In the thousands of hours I’ve spent running past people in the street, so few things have been shouted at me that it’s always an event when it happens. Unfortunately I don’t find the most common – ‘Run, Forest’ – particularly original. I can’t say the same for the overweight teenager who on seeing me panting and sweaty, shook her entire body and said ‘let’s do it’.
In the time I lived in France the horror and disdain displayed by Parisian faces always made me grin. For some reason the colour of my vest is more visible in French, and provokes football-related cheers: ‘Allez Lens!’ for red and yellow, ‘Allez St Etienne!’ for green. Once someone shouted ‘Sarkozy!’ – the country’s most famous jogger – with flawless spontaneity. He’d obviously been waiting to shout that all day.
Another time, at a large cross-country race a bystander was obviously very amused by shouting ‘come on the skinny ones!’. My favourite, though, isn’t a real cry at all, but is taken from Billy Connolly’s Desiderata (which is excellent in many ways). ‘Boo joggers’ he says, which, although a hostile act, I admire for its call to collective street action. It also seems more honest for non-joggers to boo joggers: for they know not what we do.