SO that’s the London Marathon for another year, dishing up its annual banquet of heartwarming stories and firemen dressed as gorillas although, thankfully, no bomb blasts.
The equivalent of one decent crowd at a Premier League football match largely set off together but finished like one of the more nightmarish council debates, drawn out at great length with any winner long since forgotten.
Televised coverage focused as usual on stories following the likes of big butch Bert, a 28-stone chef running the marathon to raise money for his private gastric band operation.
There always seemed time to follow this presenter or that weatherman, pasting a smile on their faces as they passed the 22-mile mark where a somewhat less tired colleague interviews them about who they are raising money for. Of course the cameras cut away before the red-faced sweating runner, now a little less jolly, chokes the life out of their interviewer.
No marathon would be complete without a few proposals of marriage, usually around the “lucky-for-some” 13-mile mark, while another popular favourite is something along the lines of two stunning girls kissing a policeman. Always good for a brief word in the ear the next morning from his Inspector who, as luck would have it, was sweating heavily in a polar bear suit just behind the girls.
Then there are the spectators, living proof that keeping running is the best thing.
Somewhere along the way there is bound to be a camera-strewn Gerald Snodgrass asking some luckless competitor to “Go on! Give us a smile” as the runner stumbles out of a portable toilet where last night’s pre-race celebration curry had just been jettisoned.
Jack the Lads are almost obligatory. You know the ones I mean. Those who shout mindless encouragement while sprinting alongside the main stream of runners to show them how it’s done before diving away to the pub because Spurs v City is on the box.
Finally we come to what are termed “the elite runners”.
This group of athletes would view running from Weymouth to Dorchester as a light warm-up and usually look so relaxed in the early stages that they might just be popping out for a Sunday paper.
But they’re not quite so relaxed towards the end when rivals, spectators and presenter Jonathan Edwards risked getting trampled underfoot in fanatical pursuit of the finishing tape.
And when it was all over – except for 73-year-old Millicent Maybe arrested by security staff when her zimmer wheel jammed and she swung suddenly into Buckingham Palace gardens – it is left for the big clear-up to start.
This is a marathon in its own right as discarded water bottles, energy bars and false legs are collected up and hauled away for disposal.
So if you’ve been inspired by this year’s event to have a go yourself next year, then start training now. You’re going to need it.