Category Archives: the marathon journey

246. London Marathon 2012 – every single step: running for Macmillan Cancer Support

a tree on the heath blackheath london england april by Julie70 flickr1: Endangered species
The vista is all but empty now, across the expanses of the open plain ahead. The sky is blue and cloudless, the temperature cool in the early morning as the huge animal lumbers slowly past me.

I keep walking evenly, as calmly as I can, trying not to distract the rhino’s attention at this moment of maximum peril, as it sets out upon its annual trek.

Behind me, I can hear the approaching patter of many more feet upon the ground, growing inexorably nearer with every second. The veneer of calm I’ve been carrying since before the break of dawn seems false and fragile now, as the adrenaline rises in my throat.

The months and weeks of single-minded preparation, the hours of planning and even this familiar landscape offer little comfort as I stand in trepidation at the beginning of the journey. Almost in a moment, the chasers are on my heels.

And yet, I keep on walking. It’s a vow I made long years ago, for here and now one rash move can destroy it all. No matter the temptation, I will not run a single step until I really have to.

A moment later, the wave of pursuers breaks over me. The rhino is trotting frantically not far ahead as a hundred fleet-footed gazelles and antelopes bound by. I furl my brow in resignation and don my cap. Then I check my laces, hitch my socks and straighten my green shirt before the pain begins.

A bright flash of sun glints closer as I take what must surely be my final walking strides. The sight that greets me next stretches all due reason. The beast is in full flight ahead, huge head lolling wildly as he sets his eyes on other prey. Two figures clad all in shining white are streaking past with that wicked horn bobbing menacingly just a single pace behind.

london marathon 2012 starwars trooper c spoiltrottengiftscoukI allow myself a smile and take one last step across the fateful line of hope and fear. Right before my eyes, the rhino is chasing two Star Wars Imperial troopers in full battle dress, all along the road. I click my watch, and hit the tarmac running.

My 2012 London Marathon has started, and anything could happen now.
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238. Guildford is Olympic – torch relay 2012

The Olympic torch is coming to Guildford in 2012 as its last stop before London.

stoke park london road gate guildford england by roadsofstoneThe grass running track in Stoke Park was laid out again recently. It’s from here in Guildford that the Olympic torch will begin the the final leg of its journey into London for the 2012 games.

There’ll be an evening celebration in Stoke Park on Friday, 20th July next year.
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116. London is Olympic – The London Marathon

1. London is Olympic – 21.04.2006

The London 2012 film and music were playing at the Expo last night, reminding me that Sunday will see the first marathon in this newly Olympic city of ours.

And inspiration for the marathon start line just doesn’t get any better than this.

london-olympics-2012-heather-small-proud.jpgI look into the window of my mind
Reflections of the fears I know I’ve left behind

I step out of the ordinary
I can feel my soul ascending

I’m on my way
Can’t stop me now
And you can do the same

Heather Small – May 2000

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115. A postcard from Greenwich Park

My winter’s journey of 18 weeks and 499 miles is over. Only four more days and 26 miles to go.

From the bleak beginnings of a frozen, snowy Christmastime in Scotland, through fifty Crawley lunchtimes and Guildford nightfalls I’ve wandered.

Along pretty Surrey towpaths and under pitch-black Houston skies, I waved those winter months goodbye.

I’ve seen the North Downs slopes from every side, gasped breathless in the Alps, and loped lazily down last weekend’s Warwickshire lanes and the Avon riverbank, too.

london-marathon-aftermath-water-bottles.jpgIt’s been a long way, this year.

I’ve felt no real promise, honest aspiration, or even false pretence of quicker feet or swifter legs, this time.

Just run through winter, until you reach the spring, I said.

So I just got through it. And now I’m here.
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113. The Pilgrim’s Progress – Surrey Hills 2

(… continued)

hackhurst-downs-north-downs-way-surrey.jpgAs I turn left off the main A25, uncharted territory lies ahead. The narrow lane rises in front of me, and I neither walk, nor confidently run, but somehow cobble together an unheroic if effective mix of both until the gradient flattens.

The ancient pasture land of Abinger Roughs lies to my left, that name describing quite well my personal symptoms of oxygen deficit and lingering virus.

It’ll only get harder from here, and so it’s just the ideal time to spy a couple of puzzled walkers standing by the roadside with their map.
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112. Forests of fire and iron – Surrey Hills 1

tillingbourne-albury-abinger-hammer-surrey-hills.jpgA drizzly morning, the last Sunday in March. And so, it’s come to this.

All those freezing January lunchtimes, seemingly endless February slogs into that slowly lengthening winter dusk, and forays into the primaeval darkness in the rain.

Looking back, it was nothing more than preparation for what lies ahead today.
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111. The plan

running-schedule-and-kit-2006.jpgThe glass of the second bottle felt moist and cool in my hand. Inviting.

5.30 pm at an exhibition in Earl’s Court, London’s very own suburb of Melbourne. It wasn’t an Australian beer in my hand, this time, even if three of those had slipped down effortlessly the evening before.

One more had disappeared just a moment ago, subsumed in seconds and without a thought. As they always are, at the witching hour which closes any trade show.

It was hard to believe my eyes, really, but it was happening. The bottle, so helpfully handed to me just a moment before, was moving back towards the table. My papers were gathering themselves into my bag.

Time for a decision. I collected my coat, mumbled a few feeble farewells, and headed out into the dusk and the rain, raising my collar and shuffling forwards along the wet pavement towards the tube station.
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