The Courier-Mail

Marathons can get on your goat

- ROD CHESTER rod.chester@news.com.au

IT IS one thing to be beaten by a bloke in a gorilla suit but it’s a deeper blow to the ego when you slip behind a guy dressed as a banana.

There are some runners who put as much emphasis on fun as they do on run when it comes to events.

At the recent London Marathon, 34 Guinness World Records were set by runners crazy enough to tackle the 42.2km distance in fancy dress. There was a guy in an ostrich suit, a chap dressed as a cactus, a human whoopee cushion and two very synchronis­ed young women who did it as a three-legged race.

The closest I’ve ever come to dressing up in anything other than running attire was during my greatest ever sporting achievemen­t at the Lightning Ridge goat race.

The idea of the race is to dress up as a goat and sprint down the street while dragging a passenger in a cart.

My biggest challenge at the start was that the only goat outfit left was one hanging on the ladies’ rack. By the time I reached the finish line in second place, the effect of the overly small goat outfit riding up in the nether regions meant I almost qualified as a nanny anyway.

While doing a bit of cosplay in a quick dash is one thing, committing to a costume for a 10km event or more is another level of enthusiast­ic madness.

One year running in the Brisbane half marathon, I was passed in the last kilometre by a man who was dressed in a gorilla suit but running like a gazelle.

As I huffed and puffed along in his wake, I turned to another middle-aged bloke next to me and said “that’s a bit rough”.

“I once was beaten by Fat Elvis,” he replied.

A couple of weeks ago I tackled the Noosa half marathon. My run was not going to plan, causing me to reflect that I needed to either train harder or adopt a race plan that was “start well but fade painfully in the second half”.

Freed of the pressure of achieving my goal, I made the most of enjoying the run, chatting with volunteers as I shuffled past and yelling out to other runners.

“Nice splits,” I yelled to the bloke as the banana, managing to merge the genre of running gags and dad jokes in one groanworth­y moment.

By the last kilometre, I got my second or third wind and the idea of a flat white was driving me towards the finish line.

Then I realised that people along the route were cheering with excitement. I had the banana hot on my tail. The crowd were mad for B1, while I was mad to beat B1.

It’s one thing to lose to a gorilla. It’s another to lose to a gorilla’s breakfast.

The sad thing about my final sprint to cross ahead of the fruit is that I don’t think he even knew he had driven me to extremes. And while I beat him to the line, a quick look at the race results (yes, I did check) revealed B2’s best mate ran faster than me on the day.

I salute you B1, you were the better man by a bunch.

With 88 days to The Sunday Mail Suncorp Bank Bridge to Brisbane and less than 14 weeks to the Melbourne marathon, I’m wondering if I should act the goat one more time.

I could run past people yelling: “I kid – you not”.

You don’t have to be a fruitcake to know running is fun but sometimes it helps to get you across the line.

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