Running in the boot marks of Wainwright

‘The face of Place Fell overlooking Patterdale is unremittingly and uncompromisingly steep,’ wrote Alfred Wainwright in his pictorial guide to the Far Eastern Fells of the Lake District. Wainwright recommends any ascent of the 657-metre peak that rises above Ullswater but this. And that is where I find myself, trudging upwards on pathless mountainside, the…

A lesson for us all

There is something instinctive in human nature for the amateur to celebrate the professional. Radcliffe. Rudisha. Kimetto. We watch in awe as the extraordinary achieve the extraordinary. But there is something more extraordinary than this: the ordinary achieving the extraordinary. That is not to say that Colin Dear is ordinary. Ordinary humans do not run…

Lessons learnt about running in London

After five years of living in London, I am escaping to Edinburgh in July. Escape is the apt verb. I imagine I’ve run around 10,000 miles in just about every London borough. This is what I have learned. The perception of danger is greater than the reality And this makes me sad. Rarely have I felt…

The Grand National: England’s greatest cross country race

The year is 1876. Queen Victoria is ruling an empire; Benjamin Disraeli is her Prime Minister; Thomas Edison is seeking a patent for the telephone. At Buckhurst Hill in Epping Forest, 32 men gather at a pub, The Bald-Faced Stag, for the All England Cross Country Championship. It is mid-November and it is raining. South…

Running the summits of the Inner London boroughs

Doctor Andrew Murray is at it again. Not content with running from Scotland to Morocco, galloping up Mount Kilimanjaro or jogging to the North Pole, he has this week announced that he is going to run the 10 highest Scottish mountains in one day. This is why: ‘We are doing this because we had a…

Respecting your elders at the Bewl 15

I frequently train with runners in their forties and fifties, and by doing so I am often led to reflect how ‘they put me to shame’ – be it through their commitment to athletics, their speed in spite of their advanced years, or their impressive never-say-die endurance. While there is the excitement of watching young…

The unpredictable art of running blogging

I have been blogging for some years. I was a writer and journalist first. My original purpose was to support the publication of my first book, Heights of Madness, and my second and third books thereafter. Over time, heightsofmadness.com graduated into a running blog – a blog that last week pleasingly surpassed 50,000 visits. Writing…

Peckham Rye parkrun: introducing Del Boy’s parkrun

Stick a barcode in me pocket. I’ll fetch the trainers from the closet. Cause if you want the best parkrun And you don’t ask questions Then Peckham is your one Where these runners come from Is a mystery. It’s like 9 in the morning, At least it’s free. But here’s the thing that’s driving me…

Making the top-250: the UK’s real running heroes

It was in January when I overheard two club runners speaking about their seasons’ aims following a Surrey League cross country match. One said his 2014 aspiration was to be ranked among the top-250 runners in the country. ‘What distance?’ his mate asked. The other shrugged. He didn’t mind: as long as he made the…

I would run 1000 miles…

Barring mishap or the unexpected, by around 7.30pm on Tuesday, midway through an undoubtedly frantic 8 x 600m session on the track at Tooting Bec, I will have run 1000 miles in 2014. It has taken four days and nine hours. It doesn’t sound very long, does it? The venue is fitting, for my metamorphosis…

Conti Lightning Run 2014

The premise of the Conti Lightning Run is simple: teams of one, two or five must run as many 10k laps of a course around Catton Park in 12 hours. The individual or pair or quintet who run the furthest are the winners. I was part of a Men’s Running team that won this year’s…