Saturday, 14 May 2011

Marathon marches on

The BCN Marathon Challenge is only two weeks away...
May 2011

Somewhere, deep in the psyche of the middle aged man their lies a fear that life is slipping away.

Some men give up and go to seed, others buy a sports car, ditch their wife and get a newer model to adorn their arm. Me, I figured I would be radical and do neither so I kept the wife and bought a narrowboat instead. I have to say that from a financial perspective, my approach makes a lot of sense - divorce is very expensive and narrowboats depreciate at a snails pace.

One other aspect of male middle age I have noticed is a burning need among my colleagues to achieve heroic feats of physical endurance. Some cycle from one end of the land to the other,  some climb Kilimanjaro, some do the Three Peaks Challenge (Ben Nevis, Sca Fell Pike and Snowdon in 24 hours) and then there is the iron man / triathlon / marathon brigade. 

Well, at last  have been able to drop comments about taking part in a Marathon. The problem is that no one has heard of the BCN Marathon and a look of bemused puzzlement crosses their faces as I explain that it is a boat race involving narrowboats in Birmingham. The idea of a narrowboat race is something only Jeremy Clarkson and Top Gear gang would dream up, but their approach would be to put a 1000 hp engine in from a Sunseeker, feed it with Nitrous Oxide, add a spoiler or two and undertake a drag race down the New Main Line. Now that would be a spectator sport!

Of course, this vision is all a far cry from reality.  A narrowboat endurance race is a very gentlemanly affair where competitors help each other out. Can you imagine Jensen Button pulling over in the 52nd lap to help Vettell change his spark plugs? But whilst taking part is the whole point, there is most certainly a competitive edge aboard the crew of Wand'ring Bark. A strategy meeting was held recently when the obscure scoring system was assessed and the relative merits of various routes weighed. We would like to think we have a winning plan, but we are speaking from our depth of inexperience.

So M day is almost upon us and we are raring to go. We have enthusiasm, a strategy - we just need a flag and a clear run. I don't know if any of you are taking past this year, but if you are skipping this year's Crick maybe we will see you in Walsall Town Arm on Sunday afternoon?

Now Stig, how fast do you think you need to go to get a narrowboat up on a plane? 

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