The marathon is about love, sex... and Welsh politics

What is it about this long distance ordeal that causes such curious behaviour?

THE COUPLE who got married while they were actually running in this year's London Marathon were not the only ones to make history in the great race. There were many other curious stories to come out of the long distance ordeal, including the following...

"We got divorced during the 1999 London Marathon."

Jim and Emily Littwak actually met during the 1995 London Marathon, during the latter stages of the race, when both were looking for any excuse to give up. He encouraged her to persevere to the end, love flourished thereafter and they got married in 1996. However, Emily met someone else during the 1997 Marathon and, well, it was love at first sight again.

"I could somehow sense when Emily moved in with this other fellow that our marriage was beginning to drift apart," admits Jim Littwak, "and this year we decided that enough was enough. Still, we thought it only fitting that a marriage that had started in the Marathon should finish in the Marathon, so we arranged for divorce proceedings to be started during the race today. And all may turn out for the best, as during the race today I met a nice girl whom I am seeing again tomorrow."

"I took up Welsh politics during the London Marathon."

David Williams, who left his native Cardiff 12 years ago, was nearing the 10-mile mark in the Marathon when he was approached by two Welsh Labour Party workers who were out canvassing for votes among Welsh expatriates as they ran.

"It was quite odd, really. One moment I was getting my second wind, the next moment someone was asking me if I was aware that I had a vote in the Welsh Assembly elections and whether I would be using it. Then another voice asked me how important the Welsh identity was to me. Then I said that I had left Wales to get away from all this sort of thing, but that if I did vote it would probably be Plaid Cymru, and the first voice said, how could I vote for anyone with such an English name as Wigley? Then we got into quite an argument after that, and I must have lost track of time, because the next thing I knew we were crossing the Severn Bridge into Wales!"

"I fathered a love child during the London Marathon."

Sidney and Georgia Greenslade claim to have made love during this year's London Marathon, and that the ensuing child may be a Millennium Marathon baby, but they refuse to go into details, not so much because they are coy about it as because they have signed up their story to a rival newspaper.

"I cooked and served a complete three course dinner while running the London Marathon."

TV chef Audrey Manningtree has been looking for a gimmick for a new TV cooking series ever since his last series Chef Up A Gum Tree (which showed what handy recipes you could cook while lost in a forest) didn't get a commission for a second series. He thinks he has found a worthy replacement in his new series Cook On The Run which shows what handy meals you can dish up without ever standing still. During yesterday's race, he not only successfully served up soup, salmon and souffle, but managed to set fire to several rival runners whom he promptly doused with mineral water.

"I've done a lot of funny things in my life," says Manningtree, "but that's the first time I've gone up to someone on fire and said, `Sparkling or still, sir?'"

"I made over pounds 200,000 during the race!"

Young city financier Edwin Phelps likes to keep in touch with the markets round the world every day of the week, including Sunday. That's why even though running the Marathon he still took a mobile phone with him.

"I estimated I would take about three hours for the race, which is three hours away from the markets if you don't have a phone. So I took one with me and did a lot of business during the race. I got a lot of cross looks from other runners but I think they'd have thought differently if they knew I made about a quarter of a million during the race. Something to do with the adrenaline, I guess. Doesn't work for everyone. There was a guy I was running close to who was also on the phone and he must have lost about a quarter of a million during the race. That may have been why he threw himself off the bridge when we crossed the Thames. Damned stupid thing to do. Didn't he know his mobile wouldn't work underwater?"

"I changed sex during the London Marathon."

"It's always been my ambition to start the Marathon as a man and end it as a woman," says Julian, now Julia, Ordish (continued some other time).

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