A good laugh can help in a difficult or tough situation like running a marathon.
Bob Hope describes the power of laughter well:
"I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful."
I was interested to hear a stand up comedian describe his experience in the London Marathon. How did he manage to see the funny side? Can his experience teach us anything useful?
In 2004, Jasper Carrott spoke to an audience in Birmingham. At one point he described his experience in the London marathon. This is roughly what he said:
"A few years ago, I ran the London marathon. It seemed a good idea after about 6 pints of Guinness. And then I woke up and realised what I had committed myself to.
And its 26 miles…26 miles!! And I thought the only way I could contemplate running 26 miles would be to involve a nude chase with Pamela Anderson.
The best piece of advice I had was to 'start slow and get slower.'
Everybody warned you about the wall. I wasn't worried about hitting the wall. I was worried about hitting the road!
They put the elite at the front, then the club runners, then the tossers and at the back all the people dressed up as ostriches etc
I'm wearing a body bag to save time at the other end. It took me 7 and a half minutes to get to the starting line.
All sorts of people took part - London cabbies - I didn't know they could run and all these old people of 85 and 90.
One bloke ran the whole marathon playing a trombone and after playing the same tune over and over again he hit the wall a lot sooner than he thought.
At 19 and a half miles I hit the wall and became a daddy long legs.
At 22 and a half miles all the old geezers and old women overtook me. This woman said "Are you alright young man?!"
Anyway I finished it. I finished in 4 hrs 37 minutes."
Another comic, Jo Brand, is running in the 2005 London Marathon. Her target is anything less than eleven and a half days.
Jasper completed the run but had a good laugh either at the same time or later as he reflected on the experience.
Seeing the funny side of the marathon helped not only him but all who have listened to his description of the run since.
Can we learn anything from his experience of the Marathon? Definitely!
Jasper was ready to laugh at himself and his own inadequacies. This attitude can help anyone relax and do better when they are faced with a huge challenge.
He was not embarrassed by taking a long time completing the marathon. He was prepared to do something he was not good at. Many people will not do anything that they cannot come first in.
The elite runners seem to be sprinting in a marathon. The others seem to be jogging and the great majority are just staggering along. The less talented runners could easily get jealous and embarrassed and give up. However, they usually accept their limitations and keep going.
This can happen in any walk of life. Some people streak ahead in business and start making money almost immediately; others take years. The slow ones just need to keep on putting one foot in front of another and not get too depressed by the smart alecs who seem to know everything after a few days.
Above all, Jasper finished the marathon. As Marlon Sanders, the great internet guru from Texas says: "If a thing ain't done, it ain't done!" You can't sell an unfinished product. An incomplete website is no use to anyone.
Even if we start slow and get slower and even if we hit the wall and are overtaken by others, and even if we take eleven days, we are still champions if we can manage to finish a difficult and challenging task.
Remember the tortoise and the hare.