Walking up London’s Edgware Road yesterday, I spotted that somebody had decided to name a suitably urban subway after the late, great Joe Strummer, lead singer of 1970s/80s punk icons The Clash. As my daydreaming shifted back to thoughts of what running I might be doing later that day, I suddenly remembered a story I’d otherwise forgotten. In 1982, after poor ticket sales for the band’s Combat Rock Tour, their manager hatched a plot for Joe to suddenly go missing to generate a bit of publicity.
The plan was for him to fly off to America but I guess that as the band were “so bored with the USA”, Joe ignored instructions and hot-footed it to Paris. While hiding out in the French capital, Strummer claimed to have got around to running the “French Marathon” which later turned out to be the one in Paris. Joe’s training for this iconic event? A 16 week Runner’s World “Sub 4:00” plan with lots of cross training and carefully scheduled rest days? No, the Strummer Strategy was:
You really shouldn’t ask me about my training, regime, you know….Okay, you want it, here it is: Drink 10 pints of beer the night before the race. Ya got that? And don’t run a single step at least four weeks before the race … But make sure you put a warning in this article, ‘Do not try this at home.’ I mean, it works for me and Hunter Thompson, but it might not work for others. I can only tell you what I do.
So are these the key elements of the perfect if radical marathon training schedule? Extreme hydration following an extreme taper? The jury’s out because there’s an element of doubt over whether Joe actually completed the 26.2 miles. In pre-internet days I guess you might have been lucky to track down your results in a local newspaper, none of this permanent record on the website business we take for granted today. Unfortunately neither Joe’s stage or real name appear in any official results.
However, presumably buoyed up by his Parisian challenge, there are photos of Joe taking part in the 1983 London Marathon with an actual race number. Although you shouldn’t believe everything you read in newspapers, it seems that Joe was somehow sponsored by The Sun who claim he completed the course in 4 hours and 13 minutes (nice vest by the way).
Anyhow, it goes without saying that Joe Strummer, spokesperson of a generation and alleged marathon-man, we salute you!
For a comprehensive analysis of Joe Strummer’s running career, check out this site.