I don’t mean to be uncharitable, literally in this case, but after 36 years I really have had enough of it. Like many, a silent majority maybe, I can’t stand it. The London Marathon.
An annual gruelling test of endurance – for the rest of us, that is. Obviously you can’t literally hate a race, or whatever it is, but now that it’s such a massive institution it is fine, just fine, to hate it and, yes, the people who do it. And I do know people who have done it. I’ll park that point.
Like the Notting Hill Carnival, royal jubilees and weddings, Red Nose Day and Children in Need (or “Children in Greed”, as the cynical sods in the BBC newsroom used to resentfully label it) it represents the worst kind of forced semi-official mandated jollity. It’s almost North Korean in its bogusness. So we’re all supposed to feel so grateful about getting an extra bank holiday or a paragraph in the local paper that we’re pathetically willing to spend all night on the Mall or spend the day sitting in a bath of baked beans for a few measly quid in donations, basically begging.
Or, in the case of the gruesome London Marathon, dressing up as a rhino or the Honey Monster to engage in the ultimate expression of virtue signalling. Not only are they declaring to the world their compassion and humanity – bad enough – but they are also demonstrating their lovable nature and deeply surreal sense of humour, which of course is actually the opposite, being as the first bloke dressed in gorilla or rhino suit did it when Thatcher was prime minister and it wasn’t original or funny then.
And of course the determination that makes them such enviably fit uber-humans (with humble bragging anecdotes about mishaps and training ready for the office or family gatherings).
There are lots of subsidiary reasons to want the whole thing to be scrapped. Like the fact that if they really wanted to raise some cash most of these runners would just get their rich mates to write a really big cheque. Apparently the whole thing has raised £450m for charity since 1981, but that is sod all in fiscal terms – for example, what the state spends on the NHS and other public services, overseas aid and the like. All those runners and sponsors would do more for the poor and needy if they put their trainers away and voted Labour. But that would cost them a lot more in tax and they’d feel miles less smug.
Last, but not least, are the three fatalities that have occurred in recent years, which speak for themselves.
I have always considered the phrase “fun run"” to be an oxymoron and the London Marathon to be a particularly moronic waste of time. I will give some money to charity tomorrow, whilst loafing around on the sofa with a pint in my hand and some chips in front of me. A fitting, suitably dignified and low-key sit-down protest to this most conceited of mass displays.