Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Marathon Men

Rhodri Morgan may not have made it as a Minister at Westminster but he left his mark in other ways.

Not just as the rebel without a pause in the lengthy debates over the Cardiff Bay barrage or his role as an effective opposition frontbencher, but his running has secured him a place in an unusual "hall of fame".

The Welsh First Minister remains the fourth fastest sitting MP in the London Marathon. Morgan completed the 26-mile and 385-yards course in a respectable 3hrs 14mins 44secs in 1988, at the age of 48.

He is 20 minutes faster than any other Welsh MP past or present. Chris Bryant, Alan Howarth, Alun Michael, Stephen Crabb, Albert Owen and Keith Best are among those to have run it.

Their efforts were celebrated at a dinner at a swanky London restaurant in January. Author and runner John Bryant reports: "And there was a toast to Mike Steele, who has run 11 marathons. An Australian who has worked as a journalistin the Westminster Lobby {largely for ITV Wales}, he is always talking another fresh-faced MP into tackling the greatest race on earth."

Mike has acted as unofficial "chief whip" to the running MPs - and also sorted entries for parliamentary hacks like me who lost out in the general ballot.

One of those "fresh-faced MPs", Chris Bryant, is running his third marathon later this month. The deputy leader of the Commons is running this year to raise funds for the Army Benevolent fund and you can sponsor him here.

Fitness permitting, I'll be joining him on the streets of London for what will be my 10th (and, Mrs C tells me, my last) marathon. Next year, by way of mid-life crisis, I'll be saving up for the little red sports car and leather jacket.

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