My bucket list features one particular achievement that seems to be exceedingly hard to fulfil. That is, to run the London Marathon. However, the event is thought to be as much as 7:1 over-subscribed. While over 36,000 take part in the event, it seems that entering the draft for a marathon place is an unreliable punt. So-called gold bond places are available for people that have rich friends or oodles of free time on their hands that could enable them to raise over £2000 for a charity place. None of these paths have so far opened up for me, and so I have directed myself towards secondary challenges. With London Triathlon under my belt, the next target was The Great North Run.
With the event held in September, the training calendar laid before me an Indian summer of Richmond Park trail. As usual, the park is generous to the photographer, offering stunning and unique vistas on each visit.
Different times of day and the changing seasons bring out its many qualities.
A late summer evening in the park.
It’s always a challenge getting the right moment with the deer. They are quite timid and don’t like being approached. The trick seems to be to capture them on a really hot day, as they aren’t in a great hurry to run away. September is a great month to track the deer, as they are at their peak population, just before the October cull. (sad-face)
Not the greatest masterpiece, but it’s tricky to get a good opportunity to photograph Richmond Park’s parakeet community. How the parakeets got to the park is a subject of conjecture, as they are generally native to the Himalayas. One story has them escaping from the set of John Houston’s ‘The African Queen’, which was being filmed at Shepperton Studios in 1951. Another rumour points to Jimi Hendrix as the source, after he allegedly released a pair of parakeets over Carnaby Street! Link
This wonderful avenue of autumnal trees leads the trail runner up to Pembroke Lodge. While the avenue appears inviting during the daytime, it can also be quite sinister as dusk draws in.
An early start in the park can occasionally be very rewarding. When morning mist descends, the landscape takes on a surreal quality.
Mixing with the competition the night before the event…
The start of the race takes a route from Exhibition Park under an array of transport flyovers and onto the Tyne Bridge.
It was a pretty grim, windy day, which didn’t make things any easier. I found it a very friendly race compared to some. The crowd support was great. Geordie spectators lined most of the streets offering runners orange slices, jelly babies, ice lollies and in one instance, sausage rolls. Not the most obvious running supplement!
Cheesy medal shot, taken about fifteen minutes before a downpour soaked my newly donned set of dry clothes after the race. Managed a finishing time of 1:56:48, beating my last half marathon time by about ten seconds. Basically, I pushed as hard as I could but ran out of steam after ten miles. With cramp setting in during the last kilometre, I only just got my pb. The finishing time put me 12,912 out of 56,000, which puts me in the top 25%. Not too shabby!
The Great North Run certainly had the best atmosphere I had encountered for an organised fitness event. The London Triathlon and Nike Run To The Beat were distinctly corporate in comparison. But getting up North from London was certainly quite a bum-numbing ball-ache. Great to get this medal added to my slowly growing medal collection never-the-less.