Now we all tell ourselves that it is the taking part that counts and we all know that someone has got to come last. BUT it is a totally different caboodle when it is you – or, rather, ME!
I had actually been dreading running this one a bit because I knew that the organisers were shutting everything down after five hours and I knew that unless I grew an extra leg overnight, there was no way I would make it in that time.
The course itself was really, really nice. Along some of the glorious wide boulevards with views to the snow-capped mountains and then back towards the minaret of the Koutoubia, a whizz through the olive trees, a trot round the Palmeraie complete with picturesque camels and then a long drag back down to the starting point.
From Team MdS Marrakech, Amine and I were the two starters – around 300 were running the marathon in total we estimated. Charlie’s ankle needs resting so he can be really strong for the race in April and Nadia was not there. Charlie and I think that Amine has just made her up and she doesn’t exist. Amine is a bit of a God and has done MdS ELEVEN times (that definitely deserved capitals). He finished up today’s marathon in a very good 4.38 and still feeling strong.
Unlike me……my time was 6.17.37 and I can exclusively reveal that I feel anything but strong. But am hoping that the large quantity of nurofen that I have just popped and a nice cup of tea will alleviate the pain.
On to coming last…. I realised things weren’t good when I was about 21km in and the people who were behind me (yes, there were some) had dropped out of view and I could only see two pairs ahead of me. Both of whom were walk/running. I wasn’t feeling too sore, but I found that the only gait I could maintain was a little jog/shuffle run. I tried walking fast and my legs went all bendy and wobbly.
I knew I was going to make it, but I also started to realise that I might be the very last person, which was not the most positive and encouraging thought to inspire the legs over the miles. And I was still 12kms from the end.
Then help arrived in the shape of Youssef, my very own police motorcycle escort.
Youssef and an ambulance and then a race car, stayed with me from the 12km mark, right to the end. Youssef was magnificent – riding fearlessly into the middle of the busiest roundabouts, and stopping all traffic so I could trot across. If he felt any car was infringing too close to my run route, the whistle came out and they were summarily dismissed to the other side of the road. Every km or so, he and his marvellous moustache would approach me and he would ask, “Vous voulez montez” to which I would reply, La! Hashouma (no, shame on you). There are only X kms to go!” And he would giggle then zoom off to bully more cars.
My escort also meant that everyone realised I was still running the marathon and struggling so I got cheers and horn honks and Allez! Bon Courage! all the way. That helps SO much!
The end came at last. I got my medal and kisses and then Youssef gave me a ride on his big police motorbike to the nearest taxi rank, where we said a truly fond farewell. I don’t think coming last bodes well for MdS but on the other hand, I completed and I hope I’ll be ready to run tomorrow. And whatever happens, this marathon was actually a wonderful and truly Marrakchi experience.