Running the London Marathon 2015

At the time of writing this (29th June 2014) the 2015 London Marathon is 301 days away. Now I know that might seem like a long time to some but when the furthest you’ve run recently is a mere 7 miles very slowly, 300 days isn’t long to work your way up to running 26.2 in a respectable time (i.e. before it gets dark on the day!)

Why am I even considering running another marathon, you may ask, when by the time 26th April 2015 comes around I’ll be 58 years-old? The answer is fairly simple – someone has talked me into it. This ‘someone’ is an old school friend (I can use the term ‘old’ as he is 3 weeks older than me). We only reignited our friendship relatively recently at an unofficial school reunion drink and immediately found we had the love of running in common. This came as a shock to me as my school days’ recollection of this man is that he hid behind a tree rather than take part in cross-country runs and rejoined the rest of us as we past his hiding place on the way back down the school drive!

We now run together regularly (On consideration that should read “We now run in the same races” as he is considerably faster than me) and we enjoy a cup of coffee or two after our races whilst searching our ageing memories for amusing anecdotes about life at school together. Strangely he remembers many more of the downsides to our life at an old-fashioned Grammar school than I do. Perhaps that says more about our personalities than it does about what actually happened to us there. I digress.

So, having been talked into running another marathon by such a persuasive fellow I embarked on my build up to it today. I have no aspirations to break any records (I’ve not broken 4 hours in previous attempts) but I would like to keep running all the way round this time and beating the man that has hoodwinked me into this challenge is a must. I plan to follow the excellent Runners’ World 16 week schedule that I’ve used before and that kicks in the first week of the New Year. Until then I will increase my weekly mileage to about 20 miles a week (it’s barely in double figures at the moment) and try and get my time for 7 miles (once round Richmond Park for the uninitiated) down to something a lot closer to an hour than it was this morning.

I’m going to continue blogging about how I get on in case anyone is interested or even wants to give me some tips! Before Christmas I shall be running at least one half marathon but won’t be booking a place in a race that long until I’ve upped my mileage considerably. I’ve never managed to complete the training schedule without incurring an injury either so I’m likely to be moaning at least once about aches and pains too.

I must be mad!

PS I missed the Internet ballot for places so I will have to run for a charity.

A sign of the times?

A sign of the times?

This morning (Friday) on Radio 2 I heard Chris Evans ask a 12 year-old to “score her Glastonbury experience so far out of 10”. Surely the question he should have asked her is: “Why aren’t you at school today?”

In case any proof was needed that she would have been better off at school rather than at a music festival, she scored the experience “11 out of 10”!

Ed Miliband and his free copy of The Sun


I should start by stating categorically that my opinions, as expressed below, are not intended in any way to trivialise the grief and suffering of those who lost loved ones in April 1989. If you haven’t experienced something yourself it is difficult, if not impossible, to know how you would react in similar circumstances. However I do have a problem with the disproportionate reaction there has been to the fact that a party leader has merely been photographed holding a free copy of a national newspaper.

Nobody can justify the obscene headlines and untruthful accounts that the Sun published four days after the disaster. It must have caused incredible hurt and mental anguish to those who were still immersed in their grief. That incident however, like the disaster itself, happened over 25 years ago. Does a photograph of a party leader in 2014 holding a copy of the paper really merit calls for his resignation?

I accept that quotes on the Internet, like the Sun’s story all those years ago, can be untrue but it has been reported that a Labour councillor in Liverpool, Martin Cummins, has resigned from the Labour party over the affair. Apparently he said: “Seeing Ed promoting the Sun has rocked me to my core.” Really Mr Cummins? Rocked you to your core?

The Labour mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, has also been quoted as saying many people would feel “insulted” by Mr Miliband’s actions. “Like everybody in this city I am really hurt and offended by Ed Miliband’s support for The Sun newspaper,” he said. “Such clear support for that publication at any time would be wrong but at such a sensitive time is deeply shocking.”

An article about the affair from the Liverpool Echo that was posted on Facebook drew hundreds of comments but many of them showed little sympathy for relatives of the Hillborough victims. Most it seem called directly for Mr Miliband to resign and quite a few pointed out that all three party leaders had posed in the same manner and queried why it was just the Labour leader who was getting criticism.

My view, for what it is worth, is this: There is, or certainly should be, heightened awareness with regard to the feelings of those affected by the Hillsborough disaster at the moment. It must be extremely distressing to have the events of that terrible day revisited at the new inquest. It would, of course, have been insensitive to draw attention to anything untruthful about the tragedy whether it had been published or not. However in my judgement Ed Miliband being photographed holding a copy of the Sun is not, as the Mayor of Liverpool would have it, “an offensive gesture that insults not only me but every person in the city.” 

I believe, considering both David Cameron and Nick Clegg were depicted doing the same thing and appear to have emerged unscathed, that the reaction shows the depth of Labour support in Liverpool and the apparent discontent about Labour’s leader amongst the party’s members and voters there. I think all three leaders made an error of judgement in being photographed with a newspaper even if it was done it the misguided belief that it showed support for England’s football team.

Considering Oscar Wilde’s claim that there is no such thing as bad publicity ironically it is probably the Sun that has benefited the most!