Home » All posts » How I’ll remember my first half-marathon: sick kids, accidents and a toddler goes missing


The run itself was fine. I’ll even go as far as to say that I almost enjoyed it. But precious little else went to plan. In fact, the weekend went from bad to worse, and then some.

We travelled from Leeds to Peterborough OK on Friday. We got to Julie & Ed’s house OK (Julie had roped me in to joining her for this half-marathon on Sunday). We had dinner, and that went OK. We got the kids to bed OK – including their little girl (4), and two-year-old son, H.

Then it all started going wrong.

First, Moth threw up. Then Grub threw up. This, along with diarrhoea, tossing and turning, continued through the night. I didn’t get much sleep.

Saturday’s plans were abandoned. I spent most of the day sitting down, with first one, then another, hot, pale and listless child on my lap.

By Sunday morning, the boys had rallied. We headed into Peterborough for the race. About 20 minutes to the start, Julie and I went to find a loo, leaving the children with their dads. When we came out, little H had gone missing.

Thousands of runners and supporters were gathering for the start of the race. There was a lot of noise, laughter, music, cheering and clapping, and someone on a loudspeaker was revving the crowd up. Among all this, yellow-jacketed race officials had sprung into walkie-talkie action, and a massive search for little H was underway. More police were already on their way in, they said. From the bench where I was minding the three other children, I could see Julie, looking frantically around, her hands clasped to her face, as she tried to push through the crowd streaming towards the start. I thought that it was unlikely we would be running ourselves.

H was finally found more than a quarter of an hour later. We managed to get to the start with barely two minutes to spare. Julie, shot through with adrenalin, ran the race of her life. I did good, too (2hrs 05, for the sake of posterity).

We got back to their house, proud, relieved and exhausted. I showered and got our stuff packed up, ready to catch our train back to Leeds. And then we sat down for some lunch.

Grub and Moth went to play in the garden. With Ed’s golf clubs.

The boys been given very clear rules about these. But half an hour later, we were back in Peterborough – this time in A&E, getting Moth’s minor head injury steri-stripped. I was wracked with guilt, my clothes stained with blood and sick and, by now, wrung out.

All of that – sickness, accidents, wandering toddlers – well, it just goes with the territory of parenting. Let’s say that several lessons were learned (mine: act on my instincts). We managed to get home, leaving behind some felt-tips, a book … and, we heard later, the nasty bug.

But what really wiped out the last vestiges of pleasure out of the entire weekend was the news I heard in A&E: that two runners had died during the half-marathon. And now I have nothing more to say.

1 Comment

  1. Mandy says:

    Bloody hell! What a weekend. You did good, girl. I’ve just wasted 2 hrs trying to create a gravatar. Eager to see if it shows up here.

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