Like many runners or cyclists do, I headed down to my local park one recent Saturday for a training session. With its vast expanse, ease of access and variety of terrain, it is a quite perfect place to train and consequently, attracts hundreds of fitness freaks on a weekly basis.I thought it was comforting and re-assuring to see so many other people out there just like me. Except that is until I spied Batman and Robin hurtling over the horizon.
As we are nearing marathon season, I suspect that the dynamic duo were testing out their superhero costumes before their big day this month. London would be my guess - I'm not sure if Gotham has a marathon.
I have never taken part in any race in a fancy dress costume and I doubt that I ever will. But my reasons for this stance have changed drastically. Before taking part in my first ever marathon, I always thought that people running in fancy dress were just not taking it seriously enough for my liking. They were attention-seekers and if they were doing it for a laugh, I just couldn't see the funny side. I knew most of them were doing it for charity, but do you have to resort to party wear to raise money for a good cause?
Frankly, I also suspected it was a cover for the fact that they were not serious runners who trained properly and their costume gave them a ready-made excuse for their poor running times. It was a stubbornly held view I held right until mile 18 of my first marathon when a Womble suddenly pulled alongside me. It didn't end there either and I had no choice but to watch as Uncle Bulgaria bounced happily into the distance, taking my pride with him. From that moment on, my admiration for the fancy dress runners soared.
To run 26.2miles in a furry, foam-packed costume takes real fitness and fortitude. I went from thinking 'I would never do that' to 'I could never do that'.
So when Fred Flintstone came stomping past me in the closing stages of last year's Brighton Marathon, I can't say I shouted 'Yabba-Dabba-Do', but I had a wry smile to myself, impressed by this rock hard runner.