Anyhow, the epiphany I ‘thought’ I had involved running. As in, I thought I had a real talent for it.
Up to this point, my running career had consisted of running away from my mum upon hearing the jaunty phrase “bath-time!” – and towards the ice-cream van, whose dulcet siren has whipped up a rabid frenzy of excitement amongst kids (and adults, though they’ll never admit it) since the dawn of time.
Aside from that, my physical activity was limited to gymnastics (see HC #19) and riding toy milk floats like a surfer… sometimes into brick walls (I have the scar from a broken nose to prove it).
But back to that epiphanic (I may have created a new word there) moment.
It came when I did battle with 49 or so other seven-year-olds (boys) at Holywell County Primary School in Loughboro, England. In a cross-country trial race. With Grade 3 pride on the line. If only it had been sponsored by Mr. Whippy.
The actually running part of that event is something of a hazy blur. But I came in 6th, having no real previous form. And I beat Alex Doidge (just; he was 7th), who did. At least down the line.
Doidge, or Dodger as he was originally nicknamed, was perhaps an undiscovered talent back in the spring of 1980 – and flew somewhat under the radar in the trial race. But he would turn out to be one of the best cross-country running seven-year-olds in the county; emerging as Loughboro’s own Haile Gebrselassie.
So his would turn out to be quite the scalp.
In my defence (for beating him), I was skinny at the time. Which I’ve since learned is an asset when running – particularly cross-country. And, little did I know that my shape was about to change.
Some six months after the trial – and having been inked in as a proud member of the 1980 Holywell cross-country draft – I got a bit fat. I mean, not resembling Jabba the Hutt or anything. Just a tad tubby.