I “stole” this great idea from Charlie (The Runner Beans), who in turn got the idea from someone else. Charlie’s top 5 can be found here. So here are my top 5 running memories rather than moments….
1. Running the first ever London Marathon in March 1981. This was the first mass-participation marathon in the UK. Chris Brasher and John Disley were inspired by the New York and Boston marathons and set out to replicate those in London. The rest is history. I trained for several months for this – but it wasn’t enough! The first 17 miles were relatively easy – ignoring the stitch that started at about 9 miles. The last few miles were slow going, but I made it to the finish line which at the time was on Constitution Hill – not quite as dramatic a setting as today’s finish on the Mall. But the experience and sense of achievement were fantastic, with the support from the crowds along the route making it really special.
2. Fleet Half Marathon 1981. As part of my preparation for London Marathon, like many others I entered this – it was my first ever organised running event. Being just weeks before London, I was in pretty good shape with my training, and it was thoroughly enjoyable to be able to accomplish this half distance – much easier than the full marathon turned out to be. Like London, it had its share of “celebrities” and I think it was at this event that John Conteh, the boxer, accidentally pee’d on my trainer in the urinals before the start! Funny how you don’t forget some things! Anyway, I regard this as probably “my finest hour” in running terms (not in soiled shoe terms!), being able to speed up towards the end and finishing in about 1hr 45m.
3. Snowdon. For some years, I set myself the challenge of running (well, as far as is possible) up and down Snowdon in 2 hours (round trip) starting from the Pen-y-Pass car park. I’d done this route many times, including as part of the 3 peaks outing that 3 of us did some years before. My last attempt at the 2 hour goal was my best and in glorious weather. I can’t remember the exact timing to the top, but when I arrived there I realised that the 2 hour target was looking unlikely to be achieved. But I pushed on, or rather down, from the top and made it back in a time of about 2 hours 8 minutes – so close! I’m not sure if I’ll have another crack at that, as I don’t live in UK anymore and I’m many years older, but you never know!
4. The LookOut, Bracknell. This is a large forest area (more than 1,000 hectares) just south of Bracknell, where I’ve done a lot of my training over many years. It has a car park and coffee shop, and miles of forest tracks and paths – all that runners require! The first time I ever went there I got thoroughly lost in the forest – all you can see is trees and there are few landmarks to navigate by. Over the years I got to know the geography of the place pretty well and it was a pleasure to just head out wherever I fancied and be sure of finding my way back. There are a number of hills in the forest, allowing for my favourite / worst (delete as appropriate) form of training – hill intervals. I owe the LookOut a lot of thanks!
5. Running in the Jura Mountains. I include this as its my most recent training ground after a couple of years of non-running because of injury. I’ve managed to slowly build up and did a trail run last week along the ridge where there is a spectacular view of Geneva and the Alps in the far distance. Being out in these situations is what keeps me motivated and eager to get back out in the hills.
So that’s my 5. I’m hoping that number 6 will be the Vertical Kilometer in Chamonix, which I will do sometime during 2015, and hopefully in a half-respectable time! My inspiration for this comes from Sophie (challengesophie.com) and Charley Radcliffe, and you can see details here. Training is ongoing for that!