2020 – the time to make big plans
2020 has seen the decimation of the Marathon Majors schedule and the loss of hundreds of famous global events but coronavirus can't take away our imagination. Now is the time to use it.
To be a runner with unfinished business puts you in great company. Paula Radcliffe famously missed out on winning an Olympic medal of any colour in an otherwise storied, record-breaking career. Mo Farah - as he moves into the twilight years - has never been able to break a World outdoor record nor win London Marathon.
Even the imperious Usain Bolt, 8 Olympic golds and all, long talked about his ambitions to break 19 seconds for his favourite event, the 200 metres. He never did. Of course, they all garnered ample achievements to comfort them in their dotage.
But it is not just the preserve of the running gods to harbour ambitions and a few regrets. There's a little of it in all of us, from trying to run that first 5k to nailing a sub three-hour marathon. And the restrictions placed on us all caused by the pandemic has only nourished those festering feelings within.
For me, it is those races on my internal bucket list that I haven't quite bagged yet. Particularly those in foreign climes, now more distant than ever before. The grass really is always greener isn't it?
Two races have slipped through a hole in my bucket, where illness and injury meant I sat on the side lines. Both times, I enjoyed the experience supporting friends, but there was a definite streak of envy. Amsterdam Marathon is a glorious event on an (inevitably) flat and fast course with an Olympic stadium finish and it's a city where you cannot fail to enjoy the post-race celebrations.
Another event I soaked up in a spectator capacity was Athens Marathon. Inspired, of course by the messenger Pheidippides' mythological run from Marathon to Athens and consequently the event that is the parent of all other marathons. Finishing in the imposing ancient stadium that housed the original Olympic Games, it is an event that is dripping in history.
I will never forget a first-time marathon running Brit I encountered who said "This is THE marathon. All the rest are just imitations." There is real truth in those words.
Another event, I have not attended, but admired from afar is San Sebastian Marathon, in the stunning Basque region. Again with a stadium finish, but with a slot late in the calendar - each year within a month of Christmas. It offers a real end of year treat.
2020 is not a year to tick off the bucket list, but it's a great one for writing one.
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Image courtesy Sports Tours International