His hands moved and opened the album in front of him, the story was his each page told how it had been.

He turned to the first entry..

Thursday December 28th

The post arrives and I receive a shock, what I thought would never happen has, I've been excepted to run in "THE LONDON MARATHON"!!!.

What an error, here I am nearly 38 years of age, with a body that has seen better days. Who hasn't done a lot of exercise except running around at work and the odd game of badminton, since two operations on my left knee two years ago. "WHAT HAVE I GONE AND LET MYSELF IN FOR!!!!!"

Wow!! What a shock that day had been, he remembered, he never thought he would have been lucky enough to get a place, but oh what a daunting thought we he found he had been lucky enough.

He remembered the early days of his running, the jogs round the block, the aches the pains, but as he read on the days became more interesting his training runs became longer.

Monday January 8th-Sunday January 14th

Monday: No badminton yet, so another trip around my 4.5 miles circuit, Ran reverse way round the course, complete with long hill, at least I got round.

Tuesday: You get some funny looks as you pound the local streets and even the odd hale from other passing lunatic's, the old knee has started complaining about having to do some work, covered about 5 miles this evening, purchase another knee bandage.

Wednesday: Knee still aching, have taken the night off to rest the weary joints, thinking of buying shares in Boots, with all these bandages might end up running dressed up as an Egyptian Mummy

Those had been hard days running round the streets in all weathers, but as the days went on and the race came nearer he had enjoyed them more and more. He had discovered parts of his body and parts of his location he never knew existed.

He flicked through the pages reading about the miles he had traveled, and the odd joke he had still been able to make about the runs and things that had happened to him.

The a week before the actual race an entry that proved at least if nothing else he had still managed to have a sense of humor.

Sunday April 8th-Saturday April 14th

Last full weeks training, started with me losing a battle with a car and a horse for the right of way and ending up, yes, in another ditch. This left me 5 miles to run with one very wet and muddied leg and foot. This week saw a regular service along the old railway line, and another night when I got lost. I ended up covering some local point to point course, but had a refusal and the open ditch, another muddied foot!. Total of 40 miles this last week, one week to go, time to recover and get the body and soul ready for next weekend.

He turned over the page of the book, and found a number. He smiled remembering the actual day of the race and the feeling of wonder at all the tens of thousands of people that were there at the start. Little knowing what the race would bring for him.

He remembered the thrill as the race started being one of 30,000 runners, and all the training, the pain everything had been worthwhile for that moment..

It must have been around 2 miles into 26 miles that he had found her, or rather found he was running at the same speed as the woman running beside him. A quick glance as they picked up their first water bottles had shown him woman dressed much the same as him, with short dark hair and a body which would have other times have meant a lot to him. They carried on running together, smiling at each other at the comments from the massive crowd that lined the streets. Sharing the proffered sweets and oranges and learning about each other.

At around 10 miles she stumbled on one of the thousand of discarded water bottles the lined the sides of the roads. Without thinking, he stopped and helped her to her feet, as his hand touched hers, and she looked up and smiled at him, the noise of the crowd seemed to roar in his hears, or was it his heart? They started to run again, somehow though their hands had still been joined as if it was the most natural thing to do. She turned and smiled at him "Thank you for that" she said "My name is Sarah", again she smiled and his tired legs seemed to find new life as he introduced himself to her, and they chatted as they ran on hand in hand.

Each stop after that they shared the water bottle, shared the pain of the miles as they ran through the sites and the sounds of the London streets. Suddenly they crossed Tower Bridge for the 2nd time and he realized they had only 5 miles to go. Their talk became shorter as they both began to suffer these last miles. His leg cramped up, and she stopped and with hands that sent electric shocks through his heart gently massaged the calves until once more they started again. As they ran over the cobble stones of the Tower of London, their hands found each other's again. The last two miles never letting go, gently squeezing each other's hand to give encouragement, until they turned at Buckingham Palace with just 200 yds to go.

They crossed the finishing line hands held high, still joined together, smiles as wide as the River Thames across their faces.

They collapsed into each other's arms, and for the first time, he tasted her lips as they kissed each other, a kiss that meant more to him than finishing the 26 miles before. More than any medal.

As they collected their foil blankets and chomped on proffered food, they made an agreement to meet once they had reclaimed their clothes.

Shuffling as fast as his rapidly ceasing legs would let him, he'd fought his was through the masses of runners and greeters to collect his clothes and put them on before going in search of Sarah.

He looked for her, trying to keep moving, his muscles screaming at the effort. But it had been fruitless from the start, there was just too many people, to find one person in the tens of thousands all high on their completion of the marathon, and was just not possible.

He had wandered around for hours getting colder, feeling more and more lonely, until with a sigh he had headed for the railway station and home.

Through next weeks of collecting sponsorship money, and recovering, he had thought of Sarah often, and wandered if they would ever meet again.

He stopped and picked up the photo of him and Sarah crossing the finishing line as it lay in his book. He remembered receiving the race photo's some months later, and how his heart had leapt at seeing her.

A pair of hands rested on his shoulders, and a pair of soft lips kissed his cheek.

"Ah the photo" said a voice that still made his heart jump "The key to how we found each other"

He reached up and held the hand of his love. Both had the same idea, of tracking each other down from the race number clearly shown in the picture. Until 3 months after the day of the race they had once more held hands and kissed.

He closed the book that had been over a year ago, now they were again running with each other, still hand in hand, this time, in a bigger race. They were now a team, running the race of life together, forever.

(While all of my stories are fictional, in this case I have used some my actual race log entries from my first ever London Marathon in 1990)

Barry Eva 2001 



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