A record-breaking Ramsay Round for the 21st century

When news of the success of the expedition to climb Mount Everest was revealed to the world on June 2, 1953, four days had elapsed since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay had stood on the summit. When Jez Bragg reached Glen Nevis youth hostel at the end of a record-breaking Ramsay Round in the Scottish…

Book review: Runner’s Guide to London

‘There is something truly special about running in London,’ Hayden Shearman insists in the introduction to his new book Runner’s Guide to London. I am not so sure. The longer you stay in a place and the more miles you trudge, the more cynical you become. The wonders you once marvelled at scarcely merit a…

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 truly extraordinary: ordinary people doing extraordinary things

There is something instinctive in human nature for the amateur to celebrate the professional. Radcliffe. Farah. Bolt. Kimetto. Rudisha. We watch in awe as the extraordinary achieve the extraordinary. But there is something more extraordinary than this: the ordinary achieving the extraordinary. I am not saying Colin Dear

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…

The art of the buggy runner

I am seconds away from finishing my first London Marathon. I am 18. I have discovered the ambiguity of walls. I am suffering, limping to the finish line. Suddenly, a grey streak passes my right shoulder. I am being overtaken by a Womble. I have no energy to respond. I watch the Womble charge into…

The daddy of all compromises: trying to be a father and a runner

The essence of Nick Hornby’s biographical Fever Pitch is that Arsenal is the author’s constant in life. Amid the flux of education, work and relationships, happiness, sadness and indifference, Arsenal and football remain resilient to the vagaries of life. Come what may, for Hornby, it is Arsenal yesterday, Arsenal today and Arsenal tomorrow. The love…

Coming to a muddy field or park near you, cross country is back

It is New Year’s Day. I am trudging across an open field, decorated with wind-harassed red and white tape. The ground has slid away; the floor is a molten conveyor belt of liquidised mud. It writhes beneath the slap of ineffectual spikes. I am 15. I think I am in love. Love has brought me…

Keith

Mr Hamflett was a tall, angular man. He was old and bald. I would never be as old as him. I would never be bald. He had the look of a runner: lean, lithe and long-limbed. If he could run a mile in under four minutes or a marathon in two-and-a-half hours, I would not…

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…

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…