Commentate, don’t prattle endlessly on… and on… and on…

I have two really favourite sporting events, the Cambridge and Oxford Boat race (we won this year, we’ve won 82/162 races since it began in 1829) and the London Marathon which has been going since 1981, and I’ve watched most of them – but only on TV.

I don’t know about any other marathon, but the London Marathon is a serious race for the elite competitors, wheelchair, women and men, and for the serious ‘amateur’ runners, but the majority are ordinary people, most of whom are raising money for charity, and many of whom are in fancy dress. It is a spectacular, exciting, and entertaining event, and I love it! I watch it from the moment the programme covering it begins with interviews, stories, background, statistics and facts. I usually watch it until the broadcast ends and then watch the catch-up programme later in the day.

Today was near perfect conditions in London, and it all started off really well, fabulous coverage from cameras mounted on motorbikes, in helicopters and static ones along the course. The commentators were those who have covered many of these events, and are experienced broadcasters… Except today you really wouldn’t have known it! This was a TV broadcast, so we had wonderful visuals, but the commentators… well they just never shut up, they prattled on and on, repeating themselves over and over again, often within the same sentence, ‘this 5,000 metre Kenyan runner from Kenya, well-known for running 5,000 metres in Kenya…‘ for example, ‘after her fall where she fell over she has recovered well from her fall when she fell over…‘ That type of thing… hyperbole? They were masters of it! understatement? They’d never hear of it, nor subtlety, nor letting the picture tell the story…

Part of the excitement is hearing the crowd roaring and encouraging the runners on, those in the lead and those trailing… even the crowd was masked by the endless prattle, on and on and on they went, scarcely taking breath! In the end I wanted to shout at the TV! So why didn’t I turn the sound off? I love the race but I am not such an expert that I know who all the runners are, nor necessarily know where on the course they are – I needed a commentary… but it wasn’t exactly what I got…

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