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.
I started training in March 2013. Freezing cold winter weather refused to fade off till late spring.
St Ives Park in Bingley is pretty stunning in the freezing March light.
Myrtle Park, Bingley in the same wintry blue hue.
By May, the light had changed completely…
This shot is kind of weird. It’s like some kind of oddly-posed family photo! Rode past this scene whilst cycling over the Yorkshire Moors during a bit of hill-training.
By early July, Myrtle Park was beaming in the sunshine.
This running route through Myrtle Park has some great scenery.
Here’s a scary rubber vision encountered whilst training with RG Active at Ham Lake.
The Olympic distance triathlon took place on Sunday 28th July at the ExCeL Centre in East London.
Emerging from the Royal Victoria Dock.
1500m in 56:04
Yes, that’s a really bad time, now get a move on!
My lonely bike in the transition zone.
40km in 1:18:15
Made up a bit of time during the cycle phase.
10km in 57:12
The final stretch to victory!
Got a finishing time of 3:25:57
That placed me 4280 out of 4684 olympic distance entrants: rubbish!
Well I’ve entered for 2014, so let’s see how that works out…
I spend a lot of time running. Maybe because it’s one of the cheapest and most time-effective ways of working out. Maybe it’s the endorphin hit you get after a long distance trip. Whatever the reason, I’m addicted to it and will try to rip through as many miles as I can till my ageing knees give up the ghost! Here is a collection of five images taken whilst on various runs over the last couple of years, that capture different aspects of the experience.
Well this is my current favourite running venue! Richmond Park is undoubtedly the best place to head to in London. One whole lap is about 12km, so that’s a great distance for anyone wanting a challenge, but the whole park just looks lush…
This shot was taken in the warm-up queue of the 2012 Nike Run To The Beat half marathon which took place in London. Thousands of yellow clad runners queue up on a freezing Sunday morning near the Millennium dome getting ready to eat up some serious miles. Strangely, they seem to be all women! Can’t explain that. Maybe I got in the wrong queue!
Nearly totally wasted this little fella, as I was bounding through The Prince Of Wales Park in Bingley, West Yorkshire. Managed to turn him into a photograph rather than a footprint though!
In the spirit of funny animal photos, had to throw this one in. This character was taking advantage of a shadow on an unusually hot September day in Richmond Park.
Well running’s not always nice and pleasant. This photo is a pretty good summary of my boxing day run yesterday through St Ives Park in Bingley. One and a half hours of rain, mud and tripping over hidden rocks. By the time it got dark, my hand was starting to go numb with the cold. Yeah…. running is not always fun!
I took a trip to Barcelona in September 2010. I hadn’t gotten round to sorting out the hundreds of photos I took till now. I’ve boiled down the images to ten stills that I think capture the modern Barcelona.
Right at the centre of Barcelona is the square, Placa Catalunya. This sculpture is one of the many statues and fountains that decorate the square. The bull is clearly a symbol of Catalonia, with the tradition of bull-fighting going way back.
Santiago Calatrava is one of Barcelona’s finest architects. A Modern answer to Antonio Gaudi. His fantastic Torre De Calatrava stands proudly on the hill overlooking Barcelona on a prestigious site next to Barcelona’s impressive olympic stadium.
Gaudi designed the magnificent Park Guell on a hillside overlooking the city. An extremely decorative and sculptural park and garden. I found myself using it as a very picturesque running route, and I wasn’t the only one.
Parc De Collserola was a great find. Located about 12 miles north of Barcelona, near Cerdanyola Del Valles, it quickly became my regular run route. Rather than show off a landscape, I enjoyed this natural form, affected by the toyfulness of a young couple.
The political tension between the Catalan community and the Spanish people is clear in this graffiti, also found in Parc De Collserola.
Barcelona is a city that attracts plenty of football tourism. The souvenir shops are as packed with FC Barcelona merchandise as much as cheap plaster effigies of the Sagrada Familia. I was lucky enough to stumble into the stadium site on a Champions League night, and found myself watching Barcelona’s golden generation of players thrash Olympiakos 4-0.
The cranes surrounding Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece are as much part of the landscape as the mighty Sagrada Familia itself
This stunning stained glass window inside Gaudi’s church makes a fantastic play of colour upon the interior walls of the cathedral.
Antonio Gaudi’s work is on display all over the city. This detail mosaic adorns a fantastic dragon sculpture on the roof of the exuberant family house, Casa Battlo
Barcelona is clearly a city of the modern. The Museum of Contemporary Art is a fantastic collection of Barcelona’s modern artwork as well as being an architectural statement in itself
The city is a fantastic mix of new and old with the wonders of its gothic quarter sitting very close to its various displays of modernity. I only scratched the surface with my week long visit.