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19/04/2016 / hbrowne4

It’s Insanely Brilliant! By Mort Murphy

The author gives a humourous account of his experiences of sprinting in high heels, dressed as a woman

Dedicated to:

Carlow’s Annual Stiletto Sprint


Carlow Mental Health Awareness Action Group

 Mort Murphy 12th April 2016 ©


“Help” I called to the lady from Carlow Mental Health Awareness Action Group “I can’t get my dress on.”  “Sure” she says, smiling happily, pulling the dress down over my shoulders. It was huge, a tent of a maternity dress.  Yet it barely fitted me.

2.00pm on Sunday the 8th June and I was getting dressed at their premises on Dublin Street for the Carlow Stiletto Sprint. Starting time was imminent, only an hour away.

Admiring myself in the mirror, I frowned suddenly. There was what looked like millions of short, thread-like, black things growing out of my legs. “Oh! My God!” I thought, “This is a disaster. What will I do? I forgot to shave my legs.” But it was too late now.

Quickly a cunning plan came to mind. “I’ll distract their attention from the hairy legs.” I decided.  Rummaging around until I found a truly beautiful, pink hat, designed by Philip Treacy, I placed it rakishly upon my head. Then I asked the kind lady to put on my make-up. I was especially keen that she use lots of that very bright, red lipstick on my lips.  Next I slipped all 6 feet (183 cms.) and 20 stone (127 Kgs.) of me into gloriously bright, red, patent leather, 3 inch (7.6 cms) stilettos.

Looking in the mirror I surveyed my ensemble with a critical eye. Satisfied with what I saw, I thought happily “There’s no way they’ll notice now. I’m ready for action!”  Taking a final, side profile look again in the mirror, I also thought “Hmmm! Look at the size of that belly!  Only for the fact that I’m 60 years of age I might even think I’m pregnant myself. And these heels are tossing it way out in front of me. I look like one of those massive sumo wrestlers in a maternity dress”

I had never worn heels before and thought I’d do a test run to get used to them. I stepped, or should I say, I gingerly mince-walked my way out to the street.  Suddenly, unexpectedly, my feet were feeling very woozy, wobbly, flopping all over the place. You know that weird sensation you get when light headed, as if you’re going to fall? Well that’s what it was like for me, only instead of being light in the head I was light in the legs. Boy, was I confused. Then I realized it was the high heels.

Walking on stilettos felt really, really weird. The balls and toes of my feet were safely on firm ground as normal. But at the same time my heels were away up in the air, on nothing but a pair of fancy, but very scrawny 3 inch (7.6 cms.) nails. My life was in their hands.

I had to bring out my feminine side and fast. Otherwise I was going to fall over. But my femininity didn’t come out pretty I’m sorry to say. I would love to tell you that I brought out my style of walking on heels as if I were sashaying along, hips swaying from side to side. But in truth I looked more like one of those lurching, lumbering machines you see excavating holes in building sites or digging up the streets.

Heels are hell on the calf muscles. Mine were aching. So I thought I’d better rest up awhile. I turned around and headed back to HQ.

But was I in for a shock. When I had left to go walkabout, the place was in a bustling state of organised activity. Now, only 10 minutes later, walking back in, it was as if I had been transported to a different place and time.

Exotic bedlam stretched before me. My fellow contestants, more than 60 men, were in various stages of undress, in readiness to putting on their best, sexy, glamorous outfits, make-up, stilettos. There were women everywhere, wearing bright yellow T-shirts, emblazoned with the words, Carlow Mental Health Volunteer. Spiritedly they were living up to their name, enthusiastically helping the men. Seeing all these women helping all these men dress up as women was, at one and the same time, an inspiring sight and an awesome spectacle. “Man, but this is insane!” I proudly remarked.

Just inside the door I carved out a little haven for myself. Unladylike, I plonked down on a chair, kicking off the stilettos and massaging my calf muscles, all at the same time. Then a man and woman, accompanied by their 8 year old daughter and 10 year old son, came in.

The dad sat beside me. Smiling over, opening a bag, this stranger took out his dress. Then he too began taking off his clothes, his wife and children helping him. Somehow this surreal situation was accepted as normal – just another day in Carlow.

The young boy then said something to his mother. She smiled and nodded. He dived into the glorious melee, returning a short while later, proudly holding aloft two of those amazing T-shirts. As they put on their shirts I could sense the young girl intently gazing at me out of the sides of her eyes, sizing me up. I discreetly tucked my legs under the chair.

“Its insanely brilliant” the girl stage whispered to her brother, her face alight.

“I know” he whispered loudly back, “Whoever would have thought these old guys – I mean the youngest must be 25 if he’s a day and that guy beside us is ancient – whoever would have thought that these oldies would be real fun?”

“Well yes, it is nuts” she said, looking happily around the room, taking it all in, “you’re right. Though that isn’t what I was talking about.”

Jerking her thumb in my direction she continued “The old guy’s outfit! It shouldn’t work. The hat; the dress; the heels,; the hair, or lack of it; the makeup; the size of him; then there are  those hairy legs: I mean how appalling are they?  Everything screams fashion disaster. Yet because of those hairy legs it all comes together. It’s insanely brilliant.”

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