I have, three times, applied to run the London Marathon and each time I have been rejected. They do not give you a reason for being rejected but I think it was probably due to a combination of not being demographically unusual enough ( late 30s / early 40s, white male, respectable race time ) such that I was in competition with vast numbers of similar applicants. Had I been 65, one legged and dressed in a parrot costume I’d have stood a far better chance of the gaining the ‘privilege’ of running in one of the world’s great races. Since my last application failed a few years back I’ve not bothered trying again. The running shoes have been gathering dust, the joints have become creaky; age is taking its toll on my physiology and psychology. Frankly, the thought of running the London Marathon now is losing its appeal. The wisdom of my position was confirmed to me earlier today when I happened to find myself at the finish line of the aforesaid event several hours after the TV cameras had gone home along with most of the participants. As the army of support workers dismantled everything in sight, hoovered up vast amounts of litter and raced to return Queenie’s front yard to it’s usual stately state a small slice of the Marathon continued to play out in the early evening sunshine. First, an old man (and I mean old – 65 at least) hobbled into view making for the rapidly disappearing finish line still wearing his race number, his spindly old legs powering him onwards to personal glory 8 hours after leaving Greenwich. Second, as I wandered through Hyde Park, walking towards me, a steady stream of apparently disabled people shuffling painfully along. The only sign of their true, Marathon maimed status – their red plastic kit bags slung over their shoulders or carried by supportive friends and partners trying not to walk too fast lest they leave the hobbled charge behind. Every one bore the expression of pained exhaustion; 26 miles worth of it. Later on as I approached Westminster Bridge, a Ronald McDonald lookalike, complete with race number, jogged past through a corridor of spontaneous applause from the crowded pavement. It’s a crazy thing these people do to themselves. The elite runners and the vast masses who finish during the TV broadcast are impressive enough ambassadors for human endeavour. But, for the first time today, I witnessed first hand the indomitable resilience of those who’ll never get on the telly. They’re doing it because they started it and they’re bloody well going to finish it. Me, I’ve never started it yet. I’m almost a ‘veteran’, registration for 2011 opens May 4th… I wonder, am I crazy enough?