you can feel the empathy everywhere as you trek on. “What hill?” someone said as we struggled up to Freston, and immediately we all felt better.
I quite like the idea that there are kindred spirits walking or indeed running amongst us whom we may pass every day but haven’t yet come to know. It offers hope; future possibilities.
In fact I think I passed my kindred spirit in Ipswich town centre, right outside Boots. “I’m running for cake,” the sign on her back said. “And gin.”