Dreadful saddle positioning.

Stablemate Andrew “Kiwi” Thompson showed Valencia just what a flightless Apteryx can do when he battered a stonking nine minutes and nine seconds off his 42.2K best to clock 2:49:50! 

The 40-year-old pint-sized New Zealander came home 2,782nd out of gazillions and 528th mid-life crisée!

Ally “the Chin” Smith had just left the Santo Cáliz chapel when the furry fruit crossed the line: 

Ally: How’s it going, mate? Felt better than 300-odd loops around a track, I bet? 

Andrew: I had a really disrupted build-up, getting sick four times in the 12-week block (and a lingering sinus problem in the days leading up). So it wasn’t the best preparation, despite managing to do the “Stazza Special” session of 29km at MP successfully four weeks out. So I went in a bit low on confidence, but with some small rays of hope. 

Ally: A glimmer is better than nothing. Go on

Andrew: Hard from the start—absolutely zero free km, but I settled in and kept it chill. Started to worry that my Garmin was giving me false confidence in my pace, as the km markers and the distance on my watch drifted further apart in the first half, which led to my pushing too hard in the middle third. Had a moment of strange euphoria at 32km that I was almost there, followed by the crashing reality that 10km is still a very long way to go. Did all I could to limit my time loss, and despite the wheels nearly falling off in the last 2km brought it home just under my goal time of 2:50.

Ally: Jeezo. You didn’t half make it hard for yourself, but you got it done, mate! Superb effort after a shaky build-up and a hell of a race. Anything else? 

Andrew: Meant to do London in April, but I’ve deferred. Sick of marathons and sick of being sick! So it’s the Hendy Eastleigh 10K in March and then the North Downs Way 100 in August! 

Ally: I get it, mate—nothing worse than losing the mojo. But I bet you’ll be back better than ever soon enough. 

Andrew: You can count on it! 

Mojo a go-go.

General Puffball was about to head out the News office when he heard some strange scratching coming from above the fireplace: 

“When Stazza got stuck up the chimney, he began to shout /

‘You girls and boys won’t get any toys /

If you don’t pull me out /

My beard is black /

There’s soot in my sack /

My nose is tickling too’ /

When Stazza got stuck up the chimney /

A-choo, a-choo, a-choo!”

Stazza: Puffers! Get me out of here! 

Puffball: A quick quip about Thompson’s Valencia victory first. 

Stazza: A gutsy run from the man from Hobbit land … Battling sinus infection … And his watch gave him more strife than I’m in now … A sterling effort, indeed! 

Puffball: Right. Now where’s that chimney sweep’s number?