31 Jan

V Sign

40 Road Sign

I am about to become a whole lot more familiar with the letter V (writes Chris Broadbent).

When at school it was a good sign. A red-inked ‘V’ preceding a ‘good’ in my exercise book was always a welcome sight. Later in life, ‘V’ has indicated something on the restaurant menu my wife would choose, whilst I plumped for the steak. Thus far, it’s fair to say V has been a fairly minor part of my life. But in the coming weeks, it is all set to take a much more significant role. And all because I am a runner.

From mid-February, V will be an ever-present factor. On entry lists, in results, on on-line running profiles, V will be there. Right beside my name. Every time. The big 4-0 descends and I officially become a Veteran of the running world.

On the one hand I hate the change. Veteran? Veterans have been to war, haven’t they? Or it is a word applied to sportsmen, most commonly footballers, who are nearing the end of their career. A less insulting way of saying they are for the knackers’ yard. I am neither of the above. I am no ex-soldier and I would like to think I still have some personal bests that can yet be improved. Yet, a veteran I will now be termed.

I guess I could get upset about it, but I think it’s just the word I don’t care much for. The truth is, I think I might enjoy the new status. Perhaps turning 40 could even refresh my running life and even open some new doors? Who knows, with some extra commitment to training, I might even get a sniff at some of the prizes at races as an individual or as part of a veteran team? Maybe, just maybe I might even be tempted to give track running a go?

I have long fancied a shot at the middle distance events. But it didn’t feel right starting to compete at 800m and 1500m in my mid-30s against all the 20-somethings. What would I think I was up to? Making a late bid for the Olympics? But competing against over 40-somethings? Yes, that sounds competitive and fun too. And on the roads, I have sometimes winced when I have seen several Vs appearing above my name on the results. Now the boot is on the other foot. I can enjoy looking at all the non-Vs I beat.

V? It might not be so bad after all. V stands for 'Vitality'.