Sat at the traffic lights I was crossing was a monster, a red giant, filled with commuting minions all crowing at me in disgust at my Lycra clad form, Bus 9 – the arch nemesis of UltraBoy. I stopped, crouched down a little and waited for the lights to turn in his favour and then we both set off.
It started last week when I was looking to do some speedier running, rebuild the pace that has been slowly but surely deserting me. The number 9 bus runs from Hammersmith (work) to Charing Cross (commute to station) it’s about 8.45km and a bit more for me as I’ve got to get to the start line. It wasn’t planned but as I was stood there looking at it I decided that I could probably get to my station faster than the bus could.
As the lights turned the bus set off, unaware it was now in a race. There was no point in me sprinting past it as it would only overtake me and i’d be burning up precious energy. The bus therefore slid out of view and headed towards Olympia. In my favour the bus had to stop for passengers and as it made its first scheduled stop I did hit the afterburner – if I could stay ahead here that would be amazeballs. Sadly the driver dipped ahead and the traffic lights were in his favour. I smiled at the bus conductor and he returned it, perhaps he knew I was racing the bus?
As we reached Olympia my feet picked up and I caught my nemesis who had gotten caught behind some cyclists and I was able to push on – this would be vital in the race as the section up toward Kensington High Street would be a fast section for him and slow for me if traffic was coming in and out of the side roads.
I arrived at his next stop first but there was only 1 person waiting so it was a quick stop for him. I was dodging in and out of pedestrians and leaping as quickly as possible over the roads – but as we reached the Kensington Odeon I felt it was all over – he broke infront of me and I had no response.
Unburdened by the fact I had lost I started to improve my form, increase my speed and even open my stride out and in a strange twist I saw the conductor again – I’d caught them and both of us now faced heavier traffic and traffic light problems – but I had the lead.
Bye bye Urban Outfitters, adios Kensington Gardens, I was off. ‘MeeMeep’ I cried as I thrust myself through the throng of onlookers. One foot after another, one stride after another – go faster – the incline up out of Kensington past the Albert Hall would mean he’ll probably catch me and then on the downhill to KnightsBridge it would all be over because the roads are clear.
I glanced over my shoulder at the arrivals board on the next bus stop – 9, ‘due’. I reached the edge of Hyde Park and knew that I could use the downhill for speed. Movescount records me striding down here at more than 21km per hour (inadvisable given my glute status). I was flying and the bus was a distant memory. In my head I was setting new targets ‘stay ahead to Piccadilly’ and as I ground my way up to Hyde Park Corner I could see the twinkle of the bus far away.
At Piccadilly we would both get caught in traffic again and as I purposefully banged down and up the steps of the underpass at Hyde Park Corner I could smell victory (as well as urine, well it is an underpass!)
The Ritz… I was still in the lead, glancing over my shoulder I could just about make out what I thought was my rival. From here it would be impossible to catch me, I had the advantage in the way traffic flowed but with my race face on I wanted to see if I could run faster.
Trafalgar Square… still leading. Sprint finish? Why not. Zoom zoom I went and came to a halt outside the little Mexican Buritto place and then I waited.
Several minutes passed before my number 9 went past me but go past me it did, probably blissfully unaware of what had just happened to it. I’d won, but the real win is how I felt afterwards and that was amazing.
I did wonder if I was lucky so I did it again last night – it’s now 2-0 to Ultraboy