Tuesday, 16 July 2013
Confessions of an Accidental Running Bandit.
First of all a dictionary definition: ‘Running Bandit’ noun (plural running bandits or banditti /banˈdiːti/) “One who runs a race without paying an entry fee or wearing a number.” – Runners World 1998
Now the story:
Before I started running seriously or entering races I still used to run regularly. One of my favourite running routes was in North West London around the Hampstead Heath Extension.
One Sunday morning a couple of years ago I laced up my running shoes and set off on my usual two circuits. About 2 minutes into the run a group of about 8 men sprinted past me, I thought nothing of it and kept going. Then a few seconds later another group of runners passed me, again the penny didn’t quite drop. It wasn’t until I got to the corner (the bottom of a hill climb) and saw a sign posted to a lamp post with “10k race” on it with an arrow that I finally realised what was going on. I had inadvertently stumbled into a race.
At this point I don’t think I was a “running bandit”. If anything I felt indignant that these runners had somehow “muscled in” on my run and so I decided to just keep on going how I would normally.
Then I got to the top of the hill and everything changed.
At the top of the hill was a group of people handing out water along with friends and relatives of the competitors cheering everyone on. To this day I don’t know what possessed me - maybe it was the fact I was tired after running up the hill, maybe it was because it was a warm summer’s day, maybe I subconsciously wanted to be in the race – but I reached out and took one of the cups of water being offered to me. With that cup I was in the race.
The cup of water was a turning point. Psychologically I had stopped being a Sunday runner and had become a racer. The handful of friends and relatives (none of them my friends or relatives I should remind you) were cheering for me. I became a bandit!