Confessions of an extreme ironing virgin

I┬áhave to be honest, I don’t much like ironing. When buying clothes, I tend to check the labels for lycra (much less likely to need pressing before wear) and I’ve never been one to put my hand up to iron my other half’s work shirts (after all, I work too and I don’t see why I should).

And also, if I’m completely honest, I hate being cold. Running around in the cold and wet is not a top way to spend a weekend. Give me a nice warm sunny summer’s day any time.

So when I met my other half – Steam, the founder of the extreme ironing movement – I would say I was pretty pleased that his extreme ironing days were behind him. They belonged in a previous life and, while the whole invention and development of the sport was always an amusing anecdote to talk about, I was relieved it was no longer a big part of his life.

Mrs Steam ironing on a log

But then he suggested dusting off the iron and board to run the Hastings half marathon in aid of the hospice in which Mrs Steam Senior died last year.

What on earth was I to say?

“Actually, to be honest love, I’d rather do it for a PB…”? (Have you SEEN the gradient of the course map?)

“I’ve got other charity commitments this year.” (What could be more important than this?)

So it was with some trepidation that I strapped on the board a couple of weeks ago, and set off on my first training run – accompanied, of course, by Steam.

Aside from a bit of board movement, the actual carrying of the board was less difficult than I expected it to be. We’ve invested in two lightweight boards and are experimenting with various ways of attaching them to ourselves it on with the aid of a rucksack with padded straps and various other bits of webbing and carabiners. Obviously there’s a big difference between a mile-long training amble and 13.1 miles of a hilly course, but it’s a start.

The thing that takes more getting used to is the reaction from other people. It varies from blatant and undisguised staring and complete bemusement to a lengthy conversation-starter, which isn’t that conducive to getting on with your training run. The starers are easy to ignore actually, the talkers are less so.

Phase two of the training programme involved a trip to Ashdown Forest to shoot the promo video with Dave and Pam from HUTC Productions. These two have made a living out of shooting footage of unusual sporting escapades all over the world, including the the Bog-Snorkelling Championship, Crazy Golf Championship, International Brick and Rolling Pin Championship, Brompton Racing and Lawn Mower Racing. It’s safe to say they’ve pretty much seen it all when it comes to British eccentricity, and being around Dave makes it feel almost normal to run around woodland, leaping ditches and clambering up waterfalls with an ironing board strapped to your back, pausing only for a spot of ironing action up a tree.

Am I a convert?

It’s certainly more interesting than ironing in the spare room, I’ll admit that. And there’s something quite addictive about the attention, amusement and support from random strangers.

But it is absolutely bonkers as well.

So, watch this space for more training updates.

Mrs Steam

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