Pretty Woman

It’s probably a man thing, but it always saddens me when a pretty woman dies. Like this one.

London Marathon runner Claire Squires, who died just one mile from the finishing line

hairdresser Claire, 30, … fell to the ground as she made her way along Birdcage Walk, near St James’ Park, on the final stretch of the 26.2 mile course.

Claire, from North Kilworth in Leicestershire, was given medical attention by paramedics but died at the scene yesterday afternoon, organisers said.

I know Birdcage Walk quite well. I used to work in Westminster 40 years ago, and on lunch breaks I’d often cross Birdcage Walk to get to sit out on St James’ Park. And that makes it all the more poignant.

And in the photo of her, wearing her running kit, she looks so beautiful, and so happy.

But she’s not the first person to drop dead during a marathon run, and she won’t be the last.

Ms Squires’s death was the 10th since the London Marathon began in 1981.

Five of the previous fatalities were a result of heart disease in runners apparently unaware that they had a problem. Four of these were cases of severe coronary heart disease.

The last competitor to die before yesterday was a 22-year-old fitness instructor in 2007.

And yet you don’t have to think about it for more than about 5 seconds to realise that running a 26 mile marathon is something that imposes enormous stresses on a human frame. You’re pushing yourself to the limits of your physical capacity. You’re stressing your muscles, your bones, your heart, your lungs, everything. And the health risks are well recognised. In fact, you might even say that if you want to kill yourself, running a marathon is a pretty good way to set about it. Much better than smoking, which takes about 40 years to kill people off, if it kills anyone at all. And bear in mind of course that the very first marathon runner, Philippides, also dropped dead at the finish line.

Philippides, the one who acted as courier, is said to have used it first in our sense when he brought the news of victory from Marathon and addressed the magistrates in session when they were anxious how the battle had ended ; “Joy to you, we’ve won” he said, and there and then he died, breathing his last breath with the words “Joy to you”.

And she was sponsoring a charity. You can see its name in the photo. The Samaritans. That’s the charity for depressed and suicidal people to contact before they kill themselves. Ironic, isn’t it? She kills herself trying to help a charity that tries to stop people killing themselves.

And the charity (and it’s a genuine charity, this one) has been raking in money since the news of her death. In fact, reading the Mirror report, you’d think that this was the only story that really mattered. Her own website had a few hundred pounds donated yesterday, but a little over 24 hours after her death it has risen to £205,000.

In fact pretty much all the news coverage seems to be about how much money she’d pulled in, and not the tragedy of her death.

She enjoyed running. I can’t see why anyone would want to do it, but if people enjoy running, then they should be able to run all they like, even if it kills them.

It’s the awful hypocrisy of it all that gets me. They ban smoking in pubs because of the negligible/non-existent health risks, citing an entirely fictitious death toll, but they encourage people to run marathons, even when one runner actually dies every other year, and dozens collapse every year.

But then, they don’t exactly advertise the dangers (my emphases):

First aid services on the day are provided by St John Ambulance, who set out more than 40 first aid posts along the route and at the finish, and two field hospitals at the finish. One of these hospitals has an ‘intensive care unit’ for more serious collapses, but intravenous fluids may be given at other sites, if necessary.

There is a much larger first aid post in the Isle of Dogs, two thirds of the way round the course. There are also cardiac units at the finish and resuscitation facilities along the course and at the finish.

In all, more than 1,000 St John staff volunteer to work on the day, together with other doctors, physiotherapists and podiatrists

A runner who makes contact with first aiders during the race is logged as a ‘casualty contact’… To minimise lurid newspaper headlines about Marathon casualties, these contacts are divided into categories which clarify the seriousness of the various conditions involved. These include:

Social contacts – who stop and ask for such help as a drink, a shoelace or a dressing to treat themselves;

Musculoskeletal contacts – with cramps or painful joints, bones or muscles;

Topical contacts – with blisters, abrasions, runner’s nipple, skin chafing or subungual haematomas (blood clots under the toenails);

Constitutional contacts – who collapse, have chest or abdominal pain, diarrhoea, fits, vomiting etc.

The St John Ambulance reports are supplemented by enquiries to the designated receiving hospitals, which are asked to flag up all Marathon accident and emergency cases.

In 2000, when 32,600 runners completed the race, 4,633 St John Ambulance and 38 hospital contacts were recorded.

Only those deaths, or collapses leading to deaths, that occur during the Marathon or within the finish area of the race, are considered Marathon deaths.

So about 15% of marathon runners require medical attention of one sort or other during the race. One wonders how many more of them require medical attention after the event, when they’ve gone home, and discover that they’ve been injured, or wake up the next morning with bruises and swellings.

Is there any comparable sporting event that produces casualties on this scale? Or that requires so many medical officers to be on hand?

But then, it’s not about health, of course. It’s about conformity to an ideal athletic human type. And that’s why there won’t be any calls from senior doctors to curb marathon runs, and there won’t be any health experts fretting about the modern epidemic of marathon injuries and deaths. Participation in marathon runs is, almost by definition, the very epitome of healthy living, and so nobody’s going to criticize it, even if every marathon run requires 1,000 medical staff on hand, and local hospitals ready to receive dozens of serious casualties. Sky News is already playing down the health risks.

No. If you’re going to point fingers at anyone, you point them at smokers. Because they are, almost by definition, the epitome of unathletic and unhealthy living, even if a great many of them live to a ripe old age, and there doesn’t need to be any medical assistance on hand when they meet up for a few drinks with their friends.

Rest in peace, Claire Squires.

About Frank Davis

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16 Responses to Pretty Woman

  1. cdbro says:

    An obsevation.
    The population of Australia is around 22,700,000, one third that of the UK.
    Sports injuries are estimated to cost A$1.69billion per year which, when scaled to match the UK population, equates to around £3billion per year or £50 cost to every citizen!
    We may not be as sports oriented as the Aussies but this can’t be that far off the supposed cost of smoking to the NHS.

    • An excellent deduction there in this crimes against us all…….cost and effect. You guys can cover every angle in one comments run,maybe its why we are so smart we dont miss a trick. I love it and you guys!

  2. HEHEHEH! The RELAY FOR LIFE comes to mind………… many have died or been injured in that stupidity! Then the ACS uses those funds to buy more junk science and pay for lawyers to keep their precious bans from being repealed. They can all kiss my smoking ass!

    • Please read and either choose “I agree” or “I decline” below. By clicking on “I agree,” you agree, warrant and covenant as follows:

      “By participating in the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay For Life event:

      I grant permission to the Canadian Cancer Society to photograph me in the course of my participation in the Relay For Life event, and to use my name and any photographs of me for Canadian Cancer Society purposes in any media and territory in perpetuity.

      I waive and release any and all claims for myself, my heirs, executors and administrators against the Canadian Cancer Society, its agents, employees and licensees and any sponsors, officials and organizers of the Relay For Life event in connection with any injury, illness or death which may directly or indirectly result from my participation in this event, or from any claim arising in connection with the use of my name or any photographs of me.

      If I am under the age of 18 I understand I MUST have a guardian accompany me on the event as a fellow registered participant or provide a hard copy of my registration form signed by a parent or guardian at the event.

      I acknowledge that I will not receive any financial remuneration for any of the above and that my compensation is the opportunity to contribute to the activities of the Canadian Cancer Society.

      I agree I decline

  3. It reminds me of a conversation I had with an anti when I first started getting interested in the issue and I hadn’t discovered much of the corruption yet. He was trying to convince me that smoking was really bad for your heart because when you smoke your blood pressure and pulse go up and your heart beats faster with every puff. I asked him how this was any different from what happens to you when you exercise and why it is a nono when you smoke and a good thing when you exercise. His answer? ”Ummm, ummm, errrr, I don’t know, I am not a doctor. I only know that this is what they tell us”. Huh, huh, sure I said keep on believing without ever questionning.

  4. melinoerealm says:

    I smoke since 17. Because I simply enjoyed it a lot. Still do.
    All through my 20’s decade, I exercised in gyms, took martial art courses, did mountain climbing and climbed some tough mountain peeks. The kind of mountains that people get killed at.
    I remember my first serious mountain peek climb. Almost 3.000 meters. When I got to the top, I lighted a cigarette and enjoyed the view.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not one of the loonies who believe that exercise will keep them forever healthy or something. I simply enjoyed doing it, nothing else. It’s been personal fun, not health, for me.

    Almost 20 decades have passed. I still smoke and enjoy it as always. It’s these nice small cigars now, but I like big cigars sometimes and also pipes. And waterpipes occasionally. I still exercise and enjoy it as always. I still do what I enjoy.

    I always wondered about that hoax circulating, that if one smokes one can’t exercise or doesn’t have enough strength or something along these lines anyway – can’t remember exactly.
    Utter nonsense, of course.

    • Rose says:

      Strangely enough

      “… the discovery also explains why mountain climbers short of breath often claim that smoking cigarettes makes them stronger. The seeming paradox may be due to the presence of nitric oxide in cigarette smoke”

      Nitric oxide helps high-altitude survival

      “CLEVELAND, Nov. 6 US researchers have discovered high blood levels of nitric oxide allow people to live at high altitudes where air has low levels of oxygen.

      Dr. Serpil Erzurum, chairman of the Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Pathobiology, and colleagues from Case Western Reserve University analyzed blood samples and blood flow readings from 88 Tibetans living at altitudes of 14,000 feet. They compared the measurements with those of 50 people who live at locations near sea level.

      The Tibetans were found to have 10 times more nitric oxide and more than double the forearm blood flow of sea-level dwellers.

      The researchers said they believe the high levels of nitric oxide cause an increased blood flow that provides body tissues with sufficient amounts of oxygen despite low levels of oxygen in both the air and the bloodstream.”

    • beobrigitte says:

      Don’t get me wrong, I am not one of the loonies who believe that exercise will keep them forever healthy or something. I simply enjoyed doing it, nothing else. It’s been personal fun, not health, for me.

      Almost 20 decades have passed. I still smoke and enjoy it as always. It’s these nice small cigars now, but I like big cigars sometimes and also pipes. And waterpipes occasionally. I still exercise and enjoy it as always. I still do what I enjoy.

      The magic word is ENJOY!

      I have been smoking for 43 years, always enjoyed some sort of sports (still do 2 extreme sports for fun) but I resent serious competitions. They take the fun out of it and also, I have nothing to prove to myself. It’s much more fun trying to learn something new and when I finally, after accumulating many bruises, “land the trick”, I have a party with the youngsters who applaud even though they are much better than me!! Everything is also about being a community. And a lot of the extreme sport community also belongs to the smoking community. And, as we all enjoy a good party, we are also part of the partying community, of whom a large part is also part of the smoking community. And so on. All communities interact. Except one. The, by numbers negligible, anti-smoking community.

      It is time to give them fresh air back once all other communities can meet and interact the way we were used to. Comfortably seated in a pub of our choice with ASHTRAYS on tables.

      I always wondered about that hoax circulating, that if one smokes one can’t exercise or doesn’t have enough strength or something along these lines anyway

      Only recently a friend (non-smoker) passed a comment for a laugh so I chased him as he was running up the stairs. I had him before he reached the end of the first flight of stairs. As we were joking, we left it at that. Perhaps I could at some point repeat this fun game with an anti-smoker. It would be my pleasure.

  5. Europe frets over strong le Pen performance
    Published: 23 Apr 2012 17:22 GMT+1

    Europe rang the alarm bell on Monday over the far-right National Front’s historic score in the French presidential election, the latest anti-EU party to make big gains on the continent.

    Germany led a chorus of concerns after National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen finished third with a surprising 18 percent of the vote in Sunday’s first round.

    “This high score is alarming but I expect it will be ironed out in the second round,” said a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, adding that she continued to support French President Nicolas Sarkozy in the election.

    Le Pen’s strong showing was not enough to take her to the May 6 runoff but it shocked European Union foreign ministers holding talks in Luxembourg the day after the vote.

    Danish Foreign Minister Villy Sovndal said the French election result was “extremely worrisome” and followed the rise of the far-right across Europe, including in his own country and Finland.

    Swedish counterpart Carl Bildt said: “I’m concerned with the sentiments that we see that are against open societies, against an open Europe, that does worry me, not only in France.”

    Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said Sarkozy was partly to blame for Le Pen’s success after he campaigned for tighter immigration controls and reform of the Schengen passport-free travel area.

    “If you repeat every day that we must change Schengen, that we must have a strong immigration policy, that we have to speak about French exception, this is all grist for the FN mill,” said Asselborn, a socialist.

    Belgium’s Didier Reynders said far-right gains in France and the rest of Europe “is always a concern” in the continent.

    “We must be very watchful about this,” he said.

    Extreme right parties have made great electoral strides in several EU nations, from Sweden to Finland and the Netherlands, while others remain strong in Austria, Denmark, Switzerland and Hungary.

    Even though Le Pen fell short of the second round, she nearly doubled the 10.4 percent her father Jean-Marie took as her party’s 2007 presidential candidate.

  6. smokingscot says:


    Completely O/T.

    This guy agrees with your prediction that the Euro and the EU are doomed and he has a way of making very complex issues reasonably understandable. Thankfully.

  7. Frank you and other Brits may want to run over and comment on this UKIP guy running for office!

    Election 2012: Dewsbury East candidate statements
    Published on Wednesday 25 April 2012 15:06

    THE following candidates are standing for election in the Dewsbury East ward:


    UK Independence Party

    I am 52 and a self-employed engineer. I have worked in manufacturing most of my life. I entered politics in 2009 after being involved since 2006 in fighting the smoking ban legislation, after having researched and found this legislation was for social engineering purposes and had no significant health benefits. I am also fighting impending legislation (social engineering) on alcohol and food as these profoundly affect our civil liberties.

    I joined UKIP as they are a straight-talking, honest party and we are now becoming a major force in British politics.

    I will not promise you anything, as you have heard many promises before. There has been a steady decline in Dewsbury (East). I will do my best to try and reverse this trend and also do my best to find a way of bringing some prosperity and employment back to Dewsbury. I will also do what I can to make sure we get value for money from all our public services and receive a fair share of funding from Kirklees, should I get voted in.


    Please note the CONSERVATIVE and the LIB DEM are carbon copies in their campaign promices!

  8. UK Slides Back Into Recession in First Double Dip Since 1970s

    Britain’s economy slid into its second recession since the financial crisis after official data unexpectedly showed a fall in output in the first three months of 2012, piling pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron’s embattled coalition government.

    Looks like UKIP has everything going for them now!

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