Nuala McCann: Forget ironing your undies up mountains – extreme sport is what Eddie Izzard just did

I bow before the altar of anyone who has just done what Eddie Izzard has. All down the years, the spirit of the long distance runner has called to me... I just could never answer the call

Eddie Izzard finishes his Sport Relief challenge of running 27 marathons in 27 days at the Mandela statue in Pretoria on Sunday

I AM in awe of Eddie Izzard. I was never a real fan of his humour or his taste in high heels, but I bow before the altar of anyone who has just done what he has.

There is doing your bit for a good cause – I’d dye my hair blue, walk a few miles and pop a few coins in a box – but I’m not sure I could ever willingly do what he has done.

And that involves running 27 marathons in 27 days – Izzard had to take a day out so he chalked up two marathons on the final day – and that to me, is simply amazing.

Forget bringing your ironing board up impossible mountains just so you can iron your undies on the peak. Forget all that parkour – the French sexy thing of running up buildings – extreme sport is what Izzard did.

Even watching someone do two marathons is a mission too far for me.

There was a time when some might have called me the giant puff marshmallow woman – if you don’t remember Ghostbusters, then the comparison is lost.

Suffice to say, I was white – fake tan was in its infancy and tended towards the oompa loompa, well tangoed look back then – but I wobbled and I puffed.

Once in the long distance past, four of us set out to jog around the university area and it nearly killed me. After half a mile, I limped home and collapsed in front of the The Thorn Birds on the old telly suffering the kind of cramps that led me never to venture out in leggings again.

The interesting fact is that, circa the same period, on an infamous student party night, I raced a fella around to the off-licence just as the closing time hour was about to strike.

It was a 10-minute race and I beat him. Reader, I beat him. The laugh was that he was a marathon runner and I was certainly never ever one of those. But it’s amazing what the lure of a Blue Nun or a Black Tower can do as they are clanging down the metal shutters on the local offie.

So running has never been my thing, but when needs must.

Eddie, interviewed after his mammoth task, said he couldn’t stand up right and he had a blister. He did manage to sip from a bottle of Champagne and no-one deserved it more.

And he also raised £1.3m for Sport Relief.

He would continue to run, he said – he didn’t call it jogging, it was more like loping that he did.

Some people said he’d have to come down after that great high you get after 27 marathons. As if too many people would know what that was like.

Apparently, it’s that Neil Armstrong moment – once you’ve been to the moon, everything else is dull. You know that Major Tom, sitting in a tin can, view of the earth.

Eddie finished off his final marathon by saying: “ Just don’t try this at home.”

Not a chance, Eddie.

Personally, I adopt the stagger – a few steps and a stagger – gliding gracefully is just not possible. Not that I don’t try. All down the years, the spirit of the long distance runner has called to me... I just could never answer the call.

It has something to do with a rather rapid heart rate. They took into the hospital one time and stuck me on a treadmill. Yes, they noted, I ran and I ran a little more and up my heart soared, just like that.

“Wow,” they said.

“Be still my beating heart,” I almost joked.

“What should I do?” I asked.

“Just don’t run,” came the reply.

So that marathons are a no no. Yes, I can walk and, indeed, have walked 10 miles on marathon day in aid of my god-daughter’s school – Yeah, Come on Knockevin. But I’m not about to repeat it.

Even that was a feat that did for my back.

Sticking power, that’s what you need. And on this Easter Saturday, I’m hanging my head in shame.

Whilst thousands of children and even adults across Ireland have managed to abstain from the Mars bars and the dolly mixtures and the whiskey sours, I’m not sure I managed more than a couple of days.

The spirit was willing but the flesh was oh too weak.

Resolution, that’s what I need. I shall spell it out in tomorrow’s chocolate buttons – and devour the lot. Lent is officially over.


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