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Barking at the moon

January 30, 2010

Abingdon isn’t a big town by any means. But like more or less any town around the UK large enough to have a handful of pubs and a night club it starts to fill up with revelers on a Friday and Saturday evening. The average drinking establishment ranges from the aptly named Punch Bowl, where you can be scowled at by some stocky men at most hours of the day, and the equally rough and tumble Midget (I kid you not). Don’t get me wrong, there are some nice watering holes, but they tend to catch your attention less on the weekend.

Yesterday, on returning home later than planned from work (late leaving and dreadful traffic meant I got back to my flat at 7:15), I decided to have a quick lap of town before settling in for the evening. In fact, earlier in the day I had pondered on doing a double lap to clock up 20.5k and make up for missing a run on Monday. However, that went out the window as soon as I realised how late I was going to be.

It was a cold and clear evening. Earlier there had been a flurry of snow, which had settled on my car and bore a strange resemblance to polystyrene. Naturally, when you’re running in the cold, in the dark, you end up dressing a little like a raver from the early 90s. So, in bright white trainers, leggings with day-glow piping, a white t-shirt over a black long-sleeve top and luminous yellow gloves, I hit the road.

There’s something about runners and youths. (Note to self: how old does that sound?!) The runner inspires witty heckling, luring lucid humorous comments from the eloquent tongues of cider drinkers. ‘C’mon’, or ‘Oi’, or my favourite ‘Run faster’. It’s noticeable when the fair comes to Abingdon, perhaps more so than at weekends. In fact, when the fair shuts the centre of Abingdon, the running club actively avoids the hustle and bustle, knowing from experience that the fair’s venerable customers will largely shout inchoate nonsense at a pack of runners.

Perhaps there isn’t some neat moral at the end of this post, other than the slightly odd fact that as you run past drunks they will probably shout at you. But then you’re a runner; you’ve had worse. Hell, the chances are that you’ve inflicted far worse on yourself. If I find myself flagging during a race or a long run, I might grunt encouragement to myself. Having run 18 miles, starting to feel that my legs are made of concrete, running low on energy reserves, having focused for two hours on my breathing and the pounding of my feet on pavement, there’s a good chance I’m no more cogent than a drunk. Maybe I should just take the heckling as encouragement, like a slightly slurring version of the crowds lining the streets of Paris on 11 April…

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