Daphne: Itís only two days to the race. I really didnít think I would get this far. Especially when Katya went. The day after she was taken away, I already knew I couldnít cope with the training on my own. I was on the phone to Larry, desperate, begging him to come up with something. He had called back later.† Rick had one of his team who had done some running. Rick was ready to let her come and help out. She knew about Branca and the Katya problem. "Would that be OK?" heíd asked. I practically bit his hand off.
This young, upper class, English girl turned up at the house and introduced herself as Beth. She was pleasant enough and had a determined smile, but Iím not sure whether she saw me as a client or as some sort of sub to be kept on my toes. Something about the way she said things. Maybe thatís unfair: probably it was just the way I was hearing things then.
We went through the planner in Katyaís training diary. I found myself worrying about her, hoping she was ok, worrying about what they were doing to her, asking myself if Iíd really had to make her go through it.†
Beth was riffling through the pages and umm-ing and ah-ing and I was feeling irritated at the way she was picking over Katyaís things. In the end, we agreed on three things, shorter runs during the week, Beth was to be my companion there; longer endurance runs as Katya and I have got to the fifteen mile point now, Beth suggested she would cycle round and meet me at pre-arranged points on the run to let me practice taking fluids and also the sports energy drinks to make the most of my carbohydrate stores; third thereís the gym. Beth suggested going to the Gym with me and explaining to anyone who asks, that Katya is not too well at the moment and is having a few weeks off. Itís also what Beth said we would have to tell Katya when she gets back.
I started to feel sick and anxious in my stomach. "Not-too-well"; "Having-a-few-weeks-off"; each word hurt. I felt so... What? Well weepy, I guess. And then Branca turned up with some of Katyaís things sheíd found while tidying up in the gym. I just looked at one of her training shoes and burst into tears
But as Katya said, you have to focus on the training. So thatís what we did. Out in the late winter. Sometimes we followed parts of the real marathon course; sometimes we went out to the London Parks. One day we took a trip out to Epping Forest to do some trail running. I had been getting on quite well with Beth and it was a really lovely day. As we ran, my mind started to wander. Katya had told me about when she trained running in the Russian forests and then ahead, there was this other runner coming towards us. She was coming fast. She was blond and her pony tail was bobbing behind her, like Katyaís. I thought, "Itís Katya! They have let her go! We can be together again! She is OK now!"† But the girl -- she just rushed past without a second glance and it wasnít Katya and my tears just ran and ran. Beth put her hand on my shoulder and that was it. The end of the run. A beautiful day ended with me feeling really low and sick with anxiety. We headed back. All I wanted to do was to go home.
It was a real relief when they sent Katya back with six weeks to go. Iím sure I couldnít have got this far otherwise.
Katya: Itís Friday 20th. April. The house is waking up. The door to my room has automatically unlocked as the alarm goes off. I get up to find Branca has already started to make breakfast. I briefly check our PC. It has internet access but quite restricted. I keep meaning to ask Daphne why but I can never find the words to use... Anyway, I go to the London Marathon site to check for late news items. On the home page, there is a countdown timer. 2 days, 3 hours, 30 minutes, 28 seconds, 27, 26, 25... I† go through a stretching routine and then make my way to Daphneís room Outside I kneel down to perform a quadriceps stretch, but strangely always feel the need to do this after I have knocked on her door. As she opens, I lean forwards to stretch my para-spinal muscles and kiss her feet. I cannot understand why I always seem to do this, but Daphne does not mind, in fact she accepts it. She smiles down at me. "We go to the Marathon Expo for final registration today, Mistress," I tell her. She looks excited; a little scared maybe. "I know, Katya," she says, "I guess it really is happening isnít it?"
Daphne: I open my door and find Katya on her knees. The door to her room unlocks automatically. I keep a time lock on her door at night. I feel I have to. Although Cleggís people say her preparation has been thorough they are still concerned that itís been hurried. I havenít needed to bother for Branca but, with Katya, I guess itís better safe than sorry. She leans forward to kiss my feet. I look down at my beautiful, useful, new slave. Cleggís people have worked their magic very well. Larry said Katya's Prep would stay intact even when we go out together - which is kinda crucial because we are out most of the time and so far, she has not given me a moments worry. When Harry turned up after Branca had chained her up he wasnít confident that he could make things work. They took her but he said he wasnít sure he could get her ready in time or even at all. Iíd been distraught; desperate for her to be back as soon as possible to help me finish my training but desperate too to make sure she would stay with me. Larry did what he could. Beth was sweet and a real help but it wasnít the same. Of course. But why did it have to happen? Why did we have to do this Katya? I didnít want to do this to Katya but I couldnít let her go. But somehow I feel guilty about how Iíve treated her. Itís never bothered me with any of the other slaves Iíve had. Why couldnít things have gone on just as they were? †Still, whatever Cleggís people have done it seems to have worked. Katyaís every bit as attentive as Branca. She reminds me about Sunday. Sunday! Will my beautiful, useful, new slave get me through all those miles? Larry said I would sell her on after the Marathon, but I donít think I can. I canít imagine Katya not being around.
Katya: We reach the Marathon Expo at ExCel, in the old London Docks. There is no difficulty finding it. The place is alive with other runners. They are unmistakeable; determined, eager, pent-up, maybe a little apprehensive. Perhaps this is what its like for soldiers before they launch an attack? Over the entrance is a large plasma screen showing highlights of last yearís race and in the background inspirational music plays, itís a motivation in its own right. First we go to the Registration Desk and hand our registration forms to the clerk. We sign them and she checks the signatures on our original entry forms. She gives us our kitbags and a sealed envelope I carefully check the contents. Do the running numbers correspond to the numbers on our registration forms? Are the numbers on the electronic timing chip correct? Have we got the official label for our kit bags? Have we got the final instructions? Itís all OK. I make sure that Daphne carefully stows all away in her bag: we are both now committed! I breathe a sigh of relief to have the bureaucracy over and we move on to enjoy the Expo. Daphne seems almost dazed by it all but this must be all quite out of her experience. Up to now we have run together, just the two of us. We sometimes met other runners but never several hundred, all in the same place, all the same time, all sharply focused on the same goal. I know I can get her through it. And this is something to enjoy; the fellowship of the other runners; the feeling of a single shared purpose. And the marathon?† Ah, Iím sure I can get her through After all I must do my best for Connie...
Daphne: The Marathon Expo is just astonishing. First, thereís the size of the hall and itís all dedicated just to this one event. Second, the amazing number of people here, there are thousands of them. Third, just looking at the other runners.... If I was complacent before, Iím not now -- in fact Iím aware of a tight knot of anxiety in my stomach (itís a lot smaller than it was, so a small knot feels bigger!) Katya is trying to encourage me, telling me I look fitter than quite a lot of the others here, saying Iíve done my training and Iíve nothing to fear. Katya and I tour the stalls with everything you could possibly imagine you needed for running and quite a few you couldnít. Thereís this thing on a physiotherapy stand which is supposed to vibrate against tired muscles and relieve pain. Seems more like something Larryís people would be interested in. I find myself daydreaming about the timing chips we all have to wear. Electronically tagged.† I can see mileage for Branca and Katya wearing tags, but me?? We spend a bit of time on the Garmin Stand. They have a GPS which tells you how far you have been running, how fast you went and what your heart rate was. Katya suggest we should have them and thatís fine by me. We spend some time listening to one of the (many) presentations and after a couple of hours we head for home but not before Katya has fussed over our kit bags and contents once again. Well, I employed her to be thorough. Having her taking charge of things as my Trainer was natural I guess, but its strange now. Here she is taking charge again even though sheís now my slave - officially.
Katya: Itís 6 oíclock on Sunday morning, the 22nd of April. Itís just 4 hours to the marathon. Iím laying awake thinking about Daphneís progress over the past months. She has surprised me and the major surprise is that we have reached this point together. But I still worry. I am anxious that she completes the run and enjoys herself. I have dreams now which always link us together. And another thing, Iíve been going over the training programme. I just have no pictures in my mind of the training we did from about ten weeks ago to six weeks ago. Itís odd -- because thatís a really important time, we must have been doing some long runs and some fairly hard work in the gym but I really donít remember it.† I looked through the training diary. Daphne had filled it in carefully, just has she has done all along, but I canít recall any of it. I mentioned it on Friday as we were coming home from Registration and Daphne said "of course I completed all the assignments" and then she said to remember that I had not been too well for a week or two. But I donít really remember that either. Itís only what Branca and Daphne told me. And I thought it was odd that she said sheíd completed the assignments, she usually says "Oh, we did that together." So I still worry. Itís as though I can never move on to anything else, always being brought back to Daphne by other people whose faces I can never quite remember. Except for one. And her name is Connie. Presently I rise and go through my stretching routine, finishing outside Daphneís door on my knees kissing her feet. I just cannot understand why I behave like this and more to the point why Daphne never says anything. Itís almost as if she expects me to behave like this. I go in to her bedroom to go through our checklist.
Daphne: I only slept rather fitfully last night and Iím glad when Katya came. Seeing her was a real encouragement This is the day! Closing the deal. Worse: closing the deal in front of all my sceptical colleagues who donít believe that I will be coming to collect their sponsorship. So there is a lot riding on today. Katya is a real professional. Gee, I almost said a real domme. For a slave she has a lot of the domme about her. Itís been fun for the training but I prefer it with me in charge.† So itís check-list time. Katya makes me feel like Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins setting off for the Moon:-
Food used to be the major recreation but now itís all part of the routine. Now itís fuelling- up time Katya had insisted Branca repeat making our marathon breakfast for weeks. "Never do anything on race day that you havenít done before and gotten away with," she says. So itís downstairs for porridge and milk, scrambled eggs, toast and water. Oh boy - plenty of water.
Katya: Daphneís house is close to Greenwich Park and the Red Start. There are three start points for the London Marathon and they converge at two points along the course. We are at the Red Start, in Greenwich Park itself.† Time is now 9.00.One hour to the mass start, when we go. Wheelchair athletes go at 9.15 and elite women at 9.30. I am happier once inside the park. We go to the baggage lorries and find the one for runners with numbers in the 30,000 to 35,000 range. We struggle into our trash bags to keep warm, just sticking our heads out through holes in the top. I tell Daphne we have to go to pee. There are lots of toilets and lots of runners peeing. You donít want to stop halfway round. Ask Paula Radcliffe! After 15 minutes in the queue we are done. I insist that we go right back to the end of the queue and wait our turn again -- and yes, there is more the next time! Itís now 9.40. Time to find our places in the "pen". I estimated we would finish in about 5 hours so we had been given places in "Pen 5" at the back of the field.† Once the Race begins, runners can move through the others depending on how well they are running.† After all, this is a Race! But, for the start, the challenge is just to get the massive throng of people under way. Now we wait for the official start. Itís 9.55. Five minutes to go, five minutes to the start of Daphneís ordeal...
Daphne: So, we eventually get to the start. Katyaís calm and Iím really nervous and talkative. Iím usually a bit reserved but tension and the big event atmosphere have made me talkative. But so is every one else and thatís really nice. But there are yet more instructions from Katya. Sheís being bossy and Iím really grateful. She runs through the race plan again. Then thereís more to check off:-
When we are through this and Iím recovering Iím having Katya hooded and rested up in the cell for this. Finally Iíll have some peace. Gee, wasnít that a bit harsh, Daphne? The girlís only doing the job you paid her for.
Suddenly, thereís a bang and a cheer from somewhere way ahead of us. We all start to walk slowly forward. This is really it! Really it is! We are actually doing this thing. Iíve got a stab of fear and excitement both at once, but mainly excitement. I want to laugh and giggle. Fat Daphne is actually going to run a Marathon!!
Katya: Out of the park and the course turns left and we pass through the first timing gate and thatís it: we are now on the course. Our timing chips will have been recognised and we are into the race at last. I have this odd feeling of trying to scramble up out of a slippery cup. If I can only pull myself up over the rim I shall be free, but I always just loose my grip and slip back ....... But, no time for daydreaming! Marathons are run with your head as much as your legs. The course soon leads us into Blackheath Village and the cheering crows begin. To our right, one family have decorated their house with streams of British flags.† They are wearing flag hats and waving flags! A little further on, a Priest scatters Holy Water on the runners and a few metres beyond him a second Priest does the same. Further on again, small children hold out their hands for us to touch them. Itís like some bizarre religious ritual. We are anointed and we anoint others.
Daphne: We have been going a half hour through cheering crowds.† Gee, this is really emotional. I never thought it would be like this. I feel as though Iím airborne. Iím running really well and itís the crowds. All these people cheering and shouting, waving at us all -- at me!. The course is now running down hill. Got to be careful not to speed up. Stick to the plan. Stick to the plan. No matter how good you feel donít run faster than the plan. The runners from the other start points are converging. In the distance I can see the Canary Wharf Towers -- they look a really long way away. Patience, girl, patience. More instructions come from Katya: maybe Iíll have her gagged as well as hooded?
Katya: Do you see the blue line, Daphne? Yes? Well run on it! Thatís the optimum line, and itís exactly the marathon distance.† All the elite runners run on or as close to the blue line as they can. Run there and you have run in the footsteps of champions...
Daphne: Run in the footsteps of champions? Thatís good! That was worth hearing! OK: cancel the gag. But the hood stays.
Katya: Start + 1 hour on my watch. We have passed two water stations and taken on one sports drink at the Lucozade station. We have reached the Cutty Sark sailing ship. 6 miles. About one quarter of the race. Daphne has settled into her routine and we are cruising well. On time. No issues at the moment. Sheís sticking to the plan. Good. Thatís the main thing.
Daphne: Before I know it, we are at the Cutty Sark. The worldís fastest clipper ship. Well this wonít be the worldís fastest marathon but just to finish will be great. This part of London is real picturesque. Thatís why I got my house near here. Itís just how people Stateside think London is. There are even TV cameras here and still more crowds. Iím still feeling goodl. I could get used to this!
Katya: Now itís quite a long haul to get to the next psychologically important point which is crossing the river at Tower Bridge. The danger is to really start to pick up speed here to get on with the race and the key is to keep your mind on the job. But Daphneís sticking to the plan, following orders. To my relief we have reached the Norwegian Church which means we will cross the river before too long in about 15 minutes.† On schedule we cross Tower Bridge. More cheering crowds. We have to steer clear of someone dressed up as a rhinoceros as they are being interviewed† for TV. I have never been tempted to run dressed up as anything but me.
Daphne: The route to Tower Bridge is rather dull and my mind keeps wandering. I look at Katya and the easy relaxed way she moves is a joy to watch. Itís not the joy of possession you understand, just the kick you get to see something being done really well. Eventually we get close to tower Bridge and someone shouts my name. I glance over my shoulder and thereís Phil. He is one of the accountants I work with. I give him a big smile and he waves back and now I feel warm inside and somehow going on is easier. As we cross the bridge, TV people are interviewing a runner in costume ahead of us. Rather them than me!
Katya: Weíre making steady progress. It is getting mentally tougher now. The euphoria of the beginning of the race has slipped away behind us, and we are actually running geographically away from the Finish Line. Along Highway, from The Tower to Limehouse. Through the fourteenth mile of the course. Weíre more than half way now but the route heading east lies next to the twenty first mile of the course heading west, so we get a very good view of the faster runners coming towards us. Faster and rather tired by now!† Its good to see them running so smoothly but its sort of discouraging to know it will be more than an hour before we are running back this way again. I try to take some of my own advice; - take a firm grip and keep myself under careful control.
Now weíre following the west side of the Isle of Dogs peninsula; sixteen miles safely over. In about twenty minutes we will be at eighteen mile point and this is dangerous country: the human body runs on muscle glycogen and has enough for† - eighteen miles. After that it has to use fat and thatís not as easy. All of our training has been directed to getting Daphneís body (and mine too) able to burn glycogen more efficiently and to use fat when the time comes, but here is where technique will tell: running, drinking, breathing. But Daphne is not paying attention!
Daphne: As we run towards the financial district my mind starts to wander. Iím starting to feel tired and introspective. This morning itís been like being a hero, but I know Iím no hero. Beside me Katya glides along and Iím now feeling guilty about what Iíve done to her and not only her. What if all these people who cheer me on and call my name knew what I was really like and knew some of the thing Iíve done. I can feel tears starting to form in my eyes when thereís a stinging slap on my left ass and as I look round I get another on my right ass cheek.
†"Daphne, what are you doing?"
"Iím running what do you think?" And quick as a flash Katya darts to my other side and slaps my ass again.
"Youíre not doing what I told you, are you? Look at your fists. You have clenched them and you are losing your economy! Do I have to spank you again?"
Actually the idea of being spanked by Katya seems quite a good one but maybe hereís a bit public.† Sorry Katya. Thanks for that. Kind of.
Katya: We are now at the tip of the Isle of Dogs and I can see the domes of the Greenwich Observatory where we began, just a mile or two across the river, but seventeen miles behind us along the course.† I glance round at Daphne. She seems to have got through that low spot. She is waving at two men outside public house. At first I think they must be work colleagues but one of them catches my eye and suddenly there is a tight knot in my stomach. Where have I seen him before? Why does he make me feel uneasy? More than uneasy. Why does he make me feel afraid? As we run by he tries to break eye contact, talking to his companion. He smiles and waves back at Daphne -- and then his eye comes back to me. Weíve passed them now and weíre turning north to the Canary Wharf Towers. I take one last long look before they are out of sight: he is speaking into his mobile phone...
Daphne: Weíre not far from the 17 mile water station, thereís the entrance to the foot tunnel that leads under the Thames to Greenwich. Five minutes walk and Iíd be back at the start! I catch sight of Larry and Harry. And there is Beth too. They all smile and wave, especially Harry. Funny to think of them off-duty. Well, maybe theyíre not off duty. I guess theyíll have wanted to see how things worked out with Katya after what they said about the problems they expected in training. They are both enjoying the hospitality of the local Public House. Itís the Lord Nelson. We always get a real good cheer when we pass a pub, but Iím beginning to think that a drink would be nice and Iím not thinking about water! Katya is on my right and keeps looking back down the road. She seems edgy all of a sudden and all of a sudden I realise that maybe she has seen the boys too.† Seen and recognised? Oh, gee... what if Evaís around or Connie too? Katya made me memorise the course to pace myself better and I know we are now going up East Ferry Road towards Limeharbour and Canary Wharf. Katya is very quiet. And Iím very anxious. "You OK Katya?" She doesnít say anything. Maybe sheís just focussing on her running but it seems like something more than that.
Katya: As we run on I try to remember why I know the two men. When did I first know them? Are they friends of Nicky? Did I see them at Daphneís? I am sure I met one of them before I worked for Daphne and the man with the phone has something to do with Branca. Suddenly I realise I have been weaving from side to side. I almost crack my ankle against the curb of the pavement. Concentrate, I tell myself, I must concentrate. Get back on the blue line and stop thinking about Harry. Harry? Thatís his name, the taller man. But where do I know him from? Concentrate on the running. Forget about them. Got to keep running. Got to do my best for Connie. Connie? Who the hell is Connie? Iím running for me. Why I am worried about Connie? Concentrate on the running. Seventeen and a half miles, now. Think about Daphne. Got to look after Daphne. Harry says... Connie says... What is this? Concentrate. Iíve got to concentrate. Iím losing my rhythm. Go to concentrate. Forget about Harry and Connie. Forget about the training. Training? What training? I ran the training. No, not Daphneís training; my training. It was Harry and Connie and it wasnít about running. It was?
Daphne: "Katya, are you OK?" I say, "Youíve lost your rhythm. Youíre not doing like you told me to. Keep on the line." She looks at me as if she doesnít know me. I donít know whatís happening. Iím trying to keep running steadily.
Katya: Eighteen and a half miles. We start the zigzag passing the Canary Wharf Towers. I am glancing at the spectators when I see them -- two women. Searching the field of runners with their eyes, one short, athletic looking she could be a runner, the other tall, black, elegant. Theyíre looking for someone. The tall black girl is talking into her mobile phone. There is a movement from Daphne: she was about to wave and as soon as I turn to her, she drops her arm. I gaze at the women and feel a shower of adrenalin make its way through my body.† For the past several weeks, Iíve had the same nightmare, over and over again. About being taken away. Helpless. Struggling. The men and women Daphne waved to are the people in my dream! I meet Daphneís eyes and I can see she knows who they are too. It wasnít a nightmare, it was real. Thatís where those four weeks went! And now they are here for me again. I kick hard and accelerate away as quickly as I can. I am sure they will try to make their way through the buildings and trap me further down the course. I take up a position in the centre of the field and run as hard as I can.† Forget Daphneís race plan, now I have to have a plan of my own. All care about now is to put as much distance as possible between these people and Daphne and me as I possibly can. Iím safe here on the route. Policemen everywhere. Officials everywhere. It will be safe at the finish too. Get to the finish. Seven miles to go. Think about the timing. Think of a new plan. . Can I risk trying for 7 minute miles at this stage? If I can hold that pace the race could be over for me in about fifty minutes. I am running at that speed now and weaving through the pack of slower runners ahead. At least this will make me harder to see, harder to catch, but can I keep it going?
Just before twenty miles, the course swings westwards and at last I am now running directly towards the end. I let my pace slacken, but only a little. There are more spectators again and I am beginning to recover my calm.†
Daphne: Sheís going. She saw Eva and Connie and just took off. Iíve almost lost sight of her in the crowd of runners. Sheís running much faster. I canít hope to catch her and I start to feel sick and tired and cold. Connieís talking into her mobile phone as I pass them. Sheís gesticulating. Eva is trying to look down the route to see where Katya has got to. They both understand what has happened and I thought for a stupid moment that there was something they could do but of course they canít do anything about this. I am absolutely on my own now and I am suddenly very lonely, just like before, before Katya. All I can do is keep running.
Katya: As I run I can almost feel the sticky threads of control breaking. Iíve been coasting round the course to keep Daphne company but now Iím running fast and free for the first time; perhaps truly free for the first time in months!† In my mind I keep seeing images of struggle and victory, things I remember from school: Zhukov driving the Germans from St Petersburg in the Great Patriotic War! Gagarin soaring into orbit in Vostok! Before I knew it I was speeding (or so it seemed) along Highway towards the Tower of London and well into the last 6 miles of the race. I had a new energy. It was quite simply the best run I could remember!
Daphne: Iím still running but even in the crowd I feel alone. All along the course, Iíve enjoyed the cheers of the crowd, but now IĎm stalked by feelings of guilt. Sure, Katya made me work hard to get here but without her I would still be that lonely, fat ,unpleasant, sad girl and in my desire to be different Iíve been prepared to do anything -- to hurt anyone† - I had to. And now, Iím discovered.† Itís made the pleasure of today turn sour!† My body is really starting to hurt and the very person who I need, I really need, has fled from me. Iím crying: tears of exhaustion, tears of regret...
Katya: Iím running. Running again. My mind is back on my running. Iím on the blue line. Checking my time. Running. My mind† begins to fill with other images. I remember training runs in Moscow, by the Moskva, around the gardens and towers of the Lomonosov University and through the woods and open spaces of Sokolniki in the quiet of early morning after the cold white winter had melted into the green of spring. But I have to concentrate. Run, Katya. Think of the running. Run.
Daphne: And thereís this hand on my shoulder. For a moment I think Katya is there again but of course it isnít, itís another runner. "First time?" she asks.
"Yes," I sob.
†"OK now just keep going: itís not far to the finish. Do you know how far you have gone?"
†"No," I reply.
"Well, you are in the last 10K. How long do you take over a 10K?"
"Me?" Itís hard to run and think and talk at the same time.
"Yes." This other runner seems determined to help me.
"Eh, well I dunno, maybe an hour. Yes, well on a good day."
"OK so you might only have an hour to go! Just keep calm.† Youíre in front of the 5 hour pacer group, so just hang in there girl. Have you tried to run five minutes and walk one minute?"
"Yeah: thatís what Iíve been trying to do but Iíve lost my friend." I start crying again, itís hard to see through the sweat and the tears."
"OK. Look, Iím Jill."
"OK Jill, Iím Daphne. Youíve done this before?"
"Ah Huh. Twice and I must be crazy because this is my third time round."
"Look, itís very kind of you to stick with me, but donít you want to get ahead?"
"Well letís just see how you get on. Look someone helped me on my first marathon. Itís what people do. We all want everyone to finish.† I canít leave a sister to drop out at this stage! Come on five minutes run, one minute walk."
And so Iím gently and unexpectedly pushed along by a kind stranger....
Katya: Keep running. Keep the rhythm. I am back in control of myself. I am calm again, running smoothly. Keeping my rhythm, following the blue line, checking my watch and thinking about my pace. I am calm again, running smoothly. Tired of course but at least I can think straight again. First: What happened at Daphneís? I can remember having a row with Branca. Branca had said something and I was going to leave. And Branca trapped me in the house... Whoa, donít lose track of the running, youíre speeding up, Katya, keep the rhythm. And then the man came with one of the women I had passed back there. Who were they? Associates of Daphneís of some sort?† What is it with Daphne and Branca? Lovers? No: Branca was some sort of servant, almost a slave. Her slave? People trafficked? No: she had been at University. Kidnapped? Enslaved somehow? Does that happen? Daphne might have wanted that sort of relationship, the way she was. Not just paying for companionship but taking a companion who could not get away. So Branca must have wanted to make sure I stayed training Daphne and Daphne obviously was not about to let me go and so the slavers came... And they must still be out there, looking for me... They canít pull me off the course - there are too many other people. I need to think about what happens at the end of this. Could they try to get me at the end? In the finisherís enclosure, Iíll be safe. Thereís policemen all around they wonít try anything there. Maybe I can get from there to the Russian Embassy. That would be the safest place, I guess. But would they take me seriously? I imagine some aparatchick telling me to go away till Monday morning.† How am I going to get there? Daphneís people will be waiting for me and they havenít run 26 miles.
Daphne: So I am now still going along, a bit unsteady -- a lot unsteady. The further I go, the more I hurt and the worse I feel. And kind, patient, thoughtful, encouraging, Jill beside me makes me feel a whole lot worse. Where is Katya? What is she gong to do? Will she tell the Police? What will Clegg do to protect his people? Kill Katya? Kill me? Kill us all? Does Katya know anyone in the Russian Secret Police? Will they kill us?
Katya: At last, Iím getting close to the finish. I am just passing London Bridge. Twenty three miles gone; three to go. Iím thinking about Daphne. Should I be so angry? I am glad I am here and if I hadnít been training her I would not have had the opportunity to run.† Worse: I would still have all those debts; all the problems from Nicky. What should I do now? Revenge is a temptation. Stalin said " there is nothing more satisfactory than a well planned revenge", and revenge is a temptation. Should I report her to the Police? Enjoy her downfall? Is that right? Would Branca want that? Do I want that? I have loved seeing Daphne change. Seeing the physical changes. Seeing her becoming stronger in herself. Is it good to tear that down?
Then all of a sudden itís over. I hardly realised it, my mind was everywhere but where it should have been. Iíve crossed the line. Iíve finished. I stop, looking left and right, I didnít even see what time I did. Someone hung a finisherís medal around me and I didnít even notice that. My legs feel as if they are still running. My shoulders ache. All of me aches. I see one of the officials coming towards me with a foil blanket. For a moment I think it is one of Daphneís friends and I shy away but he smiles and holds the blanket out towards me.† I shrug apologetically, smile and take it from him, clutching it around myself. I walk on slowly. Other runners are finishing, we are all pushing and jostling in the throng as we make our way into the Finisherís Area. I sink down on the ground beside a tree. My back is against the tree. I feel safe here. I watch as the other runners are finishing, hugging the foil blanket around me, and I think about what must happen next. Thereís Branca. I have to make things right for Branca. And thereís Daphne -- she canít want things to go on as they were. She changed as she did this but has she changed enough to want something different? And why do I want her to want something different?
Daphne: Oh I am moving so, so slowly. The whole of my body hurts now. My shoulders hurt, my legs hurt, my chest hurts.† When I started, I thought I was well prepared. Well I was but all the preparation is only that -- preparation. You still have to do it and it hurts! Maybe I was complacent. Well, Iím not complacent now. Jill has gone now. She ran on when she saw I was OK. Where was that? Oh, yes, near the Tower. But there have been others. On the Embankment, by Westminster and Big Ben.† Iíve been amazed by the generosity of other runners and that really hurts too because I have been the exact opposite of generous. I got used to rejection. If you buy things thereís no rejection. Just the money and the goods. Or the people. ...........Big Ben? That means itís less than a mile to go. Iím close to the end now. In every sense. But I can do another mile. Itís less than that first walk I did with Katya. Oh, whatís going to happen about Katya? The Park is on my right and we are heading up towards Buckingham Palace. Iím just about all in and as the course carries us round in front of the big fountain -- there is the finish! I am taken completely by surprise. Two hundred yards and thatís it! And I start to run. I start to run.† I have no idea where the energy is coming from but I am running under the arch. Iím through! Iím here! All at once I burst into tears. Done. Completed.† Daphne has run a marathon! Twenty six miles, three hundred and eightyfive yards! I walk unsteadily forward and one of the stewards steps in front of me and puts a Finisherís Medal around my neck. Immediately after, a photographer is there, taking my picture. Next Iím ushered to where another helper removes the timing chip from my shoe and then yet another helper hands me a large carrier bag with my prizes inside. I am really getting stiff now. By now I am by the line of baggage lorries. I look for the one with kit bags 30,000 -- 35,000 and get my own bag back. I thank the helper and turn round to see -- Katya.
She holds out her hand and says "Oh Daphne! I am so proud of you. Well done! You ought to have known: when I take on a client, I do not like to let them go until I, I have finished with them." Katya takes my hand and pulls me towards her and hugs me. And of course I completely dissolve into tears again and sob and say how sorry I am and how I wished I had not been so selfish and how I wished I was not the person I was and so and so and so. And Katya keeps on hugging me....
Katya: I knew she could do it. I just wasnít sure if she knew she could do it. I just knew that she could if she wanted it enough. And now I knew what I wanted too. I said to her, "Daphne, we are going home together." She looked back astonished. "But there are going to be changes. Changes in our relationship and changes in your household." Daphne said nothing but nodded. "Get changed and then we will make a start. Thatís if your friends arenít here to pick you up. Or to pick me up?"
Daphne: Katyaís accusation brings me to tears. Of course sheís right. Eva and Connie must be here somewhere. And Harry and Larry. Weíre safe right here, in the Finisherís Area, with event security and police around. But there are so many runners spilling around in the Repatriation Area, all looking identical in T shirts which say on the back "26.2 miles: Thatís the Difference Between Us." Maybe they are planning to snatch her back. Maybe they are planning to snatch both of us. I know Clegg wouldnít risk one of his operations coming unstuck, even if it involved compromising one of his customers. I look around us, terrified that Iím going to see one of them in the crowd. But then I think Katya hasnít run away from me. And I canít run away from her.
Katya: Itís as if Daphneís friends are standing there with a spotlight on them -- the man from the pub and one of the girls from Canary Wharf. I immediately look round. I feel sure the others must be behind me, but thatís not possible because we are just leaving the secure Finisherís Area. No there he is. And the tall coloured girl.
Daphne: I am holding Katyaís hand as we walk out off the course at last. There is a real sense of regret that the race is all over. But now thereís the next challenge and we havenít trained for this one. I walk up to the barrier where Harry and Larry, Eva and Connie are standing. I throw my arms around Larryís neck and kiss him. He wasnít expecting that. "Are you OK?" he says. "We thought there was a problem." Connie is watching Katya very closely. She smiles a tight lipped smile at her. I know that she knows that Katyaís control has gone. "No," I say, "no problem. Weíve got some things to talk about but no problem."
Katya: Iím standing beside Daphne as she greets her friends. Iím determined that these people should not make things hard for her. To be straightforward is best, I feel. "I think you people need to know that there has been a revolution at the Winter Palace," I say. "We will not be needing you. Not anymore. Thank you for leaving us alone. Please leave us alone."
Daphne: Katya is REALLY positive. I really like it when she is like that! For someone who has just run 26 miles, Katya is a revelation. No wonder she got me through! And there is absolutely no trace of her prepping left. Connie will have to do some more thinking! Katya marches us past the guys with hardly a second glance. Harry makes to takes a step forward but I donít want him interfering. "Thanks for coming to see us, guys, but you had better just listen to Katya. Sheís right. Bye. See you soon."† I am holding Katís hand tight. I say to her. "Thanks. Thanks for everything." I turn back to Larry. "Letís meet next week sometime and lunch, OK?† Just now, Katya and me, we need some quality time together." He looks at me closely but I think he sees how determined I am. He shrugs and takes Harryís arm, leading him away from the barrier.