London Marathon: Celebrity has its pluses, but we're all equal on the road

Wowing Nell McAndrew and Sue Barker with his sartorial elegance was only one of the highlights of Adrian Chiles' 26.2-mile ordeal
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The Independent Online

Enjoying some kind of celebrity status confers one or two benefits, but none greater than the use of one of the VIP areas at the start of the London Marathon. Don't believe all you hear about the secret of running a decent time being about putting the miles in.

Enjoying some kind of celebrity status confers one or two benefits, but none greater than the use of one of the VIP areas at the start of the London Marathon. Don't believe all you hear about the secret of running a decent time being about putting the miles in.

It certainly helps but, on the day, it's all about bowel management - just ask Paula. The queue for the toilet at Maze Hill station was about 30-deep. Imagine, then, the joy when the fragrant Sue Barker pointed me in the direction of a toilet with no queue outside it at all. And as an added bonus, just as I was making my way towards this cubicle, Nell McAndrew slipped into the one next to it. Finally, I felt as if I'd arrived.

Wearing a large bird-suit (as Baggie Bird, the West Brom mascot) to run the marathon has its advantages, too. For one thing, the likes of Sue, Nell, Lorraine Kelly and Gordon Ramsay all showed an interest in me and engaged me in conversation. For another thing, almost every runner encourages you as they pass, as do thousands and thousands of spectators, as you pass them.

From the camaraderie of the runners, my favourite comment, after about 18 miles, was: "Bloody hell! Running in that? Respect." From the crowd - and what a crowd - the best ones were along the lines of "come on Adrian, you're doing well son, and the Baggies are staying up!" Fantastic. Each one of those was worth another five minutes off my finish time.

The only problem was that I was determined to raise my arm/wing to acknowledge every shout from the crowd. Hence, I was in the peculiar position of finishing a marathon with the feet fine, my legs OK, but my shoulders on fire.

Words cannot describe the moment I turned up The Mall to see the most beautiful sight in the world: Sue Barker. And next to her, the finish line. Four hours and thirty-four minutes sweating cobs in a bird-suit being loved by total strangers. Wonderful.

To contribute to Adrian Chiles' appeal, go to: www.justgiving.com/sunfieldchildren

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