Run and Become

rab1

Run and Become: this project will take advantage of the inaugural Brighton Marathon, on Sunday April 18th 2010, to explore non-elite runners’ participation, with a film and text installation from the research by artist Matt Pagett.

It will focus on two features of this participation:
  • their motivations to run, and particularly the relationship between self- and other-focused motivations, such as running for charity
  • their experiences of transformation – in both their bodies and their sense of self – as they train for and complete the marathon.
The project runs conterminously with the final year Anthropology dissertation option on The Anthropology of the Body (http://www.sussex.ac.uk/anthropology/documents/body_spr09.pdf). Two students from this course, Jenni Human - BA Anthropology (year 3) and Sam Pepper - BA Anthropology with Spanish (year 3) are conducting interviews with runners on their motivations to run.

In order to capture the experiences of transformation – of both the self and the body – inherent in marathon running, the project is working a student who is training for the marathon; Adam Brickley - BSc Neuroscience (year 2).

As they train they are compiling a video diary of their experiences, expectations, motivations, concerns, or even injuries and will be interviewed by the researchers. Here, the focus will be the students perceptions of bodily and self-transformation as they train for the marathon, and their reflections on motivation – including the question of whether they would consider running for charity a better motivation than running for themselves.

Artist Matt Pagett will create a film and text installation of the project which will be exhibited in city locations.

Friday 9th to Saturday 31st July, group show at Grand Parade Gallery, University of Brighton and Monday 19th July to Saturday 31st, Run and Become installation at Jubilee Library, Brighton

Jon Mitchell

After a fairly fitful training programme, my last long run was really good.
18 miles well within the target for 3:30 marathon, so I was feeling up-beat, despite lingering cold symptoms that left me feeling like a cat with fur balls. I woke up early after a good night's sleep: none of the usual fitful stuff worrying that the alarm won't go off, and cycled down to the club to meet Tony and get the train from Falmer - which was full of runners. And there I revealed the gadget that I thought was going to scupper the whole thing.

For the marathon project I'm doing, I'd agreed to run at least some of the race with a head-cam. Having tried it out I was pretty sure I couldn't wear it for more than a few minutes at a time, because it sloshed around in an irritating way, and when I got hot, the head-band would feel too restrictive. No matter. We suffer for our art.

The start area had a great atmosphere. It was less crowded than I was expecting, and actually managed to see loads of people I knew. It really felt like being part of something local and important. Managed to argue myself into a better starting corral than my coloured number suggested.
Somehow they'd got me down for 4:30ish. I ended up standing in the start pen next to Tim Woodman who was pacing the 4 hour finishers. So, some work to do in the early miles, weaving through the slower people.

Then the wait - and the wait. Headcam on. Headcam off. Headcam on. In the distance a bang, and then slow walk - gradually picking up speed, then over the start. We're off.

Waiting in the pen there was no idea of the scale of the race, but then once we were on the course, there were just so many people watching, it was clear this was big. Tried to keep the pace going to hit the required 8 minute miles, and eased into things, trying to ignore the headcam and enjoy the moment.

Three things occupied my thoughts during the race. The first, how fantastic to have so much support. After spending so much time pounding the roads and the trails on my own, missing out on group bike rides and swim sessions (the social side) the race felt like a welcome back to the friendship and comradeship of the club and its wider network. I reckon the furthest I ran without seeing a familiar face was about 2 miles - in the whole 26. It was wonderful. Like being in a big and supportive family. The second, how quiet everything was. No road traffic noise. No air traffic noise - thanks to Eyjafjallajokull. Just the sound of trainers on tarmac; shouting and cheering from the spectators. And, the third, the headcam, which started rattling with each step; unbelievably irritating when it's so close to your right ear.

Thankfully, the battery ran out at about half-way, so I dropped the camera off with the next friendly face - thanks Emma - then somewhere between miles 17 and 19 my battery began to run out. Oh dear. This wasn't supposed to happen. Took a couple of clif gel blocks from the aid station on New Church Road, which perked me up, then off again. By this time, I was struggling to keep south of 8 minute miling; but quickly worked it out. I had time in the bag. 9's would be okay. Turn down to Shoreham Harbour.
Still hanging on. Then two things happened. First, my calves started to cramp. Every time I tried to kick a little, to get my time back up there, they tweaked. I'd have to be careful just to finish. Second, the good Brighton Marathon people - trying to be supportive - drew attention to the suffering, with banners 'The Road to Hell' and a plywood 'wall'. "I can see what they're doing", I thought, but the psychology was wrong. I wanted distraction. This drew my attention to the pain. Times ticking down.
Struggling now to hit 9:30 minutes - then down to 10. Back past millionaire's row - I wonder how Fat Boy's doing? Hove lawns prom. Picking up the pace. I can do this. Back to 9:30s. Back to 9 minutes. Back to the crowds. Back to the support. More mind games. This is the 10k finish. Pick it up. Ooops, watch those calves. 400m to go. 200m to go. I'm there. 3:37.
OK, missed the 3:30, but I have to be pleased with myself. Keep moving.
Medal. T-Shirt. Goody-bag. What do I do now?

I finished with an overwhelming feeling of relief. But also that I needed to start replacing some of the stuff that I'd just used up. Bananas seemed a good idea. Bad idea. I was to see those again within the hour. Bumped into Gary Gadget who'd nailed 3:29, and we hobbled, then sat, on the seafront. Feeling the effort. Feeling our age. Job done.