Wednesday, 27 April 2011

A tale of two cities

That would be Paris and London. But as April has been full running-wise, there's another three events to mention too (with yet another two to go before the month is out).

So, I watched the highlights of the London Marathon on telly and they kept claiming it's the world's greatest marathon. Now, I'm not really a fan of city marathons, but I would rate Paris way above London. (I think I've also done three other capital cities and London might get pushed down to fourth or fifth place on my list.) The atmosphere at London is great, but it's very crowded and the route isn't particularly inspiring. It makes for a good day out and I do enjoy it, but it's not a favourite for me. Plus I still had a heavy cold on the day and found that there is no way to discretely expel copious quantities of snot when watched by those crowds. Sorry - over-sharing I know. I really liked going out for dinner with my sister (& bro-in-law & Jim) afterwards though, so it was a lovely afternoon!

We had gone to Paris for the first four days of the school holidays, the marathon being on the Sunday. Despite my annoying cold (my eyes were streaming as I stood hacking like a 60-a-day smoker on the Champs Elysees at the start) I had a very pleasant run around the city and parks, enjoying the sights and the huge feel-good factor of the event. A good T shirt at the end too (a proper wicky one, red with Parisian pictures on the front, that I will actually use). We spent the afternoon in the Marais, and the rest of the time in Paris doing all the things we like to do in our favourite city.

The weekend before Paris I'd popped down to Battle, near Hastings, for the first Sussex Marathon. This was a hilly run, mainly through country lanes. I ran guiding Paul, a blind running friend. I managed to keep him out of the potholes and avoided thwacking him into any lamposts/trees, so was pleased that we both finished without incident. The actual guiding bit is not physically hard (using a dog-chew-toy, swapping sides every 3 miles or so) but a lot of extra concentration is required. It does make the run feel a bit different and we could both claim it was the other who wanted to walk so many of the steeper hills.

Towards the end of the holiday came the Easter weekend. For me this included an Enigma marathon (round the lake in the park near Bletchley, top event that Foxy Davy organises) where I managed to get rather sunburnt on the Friday. Then I went up to Goring for the Compton Downland 40 miler on the Sunday. I liked this one before when it had been muddy, but this time it was stunningly beautiful in parts. The scenery was extra pretty in the sunshine and the timing meant that the woods were full of bluebells and we passed through a huge field of shoulder-high bright yellow rape. And later there were four hares frolicking in a field. Brilliant organisation by Dick Kearn and his merry team.

There was more entertaining wildlife as we picnicked in Richmond Park, as well as lots of other day trips to keep us grinning all the was through the holidays. And this 3-day-week followed by a 4-day-week to ease us back into work is most welcome. Now, I really should try to shake this stupid lingering cold so I can fully enjoy all this gorgeous springtime running...

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