One length of the Lido for the forever fun 100m (110 yard) All Clothes Race kicked off proceedings at 8am, followed by a quick up and back 200m (220 yards) in memory of barefoot marathon running, bagpipe busking, charity collecting, Clapham Junction signalman club legend Mario McClarnon.
Plus a big, bubbly birthday celebratrion for a happy Sarah Legrand.
Saturday's pot hunters - a first trophy for both
The rearranged All Clothes race was "squeezed-in" prior to the Mario McClarnon cup
Long term club member John Sextone took over sponsorship of the All Clothes Race in 1982, hence the trophy's title - "Sexy's All Clothes Race cup". Sadly John can no longer make it to the lake these days so Club Secretary Laure Latham has stepped in and taken on sponsorship of this iconic event.
All Clothes winner Jamal
Sexy's All Clothes Race cup is named after John Sextone, who took over sponsorship of the event in 1982
John commenced sponsorship of the All Clothes race in1982, the race previously being sponsored for many decades by Arthur Goffrey. John was a founder member of the Serpentine Running Club and has completed many marathons (17?). John never won the Christmas Day race but is a Bridge to Bridge legend. He is the only member on record to have completed a hat-trick of wins: 1987, 1990 and 1993.
Anna McClarnon noted that Mario would have been very pleased to share the morning with John Sextone as they had previously worked together to raise money for charity through their running activities.
All Clothes races date back to the very origins of the club, which grew out of the Royal Humane Society and the promotion of lifesaving and survival in water
1924, competitors' clothing inspected by the Hon. Handicapper. Stipulated minimum weight= 6lb (2.7kg in "new money")
Charlotte also bagged a first Serpentine cup - memories of Mario, who graced us with his friendship since the early 1960s to the mid 2000s
Mario initiated the tradition of piping the Peter Pan competitors onto the board on Christmas morning in the early 1960s
A Twenty-Four hour swim - "I’m just slow. It costs a lot to swim the English Channel and I wanted my money’s worth. What’s more, I was enjoying the view.”
Long term club member Anna presented the Mario McClarnon cup in memory of one of the club's favourite "characters". She was joined by her brother Marcel and his (rather grown-up) children.
Anna (who also answers to Maria) swam in the Serpentine as a little girl, being taught to swim by dad Mario during the school holidays. She went on to race with us in the late 1990s and early 2000s. She also trained for a successful Channel crossing, joining the elite "24 HOUR CLUB"....
On Monday 2 September 2002, at 8.43 pm Anna set off from Dover for her Channel attempt. She landed in France 24 hours and 8 minutes later, at 8.51 pm, Tuesday 3 September. When asked if the swim took so long for reasons such as weather and tides, Anna replied “no, I’m just slow. It costs a lot to swim the English Channel and I wanted my money’s worth. What’s more, I was enjoying the view.”
A legendary runner, Mario completed the very first London marathon bare foot
Mario always ran bare foot and bare chested
Mario worked in the Clapham Junction signal box, at a time when signals were switched by manual leavers - heavy, physical work requiring repeated strength all day. After a shift in the signal box he would run barefoot and bare-chested from Clapham Junction to Hyde Park and back, summer and winter. In 1981 he ran the first London Marathon, complete with kilt and bagpipes, barefoot and bare-chested, stopping occasionally along the way to pipe the crowd and collect money for charity. An accompanying friend carried two buckets for the many coins tossed in for the good causes, getting heavier and heavier as the 26 miles, and Mario's playing, progressed. His accomplice said, "by the finish it seemed my arms had grown by two or three inches".
Daughter Anna noted that Mario ran from Vauxhall to the start at Blackheath, completed the marathon, then ran back to Vauxhall. Mario was an ultra-marathon runner before such things became "the in-thing"!
For more detail on Mario's many decades with the club please follow this link to the 2021 web report. The report contains some lovely photos of Mario piping us on Christmas morning, plus pictures of Mario "on-ice".
Our famous (infamous?) All Clothes Race kicked off the morning's events at 8 o'clock sharp
Taking position (on the catwalk?)
Panda takes the plunge
Final push for Panda as the finish line nears
Mary Gilbert emerges
No divine intervention for Fran
Even cats swam on Saturday
Thankful to survive
Mario's race quickly followed, once swimmers had disrobed.
Almost all swimmers took part in both races
200m (220 yards) completed
The morning finished with birthday bubbly and cake for Sarah Legrand
(Report compiled by Brian Thomas)