Sue Barker Remains In Tandem With Chris Boardman 2009: Times Sunday

Sue Barker remains in tandem with Chris Boardman

The Times and Sunday Times for less Jeremy Clarkson Where am I Boardman, who signed up among this year’s celebrity runners, had reported for
duty in Sue Barker’s legendary pre-race comfort zone in Blackheath. (It’s only a square of grass fringed by a couple of advertising hoardings, in truth, but Sue makes it feel very much like home, and, year after year, the celebrities choose it as the venue for their last smile before enduring a little more than 26 miles of virtually perfect agony.) And before she could help herself, Sue was saying to Boardman: “You can’t take your bike, you know.” Now, it would have been no big surprise if this flawless demonstration by Sue of the “obvious gag in the circumstances” had actually occasioned in the coverage a moment’s pause, accompanied perhaps by the eerie blast of an Arctic wind, or a shot of tumbleweed bowling off in the direction of Greenwich. But that’s the London Marathon in a nutshell, isn’t it Heart-squeezing human stories and faith-reaffirming acts of charity everywhere you turn. The BBC got going good and early with its compilations of runners’ tales, set to music. And, on the back of that, I’m proud to be able to announce that I beat my own personal best for the London Marathon by being in bits before the first mass runner had stepped over the chip-synched timing mat. (We’ve come a long way in 28 years. Back in the Eighties, the earliest London Marathon runners could measure their times only by whether or not Kajagoogoo were still at No 1 when they got back.) Altogether, any event that finds Brendan Foster talking about Sammy Wanjiru at one moment, and SpongeBob SquarePants the next, can’t be anything but a force for good. And how can one not cherish the unique organisational chemistry of the marathon, which means that a professional sporting contest is aped immediately afterwards by amateurs, many in fancy dress
There has got to be a broader application for this approach. It wouldn’t work with every sport, but it would definitely suit, for example, golf. There is no reason why, at the Masters at Augusta, for instance, the “elite” players couldn’t play through first and then be followed on to the course by 36,000 lucky ballot winners, many in Scooby-Doo costumes. It would enhance the spectacle and raise, no doubt, millions for good causes.

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