My Rolling Stones marathon: a race in memory of Charlie Watts

Those racing drivers of old would have been revving in their graves at the speeds we clocked up at the weekend.

Monday, 27th September 2021, 11:07 am
Goodwood Motor Circuit is a unique spot for a marathon

But what a wonderful event the Running Grand Prix’s series of running races were at Goodwood Motor Circuit on Sunday – from 5k to a marathon and plenty of distances in between.

The organisation was exemplary; the friendliness of everyone put a spring in all our steps.

Eleven laps for the marathon was gruelling, especially as you could see the finishing medals all laid out on a table 11 times as you passed. But what seemed cruel for the first few laps was actually an incentive for the last few. And is there any other marathon where you run around a slice a green from which planes and helicopters are constantly taking off?

A medal - and that Rolling Stones T-shirt

There was pleasure too in all the grandstands dotted around the course. They were empty. This wasn’t a marathon for spectators. But in all their emptiness the stands hinted at the astonishingly rich history of the place.

But for me, the fascination in a race is much more what’s going on in the minds of the runners. Running is a public undertaking, but more than that, it’s a personal decision. And this was definitely one of the most personal I have run.

My 41st marathon was the perfect chance to fulfill a sudden and very recent need – to run my very own Charlie Watts Memorial Marathon. What an extraordinary band. I’ve loved them for more than 40 years and what an extraordinary impact they have had on my life, through thick and thin.

It was huge consolation that I was wearing my favourite Rolling Stones T-shirt on the day I was stabbed and found myself lying helpless in an expanding pool of blood (and every drop mine) five years ago.

The boys have always been there. And now Charlie has gone, the quiet genius.

Running 26.2 miles with The Rolling Stones blaring in my earholes every step of the way seemed the obvious tribute. Goodwood, and I will always be grateful, provided the precisely the occasion. But it was funny that so many of the songs I listened to in my own little world seemed so wonderfully appropriate…

Start Me Up – obvs!

Hot Stuff – I can’t believe I am still so gorgeous in lycra

Happy – running is consistently the biggest distance I can ever put between me and PTSD

Around And Around – the marathon was 11 laps of Goodwood Motor Circuit

Sympathy For The Devil – my life is good; the guy who stabbed me was clearly having a rubbish time

Tumbling Dice – couldn’t think of a connection, but it is such brilliant song

Before They Make Me Run – a bit late for that one

Not Fade Away – well, I did a bit towards the end

The Last Time – there will always come a point in a marathon where you think never again…

Jumping Jack Flash – my startle reflex is still insanely, embarrassingly off the top of the scale

Let It Bleed – maybe not think too much about that one!

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – my PB is still sadly 14 years ago

Heartbreaker – yep, me in my lycra again

You Can’t Always Get What You Want – it’s that PB again

Emotional Rescue – it’s what running does for me

Don’t Stop – obvs again

You Gotta Move – ditto

Doom And Gloom – well, not really – great event, delighted to be part of it

Midnight Rambler – but if I had been out there much longer…

Can You Hear The Music – yep, 26.2 miles of The Rolling Stones

Salt Of The Earth – just love being with other runners

Time Waits For No One – would have been nice to have been faster

Gimme Shelter – one mile to go

It’s All Over Now – finished!

Respectable – my finish time, it was alright

Shattered – yep, pretty knackered

Rip This Joint – head home…

Sleep Tonight – I certainly hope so