Lessons learnt on the RNLI Great Christmas Fun Run in the Mumbles this morning:
- You probably think you’ll be terribly witty and original by running 5k in an inflatable Santa suit, but chances are there’ll be at least another who’s thought the same way as you. Fools seldom differ.
- If you absolutely must run in a battery-powered costume, make sure your battery pack is securely clasped to your waistband, and you know the little screw that comes with it to make sure it’s closed? That’s surprisingly important.
- If the worst comes to the worst and, 200 metres in, you feel the batteries and plastic cover jangling round your right leg cuff, don’t expect any marshal to fully realise what the problem is, not even when you hand them the luminous and conspicuously empty orange power pack and cover, which you’ve extricated from just above your sock.
- You have absolutely no hope of getting the remaining batteries free from your calves. Embrace the four AA cells that are bumping round your lower legs: they’ll be your faithful companions for the next 23 minutes of your life.
- Race marshals aren’t configured to deal with someone trying to extract a full pack of Duracells, one by one, from inside the cuff of a blow-up suit. They’ll just think you’re trying to tie your shoelaces.
- Humour the marshals, as much as you do the guys who quip that you’ve lost a lot of weight since the start of the race there Santa ahahahaha. They know not what they say.
- The absolute high point of the whole sorry escapade will happen when you pass your work next-door neighbour, running in the opposite direction, and you share a high five. Never was that so appreciated as at 11:15 this morning: thanks, Brigid.
- It’ll get worse before it gets better, but you will eventually lollop to the finish line, feeling as though you’ve run a half marathon rather than a quarter of that distance.
- And sorry, there’s no other way to say this, but when you manage to peel the costume from your body, your actual running clothes will be almost incurably sweaty. Don’t blame anyone other than yourself for this: you could always have bought a morphsuit instead.
I expect that in months to come there’ll be someone who’ll think, like I did, that it’d be an excellent idea to run a race in an inflatable costume, and may even have Googled for it and landed on this post. The correct answer is for you not to be so stupid. The answer you’d probably prefer to hear is, well, OK, if you must, but it’s harder than even you think. Make sure the Velcro and elastic round your neck let you breathe, and take in lots of water. An all-polyester costume, especially when it has to be tight enough for the air not to escape, makes for sub-optimal running gear, integrated fan or not. Expect your time to be terrible: and if you have anything like a competitive streak, at least do yourself a favour and go for an event where everyone has the same mild disadvantage.
As for me, I gained my highest placing in any race I’ve ever entered (twelfth, out of 61 finishers), coupled with my personal worst time for a 5k. In combination, that’s quite a feat.
But I did this for the RNLI’s excellent lifeboat stations, and specifically the one at Mumbles itself. It’s Christmas, it’s an expensive time, and there are many charity appeals, but face it, you’ve read this far, so if you can, please insert coins. Nadolig Llawen.