Each year, over 253,000 people enter a ballot to be picked to run the London Marathon, which takes place this Sunday. Of that number 50,000 are successful, and as the race organisers predict there will be a certain percentage of drop outs, approximately 40,000 runners take part.
These are people who are seriously committed to their art. I am filled with awe at their determination and discipline. My last attempt at running a measly 10k race resulted in humiliation when I was overtaken by a man carrying a fridge on his back.
In the course of training for the Marathon, these lycra clad racing snakes lose their toenails, have to cover their nipples with plasters, but worst of all, most of them abstain from drinking beer for months before the big day.
Dame Kelly Holmes says that in her days of high level competing, she pictured a block of chocolate waiting for her just beyond the finishing line, and it motivated her to get a move on. So if some of these Marathon runners are beer lovers, I imagine they spur themselves on with the thought of a pint waiting for them when they finish.
(Although why on earth would you give up beer? It’s hydrating, made with lots of water, it’s full of nutrients like niacin and riboflavin, it contains no cholesterol or fat, and the hops in beer help alleviate stress. I talk a good argument and it’s probably why my running days never extended beyond that fateful 10k race).
I like to think that the competitors are visualising a shimmering glass of ale as a reward for all their hard work. These mad fools have lived on energy gels for months. As their route takes them through one of the greatest cities in the world, it’s got to be a locally brewed tipple. I can’t think of a better beer than Fuller’s London Pride, made down by the river in Chiswick at the Griffin Brewery.
For a 4.1% beer, it’s juicy and dry and full bodied all at the same time. It has a gorgeous orange marmalade smell, a characteristic of many of Fuller’s beers. What’s more, this beer travels well, so if you’re watching the marathon in a pub 200 miles north of the capital, it will still taste as good as it does in its home town.
What might entice the runners even further is the thought of heading to one of Fuller’s Ale and Pie pubs. Fuller’s realised a long time ago how well their beers go with pie and they’re dedicated to this in some of their finest pubs. What’s more, it’s proper pie with a bottom, sides and a top, all enrobing the filling (none of this ‘stew with a lid on’ rubbish). Steak ‘n’ ale, rabbit, chicken and ham, pheasant – all go down well with a glass of London Pride.
So as other spectators yell encouraging platitudes such as “keep going!” to the whippet thin runners as they sprint past, I shall raise my glass of Pride and shout “EAT SOMETHING!”