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Author and journalist Jilly Cooper – best known for her racy 'bonkbuster' novels including Riders – received a CBE for services to literature and charity.

She told the Daily Mail: 'I haven't been able to tell anyone but I've been purring away to myself.

Many are familiar with the origin story of the race: As Persian attack ships landed on the coast near Marathon around 500 B.

C., Pheidippides, a Greek messenger, ran more than 200 miles to Sparta and back, seeking military aid. Dispatched to send news of the victory to Athens, Pheidippides covered the 25 miles on foot, delivered the good news, and then died of cumulative exhaustion.

The brief elegy invokes the romantic notion that a premature demise means not having to witness the fading of one’s glory, not having to “swell the rout” of “runners whom renown outran.

And the name died before the man.” Beyond such quotable couplets, the morbidly clever transition that links its first two stanzas is reason enough for the poem to endure: The time you won your town the race We chaired you through the market-place; Man and boy stood cheering by, And home we brought you shoulder-high.

Although Sidebottom began writing poetry at the age of six, she had a “thirty year hiatus,” she said in an email, “before being persuaded to start again by a friend.” She is based in Yorkshire and her poems, stories and other writing can be found at writingaftertherainscame.uk.

The competition’s runner-up, Robert Kibble, composed an irresistible twist on Robert Burns’ “Address to a Haggis” to inveigh against the current US president in “Ode to a POTUS”.

The tale of the persistent tortoise and the cocky hare is also probably the most useful allegory we have on the importance of pacing. There’s a sculpture near the finish of one of the nation’s oldest cross-country courses. But that’s not to say that the moral of the story has remained consistent.Surely, running and writing are parallel pursuits: for better or worse, both require you to spend an awful lot of time in your own head.With each, the pleasurable aspect (so far as it exists) is largely retrospective; it feels great to have written something decent, just as the best part of running is the feeling you get afterward—especially when there’s a pastry involved.Though there is no historical evidence for the last part of the story, Englishman Robert Browning’s 19th-century poem “Pheidippides” helped ensconce this version in popular culture.At the urging of his friend Michel Bréal, a prominent French linguist who was enthralled by Browning’s poem, Pierre de Coubertain, the French aristocrat and Hellenophile credited as the founder of the modern Olympics, included a marathon event in the inaugural games of 1896.

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