Ideally, I would have commandeered my son. At just shy of two year’s old he has hit 11kg and is tall enough to sit comfortably on my shoulders. But the problem is that he wriggles so much that it’s hard enough to keep him there for five minutes, let alone for the duration of a 10-mile run.
What I really need are hills, because I have started trailing in earnest for the next big race. In October I’ll be heading for the Peak District and a 50-miler through the night, appropriately called Dusk ’til Dawn, which has a total elevation of 9,200 feet, with the worst to come from 36 miles to the finish. As British Cycling found earlier this year, when they filed their course for the Olympic Road Race, there isn’t an elevation within a hundred miles of London that is worthy of being called a hill. The course they submitted included one lap of Box Hill. It was rejected. So too the route with three laps. Fair enough, since it would barely feature as more than an abrasion on the flattest stage of the Tour de France. Nine laps, however, now that would be a challenge.
This is the reason why Mark Cavendish has spent the spring trimming another 9lbs off his already wired body frame. He’ll never win the Tour because he struggles over the mountains, but for the Olympics he has given himself the kind of chance he needs to get over, round and down Box Hill and have enough time to regroup ahead of the sprint finish. It also helps that he’s been living up a volcano for the last few months with Bradley Wiggins and the Sky Team.
The closest thing to a vertical climb I have is a 100 metre ascent to the Lavender Hill Police Station – not exactly Mont Ventoux, you might say. I’d have to run up it close to a hundred times to get anything like the benefit of being up in the Peak District, and since there is a rather good pub at the bottom of the slope it’s unlikely that I’d make it much beyond the second length. I had also heard that there was a team on the Coastal Trail ultra who were running with a brick in the packs, just for a laugh. I haven’t got to the bottom of it, but I have a feeling that you know who has got something to do with it.
All of which has meant that I’ve had to return to the tried and tested method of donning a bin liner under several layers of clothes to sweat it out. It’s heavily reliant on the English summer coming good, although so long as it’s humid that’s always good for getting the sweat boiling up. Last night, as the storm clouds brewed over Wimbledon soap suds were frothing out of my top, which is a good indicator of hard labour.
As for the boy, I might have to resort to using him for bicep curls for the time being.