Running belts have in recent years become increasingly part of the marathon uniform. Part of this is due to how they have become more and more comfortable to carry round with you while part of this is due to the hangover of poor food and water stops that used to characterise many long runs.
There is nothing more annoying than coming to a drinks stop only to find dozens upon dozens of plastic cups lined up for you to take a drink from. Successfully drinking out of a plastic cups while running is about as easy as completing a crossword puzzle mid-stride.
First of all the impact of picking one up usually ensures that half the liquid is left either on your vest or on the road with your worst pick-up always reserved for the one stop which is an energy drink stop, meaning you’ll be covered with a sticky sweet substance until your sweat washes it off. Nice.
Then there is the attempt to drink it. This is something that is as impossible as turning lead into wine no matter what anyone tells you. Side ways, breaking them, squashing them, drinking them backwards or upside down. No matter what you do, you may as well be wearing windscreen wipers for the amount that will end up across your face.
I remember the best one was Connemarathon in 2008 when I made such a hames of the waterstop that I was so blinded for the next 50 metres I had to call out to my friend to help guide me forward!
Then of course there is the reason for belts to help keep you stocked with foods. While it would be great to have an army of people out servicing you throughout the race both practicality and the difficulty in meeting people en-route means there is always a good chance that you will miss someone and with that your food. Belts help prevent this.
However the problem with belts is that:
· They are weight that you have to carry with you.
· Though they might feel so much comfortable now then they did ten years ago, they still have the propensity of heading north (or south) meaning when you should be thinking of your stride or your poise you are foostering around with clips, belts or fastnerers.
· To the non-marathon running or udnerstanding public they do look a little silly.
Still sometimes the negatives out-weigh the positives and for that reason I’d expect to see more wearing them than not wearing them come Sunday fortnight. As for me, well I probably won’t. I think I’ll get away with two energy gels in the slight pockets by shorts can hold and then put my faith in supporters.