This was the last race on my calendar for 2015. And what better way to end the running year than with a jovial moustache dash? Indeed, what better way to end anything than with a jovial moustache something? With the proviso being that, in keeping with the theme of the Movember Foundation, runners should sport a moustache (that said, it’s not like the non-moustachioed were hurled into a muddy pit by the start line for non-compliance…although there’s an argument that says they should have been), the question was ‘Do I grow one, draw one on or stick one on?’ Being committed – meaning as in ‘dedicated’ rather than ‘forcibly placed into a mental health facility’, although that day may yet come – I opted to grow one.
Not having the confidence to pull off the moustachioed look – be it ironic or sincere – for any length of time for fear of looking like some sort of sex-offender, I decided I’d grow a full beard a couple of weeks ahead of the MoRun and simply sculpt it into a fine moustache the evening before of the race. Behold, the fine moustache:
Now, the look I’d been going for was that of Lemmy Kilmister from Motörhead. I can’t condone the man’s lifestyle choices, but I also can’t deny the infectious appeal of the iconic metal anthem Ace of Spades. Hmm…’Lemmy is soon to star in Bjorn Tagemose’s Gutterdammerung – a silent film described as part rock show, part immersive cinema experience featuring some of the biggest rock names on the planet. In the film, God has saved the world by taking from mankind the Devil’s ‘Grail of Sin’ – the Evil Guitar.’ Oh…kay. I do like the fact that the only message board on movie’s IMDb page is titled ‘Is this a joke?’ Anyway, on revealing my new image, no resemblance to the aforementioned rock God was voiced by friends and family. I was, however, compared to a ‘Victorian gentleman’ (I pledged to attempt to solve the Whitechapel Murders mid-race), a ‘serial killer’ (it’s the look we all aspire to) and ‘Amos Brearly from Emmerdale’. Who? Him:
On the day of the race, I’d be lying if I said I was over-brimming with enthusiasm. It was cold and wet and windy. I was tired and jittery. Running was hard and stupid. I could have been at home with a cup of tea and a box of those Lindor balls. Man alive, I love those. I tell you, if chocolate was made illegal the Columbian drug cartels would abandon that cocaine shite in favour of a sudden, vested interest in Swiss confectionary. But alas, I wasn’t at home sampling the handiwork of Lindt’s master chocolatiers. I was on the sodding Town Moor in Newcastle with horizontal rain lashing against my ridiculous moustache.
Regular running partner Matthew Jones and I usually favour the ‘get there early’ approach when it comes to races. However, this time we’d opted for the ‘get there late because it’s cold outside…let’s stay in HMV for a bit longer and have a laugh at this Cliff Richard calendar’ technique. By the time we’d cast Cliff aside and rocked up to the start line, we were cutting it a bit fine. Race numbers were collected and pinned, the obligatory pre-race selfie was taken and then the baggage was dropped in a veritable whirligig of activity that sadly didn’t include the somewhat vital pre-race operation of ‘applying a copious amount of Vaseline to intimate areas’. I was wearing new shorts, too. New, unpredictable shorts. Well, I say unpredictable, not totally so: they weren’t going to transform into a pterodactyl and disappear off over the horizon. Hopefully. But in terms of chaffage, who knew what would transpire? Like the front page of The Daily Mail, It was only ever going to be bad news. Well, or a touching Princess Diana memorial. Imagine that? It would be like when people see Jesus in a cheese toastie or similar. ‘Runner reveals Princess Diana-shaped sore on upper inside-thigh. Palace yet to comment’.
On arrival at the starting area, I noted it had commonalities with certain parts of Eastern Europe, insomuch that the number of whiskery women clearly outnumbered the men. But there was no time to mull over the demographics of international gender discrepancy or charity run participation by sex – we were off! Sort of! Late arrival at the starting area meant kicking off the run at the back of the field. The very slow moving field. And there wasn’t any real possibility of moving up through this particular field, as in order to do so I’d either have to run off the path and into the bog-like verge (Jones decided to risk this – his gamble proving successful. I’d tried this last year and almost come a cropper when I went shin-deep into a delightful mixture of mud, cow-pat and stagnant puddle, and hence was reluctant…) or barge through like a douche. Which I wasn’t going to do, as this was the Comedy Moustache Man-Cancer Run, not the final of the Olympic 10,000 metres.
So, I plodded to a comparatively slow first mile before it began to thin out a bit and I could speed up a tad. I’d never intended to blast out a PB-worrier, but now I was very much without any plan at all. I opted for the mind-blowing technique of ‘just run round at a steady pace, Ben, don’t overcomplicate it, you tit’ which worked well up until about 5 miles. By this point, epic chaffing was occurring down below. But I was distracted from my mildly agonising crotch when I saw…something. About 300 metres ahead of me. It was yellow. And blue. It couldn’t be. But it was. I was getting beaten by a banana! No! Wait! A BANANA IN PYJAMAS! Comedy moustache run or not, THIS SHIT WOULD NOT STAND. The pace was upped and the banana was reeled in at 5.4 miles. I wasn’t having ‘defeat by clothed fruit’ on my conscience. But with the banana in my wake, another challenge! Ahead of me now was a white dude dressed as Michael Jackson from Thriller. Thankfully, he hadn’t blacked up. But I was having him as well, and I turned my pursuit of him into an elongated sprint-finish that saw me cross the line in 47 minutes and 10 seconds.
I collected my moustache-shaped medal and a bottle of Lucozade. I then removed my headband and horrified Jones by squeezing 3 fistfuls of sweat from it. Jones offered the reassuring words ‘No man should sweat like that in November, there’s clearly something very wrong with you’ as I decided that the headband was beyond saving and promptly binned it. It was then simply a matter of getting the Metro back across Newcastle to the car, which was to double as a changing room. Yes, I was going to risk an entire change of clothes in a seedy, urban car park with only a towel and some steamed-up windows to maintain my modesty/dignity. This got off to a poor start when some litter-picking chap simply would not piss off from the vicinity of my car. Eventually he went, leaving me free to wriggle out of sodden gear and into fresh kecks under a floral-print bath towel. Two things then became apparent:
1) A preliminary investigation below revealed that ‘damage’ had indeed occurred at the hands of the new shorts. Can shorts have hands? We move on. Later I would describe the wreckage to Jones, settling on the phrase ‘scrotum welt’ as an apt description as to the wound I’d suffered. It was then decided that ‘Scrotum Welt’ sounded somewhat like an early 20th century German silent film actor. ‘Scrotum Welt, darling of the Weimar Republic expressionist scene. But alas, he hit skid row when the ‘talkies’ came along’.
2) My new shorts absolutely stunk. An unearthly stink. A died-on-the-toilet-last-month stench. The kind of smell that could drive a priest from an exorcism, and should be accompanied by a scraw of flies and a demonic cry of ‘LEAVE THIS PLACE!’
Shorts safely contained within a biohazard container and buried beneath 40 feet of industrial concrete, it was time to head home as the weather took a turn for the ridiculous. Driving rain, lashing wind, localised flooding – you know, just the perfect conditions for aquaplaning off the road and into a tree. Which happily I managed to avoid doing, but still. Just the way to relax after a tough 10k. Well, it’s that or leafing through a Cliff Richard calendar with a box of Lindor balls, waiting for The Daily Mail to return my call regarding the Princess Diana-shaped groin-blister…