Getting Wet and other stories #London2012

Not quite such an early start today. We got the train to Charing Cross where I noted that ‘spending a penny’ now costs 30p. We walked to find a position on the Marathon route, passing a couple of fibre glass Olympic mascots that are apparently scattered round London for us to find. We manage to get a space opposite a water and sponge station, which Martha is irrationally excited about. Collecting up discarded water bottles probably doesn’t rate as highly as equestrian pooper-scooper on our list of sought after Olympic jobs. We try to identify the flags at the water stations. Even with the help of the initials (TLS), we have difficulty with one. Once the assistant turns round, his track suit reveals that it is Timor Leste, of which more later.

Chris has still not quite forgiven us for dragging him away from Clovelly Lifeboat Day and is sporting his Clovelly Lobster festival t-shirt as if to make a point. He chats up the nearby policewoman and then exhibits his knotting skills by helping our neighbours to fasten their flag to the railings. The rain starts but that’s fine; I don my plastic poncho. This works well until Chris and Martha, who have not had the forethought to bring anything actually waterproof, try to join me. This results in water pouring down the neck of the poncho so that it is wetter inside than out. There are some bizarre sights amongst our fellow spectators, including a chap who is about seven foot tall and wearing C15th style costume in bright orange. Perhaps he is supporting the Netherlands.

Two support vehicles go past on the far side of the road. They are followed by a lorry showing the time since the start and another with lots of media photographers covered in polythene. Then come the athletes. In all, they pass us three times on the far side of the road and three times on our side. They gradually string themselves out and it becomes evident that the competitor from Timor Leste is a long way behind the others. We get used to waiting ten minutes after the penultimate runner before Miss T-L appears and then cheering her on. There should be three GB runners, Paula Radcliffe having pulled out. One of the three never reaches us but we spot the other two mid pack. Some children opposite are cheering for each country in turn, starting with the end of the alphabet, whose water stands are opposite them. They are hoping to be given souvenirs by the officials waiting to hand out sports drinks and energy bars to their teams. It seems to work, although the inscrutable Swedish official takes a long time to crack. The Timor Leste official is entering in to the spirit of the thing and we start to feel quite sorry for him having to wait so long for his athlete to appear. In the end Miss T-L is not last as an Irish athlete fails on the last circuit and drops a long way behind even Miss T-L. It turns out that Miss T-L achieves a national record so well done her. Unlike many other spectators, we brave it in the rain to cheer these tail-enders on to the last moment.

It does take rather a long time to get back across the road at the official crossing point but this is the only occasion where we have had to wait for anything. The sun comes out and Martha and Rob decide to take a look at Hyde Park but I am deterred by the squelching in my shoes, so Chris and I return to the van.

We are glad to get back, bail out our shoes and make over the van as Dame Wishy Washy’s Laundry. We are even in time to see Andy Murray demolish Roger Federer.

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