Some runners paint by numbers

Phone 103For me running is art, but unfortunately some runners I know are stuck with painting by numbers. They are ticking off marathons working their way towards running 100 marathons and becoming full members of the 100 Marathon club. Some are even working towards 200, 300 or even more.

I admire their commitment to achieving a big goal, but feel that they are perhaps undervaluing the marathons they are running and have lost some of the joy of running. To add one more marathon to the tally and get one more step closer to the goal implicitly means that all marathons have the same value. No matter what marathon (Berlin, Boston, Barcelona etc.) you add to the list you only get one more closer to the goal each time. Each marathon is just a unit to add to the tally.

None of my marathons have been the same (and I have run more than enough to join the club, but never have).  My first, the New Forest marathon in 1995 was obviously very special, the Boston marathon in 1996 provided some great memories because of the crowds and the history (it was the centenary one). Taunton I remember because I enjoyed the small field having run London the year before, it was also where I ran my best ever time 3hrs 34mins. I think my longest time was at Willmington, I jogged around chatting to a friend I had not seen for several years. It was a hot day so we stopped at a pub for a nice cold pint of cider. A little later we made a little detour to get to a village shop and buy ice-creams. Those marathons were not uniform units, just like all the rest they were varied experiences and treasured memories.

However , like my number chasing friends, I do like to set myself big challenges that involve numbers (e.g 24hrs or 100). These are my blanks canvases that I let others fill with colour and texture to create stunning works of art. My most recent was to run 100 times around my local parkrun course in a week. 500km in a week – roughly a marathon and three quarters every day for a week. When I take on this sort of challenge I like to be totally self-sufficient. I pitched my tent beside the course and each morning I would set out the water and food I would need during the day. I posted about what I was doing on Facebook and waited to see what happened. Friends and people I had never met came and ran with me, brought me food, came to encouraged me and help in other ways. (Thanks Paul for bringing ice to treat my injury). The press and the radio heard about it and I was interviewed for a local paper and a Cornwall radio station which lead to more people turning up to add there special contribution to the canvas. It soon became a very colourful work of moving art. It even had a Salvador Dali element when I met a man out walking with his tortoise. He carries it everywhere with him and it been around the lake more times than I have.

The others can have their  lists of numbers, however for me, my marathons are too precious to be trapped in a spreadsheet.



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