Tuesday 26 February 2013


Managing to stay upright on the ice around Grimwith Reservoir....
       I wish I could stay on my feet. Last Thursday, just when I was starting to feel good again, I'd another great splat. Running downhill on a gravelly path, picking up speed, I tripped and took a flying dive, tearing the skin on both knees, both elbows, cutting my Rt hand and cricking my neck - again. Taking a misty eyed look back, I couldn't see anything I could possibly have tripped over. Maybe I just stubbed my toe into the ground while my mind was elsewhere. I don't know. At least, I didn't break anything this time - unlike other occasions when I've returned home with a finger hanging off, or hardly daring to breathe because of a broken rib. Nor was there quite so much blood as the occasion I fell down rocks on the Isles of Scilly while 'enjoying' a final run before returning home.  Regardless of my countless catastrophes it never crosses my mind to stop running.  It's what I do, my raison d'etre....and I'm not done yet.

I'm not quite ready yet, thankyou.....
On this last occasion I hit the deck right next to where they're laying foundations and landscaping a new cemetery in a most beautiful location overlooking the Colne Valley. Good as it might seem to be its first permanent resident, I'm not quite ready yet. There are better ways of getting one's name or photograph in the paper and I came across quite a good one yesterday. Fauja Singh, the turbaned torpedo, has decided to retire from competitive racing after competing in a 10K road race in Hongkong - five weeks short of his 102nd birthday. He wont stop running, he says, and may turn out occasionally to raise money for charity. It's amazing how running can become so compulsive, regardless of age. I have friends well into their eighties who turn out regularly, regardless of the weather, to churn out the miles or match their racing skills against contemporaries. It seems there is no antidote for the running bug.

Snowdrops in my garden....
Mileage-wise, it promised to be quite a good week - until Thursday's splat. On Monday I'd devised a new circuit to break the monotony of regular routes, and repeated it on Tuesday. The weather was cool and dry, ideal for running. Before snow returned at the weekend there was even a hint of Spring in the air. Snowdrops were shaking their drooped heads in sheltered corners of my garden. What I first took to be a couple of sweet wrappers thrown in the grass were, on closer inspection, some early purple crocuses turning their faces towards the welcome sun. Then a lapwing swept by on its broad wings, hopefully a precursor of many more to come.  Best of all, the fields at Bolton Abbey were full of new born lambs on wobbly legs, most with blank expressions on their tiny faces as they gazed about not quite knowing what to make of their new surroundings - or the freezing temperature.

Cold enough for a Buffalo jacket on Sunday
By the time I'd loosened up enough to run again, on Sunday, the temperature was still in the minuses and though I was wearing lots of layers, plus a woolly hat and gloves, I still felt cold while crunching over snow and ice on a four mile run round Grimwith Reservoir.  My wonderful partner even went to the extremes of wearing a Buffalo jacket!  Notices proclaim Grimwith to be a 'Wildlife Area', advising folk to keep dogs on leads, but apart from a raft of mallard and a few pheasants we saw nothing. It's possible some of the well togged walkers circling the reservoir in the reverse direction thought we were part of the wildlife. A cocky little spaniel definitely thought we were fair game until it got shouted at and called to heel by a girl running faster than us.

My two lads, Alasdair and Callum
with one of my lurchers - 37 years ago
In a previous life, long before such practices were banned, I hunted with lurchers, dogs that would chase anything fast moving that caught their eye - from mice and rats, squirrels and rabbits to hares and young deer. One of them, a bitch called Fly, had tremendous stamina and would never stop running until her jaws had locked round her prey. Sometimes I'd difficulty finding her, calling her name with no response, until eventually I'd come across her collapsed on the ground, panting her heart out, but invariably with a hare lying in the grass beside her. She was the physical embodiment of the mantra - Never, ever, ever give up.  Animals can teach us a lot. A wildlife clip that never fails to fascinate me is of a cheetah coursing a gazelle. Whilst the legs and rippling body are twisting, turning and running at tremendous speed, the big cat's head and eyes are locked in one position, totally focused on that fleeing object. There's surely a lesson there for all of us who race seriously, to fine tune our bodies to the point they can perform with effortless independence while our minds concentrate fully upon the tactics of outrunning the opposition and never stopping until the prize is won.  However, before all that I've got to learn to stay on my feet. After all, I never once saw Fly, or that perishing cheetah, falling about all over the place!


  1. Another good read. Hope the trip hasn't dented you too much!

  2. I'm glad you're okay!

    :-) Marion

  3. I don't really want to mention the fact the you are 80 and most people that age break things when they fall, so you my friend are a special guys if you only came away with a few cuts...

    I also hope to read about you in 20 years time as no dought will head back to London then for a last marathon... I still have 57 years to go...

    1. So far I've only broken the odd rib (very painful) and badly lacerated my little finger - so 204 of my allotted bones are still intact.
      Fauja Singh didn't start running till he was 89 so he'd be on top of his running form at 100. I'm well past my 'best before' date. No more marathons for me!

  4. I like the thought of you trying out the view from the new cemetery! Was it any good? Or do you have a preferred spot in mind? Hope you're OK and I hope the ground gets more grippy soon. I thought I heard a lapwing today on my run; they nest around about here. Lovely things.

  5. Gordon
    An email to you keeps bouncing back - Have you altered your address? Just letting you know Yorks Vets XC champs at Wentworth castle, Near Barnsley on Sat Mar 16th entries close
    11th march
    details here
    Guy (Epocian)

  6. Lovely scenery as always. I don't think I ever run fast enough to get so injured! Hope you're recovered from your latest fall now.

    1. I'm sure you're running faster than me now Liz.

  7. Another great post! You have the edge on Fly and that Cheetah when it comes to wonderfully describing your runs! PS: I'm not sure how to change my profile name from Rís back to Breandán... any advice to a ludite is welcome!

  8. Thanks Breandán for your kind comments. Afraid I don't know how to change the name in your Blog. Maybe clicking on Design, Settings, Blog authors? Otherwise Google for help.
    I've been going to comment on your posts but you seem to be getting anonymous rogue posters and I don't want them latching onto mine. I've noticed them in other people's blogs too.
    Best wishes

  9. I am glad I found your blog. It is inspiring. I started running in 2007 at the age of 48 and I am currently training for my 6th full marathon.

    1. Thanks Art, though I don't feel to have done very much to inspire people lately! I started running 6 years later than you and just did 8 marathons, stopping at age 62 when I thought I could no longer improve on my PR (2.53.04).
      Good luck with your running.