With a fanfare, loads of fireworks and plenty of whooping we squeezed under the starting clock and set out on the 2010 Shanghai Marathon.
This being China there were kids on roller-blades, guys with dogs, hawkers rolling alongside with spare trainers and old grannies in pyjamas to hurdle. Before long though they were fond memories as we hit the outskirts and turned up an otherwise gradual mountainous climb onto the elevated highway towards Minhang.
What followed was a run like no other. I'm not even sure I would call it a run. 1000 bowls of porridge couldn't have prepared us for the complete mental and physical onslaught 42.195km brings. Highlights include:
- trying to eat M&Ms on the hoof with a dry mouth
- being out-sprinted by 80 year old men
- talking to yourself
- running the whole distance with a snickers tied to your arm
- hitting the wall, which turns out to be a flyscreen - then hitting The Wall
- getting cramp 200m before the finish line and being massaged by a team of stewards
but above all, not many events can rival crossing the finish line, having the medal put around your neck and feeling on the very top of the world... and then being given a plastic bag with an orange in it and feeling in heaven!
Thankyou for all your sponsorship money, which we will be delivering to Dystonia Ireland shortly. Knowing that we were running for such a cause made the difference between walking and keeping on running.
Thanks also to runner 612 for stopping to help me with his muscle spray and to the unsuspecting bystander who's banana got snatched by Alex.