|Heard the song about the man with the 'Red Right Hand'?|
YOU know you’re getting old when you can’t even be trusted to go for a simple training run without falling over.
When you start stubbing your toe on the relatively flat Wivenhoe Trail, where stones only protrude upwards half-an-inch or so, you know it’s time you started picking your feet up when out perambulating.Three times I hit the deck in spectacular fashion during the recent cross-country season, but that was on soft terrain. This latest coming together with Mother Earth was a harder and more bloody affair, I’m afraid.
But what was most interesting about it was the reaction of passers-by (luckily few in number in view of the high embarrassment factor).
One female runner, evidently an Essex University student of foreign extraction, sailed on past without a word, occasionally stopping to take pictures of the adjacent river view. She’d seen the whole thing but was not at all concerned, and not even fazed by the blood pumping out of my right hand.
Well, perhaps ‘pumping’ is a slight exaggeration, but it was certainly seeping fast. In Tony Hancock terms, it was probably a good arm-full.The next reaction was the polar opposite of the first. Further along the slow run home, two more young people hove into view, again speaking in foreign tongue, but this time rooted to the spot with horror. They couldn’t even bring themselves to step aside and let me pass without difficulty.
By this time I was running normally again, but holding my right arm high in the air - I’ve heard if you hold a bleeding wound above the level of your heart, gravity will help stem the flow. Trouble is, this body-shape makes it look as if you are deliberately displaying your injury for the world to see.Aussie troubadour Nick Cave has a song about the man with the ‘Red Right Hand’, and it was this tune I hummed as I headed home. Perhaps it was no wonder my second batch of spectators looked so startled.
It was only this week that a number of my clubmates at Tiptree Road Runners returned from one of the UK’s most gruelling mass participation races, the 20-mile ‘Grizzly’ in Devon. Some were on their feet for more than five hours that day, yet for the most part seem to have coped without crashing to the ground and tearing flesh. Perhaps they were more focussed on their task than me on my relatively gentle sortie.Mind you, I should point out that some of them did finish the Grizzly in a state of intense emotional fragility. Shedding tears rather than blood was our Louise H, for example. Tears of relief and pride, I suspect, rather than tears of pain as she fell into the congratulatory arms of colleague John McV at the finish line.
Now that the cross-country season is over and the Grizzly’s been and gone, there should be far less mud to encounter in forthcoming fixtures. That sadly means fewer soft landings for the habitual tumblers like me . . . .
* Rob Hadgraft's books on running legends of yesteryear are on sale via this Amazon link: