As we successfully begin the decent on hump day, and close in on the end of January, I’ll kick off with 2 points of attention this week:
Firstly, it’s time trial week, so don’t forget to submit your times (preferably after you’ve run the route, it’s not a guessing game I’m afraid) and Brian will get the link updated here: https://www.bexleyac.org.uk/?p=8515
Secondly, I hope you all saw the email from John re. membership fees. The club have been working tirelessly behind the scenes, so do look out for confirmation that the membership portal has opened (early Feb), and get yours done.
Onto this week’s topic, and I will be the first to admit that this running malarkey does tend to slip into our daily lives, how could it not? I mean, you may add carb loading to your monthly meal plans, birthday presents tend to be more ‘lycra’ based, early nights and long run Sundays. Looking closer though, how far does it really go? I’ll openly admit that on my bookshelf you’ll now find a few books that stand out from my usual crime/detective reading, ones that give away the growing compulsion to a running world.
The first is ‘Born to Run’, by Christopher McDougall. A book that was leant to me many years ago by a friend who since moved back home to Australia (and never asked for it back since)! It tells of one man’s time visiting and getting to know a Mexican Indian tribe who came out of nowhere when one of them turned up at a 100 mile ultra race in not much more than a pair of home made sandals and a toga! The book goes on and delves into the lives of these people, introduces some other characters from the world of ultra running (imagine Forrest Gump, then pizza and beer at your nutrition stops) and a real enjoyable book to read.
Second book was the first I actually paid for on the running topic, and it’s ‘What I Talk About When I Talk About Running’, by Haruki Murakami. Now at the time I was a bit further along my running journey, had completed my first marathon and was at the stage that I was one of those annoying compulsive types filling my Facebook timeline with tales of runs in all weathers, new races, the odd status about my kids, but mostly running. I was kind of hooked! So this book was totally different from the last. It was written by an author turned runner, rather than the other way around and it was written in a more structured way. Certainly not an exciting journey to a far away tribe, but maybe more likened to a journey we would partake ourselves. The strange things that come to your mind when you’re running, what encourages us to get out running and all those good/bad runs you have in your life.
Next on my list to start is ‘Your Pace or Mine?’, by Lisa Jackson.
I do need to be in a certain headspace to pick up a book, and more so to finish it! Likewise, during lockdown I’ve dug deeper into Netflix/Amazon Prime than I care to admit, so for those that would rather just take a couple of hours in front of the TV here are a couple of suggestions for you (and it’s not Chariots of Fire or Forrest Gump, great as they are).
You might pick up a theme from me, that I like to know about the extremes. What takes people to that ‘beyond’ place, so my first suggestion is ‘Unbreakable – The Western State 100’. It’s filmed very much with hand held cameras and follows the front runners (and meets the historic old guy who first ran the route which used to be a horse race!) in an ultra race across terrain I can only explain as what you imagine when you think of the gold rush and wild west films in the Tahoe National Forest. It introduces the regulars and past winners – then a young hopeful from Europe (Spain), Kilan Jornet, entering the scene for the first time and his rise from family life in the mountains on holiday to the trail running life he has today. Amazing documentary to watch and it’s free on YouTube.
It’s was a toss-up next between two. Slightly edged out was the very ultimate, extreme, on the edge ‘Barkley Marathon’ – a race that you only get invited too, and in its secret course (again in the States, Tennessee this time), only 15 people have finished it in nearly the 30 years it’s taken place.. It’s a treasure hunt, finding pages of a book, across remote landscapes and weather, multiple marathon distances – oh, and a strict 60 HOUR cut off. However there are a few similar stories on this one, I’ll leave you to find the one you like best on YouTube again.
So I’ll finish with a bit more of an inspirational tale, it’s on Amazon prime video and it’s the ‘Skidrow Marathon’. “Another bloody marathon one Paul” (I hear you shout) but yes and no on this one. It’s more about the compassion, empathy and understanding of one man, a judge, to take the lives of homeless, many criminal and drug fuelled men and women, and convince them not only to get out and run – but to take part in international marathons! It truly is inspirational as you meet and hear the life stories of people who really have been at the bottom of every available barrel, to their own motivation to get over their criminal and various addiction issues. On top of that, they would then show up to a running club and make an attempt of doing something to be proud of in their lives.
As with the books, I can recommend a whole list of motivational, inspirational, downright crazy or just sit up funny films and documentaries – Unbroken, Free Solo, Run Fatboy Run, World’s Toughest Race, even Gallipoli – to name just a few.
So hopefully that will give you something different to think about this week. If you’re running life doesn’t just exist when you’ve got your trainers on, then you’re not alone!
Paul Dallison, Road Running Secretary
Bexley Athletic Club
Erith Stadium, Avenue Rd, Erith DA8 3AT