#1 – 2001 London – a world class marathon, in the city where I now live.
#2 – 2002 Chicago – a World Record Marathon, the finest and fastest in the US.
#3 – 2003 Stratford-upon-Avon – my hometown marathon, with closing symmetry in the town where I grew up.
My perfect marathon tour has just a month left and I have two questions to ask:
It was the Celts who discovered the hot springs of Bath, around 500 BC, worshipping their goddess Sul here. From 43 AD, the Roman city of Aquae Sulis – the waters of Sul – developed around the site.
Bath was built as a town for recreation, not a garrison, a kind of ancient Las Vegas, and the impressive baths today form some of the best Roman remains in Europe.
In more recent ages, Samuel Pepys, Queen Anne, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, David Garrick, Thomas Gainsborough, William Wordsworth, Josiah Wedgwood, William Pitt and Dr David Livingstone all visited at one time or another.
Reading. A picturesque, and largely flat town lying pretty alongside the Thames. Not quite, and never have I spent so much time amongst such a dismal set of warehouses. As the architecture of start lines go, it wasn’t pretty. A place which was seemingly designed with one true purpose in mind – the ideal location to find a grotty alley for a guiltless splash behind a rubbish skip.
The peoples of the world are more or less united, and at the very least divided. With the exceptions of the US, UK and Spanish leaders, a world majority feels that there is not yet a case for war.
Millions protest in the streets, cabinet ministers resign in the face of their electorate’s overwhelming view that although there is a real case to answer, the case is not proven.
Everyone agrees that whilst there is a threat, actually there is no new threat here since 1991, and, crucially, that there is no link whatsoever demonstrated between Iraq and 9/11.
It was amazing to read Ed’s account of thunder over the Texas plain on a blue Saturday morning.
Aspirations, beauty and death – these are thought-provoking counterpoints at a critical time in destiny.
It is truly my privilege to see such drama unfold through different eyes half a world away. To witness, and perhaps not to pass a view.
It’s just that as I run through a serene English winter’s afternoon, I wonder how will our two countries grieve the first seven victims of the forthcoming conflict ? And the next seven thousand, or seven hundred thousand ?
My personal favourite London run is along the South Bank, westwards towards the sunset from Tower Bridge.
It’s three miles past Tate Modern, St Paul’s and the Wobbly Bridge to the National Theatre and the Millennium Wheel. Three more will see you pass the Houses of Parliament to finish at Vauxhall Bridge. Some of Monet’s best skylines to admire along the way.
Another memorable trip is to take a boat from Charing Cross past Canary Wharf to Greenwich, and on foot to the Maritime Museum and the Royal Observatory. It’ll be three months after the London Marathon, but you’ll see where it all starts. And you can set your watch, too.
Have a great trip !
142. South Bank spring – Tate Modern, London
85. A homage to London’s Gherkin
141. A winter sky and green and blue – Hyde Park, London
36. The Embankment, inspiration and reality
51. London Calling
94. London Olympics 2012