I didn’t run the Reighton Fun Run in 12 minutes 14 seconds, so why does everyone keep congratulating me? I didn’t come first, I didn’t win anything. I never win anything. No-one’s ever patted me on the back before, but it felt good. The Mercury sent a photographer to take my photo and I told him it wasn’t me but he took the picture anyway. Wanted me in my running vest and shorts, the best I could do was my blue trackkie bottoms and the t-shirt I wear for gardening. But he didn’t seem to care. It’ll be in Saturday’s edition.
A boy knocked on my door. Are you famous?
Don’t like children, I said. You boys run around our street shouting when you mother’s thrown you out of the house for being too noisy. Why can’t she be bothered to look after you instead of letting you litter the street with bikes and footballs and noise?
Dunno, he said. But he’d seen a man with a camera walking down my front path. Had I murdered someone, or won the lottery, or done something really clever?
No, the man wanted to take my photo because I ran in a race.
Ooh, I wish I was a runner. Can I have your autograph? How often do you train? How many miles a week do you run? Do you need any special gear? Will you help me?
I thought for a moment, a bit of jogging might shift that persistent stone.
Alright then. I signed his bit of paper.
Training twice a week, mind. Twenty miles. Plimmies, shorts and t-shirt’ll do.
I made him stretch like I’d seen Paula Radcliffe do on the telly, jogging up and down on the spot. He didn’t ask why. The wind was bitter, I zipped my jacket up to my chin. He wore his big brother’s sweatshirts, one on top of another. I told him to run up and down the flight of steps at the far end of the park. Sixty steps. I stood at the bottom and watched him do it three times. He was a bit short of breath at the end so got him to jog on the spot till his breathing evened out. Next I pointed out a tree and told him to sprint to it while I timed him. He ran like hell but I forgot to note the second hand on my watch. I didn’t tell him when he came back.
Good start, I said, but there’s lots to work on. He ran between trees for an hour until he’d shed his layer of t-shirts and sweatshirts and was left in his vest and shorts. I was so cold I ran the last ten minutes with him.
The next night I ran for twenty minutes.
Last week we did the Scalby Fun Run. He won the boy’s race, I won the Veterans Female. People patted us on the back and the Mercury sent the same photographer round.
I wore my race number on my vest. This time I came first, not some imposter with the same name as me.
© Sandra Danby
[this story was first published at Ether Books]
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
RUNNING a #shortstory about #identity & going for a run via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-2v6