The Thing Is with Steve Canavan

Liz Canavan after running the 2018 London Marathon with husband Steve and their daughter Mary
Liz Canavan after running the 2018 London Marathon with husband Steve and their daughter Mary
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After months of training, whining about having sore knees, wearing borderline offensive lycra outfits, and suffering from chafing in bits you really don’t want chafed, Mrs Canavan ran – well, staggered – the London Marathon at the weekend.

The downside for me was that I had to go and watch.

Now I don’t wish to be labelled unsupportive here, for I am as supportive as any husband could be

Indeed when Mrs Canavan recently underwent minor surgery, I gave her permission to miss doing the housework for the day.

But it was her choice to do the marathon. She wanted to, which is fine. But why must I give up my weekend traipsing to London to see it?

All she’s doing is running, a basic everyday thing, like going to the toilet, and she wouldn’t ask me to watch her do that – well, not unless she has a strange fetish I’ve yet to learn about.

I graciously attempted to reach a compromise by telling her I’d watch on the TV.

However, she made clear that not going with her wasn’t an option (she did this by threatening to batter me with the rolling pin) and so I realised there was no way out of it.

And it turned out to be a long day.

I was woken in our hotel room at 6.30am by a wheezing noise and glanced over the top of the duvet cover to witness Mrs Canavan doing a series of energetic squat thrusts and stretches, while our one-year-old, Mary, looked on quizzically from her cot.

Mrs C departed off to the start line early.

My job was to join the crowds lining the route, to cheer on my beloved at various points as she wobbled by.

She had marked on a map, in yellow highlighter pen, the places I was to get to – which was at the six, 11, 17 and 24-mile stages (you can’t get near the finishing line as it’s sealed off to the public).

With Mary strapped to my chest, and a worryingly heavy rucksack on my back, I headed to the Tube station and studied a map of the London Underground, which resembled several pieces of coloured spaghetti thrown together in random fashion and was harder to fathom than the Enigma Code.

Fortunately a family of five from Doncaster, all wearing ‘Go Amy Go’ T-shirts, arrived, kindly took me under their wing and guided me to my destination.

Once there I took up a position on the pavement and glanced at my watch. It was 9.25am. The race started at 10am. I was at the six-mile stage. Which meant that Mrs Canavan would – considering it takes half an hour to actually get over the start line because there are so many runners – be passing at around 11.30.

I stood in the baking hot sun for two hours, smearing so much sun tan cream over Mary that she looked part albino, part alien, and watched approximately 25,000 runners go past.

Eventually, Mrs Canavan lumbered into sight. ‘Liz, Liz,’ I shouted, mainly because Liz is her name. She couldn’t hear me amid the noise of the other spectators.

‘Liz. LIZ. LIZZZZZZZZ’, I screeched, so loudly that Mary covered her ears and began sobbing

Mrs Canavan, however, didn’t even so much as glance in my direction.

I had spent two hours getting heat-stroke to be ignored. Cheesed off doesn’t quite cover it.

Grabbing all my gear and apologising to Mary for almost deafening her, I spent 55 exhausting minutes trying to make it to the next spot at Tower Bridge. This was not easy as there were hordes of other people attempting to do the same.

I was crafty, therefore, and decided to use a pedestrian tunnel I’d spotted on my map that went under the Thames. This was a longer walk, and under a blazing sun and with Mary on my front I was beginning to ache a little, but I felt it was worth it to avoid the crowds.

I got to the tunnel entrance. ‘Can’t come in here mate,’ said a large man with Marathon Steward on his vest. ‘Tunnel’s closed this side – you can only get in from the other bank’.

I took a moment to digest this bombshell. “So you’re telling me I can only enter the tunnel from the other side of the River Thames.

“Well how the hell am I meant to get to the other side if I can’t get in?” I asked in exasperated fashion.

‘Oh that’s simple,’ he said, pointing to his left, ‘you can go over Tower Bridge about two miles in that direction.’

I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or take my own life on the spot.

Suffice to say I missed Mrs Canavan passing. This was going disastrously so I opted to play it safe and head for the 24-mile spot.

By this point I had been on my feet for six hours and felt more exhausted than if I had been running the race itself.

I waited and waited and – something which doesn’t say much about Mrs Canavan’s athletic prowess – saw a man dressed as a tree and a bloke doing the entire marathon while continuously juggling four balls run by before finally, mercifully, Mrs Canavan came into sight.

‘LIZZZZZZ’ I shrieked at a volume so loud I daresay they heard me in Manchester. She looked over, limped sweatily towards me, kissed Mary lovingly at length, turned to me and barked, ‘where the bloody hell have you been?’, then tottered off again.

I’ll be honest, it wasn’t the kind of gratitude I’d been hoping for.

I was on the move once again myself then, headed for the meet and greet area near Buckingham Palace.

Mrs Canavan did the 26.2 miles in five hours and two minutes in sweltering heat, got a medal, and raised more than £2,500 for the Children’s Society.

I walked approximately 47.5 miles, also in sweltering heat, carrying a child and a large bag, and received only mild disdain.

Such is life.