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An unusual Sunday morning

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Posted 07-31-2008 at 03:37 PM by tony schofield

Most of our Sundays are spent visiting friends or relatives, or in providing hospitality for same. Last Sunday Joyce and I were left largely to our own devices, because we had a dearth of folk to see - mostly because of holidays.

Joyce had drawn my attention to activities advertised in the local press, and so we walked up to Pudsey Park to have a look at a toy steam engine display. Now, I know that toy steam engines are hardly a national sensation, and so wasn't surprised to see a handful of enthusiasts gathered in a small tent, and clustered around a trestle table admiring about a dozen exhibits; most of them of a stationary nature, but whirring around, letting off steam amongst a strong smell of meths amidst admiring gasps from the enthusiasts.

What did surprise me, however, was the huge crowds of folk milling around a roped-off area at the far side of the park. We wandered through the throng to see a similar table to that in the tent. "A sale" gasped Joyce, urging me onward. What a peculiar looking display met our eyes though, as we drew near to the table.

On one end was a huge pile of bananas. Most of the other end was taken up by glasses of water, whilst mounds of teeshirts were heaped upon adjoining chairs. These were all of the same pattern, with the words "Pudsey 10 Km. charity run" emblazoned across the chest.

And then I remembered. The refreshments and teeshirts had been provided for those who successfully completed the run, which had been advertised, with characteristic inaccuracy, in the local rag, as having been due to take place the previous day. It appeared that local radio had corrected the error, and a warm day had drawn out a large crowd of spectators, as well as athletes, who were already well on their way, and due to return in a circular manner to the starting place in less than half an hour.

Time, nevertheless, for Joyce and I to take a short walk through nearby woodland, to a point where we knew the runners would pass. As we drew near to this place, we heard sporadic splashes of applause; and, sure enough, as we came upon a country lane, saw a marshall who was encouraging and directing runners along their way. We decided to stay and share our encouragement. Some 450 runners from all over Yorkshire were taking part. There were teenagers and adults, both men and women, and some folk who looked older than ourselves. I gave my loudest applause to the stragglers, I have to say, as they seemed to be suffering the most.

It was hot - about 75 degrees F. Not hot by some standards, but after all, this was a British summer, and the first decent day's weather we'd had for a month or more. As the marshall reminded us; it wasn't just the temperature on the day that was significant, but also the fact that these runners had not had opportunity to train in these conditions. We followed the last of the runners up to the finishing line - and, in doing so, were amused to receive some applause ourselves, as spectators had got so used to applauding that by this time they were ready to clap their hands at virtually anything that moved!

As we walked away, I was left with one disquieting thought. I wondered whether the organisers were guilty of discriminatory practices. True, there were people with all shades of skin participating - but fat folk seemed to have been excluded - although there were quite a few amongst the spectators!
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