‘That is, like, the most amazing bum I have ever seen,’ I think to myself as I am running the first few miles of the Great Limerick Run, ‘how in the name of God am I going to run behind that for the next three hours?’, I worry.
It’s truly so hypnotic that I can’t help but be distracted by it. I find myself craning my head downwards to look at it and I worry it’s going to ruin my posture and leave me with a sore neck at the end of the day.
A jolt of fear then shoots through me. Since there are pesky photographers everywhere I’m worried I may get caught on camera looking at it and that I may find myself victim to some kind of social media mob that is offended by the fact that I’m objectifying women. I can see the headline now: ‘The Great Limerick Pervert’, it will read.
I hear two lads beside me with Northern Ireland accents say, “Let’s just follow that bum, hey.”
I say to them, “I heard that you dirty, dirty perverts”, to which they laugh, pervertedly. Well, I didn’t think they laughed pervertedly but my social conscience felt the need to project this idea onto them to distract myself from my own deviance.
I’m kind of scared of women these days. I’m scared of admiring any part of a woman’s anatomy. I’m scared to tell a woman she has nice eyes, a nice smile or god forbid a nice bum. But men and women obviously can’t help but admire these things in each other or romantic relationships would never happen, children would never be born, and the whole human race would simply go extinct.
I mean, the only way a man is not going to admire a woman’s body parts is if he can’t see them and the only way he’s not going to see them is if a woman keeps them covered.
In Victorian England it was shameful for a woman’s ankles to be on display and with Muslims all one can see is a woman’s eyes.
It’s funny, nowadays, because women wander around more naked than ever before but one must not be seen to be admiring them.
Funnier still, is that if a man discovered that several women were admiring his bum and told him so it would make his day and he might even go as far as to ring his mother to share his joy; whereas many women, I am sure, would probably post it on Facebook with the #meToo hashtag.
Anyway, after a time I manage to escape the glorious bottom by running on ahead of it and I find myself chatting away to a fellow from Ennis about some very important life issues, none of which are really worth repeating but which were fun to discuss. He barrels on ahead of me around the halfway mark and I suddenly become conscious that it has become very, very hot and I am starting to overheat.
To my left, then, I hear the sound of plastic hand clackers and my mind takes me back to the not so distant past when I thought photographing thousands of runners was a fun thing to do.
When I was taking photos at the Dublin Marathon in 2016 there was a woman beside me flapping a hand clacker right in my ear and it was driving me insane. At the time, I thought of the prospect of photographing 20,000 runners as being like Leonidas and his 300 fighting the millions of soldiers that were the Persian army.
This quote from the movie then pops into my head –
Persian Leader (trying to intimidate Leonidas): Our arrows will black out the sun.
Leonidas: Then we shall fight in the shade.
Now I’m not sure how my brain works sometimes but at this point I realise it’s giving me a message through a seemingly random movie quote and I realise that parts of the route are shaded by trees so I make a beeline for every bit of shade I can find and I suspect this helped my overall pace by several minutes at least.
At around mile twenty I spot a chap that has collapsed on the ground. He is on his back in the foetal position and looks like he is in pain. I want to say something encouraging so I do.
“You’ll be better before you’re married,” I assure him.
“I’m already fucken married!” he blurts.
“Well, you’ll be better before you….remarry,” I mumble and plod onwards.
I am absolutely boiling at this point but then I spot a woman spraying people with a hose and I approach and say, “Spray me, spray me”, and she thoroughly soaks me which is nothing short of heavenly. “It’s a pity this is a marathon and not a wet tshirt competition because I think I would win,” I inform her.
Shortly afterwards I exchange a few words with a woman doing the half-marathon beside whom a man is cycling. She tells me that I am amazing for doing the full marathon.
“The only woman who has ever thought I was amazing since birth is my mother,” I say, “will you marry me?”
Quickly realising that this was a wildly inappropriate question to ask somebody I had known for ten seconds, I added, “um, I probably should have checked your relationship status before I asked that,” and I follow this up by asking stupidly, “are you married?”
“I am,” she says, and subsequently informs me that the man cycling beside her is her husband and I realise this is a good time to quicken my pace.
Checking my Garmin and realising I only have a mile to go I realise that if I do the last mile under 7 minutes that I will get my target time of 3 hours 30 minutes so I give 100% focus so as I don’t get distracted by conversation or terrific looking bums.
I keep my chest up, my head straight ahead, avoid any excess movement and focus on my breathing.
I hear cheers and clapping from spectators and I feel like I am representing my country at the Olympics.
I have run at maybe 20 events over the years and I think Limerick has something special and that is that many of the people of the city get out and support the event by encouraging and cheering on participants. Many of them hand out sweets, blast out music, give you high fives, and even hose you down.
I cross the finish line with a PB (Personal Best) of 3 hours 30 minutes and 1 second. A few people I know congratulate me and comment that I don’t seem very excited about it. If the truth be told I am not. It wasn’t really the best thing about the day for me and I shall only do 5 hour barefoot marathons in the foreseeable future because I can do and enjoy those and still be able to walk the following day.
So, I hope, dear reader, that you have enjoyed reading my account of The Great Limerick Bum….I mean Run *facepalm*.
Photo Credit: Chris Grayson Instagram: @chrisgrayson_garmin