Posted: 04/08/2016 at 06:36
At the same time as the marathon a marathon relay race had been going on. This involved a team of four people, each doing 10k, then (by some organisational miracle) meeting up and running the final 2km together. I had been running near a girl who had been doing the last leg for her team and it was great to see them all meet up – the cameraderie and banter was infectious and it lifted my spirits.
I was struggling doggedly on when they all started running alongside me and congratulated me on getting this far. When they asked me what exact time I was on for I replied that I was hoping for sub 4 but had gone past caring and it was all I could do to keep going. Immediately they all decided that they would help me get to the finish and formed a group around me. I groaned inwardly as their rallying cries urged me to keep going. However, they did make me laugh and in spite of myself I found myself gradually picking up the speed. God alone knows how.
We were running in formation, myself in the middle and my four new friends in a « V » shape around me. I was close to tears of relief as I saw the arch approach and realised I was going to get under the four hour mark, that bloody girl with the green top hadn't overtaken me and I could finally stop running.
I crossed the line in 3:54:08, we had a group hug and I staggered a couple of paces on to throw myself on the welcome figure of Mr Fox. It wasn't that I was particularly ecstatic to see him, he just seemed to be the nearest stable object I could see. The relief that I could stop was overwhelming. My joy was short lived however. An official looking woman with a clipboard swam into view and informed me I was to accompany her as I had been selected for compulsory drug testing.
My heart stopped.
I don't know if you have seen the film Midnight Express but I was immediately transported into the body of Brad Davis. That awful moment when he is stopped trying to get through Turkish customs with several kilos of hashish strapped to his stomach. Everything went into slow motion.. I could hear my heartbeat and see the sweat trickling down my cheekbones. I started gibbering on about Nurofen and tendonitis as she firmly ushered me into an adjoining gymnasium (I'd be no use as a drug mule). Another marshall was assigned to stay with me until the clipboard woman came back and fired numerous questions at me which I stumbled over. My brain is like mush after a marathon and it always seems to take a huge effort to string a sentence together. I was then given several bottles of water and informed that I would have to produce a urine sample before I could go. The next problem arose when it transpired that I had no proof of ID on me. After consultation it was decided that a marshall be assigned to drive Mr Fox back to our apartment to pick up my driving licence. In the meantime I just waited.. and drank water. The only thing of interest during this point was that I jumped the massage queue and passed a thouroughly enjoyable 15 minutes having my thighs massaged by a burly rugby playing physiotherapy student from Toulouse. Apart from that the waiting was all very boring. Mr Fox came back and hung around a bit but then sloped off to the beer tent and stuck his head round the corner every now and again to give a cheery wave at my increasingly bleak face. The combination of running a hot marathon when I was probably a bit dehydrated to start with meant my body wasn't giving up any of its remaining fluid easily. When I remarked irritably to the marshall that I didn't particularly care if my time was official or not and asked what would happen if I left I was informed that I would be liable for a fine of 7000€ and up to two years imprisonment. I agreed to stay.