Well, I finished the Bupa Great Manchester 10k in the quite creditable time of 54 minutes 56 seconds. This despite the fact that:
1. I pulled a calf muscle after 5k which while very frustrating was quite exciting as it’s the only thing I’ve pulled in months
2. My new hip, it seems, was donated by a tortoise
3. While my head still thinks I am in my twenties, my heart reminded me I was in my fifties
Still, I managed to raise £700 for The Christie, Havas PR’s chosen charity, with more promised that should take it to £1000.00, so it was all worth it in the (not so) long run. And it was a ‘timely’ reminder of how important sport has been to me over the ages and how, even now, if I don’t do exercise I get depressed.
Swimming was first at Swinton Baths, where you were considered posh if you didn’t have a verruca. Every week, the aptly named Mrs. Barrow tried to teach 40 kids to swim in a pool that now would be considered to be no more than a foot spa. She failed to keep me afloat but I did get a certificate for diving in to rescue a brick dressed in my pyjamas. Not surprisingly, I have never had to use this skill to date but it is very reassuring to know I can, if needed.
Then football, with playing for Swinton Labour Club for years being the highlight of my career. If it looked like a game was going into extra time and we might miss last orders – with clubs only being licensed until 2.00pm on Sundays in those days – we’d throw the game so we could get back for the beer, pie and peas and cabaret, with such greats as Bunny Lewis, Aidan J. Harvey and a man who used to bang a tray over his head singing ‘Rawhide’. Or was it ‘Mule Train’?
Squash I discovered at university and actually became quite good at it, playing North West Counties Division 2 for many years, making some good friends and losing two teeth somewhere along the way. I have actually been tempted out of retirement by the guys at Knutsford to play team squash again next year, which isn’t quite a Paul Scholes type return but could be the best/worst sporting decision I have ever made. And I played racquet ball last week, which is like squash, but slower.
Marathon running was very much of the 1980s when I was in my late twenties/early thirties. Having struggled with the 10k it seems bizarre that I used to run 26 miles plus, if not comfortably then certainly knowing I was going to do it in a very credible time, albeit in the long term at the expense of my knees and my hips. Watching the runners in the recent Manchester marathon plod on through the wind and the rain I was reminded of my mate who has run 302 marathons to my 5!
In the seven ages of man, golf takes centre stage next. It is, without doubt, the most frustrating game ever. The harder you try, the worse you become. I have never had a hole in one; have only ever had one eagle; but have had a plethora of double bogeys and worse, as I struggle to play to my handicap of 18. A good walk spoiled is how the game is described and that is how I feel most days, with me standing too close to the ball…after I have hit it.
Next will be crown green bowling, I’m sure, with dominoes in my dotage. And I will still play to win. As Victor Lombardi says, ‘If it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, why do we keep score?’