- You get your money’s worth out of races.
Do you know how much it costs to enter the Brighton Marathon? Sixty-five quid! Why would you pay so much money for something and want it to be over quickly? And parkrun – okay, you’re not paying for parkrun so you can’t really get your money’s worth, but can you imagine travelling all the way to the arse end of Essex at 4am just to run for fifteen minutes?! You’d barely get going before you reach the finish. The scenery would woosh past too fast for you to appreciate it and your playlist would only have three songs on it! I would have to go round again!
- You get your own space
I remember being absolutely horrified seeing my friend Jim’s finish line (4 hours ish) video from Brighton and the sheer amount of people who were crossing the line at the same time as him. I just don’t know how medium paced runners cope. As you may already have noticed, other runners are a constant source of irritation to me (stop-starters, jaunty backwards runners, elbow bargers, chit-chatters, unicorn leggings wearers) and even the jump from 40+ to 35+ has increased the concentration of Other People tenfold and likewise the resulting annoyance.No one around but me and my flying feet
- You get the best photos
Related to point 2, if there is no one around you, photographers have a nice clear shot on you, and they might as well take a few until the next person comes along. If you spot them first you might even get your mouth closed in time and be able to engineer a flying feet photo by sprinting as if they’re sat on the finish line. I may have had the slowest marathon time out of all my friends, but hands down I had the best photo, and about twice as many as anyone else.
- Unexpected freebies and fanfares
This one takes a bit of perfecting, but if you manage to run a race slowly enough to finish near the cut off, just as everyone is starting to pack up, but before they have all buggered off home, you may find that they have a lot of snacks, water, bags of Epsom salts, tins of cranberry sauce, etc etc that they don’t want to take home with them. On one occasion I was even given a free hi vis yellow t-shirt, which was only two sizes too big! Finish line bods do like to give a lot of love and attention to the stragglers, and in Barcelona when I was the second to last person to finish without getting swept up by the Coche de Cierre I got a massive hero’s welcome which I couldn’t understand a word of because it was in Catalan. (Come to think of it, I just assumed it was a hero’s welcome).
- People like you better when you are rubbish at things
This is a bit of a sad point but if you want to make friends, never pick a hobby that you are good at. It is the quickest way to inspire resentment and alienate people. It is much better to be a non-threatening slowcoach, particularly if you can be self-depreciating about it in a funny way, for instance by having a snail tattooed on the back of your neck. If you want to see more evidence of what I am talking about, find a post on the parkrun Facebook where someone announces a PB of 46 minutes. It is guaranteed everyone will be supportive and congratulatory. Announce a PB of sixteen minutes and all you will get is grief and accusations that you don’t volunteer enough.