The City of London

Please donate generously to Cancer Research : https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dan-Thompson11


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Date : 29th  December, 2020

Time : 1h 06’ 48”

Number of runners (total to date) : 2 (7099)

Run map and details :   https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/6021290654

It feels like every time we go for a London borough run* there’s at least one memorable moment – even if it’s only an encounter with an irate bailiff. And sometimes, as in Kensington and Chelsea, it seems like there’s something truly remarkable around every corner.

The City of London run was definitely in the latter category – an extraordinary juxtaposition of the historic and the modern.

The City isn’t, strictly speaking, a London borough. It’s a city, a ceremonial county, a local government  district and an enclave surrounded by Greater London. It’s the historic centre of London and constituted its largest part from the original settlement by the Romans in the 1st century AD until the Middle Ages. It lies to the east of the part of London that most tourists probably consider the centre – Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly and Leicester Square – and is why that area is known as the West End.

The City is also known as the Square Mile because it is small – around 1.12 square miles / 2.90 square km. But its more than big enough for a great 10km.

We started at Blackfriars Bridge – named after the black cappa wearing Dominican Friars who moved their priory to the area in about 1276 –

and headed west to Inner Temple gardens. (The Inner Temple being one of London’s four Inns of Court : all barristers – that’s the lawyers who argue cases in court – must belong to one of the four.)

Unfortunately the gardens were closed due to COVID so we ran up Temple Avenue to Fleet Street, famous as the home of Sweeney Todd – the fictional penny dreadful barber who killed his victims with a razor before handing them over to his partner to turn into meat pies –  and, up until the 1980s, most of Britain’s national newspapers. Many of which could probably also be described as cut throat..

East along Fleet St to St Pauls’ Cathedral – Christopher Wren’s massive masterpiece –

and then south down Peter’s Hill with views over the ‘wobbly’ Millennium Bridge to Tate Modern.

East again – this time along the Embankment to Queenhithe. I’ve run past Queenhithe many times in the past without noticing that it’s got both a plaque to mark Alfred the Great’s resettlement of London in 886

and a mural of the history of London.

On towards the Tower of London which has served variously as an armoury, a menagerie, the Royal Mint, and the home of the Crown Jewels of England. It’s probably most famous as a prison having housed a number of luminaries including Elizabeth 1 (before she became queen obvs), Sir Walter Raleigh and, in the 1950s, the notorious Kray twins.

A little bit north then west again past All Hallows

and the ruins of St Dunstan in the East – after being almost destroyed by German bombers in the blitz it was turned into a garden rather than being rebuilt.

A little further west we came to the Monument to the Great Fire of London – an enormous conflagration which gutted the City in 1666. The Monument itself is a 202 feet high Doric column situated 202 feet away from the bakery in Pudding Lane where the Fire started.

Northwest to the Royal Exchange and the Bank of England – the eight oldest bank in the world, it’s the central bank of the United Kingdom and, per Wikipedia, is the model for most modern central banks.  

It was now time for some of the more modern buildings – the Walkie Talkie (winner of the 2015 Carbuncle Cup for worst new building in the UK)

the Lloyds Building – Richard Rogers’ much feted example of radical Bowellism

the Scalpel

and the multi-award winning Gherkin

By the way there are plenty more skyscrapers planned – here’s what the City may look like in the future

I’m conscious that this blog is starting to become a long one so I’ll speed up now and just say that we then made our way past Liverpool St station up to Broadgate Tower, then back south to Broadgate Circus, Finsbury Circus Gardens, the Guildhall – currently being used a s COVID testing centre – and then along London Wall to one of the better preserved bits of the old London wall built by the Romans as a defensive wall around Londinium.

From there we ran past the London Museum to the Barbican Estate and Centre before heading west to run round Smithfield’s meat market and finish at St Bartholomew the Great, London’s oldest parish church founded in 1123. Which just happened to be displaying ‘’Exquisite Pain’ by Damian Hirst. A final ancient and modern juxtaposition which seemed particularly appropriate at the end of 2020…

Along the way we also passed innumerable other notable buildings, statues and monuments too numerous to mention but I hope the above gives you a sense of how truly amazing the City is!

Top picture by Tristan Surtel – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83153416

Please like / follow Run the World on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter because it would be great to stay in touch and because, however silly it may sound, it makes all the travel and running that little bit easier if you think people care!

*A little bit of background. I’m currently undertaking a challenge – Run the World – to complete a 10km run in all 206 countries in the world. (I’ve run in 183 countries to date.) I’m doing the challenge to raise funds for Cancer Research and to promote the importance of an active healthy lifestyle.

In addition to completing a 10km run in all 206 countries in the world, I’m also doing 44 runs in the UK. Taking the global total to 250 runs.

Why? Because 250 runs is equivalent to running 2 500 000 metres. Which is a metre for every one of the two and a half million cancer sufferers in the UK.

All well and good but the question we asked ourselves at Run the World HQ is : where should those 44 UK runs take place? And part of the answer – three-quarters to be exact – is that 33 of them will take place in London. One in each of the 32 London boroughs plus one in the City of London.

We’re calling this the ‘London Borough Challenge’ and I’m hoping to run with as many people – and social running groups and crews and clubs –as possible!

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London Run 28 : Borough of Hillingdon – Return of the Bailiff

Please donate generously to Cancer Research : https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dan-Thompson11


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Date : 4th  December, 2020

Time : 1h 03’ 37” (delayed by bailiff)

Number of runners (total to date) : 3 (7097)

Run map and details :  https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5912588960

When people ask me what I’ve learnt on my Run the Word travels, I usually say that, despite the impression given by the media, people everywhere are generally friendly and helpful. Obviously there are exceptions. The angry armed guard in Somalia. The people who threw stones at us in Djibouti. The border officials on both the Kinshasa and Brazzaville sides of the Congo*. AND PRETTY MUCH EVERYONE WE MET IN THE LONDON BOROUGH OF HILLINGDON.

In truth it was one of those days when everything goes wrong. I’d somehow managed to get lost on the way and was late to meet Darren and Julian (this was back in the pre-lockdown 3.0 era) at the Springwell Lake car park.

The car park itself is by a narrow bridge that crosses the our old friend the Grand Union Canal. There’s a haulage company just south of the bridge meaning there is a constant stream of lorries trying to cross the bridge. Since the bridge is narrow – and a tight turn – they need to manoeuvre the lorries a few times. Which involves a lot of shouting and blowing of horns at anyone – such as us – who unwittingly gets in their way while congregating outside the car park.

Leaving the cacophony behind we ran south along the Canal to Black Jack’s Lock

where we crossed over the canal and continued running south along a narrow muddy path.

To our right was a sparse hedgerow through which we could see a country lane – running parallel to the canal – and a broad expanse of water.

We decided to cut through the hedge at the next big gap and crossed the road to the waterfront. For a very lovely vista over a deserted, full-of-wildfowl lake. Darren informed us that he’d just been talking to some bloke and, apparently, you need a permit to fish in the lake.

Having admired the view, we continued running down the lane until we’d reached 5km and turned around and made our way back up the lane. At which point a Jeep accelerated towards and screeched to a halt scattering us all over the lane. The driver got out and started haranguing and verbally threatening Julian.

Which wasn’t the greatest idea. Partly because there were three of us and one of him. And partly because Julian is one of London’s leading litigation lawyers. (He was named Europe’s leading litigator at The American Lawyer’s 2015 Transatlantic Legal Awards.)

After being ranted at for a few minutes, Julian, calling on years of experience resolving highly complex, billion pound cases on behalf of multi-national companies, then invited our assailant to ‘change his tone or f**k off”.

By this time I’d made my way round the car to be closer to Julian in case it all kicked-off (not quite sure why since I’m useless in a fight…). Realising he was getting nowhere with Julian, our new friend came up close to me. Far too close.

The sensible thing to do in these COVID times would have been to step back. But, boys pointlessly being boys in such situations, I stood my ground. He asked me – with more effing and blinding – what I’d been doing. I suggested that, since he’d already had this conversation with Julian, he knew perfectly well that we’d all been running along the lane.

Slowly the temperature dropped and we managed to establish that he considered himself to be the local bailiff and was accusing us of trespassing on private property. He flashed an ID card at us but frankly I have no idea if he was telling the truth or was just a complete nutter.

Eventually he moved on at which point Darren, who’d been watching the whole thing in amazement, told us that the putative ‘bailiff’ was the bloke he’d had a friendly conversation with ten minutes previously and who’d told him that you need a permit to fish.

We trotted on a little until suddenly the bailiff mobile came screeching to a halt again just behind us. He got out the car again and threatened to call the police. We strongly encouraged him to pursue this course of action and set off again. Only for the ‘bailiff’ to return for a third time a couple minutes later. By now it had all taken on a slightly surreal quality and I’m not entirely sure what our ‘bailiff’ was on about – but I think he was saying that the police were on their way.  

It had got a little tiresome by this stage so, with a few sarcastic references to being able to hear the police choppers and sirens, we continued on our way and soon reached one of the gaps in the hedge and returned to the original path. Where we were able to confirm that, no, there were no ‘Private property ; trespassers keep out’ signs to be seen.

We made it back to the car park without much further incident beyond more angry lorry drivers at the aforementioned bridge. And the car driver who shouted at us to “Get out the f***ing road!”

Almost inevitably, there was a sting in the tail. Those who’ve run with me know that I run in an old, falling-apart-at-the-seams Run the World t shirt and a pair of slightly too short walking trousers. However, I do also own a high-tech, breathable, water and wind proof walking jacket which I run in on cold days. Which I left on the roof of my car after changing out of my sweaty running top at the end of the run. I just hope one of my new Hillingdon besties found it and appreciates the expensive present.

Finally, as a postscript, I subsequently tried to research the lake in question. I think it’s called Broadwater Lake – it’s nameless on Google Maps and my Garmin route map – but I haven’t been able to ascertain who owns it. Shame. I feel sure they’d enjoy this blog -and perhaps it would spur them on to check their public liability insurance…that ‘bailiff’ is going to seriously injure someone one of these days…

*In the interests of fairness I should note that, unlike Hillingdon, I also met loads of great people in Djibouti, the DRC and Somalia.

Please like / follow Run the World on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter because it would be great to stay in touch and because, however silly it may sound, it makes all the travel and running that little bit easier if you think people care!

A little bit of background. I’m currently undertaking a challenge – Run the World – to complete a 10km run in all 206 countries in the world. (I’ve run in 183 countries to date.) I’m doing the challenge to raise funds for Cancer Research and to promote the importance of an active healthy lifestyle.

In addition to completing a 10km run in all 206 countries in the world, I’m also doing 44 runs in the UK. Taking the global total to 250 runs.

Why? Because 250 runs is equivalent to running 2 500 000 metres. Which is a metre for every one of the two and a half million cancer sufferers in the UK.

All well and good but the question we asked ourselves at Run the World HQ is : where should those 44 UK runs take place? And part of the answer – three-quarters to be exact – is that 33 of them will take place in London. One in each of the 32 London boroughs plus one in the City of London.

We’re calling this the ‘London Borough Challenge’ and I’m hoping to run with as many people – and social running groups and crews and clubs –as possible!

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London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham

Please donate generously to Cancer Research : https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dan-Thompson11


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Date : 26th  November, 2020

Time : 46’ 03”

Number of runners (total to date) : 2 (7094)

Run map and details :  https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5876724487

For many years football and music were the two most important things in my life. I talked about them, watched them, read about them, based my career and friendships on them.

I also played them whenever I could. Or at least I played football. My rock god days came to an early end one calamitous day in junior school. We were practicing songs for an upcoming class concert when the music teacher signalled us to stop and announced that one of us couldn’t sing. She then asked us to start singing again and slowly walked up and down the lines of student to identify the culprit. I was the tallest so I was right at the back. Sweating more and more profusely as, student by student, she came closer and closer.

And then, to my utter horror, she stopped in front of me and said, “Don’t sing anymore ; just mouth along to the words.”

I was too embarrassed to tell my parents so they rocked up to the concert a couple of weeks later to watch me mime the songs. They never said anything. Perhaps they didn’t realise ; perhaps they were being kind.

Either way I never sang again – except as part of the crowd at football matches. The one place where it truly doesn’t matter how bad you are.

On the plus side, this allowed me to concentrate on my football. You know what they say : anyone can become expert in anything by putting in 10 000 hours of practice. Well, it isn’t true. I put in the time and I was still useless at football. I had the turning circle of an ocean liner, the balance of a three legged dog and the ball control of a trampoline.

This complete lack of any discernible talent didn’t affect my enthusiasm for my twin obsessions and the only odd thing is that, until I ran there with Darren, I had no idea that the London Borough of Fulham and Hammersmith was such an epicentre of football and music. (Darren, btw, used to be in a band and now composes, produces and mixes music in his spare time. Bastard.)

We met at the Queens Park Rangers stadium – previously universally referred to as Loftus Rd and now officially the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium. (In 2019, the club gifted the naming rights to the stadium to The Kiyan Prince Foundation, a charity set up in honour of former QPR youth player Kiyan Prince who was fatally stabbed after intervening to stop another boy being bullied)

From there we went through the Japanese Garden in Hammersmith Park

to the Television Centre – which was BBC Television’s HQ between 1960 and 2013. All sorts of amazing programs were recorded or transmitted there – most famously, at least in my eyes, Match of the Day and Top of the Pops. 

I can still remember going to my first TOTP. At the time I was working for Rhythm King Records and we were having hits with acts such as S’Express, Bomb the Bass, Beatmasters and Betty Boo. In truth I can’t remember which of our acts was on, I just remember how excited I felt to be there. Even if it was as a spectator in the green room rather than as a performer. (Slightly ironically, this was in the days when most of the acts mimed along to backing tracks – just about the only aspect of musical performance in which I had some relevant experience…)

Overcoming a strong sense of nostalgia, we set off past the Westfield centre for Shepherds Bush Green and the Empire.

A venue which I’d last visited with Darren and Liz for Bjorn Again. (To those of you now questioning Darren’s and my musical credentials, I should note that that this was at Liz’s instigation. Brushing aside claims from wannabees such as the Beatles, Liz has always been adamant that Abba were the greatest ever pop band and, after the success of Mamma Mia, who’s to say she’s wrong?)

We continued south along Shepherds Bush Road passing the site of the old Hammersmith Palais where I saw many a fine gig but which will always be associated in my mind with one of the great tracks – the Clash’s ‘(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais’. Possibly the first ever song to merge punk and reggae, it was one of Joe Strummer’s favourites and was played at his funeral. It’s also one of 4 Clash songs* to make my Top 100 ever which, with all due respect to Joe, may he rest in peace, is probably the more significant achievement.

From the Palais, it’s a short hop south to the Hammersmith roundabout and Odeon where, again, I’ve seen many a gig. But the one that really sticks in the memory dates back to 1986. I had just started working at Smallwood Taylor Management to help with the Human League who’d recently been taken on as a client. This was all very exciting for me, I’d loved the multi-million selling ‘Dare’ and the Human league were the first ‘pop stars’ I’d ever had dealings with.

At the time – 5 years on from ‘Dare’ – the band were on the comeback trail and the single ‘Human’ had just gone to no. 1 in the US. All was looking good as they set off on their UK tour which climaxed at the Odeon. About half way through the set, Joanne and Susan, the backing singers / dancers cocked up a dance routine and started laughing on stage. Bang. Just like that the magic was gone. If you expect stars to be reasonable and professional the whole time then you’re going to be sorely disappointed. But not to take a live performance seriously…

From the Odeon, you can cut down to the north bank of the Thames and it’s a lovely run down to Craven Cottage – Fulham’s ground.

And from there you can make your way inland to Stamford Bridge – home of Chelsea Football Club. As a Spurs fan, I now see this as enemy territory

but, back in the day, I lived in Battersea and Stamford Bridge was the closest first division ground.  

One evening, back in 1985, I made my way to Stamford Bridge for the second leg of the Chelsea – Sunderland League Cup semi-final. Football was different in those days. There was a more intense atmosphere that could kick-off at any point. And, when Sunderland went 2-0 up, it did kick-off. The Chelsea fans started to rip up the (wooden) stands and invaded the pitch. It took a number of charges by mounted police to clear the playing area and there was still a police horse galloping across the pitch at the time Sunderland scored their third goal.

Our route ended at Stamford Bridge and that’s where this blog also ends. It’s been surprisingly emotional travelling down memory lane to write this blog has. I hope you enjoyed it!

*The others being ‘Train In Vain’, ‘I Fought the Law’ and ‘Police and Thieves’.

Please like / follow Run the World on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter because it would be great to stay in touch and because, however silly it may sound, it makes all the travel and running that little bit easier if you think people care!

A little bit of background. I’m currently undertaking a challenge – Run the World – to complete a 10km run in all 206 countries in the world. (I’ve run in 183 countries to date.) I’m doing the challenge to raise funds for Cancer Research and to promote the importance of an active healthy lifestyle.

In addition to completing a 10km run in all 206 countries in the world, I’m also doing 44 runs in the UK. Taking the global total to 250 runs.

Why? Because 250 runs is equivalent to running 2 500 000 metres. Which is a metre for every one of the two and a half million cancer sufferers in the UK.

All well and good but the question we asked ourselves at Run the World HQ is : where should those 44 UK runs take place? And part of the answer – three-quarters to be exact – is that 33 of them will take place in London. One in each of the 32 London boroughs plus one in the City of London.

We’re calling this the ‘London Borough Challenge’ and I’m hoping to run with as many people – and social running groups and crews and clubs –as possible!

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Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea

Please donate generously to Cancer Research : https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dan-Thompson11


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Date : 18th  November, 2020

Time : 51’ 53”

Number of runners (total to date) : 2 (7092)

Run map and details :    https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5841259499

In 1901 Queen Victoria died and, in accordance with her wishes, the Metropolitan Borough of Kensington was granted royal status (she was born at Kensington Palace in the borough). In 1965 it was amalgamated with the Metropolitan Borough of Chelsea and, hey presto, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea was born.

Despite the combination, it is the smallest borough in London and the second smallest district in England. And also one of most amazing places to go for a run. Not because there are swathes of green or river banks that make for great running but because there is so much truly remarkable stuff packed into such a small space.

Darren and I started at the northern border of RBKC in the Kensal Green Cemetery* which is one of London’s Magnificent Seven cemeteries and which was immortalised in a GK Chesterton poem “For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen; Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.”

I’m not sure we went to Paradise from the cemetery. In fact I think we went to something closer to hell because we went south down Ladbroke Grove, over our old friend the Grand Union Canal

under the Westway and turned west at Ladbroke Grove tube towards Grenfell Tower.

Anyone who lives in London will remember the terrible events of June 2017 when a fire broke out in the Grenfell Tower block of flats.** 72 people died – the worst residential fire in the UK since WWII. The remains of the tower are still standing along with a very moving memorial wall.

From Grenfell we went east through carnival territory

to Portobello Road which, in normal times, hosts the famous Portobello Road market before heading south and west through Notting Hill to Debenham House on Addison Road.

I’d never heard of Debenham House but, as D said, it’s a great example of the unexpected and bizarrely brilliant things that sometimes seem like they’re round every corner in central London. Built for Ernest Debenham, who was responsible for expanding and then selling out of the eponymous business, it’s a Grade 1 listed Arts & Craft property with an Italianate exterior (or so Wikipedia tells me.)

The route then went through Holland Park, along Kensington High Street to Kensington Palace.

A place I can never go past without recalling Princess Diana’s death. It was one of those events where you remember where you were when you first heard about it (in my case, coming out of a club in Kings Cross at 4 in the morning).

Whatever you felt about Diana, the subsequent outpouring of grief was extraordinary – both in the UK and worldwide with an estimated 2.5 billion people watching her funeral. I can still remember the resulting sea of flowers outside Kensington Palace.

Leaving Kensington Palace and Diana memories behind, we headed south for the National History Museum with its 80 million plus exhibits and 5 million plus annual visitors including yours truly for one memorable dot com Christmas party….

And, yes, we did walk past Dippy the Diplodocus*** on the way into the party.

On to the Science Museum and then the Victoria and Albert Museum or V&A as it’s known – the world’s largest museum of design and applied and decorative arts.

A quick detour via Michelin House

before the finish at Harrods which should, at that time of the year (mid-November), have been ablaze with fairy tale Christmas lights. Instead, thanks to COVID and the lockdown, it was closed and looking a little drab behind hoardings.

Never mind, Harvey Nicks had a more positive message on display. (At least it seemed positive when I took the photo. At the time I didn’t know 2021 would see a new ultra transmissible COVID mutation sweeping the country ; rioters in the Capitol ; and Spurs dropping from first to fifth in the Premier League..)

There’s a lot of RBKC we didn’t get to but hopefully this blog will have given you a sense of why it really is one of the most exceptional places in the world to go for a run. Or a walk. Or a bike ride. Whatever. Go and explore!

*Kensal Green Cemetery is a cemetery in the Kensal Green area of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, England. Inspired by Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, it was founded by the barrister George Frederick Carden.[1] The cemetery opened in 1833 and comprises 72 acres of grounds, including two conservation areas, adjoining a canal. The cemetery is home to at least 33 species of bird and other wildlife. This distinctive cemetery has memorials ranging from large mausoleums housing the rich and famous to many distinctive smaller graves and includes special areas dedicated to the very young. It has three chapels, and serves all faiths. It is one of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries in London.

The cemetery was immortalised in the lines of G. K. Chesterton‘s poem “The Rolling English Road” from his book The Flying Inn: “For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen; Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.”

** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grenfell_Tower_fire

On 14 June 2017, a fire broke out in the 24-storey Grenfell Tower block of flats in North KensingtonWest London, at 00:54 BST; it caused 72 deaths, including those of two victims who later died in hospital. More than 70 others were injured and 223 people escaped. It was the deadliest structural fire in the United Kingdom since the 1988 Piper Alpha disaster and the worst UK residential fire since the Second World War.

The fire was started by a malfunctioning fridge-freezer on the fourth floor.[note 1] It spread rapidly up the building’s exterior, bringing fire and smoke to all the residential floors. This was due to the building’s cladding, the external insulation and the air gap between which enabled the stack effect. The fire burned for about 60 hours before finally being extinguished. More than 250 London Fire Brigade firefighters and 70 fire engines were involved from stations across London in efforts to control the fire, and rescue residents. More than 100 London Ambulance Service crews on at least 20 ambulances attended, joined by specialist paramedics from the Ambulance Service’s Hazardous Area Response Team. The Metropolitan Police and London’s Air Ambulance also assisted the rescue effort.

***By Drow male – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4933219

Please like / follow Run the World on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter because it would be great to stay in touch and because, however silly it may sound, it makes all the travel and running that little bit easier if you think people care!

A little bit of background. I’m currently undertaking a challenge – Run the World – to complete a 10km run in all 206 countries in the world. (I’ve run in 183 countries to date.) I’m doing the challenge to raise funds for Cancer Research and to promote the importance of an active healthy lifestyle.

In addition to completing a 10km run in all 206 countries in the world, I’m also doing 44 runs in the UK. Taking the global total to 250 runs.

Why? Because 250 runs is equivalent to running 2 500 000 metres. Which is a metre for every one of the two and a half million cancer sufferers in the UK.

All well and good but the question we asked ourselves at Run the World HQ is : where should those 44 UK runs take place? And part of the answer – three-quarters to be exact – is that 33 of them will take place in London. One in each of the 32 London boroughs plus one in the City of London.

We’re calling this the ‘London Borough Challenge’ and I’m hoping to run with as many people – and social running groups and crews and clubs –as possible!

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London Run 27 : London Borough of Hounslow

Please donate generously to Cancer Research : https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dan-Thompson11


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Date : 12th  November, 2020

Time : 47’ 43”

Number of runners (total to date) : 2 (7090)

Run map and details :   https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5812906457

Most people know running is good for your physical health. A lot of people know that running is good for your mental health. And quite a few people know it can also be good for your social life.

During the UK’s Lockdown 2.0 the only way you could (legitimately) meet anyone other than members of your own household was by meeting one person outside.

So meeting Darren for my London Borough of Hounslow 10 km* wasn’t just a run and the chance to explore another part of London. It was also my social life. For the week.

We met at Kew Bridge

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with a view of the perfect running / cycling / walking path on the south side of the river which, as Darren noted, was no bloody use to us because it wasn’t in Hounslow.

Instead we ran along the north bank through the Hollows and Waterman’s Park to Goat Wharf and then Ferry Wharf. What with all the steps and twists and turns, it wasn’t a great cycling route (Darren was on his bike) but it was fascinating with jumbles of houseboats

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the occasional semi-submerged wreck

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and Brentford and Lots Aits (river islands).

At Ferry Wharf we met our old friend the Grand Union Canal and turned inland before making our way, via a dead end or two including Catherine Wheel Rd

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to Syon Park.

Syon Park  is the 56.6 hectare (139 acre) garden of Syon House, the London home of the Duke of Northumberland  It was landscaped by Capability Brown in the 18th century, and it is Grade I listed by English Heritage under the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 for its special historic interest.

The 56.6 hectare main gardens are a Site of Borough Importance for Nature Conservation, Grade I, and the flood meadows next to the River Thames are a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation.

As it happens the house and gardens weren’t open that day but the park was – and very fine it is for running. And cycling. And walking. And no doubt picnicking and frolicking on a summer’s day.

We continued west and south along the Thames past Nazareth House and Isleworth Ait

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before turning round at the Hounslow border and retracing our steps.

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As we returned back through Syon Park, we’d settled into a 4’30” / km pace (fast for me) and my head began to thump. I suspected I was dehydrated. By 9km my whole body was feeling positively strange and I was sincerely hoping that it was just dehydration and not something more serious…

I limped back to the car, drank a load of water, felt a bit better and wondered how I could possibly not yet have learnt the lesson about hydrating before a run. Especially after a Zoom and a couple of beers the night before…

It just remains for me to thank Darren, as always, for the company and to thank Emma Hadleigh-Sparks for all things Syon Park!

Please like / follow Run the World on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter because it would be great to stay in touch and because, however silly it may sound, it makes all the travel and running that little bit easier if you think people care!

*A little bit of background. I’m currently undertaking a challenge – Run the World – to complete a 10km run in all 206 countries in the world. (I’ve run in 183 countries to date.) I’m doing the challenge to raise funds for Cancer Research and to promote the importance of an active healthy lifestyle.

In addition to completing a 10km run in all 206 countries in the world, I’m also doing 44 runs in the UK. Taking the global total to 250 runs.

Why? Because 250 runs is equivalent to running 2 500 000 metres. Which is a metre for every one of the two and a half million cancer sufferers in the UK.

All well and good but the question we asked ourselves at Run the World HQ is : where should those 44 UK runs take place? And part of the answer – three-quarters to be exact – is that 33 of them will take place in London. One in each of the 32 London boroughs plus one in the City of London.

We’re calling this the ‘London Borough Challenge’ and I’m hoping to run with as many people – and social running groups and crews and clubs –as possible!

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One Run Global

Please donate generously:  https://onerun.global/u/Daniel1

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Date : 10th  December, 2020

Number of runners (total to date) : 25 (7088)

Run map and details :   https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5941642903

It was cold. It was dark. It was the middle of a pandemic.

Why was I dragging my poor long suffering family into central London when most people were – very sensibly – doing their One Runs close to home. No travel ; no how many layers should I wear ; no what should I do with the layers while I’m running ; no post run hanging around with the sweat turning to ice.

It’s possible one or two of them were even thinking to themselves, it’s fine when he’s out of the country on Run the World, but why do I always have to join in with the UK stuff ?!?

And then we got to the agreed meeting point at Parliament Square Gardens and there were 25 of us and things started to perk up.

A few socially distanced photos, then we split into smaller groups and set off on our runs and walks along the Thames.

And yes it was cold. But it was also a lovely clear, still and dry night. Perfect for running.

And, oh my word, London at night is breathtakingly beautiful. Especially along the river between the Houses of Parliament and Tower Bridge.

But none of this was the best bit. The best bit was that we bumped into some One Runners.

And then some more.

And some more.

And some more.

And some more.

And some Tube Runners (a social running group that runs the routes of London’s tube lines).

And Andrew and Simon from our original party

And then some more One Runners.

The atmosphere was something special and I was buzzing by the time we got back to Parliament Square for the survivor’s photo.

Will we do it again next year ? I hope so! And this time, we’ll try and get Londoners from every country in the world to join us and run in their national colours.

But for now, I want to say some thank yous. To the 15 000 people across every country in the world who took part in One Run Global.

To all my Run the World friends who supported One Run in so many countries around the globe. To all my other friends in the UK and abroad who cheerfully put up with the (virtual) arm twisting and got behind One Run in such numbers including Luke, Julian, Caroline, Annette, Kate, Maria, Anna, Sienna R, Niamh, Maxine, Ashley, Simon, Ben, Andrew T, Andrew M, Jamie, Paul, Raja, Anthony and Vyo who made it to central London last night.

To Liz, Freya, Sienna, David, Mon and Charis who not only live with the craziness but actively support it.

And to the amazing One Run team – Danny, Hetty and Jamie. It has been an absolute pleasure.

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One Embassy Run

Please sign-up to One Run Global – NOW! :  https://onerun.global/take-part/

Please like / follow Run the World on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter

Date : 24th  November, 2020

Run map and details :   https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5867021940

Right, first things first : have you signed up for the One Run Global Relay?* If the answer is ‘yes’ then please feel free to continue reading. If the answer is ‘no’ then proceed immediately to sign-up. Do not pass Go. In fact don’t even draw a breath until you’ve signed-up.

Pretty please and thank you!

Now we’ve got that out for the way, let’s get on with the blog.

When the planning started for One Run Global way back in, um, September one of the goals was to make it the first event ever with participants in every country in the world. This, like so many things in the world, was easier said than done..

Anyway, a lot of hard work has subsequently gone into meeting that goal with the result that, by Monday, we had 17 countries to go. And 17 days until the event.

As part of the plans for the remaining countries, I said I’d run to every one of their Embassies in London, deliver a letter asking for help, and generally see if I could find someone with relevant contacts to talk to.

The idea was to cover off 8 of the countries on Tuesday but, as luck would have it, Iran came in overnight, so I only had to run to 7 embassies.

First up, was the Embassy of Equatorial Guinea and the early signs weren’t promising – there was a sign on the door saying the embassy was closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays due to Lockdown London. Happily, despite this, there was someone present and the charming gentleman below came out for a chat about One Run and agreed to pass on my letter.

Next up was  the Sudanese embassy where I was met with slightly incredulous looks but, again, a friendly reception.

Leaving St James St behind, I ran past Clarence House and Buckingham Palace – vaguely wondering if I should have been dropping off One Run letters along the way –

– and onto the North Macedonian Embassy where I met Katerina who was good enough to take the letter and the following photo.

By this stage I was feeling quite good about how it was all going. Unfortunately my next two stops were less successful – there was no one in at the Timor-Leste embassy and I couldn’t find the Solomon’s embassy at either of the two addresses I’d found online. Nor was their advertised phone number working. Hey ho.

No stop at the Iranian embassy meant I had a nice run along the southern edge of Hyde Park interrupted only by a troupe of armed horsemen. 

to my final two destinations : the Belarus Embassy – where First Secretary Maksim Gorely was kind enough to take my letter – and the St Vincent and Grenadines High Commission. 

Will any of it come to anything ? Who knows but it was a great run and I can tell you that Cuba and Belarus came in during the day so we’re now left with 14 countries. Please, please shout if you have contacts in any of the following!

Chad

Equatorial Guinea

Micronesia

Nauru

North Korea

North Macedonia

Palau

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

San Marino

Solomon Islands

Sudan

Timor-Leste

Togo

Tuvalu

* The One Run Global Challenge

At 7pm local time on December 10th people in every country in the world will run, walk or move for an hour creating a spectacular 24 hour relay around the world. It’ll be a historic first – never before has there been an event with participants in every single country – and participants’ videos from around the world will be streamed from the One Run website along with exclusive music sessions, celebrities, competitions, prizes and more!

So why take part?

–          It gives us all a reason to keep active and do something together during these difficult times

–          With over 6000 sign-ups to date – across 190 countries – it should be an epically memorable event

–          It’s not affected by COVID – whatever the restrictions on Dec 10th we’ll still be able to run for an hour. Even if it is around our own dining tables!

–       Organised by the team behind One Run for Boston and the London Relay

–          It’s a lovely not-for-profit project in support of 5 children’s charities including UNICEF

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London Run 26 : London Borough of Ealing

Please donate generously to Cancer Research : https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dan-Thompson11

Please like / follow Run the World on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter

Date : 4th  November, 2020

Time : 48’ 46”

Number of runners (total to date) : 2 (7063)

Run map and details :  https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5774443244

It was the last day before Lockdown 2.0. And the sun was shining brightly in a perfect blue sky.

It was a day to celebrate the last of our freedom for (at least) a month. To explore somewhere new and to do something epic.

In short it was a day to go for a run. In the London Borough of Ealing.*

Big D – who last graced this blog back in the heady days of early September when three of us ran in Brent –  and I met at the Horsenden Farm car park at the foot of Horsenden Hill.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect because, when I researched Horsenden Hill before the run, the first article I came to told me it had a Gruffalo** trail. And was sometimes used for dogging. (’The Gruffalo’ is a multi-million selling, multi-award winning children’s book about a mouse going for a walk in a wood ; if you are a parent in the UK you are likely very, very familiar with it. Dogging is something different. )

Eschewing the attractions of both activities, D and I made our way to the Grand Union Canal

and starting heading west. Me running and D on his bike. Humming the Rocky theme tune.

Whether it was the canal, the beautiful weather or D’s inspirational humming, I couldn’t tell you. But it was one of those days when the running was easy and, after a gentle warm-up kilometre, we made decent progress to the A40

and on to Northala Fields.

Northala Fields  opened in 2008 and consists of four artificial hills, several fishing lakes, a large field, a children’s play area and a café. The hills were constructed using rubble from the demolition of the original Wembley Stadium, which was demolished in 2003. (The name “Northala” is how the old manor of Northall (Northolt) was recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086.)

And it is very cool with amazing views over London from the top of the hills. Since my videography skills are notoriously erratic, D filmed the 360 degree panorama below – which starts with a view of the current Wembley Arch.

Slightly blown away by it all we retraced our steps back to Horsenden Hill. The sun was still shining and I needed to warm down, so we took a walk up the hill. And found the Gruffalo trail. Altogether now, “ A Mouse took a stroll through a deep dark wood…”

It just remains for me to thank Big D for the company and the humming. Till the next one!

Please like / follow Run the World on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter because it would be great to stay in touch and because, however silly it may sound, it makes all the travel and running that little bit easier if you think people care!

*A little bit of background. I’m currently undertaking a challenge – Run the World – to complete a 10km run in all 206 countries in the world. (I’ve run in 183 countries to date.) I’m doing the challenge to raise funds for Cancer Research and to promote the importance of an active healthy lifestyle.

In addition to completing a 10km run in all 206 countries in the world, I’m also doing 44 runs in the UK. Taking the global total to 250 runs.

Why? Because 250 runs is equivalent to running 2 500 000 metres. Which is a metre for every one of the two and a half million cancer sufferers in the UK.

All well and good but the question we asked ourselves at Run the World HQ is : where should those 44 UK runs take place? And part of the answer – three-quarters to be exact – is that 33 of them will take place in London. One in each of the 32 London boroughs plus one in the City of London.

We’re calling this the ‘London Borough Challenge’ and I’m hoping to run with as many people – and social running groups and crews and clubs –as possible!

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London Run 25 : London Borough of Bexley

Please donate generously to Cancer Research : https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dan-Thompson11

Please like / follow Run the World on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter

Date : 28th  September, 2020

Time : 1h 09’ 25”

Number of runners (total to date) : 4 (7061)

Run map and details :    https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5612341170

One of the joys of parenthood is that you end up catching all the bugs that go round your kids’ school. Once my daughters – and half their school – had a sore throat it was pretty much inevitable that I’d get it. So I didn’t think much of it when my throat began to tickle on the Sunday evening. I thought even less of it on the Monday when it seemed to clear up.

And I didn’t think about it at all that evening when I went off to meet my old games business friend and colleague – Graeme (GB) – and the two Pauls – M & T – at Bexley station for the Bexley Borough run.

Unfortunately it got worse during the week and, by Wednesday, the sore throat had turned into cough. Coughers aren’t greatly appreciated at the moment so on Thursday I spoke to a GP (General Practitioner or local all-round doctor for those not familiar with the British health system.)

As soon as I mentioned the word ‘cough’ the GP was insistent that I get a corona test. I pointed out that I didn’t have the persistent cough that is the official corona symptom. Furthermore, my daughters and their friends had all had the same sore throat and cough and no-one had suggested they get tested.

My GP was unmoved. I needed to get tested.

Accepting that my GP probably had the greater expertise in the matter, I decided to follow her advice and get tested. By now it was 3.15pm on the Thursday afternoon. Fortunately I was able to get a 4-4.30 pm slot at a local walk through testing centre.

If you’re not familiar with the process, you place a cotton swab – it’s on a long plastic handle – on the back of your throat and, trying not to gag, you move it around a bit. You then stick the same swab right up your nostril and give it a couple of twirls. The swab then gets put in a plastic bag and handed over to some lucky person to be tested.

It was all very friendly and efficient and the whole thing only took about ten minutes

To be honest, when I rang the GP, it had – perhaps naively – never occurred to me that I might end up getting tested. It was only as I drove back home that the ramifications of a positive test began to sink in. Not just for my family but for everyone else I’d met in the previous week or so.

I thought about GB and the two Pauls. They’d been doing me a favour by accompanying me around Bexley. If I was positive then they’d have to self-isolate. They wouldn’t be able to see their family and friends. They wouldn’t be able to go to work. Probably worst of all from their perspectives, they wouldn’t be able to go out running.

I’ve known GB forever since the glory days of the Bitmap Brothers and Renegade Software. I’d met the two Pauls more recently when I had the pleasure of completing the Walthamstow and Harrow legs of my London Borough Challenge* with the London Tube Runners.

All three of them are serious runners. Not that long ago Paul T and GB did a 100 mile non-stop run along the Thames path (not as flat as advertised apparently). Paul M is on the brink of completing 200 consecutive days on which he’s gone for a run. The following weekend (Sunday just past), Paul T was doing the nohtaraM nodnoL ehT where people meet at 2 am on the morning before the London marathon and run the route backwards.

Aaargh!!! I did not want to even think about being the person who stopped them from running…

On which subject, perhaps it’s time to get back to the run.

As I got off the train at Bexley, I noticed a sign for Bexley cricket club

and within a couple of minutes of the start of the run we were running through countryside and past the cricket club. It really didn’t feel like London.

A little more countryside before we reached a bridge over the River Cray where we stopped for a photo opportunity.

Unfortunately I paused my Garmin at this stage and then forgot to restart it until we got to Albany Park about 2 km further down the road…

From there we ran to Hall Place and gardens – a stately home once owned by Sir Francis Dashwood, a politician and Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1762–1763. In a combination which I am sure we can all agree would be unthinkable nowadays, he was also a notorious rake and founder of the secret and immoral Hellfire Club.

We finished back at Bexley Post Office having run, per everyone else’s watches /apps, a little more than 10km. According to my Garmin I’d only run 8km.

And the trouble was that, per my unnecessarily pedantic rules, a run only counts as a 10km run if I’ve recorded the full 10km on my Garmin. So I said my goodbyes and ran to the station and onto my platform. 1.6km to go and a train in 4 minutes. So all I had to do was run a 4 minute mile and everything would be fine. Except that I can’t run a mile in 4 minutes…

So I missed that train and ran up and down the platform until I’d completed my 10km

and then waited for the next train which was only quarter of an hour later. The train duly arrived and I got on, found a seat, settled down – and didn’t move.

The dreaded announcement came over the train’s PA. “We have been asked to hold at this station. We will provide further information when we can. We apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.” Why do they always apologise for any inconvenience that a delay may cause – as if there’s a chance that it may not be inconvenient.

Please, take my word for it, it is ALWAYS inconvenient! Especially when you’re sweaty after a run and need to get home for a hot shower before you develop anything like a cold, or a sore throat, or a cough…

But I mustn’t quibble. Minor delays aside it was a fine run with excellent company. Thank you GB, Paul M and Paul T – hope to see you for the Greenwich run in the near future. And have no fear. The test came back negative!

Please like / follow Run the World on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter because it would be great to stay in touch and because, however silly it may sound, it makes all the travel and running that little bit easier if you think people care!

*A little bit of background. I’m currently undertaking a challenge – Run the World – to complete a 10km run in all 206 countries in the world. (I’ve run in 183 countries to date.) I’m doing the challenge to raise funds for Cancer Research and to promote the importance of an active healthy lifestyle.

In addition to completing a 10km run in all 206 countries in the world, I’m also doing 44 runs in the UK. Taking the global total to 250 runs.

Why? Because 250 runs is equivalent to running 2 500 000 metres. Which is a metre for every one of the two and a half million cancer sufferers in the UK.

All well and good but the question we asked ourselves at Run the World HQ is : where should those 44 UK runs take place? And part of the answer – three-quarters to be exact – is that 33 of them will take place in London. One in each of the 32 London boroughs plus one in the City of London.

We’re calling this the ‘London Borough Challenge’ and I’m hoping to run with as many people – and social running groups and crews and clubs –as possible!

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London Run 24 : London Borough of Hackney

Please donate generously to Cancer Research : https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dan-Thompson11

Please like / follow Run the World on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter

Date : 22nd September, 2020

Time : 56’ 52”

Number of runners (total to date) : 7 (7057)

Run map and details :   https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5578619539

This blog is dedicated to the memory of Jonathan Crown who, unthinkably and tragically, died of a heart attack last Saturday.

JC was a friend and an exceptionally generous supporter of Run the World* in terms of his advice – he had a wide knowledge and experience of visiting far flung places ; his enthusiasm – a week before his death he sent me a typically kind email about one of the recent blogs ; and his donations.

He was also the founder of the Project Harar charity which works in Ethiopia to help those with severe facial disfigurements and give them back their lives.

I found myself talking about JC before my run in Hackney with the local branch of Run Talk Run. And that’s the thing about Run Talk Run. Yes, it’s a running club. But it’s also a safe space to talk.

Set up by the lovely Jess Robson, its mission is to make both running and mental health support less intimidating, and more accessible. And, judging by its continued growth around the world, its doing a great job. (For anyone who’s interested, here’s a link to Jess’s views on why running helps us to open up.)

RTR Hackney meets at 6.15 pm on a Tuesday evening at the Pub on the Park. Its led by Chloe who took us off south through London Fields before turning east to Victoria Park.

I love Victoria Park. The evening we were there it was buzzing – full of walkers, runners, skaters and pretty much anything else you can do in a park.

Sadly it was also the point I had to leave the run and head back to Hackney Central as I had to meet people that evening.

Loyal readers will know that the aim of the London Borough Challenge* is to run 10 km in every London borough. And, of course, the run from London Fields to Victoria Park is considerably less than 10 km.

Fortunately, my planning and logistical abilities just about stretch far enough to have worked out in advance that this might be an issue. I’d therefore already run 5km in Hackney before meeting up with Chloe and the RTR runners.

I started at Pitfield Street because that’s where our offices were when we launched the Gold Challenge**- something that led to us putting on the pre-games test event for 20 000 people in the Olympic Stadium. And running on the Olympic track which was pretty cool.

But, as so often in these blogs, I digress. Back to the run in Hackney where the next stop was Hoxton Square. Which used to feel like London’s epicentre of coolness before it moved onto….um….er…wherever it is now. The picture below is off the building that used to house the White Cube gallery – famed for being the first gallery to give one person shows to YBAs such as Tracey Emin.

I then ran down Great Eastern street before turning north up Shoreditch High Street leaving the City behind to the south

Past the Box Park

and the Museum of the Home before turning right (east) onto Regent’s Canal.

The canal towpath was packed with runners and cyclists and the canal itself was full of house boats, row boats and big inflatable banana boats..

I turned off the canal to head north up Broadway Market

to London Fields

the London Felds Lido

and onto the Hackney Empire.

As I ran I was struck by how much the borough had meant to me over the years. I’d worked there; I’d socialised there ; I’d run and cycled there. I even go there for every year for the Christmas pantomime at the Hackney Empire where Clive Rowe et al strut their funky stuff.

I was also struck by just what an extraordinary borough it is. Although my run had taken me past, and through so, many great places I was only scratching Hackney’s surface. I hadn’t been to Hackney Marshes ; Hackney’s section of the Olympic Park which includes the Copper Box  ; the Hackney Cut (canal) ; Hackney city farm ; Abney Park Cemetery and much more.

It just remains for me to say thank you to Chloe and everyone at the Hackney RTR for the company. A pleasure meeting you all!

RIP JC.

Please like / follow Run the World on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter because it would be great to stay in touch and because, however silly it may sound, it makes all the travel and running that little bit easier if you think people care!

*A little bit of background. I’m currently undertaking a challenge – Run the World – to complete a 10km run in all 206 countries in the world. (I’ve run in 183 countries to date.) I’m doing the challenge to raise funds for Cancer Research and to promote the importance of an active healthy lifestyle.

In addition to completing a 10km run in all 206 countries in the world, I’m also doing 44 runs in the UK. Taking the global total to 250 runs.

Why? Because 250 runs is equivalent to running 2 500 000 metres. Which is a metre for every one of the two and a half million cancer sufferers in the UK.

All well and good but the question we asked ourselves at Run the World HQ is : where should those 44 UK runs take place? And part of the answer – three-quarters to be exact – is that 33 of them will take place in London. One in each of the 32 London boroughs plus one in the City of London.

We’re calling this the ‘London Borough Challenge’ and I’m hoping to run with as many people – and social running groups and crews and clubs –as possible!

** Gold Challenge launched in late 2010 and ran an Olympic and Paralympic inspired challenge in the run up to London 2012. Gold Challenge partnered with the British Olympic Association/Team GB, Paralympics GB and Sport England and was part of the official London 2012 mass participation legacy programme.  Gold Challenge also worked closely with LOCOG and hosted one of the pre-Games test events in the Olympic Stadium.

The challenges were highly successful with over 105,000 participants. More than 200 schools and 100 corporates took part including large employers such as GlaxoSmithKline, Atos, EDF, Cisco, John Lewis and Coca Cola. In excess of £1.5 million was raised for Gold Challenge’s 150 charity partners who included household names such as Cancer Research UK, Oxfam, the NSPCC and Help for Heroes.

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