Saturday, 14 April 2012

Why I'm looking forward to Brighton's marathon tomorrow

I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's Brighton Marathon.

Not because I'll be repeating my feat of running it in 2010 (evidence left!) - I was glad to raise more than £600 for the Brighton Unemployed Families Centre, and I'm proud of the physical achievement too, but I'm not surprised the first recorded marathon runner (Pheidippides) dropped dead after completing his run and, for me at least, once in a lifetime is enough.

No, I'm looking forward to it mainly because the city has something of a swagger when it hosts major events, people will be smiling (whatever the weather) - and, of course, as many worthy charities will raise a few bob. Many runners will achieve something they've always wanted to too: there'll be a few life-changing experiences in the air.

Of course many of the city's roads will be closed, and there'll be far fewer cars and buses around. That will make it harder for some to get around, and some local businesses will suffer sever disruption and loss of custom. Many more will see a boost in trade, as thousands of supporters and runners head to the city. Such are the swings and roundabouts of living or doing business in a great city of international importance like Brighton and Hove.

Operating in a regional centre is great for business. But it does sometimes mean that business gets disrupted by the events that go with being such a city. I'm sure that, on balance, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages though, whether the event is a popular one like Brighton Marathon or the Pride parade or a less popular one like the next week's March for England or an international squatters' event.

I thought it quite telling that yesterday The Argus contacted me to say that  the March for England, and the presence of anti-fascist counter-demonstrators, are making some traders worried for their takings - but there was no mention at all of the certain disruption tomorrow's marathon will cause.

Of course some businesses (mainly the pubs serving lager to the fascists) will benefit greatly from next weekend's march: but I hope most, whose takings will likely be down, will see this as part of the price they must pay to live and trade in a regional centre in a functioning democracy and join those of us who will be trying lawfully to persuade the fascists to take their march elsewhere next year.

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