My concerns for looking like the biggest tit on the course subsided only 500m after the start line as I plodded past a man raising money for Breast Cancer UK. Running as a giant inflatable silicone implant, he and I exchanged glances of mutual concern. His trying to decipher what I was raising money for - as I agonised over the breathability of his chosen attire.
With the day still young the organisers have you looping from Greenwich to Woolwich and back where London flirts with becoming suburban. Locals here either clang together whatever they find on the drying rack or enjoy a full English on their driveway. Dressing gowns are seemingly compulsory in either situation and I found myself wondering who looked the more bizarre - us in illegally short shorts or the Pasta Pan Orchestra. In any case, both parties spurred the other on.
It took until IKEA Greenwich for the first quip to hit my way. “Look! He’s late for work!” with an immediate release of the perpetrator’s own canned laughter. I jest, moments like this were the very reason I decided to put on my hemp shirt that morning.
Around here Mo Farah ran in the opposite direction to me, and given he wasn’t winning - quite literally was late for work. Laughing at my own jokes this time and revelling in the atmosphere, a grin ripped across my face and refused to be wiped off until I descended the stairs at Piccadilly Circus hours later.
When the heavens opened around the Cutty Sark the plan to show off the finest Samarkand Blue Hemp Shirt appeared flawed. As the famed tea clipper turned into Noah’s Arc, the hemp shirt became increasingly heavy. I continued by telling myself this was a good thing as it turned a deeper, richer blue that would surely be more eye catching.
Although hemp’s famed superiority as a breathable fabric was likely hindered by being soaking wet, I did have an edge on my fellow drowned competitors. Putting one more role into the sleeves and undoing another button enhanced airflow and the versatility of the classic shirt became the envy of all marathon runners.
As if it had a built in SatNav, the Samarkand Blue led me round Canary Wharf, thinking it was still on lunch time release as it had done for the twelve months of incarceration I once spent there. The kind, supporting, souls that had travelled to London’s least hospitable of climes took pity on the drowned rat with shouts of “Smartest runner yet!” and “Back at your desk soon!” boosting me West.
Along Embankment I was filled with admiration for a runner who one-upped me…a full suit and tie! The Pulp Fiction hero whizzed past as the crowd lapped up the smart duo. Rounding Big Ben he took his leave from me and I found myself agonizing over the breathability of his chosen suit fabric. Envious of his commitment to the whole outfit, I resolved there and then to run a future London Marathon in a hemp suit when the collection expands that far.
Rounding Buckingham Palace I heard the world’s favourite hemp myth for the first time. “That’s gotta chafe…!” Ah, how the non-marathon running version of me would have halted course to introduce this fellow to the buttery softness of modern day hemp, refined through centuries and only growing softer with each wash. Sadly the possibility of a chance encounter with Gabby Logan was too close, and he’ll never know the truth.