Belfast Telegraph

Why short cuts will always pay off in the long run

By Robert McNeill

Hats off to 69-year-old Anthony Gaskell for showing initiative during his record-breaking run in the Londonshire Marathon: he took a shortcut.

Now Anthony has been stripped off his “fastest pensioner” title.

Anthony’s escapade reminded me of a time at my state school, where those of us who declined to play rugby were made to go on a long run round the streets.

A fine collection of saps, smokers and rebels set off in ill-fitting shorts and inappropriate footwear, waddling, hirpling, and oozing along, to the dismay of passing shoppers, who must have thought it a fun-run by the incurably distressed.

Of course, it was anything but fun and, soon, a small group of the most experienced and calculating skivers — among which I modestly counted myself — split off from the main group and took a shortcut. We even had time for the smokers to enjoy a leisurely pipe before, alerted by the laughter of spectators in the distance, we spied our more bovine colleagues blundering along in a cloud of exhaustion, and resumed the race 80 yards in front of them.

Best of all, we shoved the least fit bloke to the front so that he appeared to come waddling in first. I always accounted it a great sporting success.

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