At the start of this weekend, huge numbers of people were hoping to see Mo Farah become the first Briton to win the London Marathon in two decades. Unfortunately he was unable to do so, thoug, anyone with even the vaguest interest in athletics or long distance running knew he didn't really stand a chance.
But, even if Farah had done the unthinkable and completed the 26.2 mile course from Greenwich to the Mall in first position, he wouldn't have been the biggest winner of the weekend. No, the biggest and most important winner from the proceedings are the charitable organisations that have had people running in support of them.
Since its inception in 1981, the London Marathon has helped raise in excess of £600 million for charity, and with more and more people running every year, this figure will keep on climbing.
The people of Britain have been taught over many years, that giving to charity is hugely important. Be it through excruciating 'Telethons' like Comic or Sport Relief, or by being charged extra to vote on TV talent shows so some of the money can go to a charitable organisation, we, as a nation, understand and are used to the importance of giving money away to those less fortunate than ourselves.
But, let's be honest, sometimes the rigmarole that we have to go through in order for our conscience to be played on enough for us to give money, is just so annoying. Children in Need is basically TV's way of showing that they care for less fortunate people by doing a couple of hours extra filming with a giant, yellow, one eyed bear.
It may sound like I don't care for charities and that I am putting them and their work down, but that is not the case. All I'm saying is that there is a much better way to raise money for others which doesn't involve people demeaning themselves on a TV show that is almost as bad to watch as anything on ITV2.
This is why I say that the London Marathon is the greater of ways to enable people to give money. Children in Need may have raised around £100 million more in its extra year of being on the nation's radar, but it is very one-dimensional - 'we'll give you some cringe-worthy videos of TV stars and some sad videos of people in Africa, and all you have to do is give us money'.
Very honourable, but it doesn't give you the warm glow that comes with sponsoring someone to run the marathon, or better still, running it yourself. Sponsoring someone gives you two benefits, firstly you feel good because you have given to charity, but secondly you feel good because you've also helped someone you know, and probably love, sort their life out and get themselves to the peak of their own fitness. Giving these people the drive to run a marathon will help them to stay fit and healthy in the long run, and will change their lives. 'For there are two types of people in the world, those that have run marathons and those that have not.' (Paul Rutland - circa. 2014)
A story from this year's marathon typifies this. A man was interviewed by the BBC about eight miles into the race, and he told the reporter of his incredible story. "I have been training for the last nine months because I needed to sort my life out, and in that time I have lost eight and a half stone. Yes, 8.5 stone in nine months". And I dare say, the phone lines for his charity won't have stopped running since.
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