Basham cuts a dash at the marathon (and he’s only 74)

By ALAN FRAME
Chaps of a certain age are prone to various things: Nostalgia, long lunches with old pals at Joe Allen and wondering where it all went wrong for the Daily Express (of course, we all know the answer to that but writing about it will only bring on the madness again.) 

And sadly, we are very prone to prostate cancer. One of my best pals, Fleet Street (Mail, Telegraph and Times) and PR veteran Brian Basham, is indeed of that certain age. He’ll hit 75 this autumn and decided to raise money for prostate research; prostate cancer kills more men than breast cancer kills women yet receives half the funding. 

Basham has not suffered from it and thankfully nor have I. So my eejit chum, who had a heart attack three years ago, ran this year’s London Marathon raising thousands for Prostate Cancer UK. Now recovered — in fact he had a business meeting at 8.30 the following morning — this is his affectionate report:  

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BRIAN BASHAM, pictured out training, writes: It was the supporters that got me through. Standing at the edge of the road with the “Go Gerry Jogger!” placards: My almost godson Nick on his bike, Kath full of smiles with her beautiful wife Bella, my bouncing energy-fuelled daughter Kate, Bella’s smashing son Ruben, cool dude Donny, lovely adopted sister Janet, lissom fundraising helper Phoebe, my old mate Tony, his friend David and, of course, my sweet wife, Lynne.

The kids, too, holding out their hands to be touched and squealing with delight when I sprayed them with water. The Reggae music through Deptford in weird juxtaposition with a Northern Irish marching band. A traditional jazz group; the melodious bongo players; the National Youth Jazz orchestra; the incredible, deafening,  synchronised drumming under the A2 fly over. The joy and kindness in everyone’s faces. Even the drunks were lovely.  

I suspect that most of us couldn’t have made it without the mist showers along the way and the wonderful firemen with their hoses.  I think I sprayed as much water on my throbbing legs as I drank and it was fine to do that because I was so near the back of the pack.  

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In fact, there were gallons of liquid but a lot of it was Lucozade and nobody seemed to want it. The gutters were littered with thousands of discarded full and almost full bottles which had been tasted and thrown away. The yellow flood in the gutters looked as though a huge herd of cows had gone by peeing as they went. By the time we came to the Embankment I was hobbling but by then I had two beautiful young ladies, one on either side, carrying ‘Go Gerry Jogger!” signs and the crowds went wild. I think I’ll have to change my name to Gerry just to please the supporters.

 Everyone knows the Marathon is 26 miles but they forget the 385 yards.  I won’t because when I started training with Jacqueline last September I could only run 385 yards.  

 After 26 miles it’s still a daunting prospect. It’s the distance from Buckingham Palace to the finishing line towards Trafalgar Square, along the Mall. As I turned the corner I could see the timer ticking round at seven hours 59 minutes and I just had to get there before it went to eight hours.  

I don’t know where the energy came from but I managed to hobble, then heaved into a stumbling run and finally crossed the line at a reasonable sprint.  

At the end it was seven hours 59 minutes and 33 seconds and I’m as proud of those 33 seconds as I am of the whole race.



© 2005-2019 Alastair McIntyre