UK Run 4 : Swansea (Abertawe)

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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 : 1st August, 2018

Time : 57’ 46”

Number of runners (total to date) : 16  (2390)

Total distance run to date : 1480 km internationally + 40km in the UK

Run map and details :   https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2899590692

Media :  https://www.facebook.com/IRunWales

“Just put a bit of your poo in the pot!”

And who were we to argue with these wise words? Especially as the advice was being given by Sian, a CRUK senior research nurse.

Just to be clear, Sian wasn’t suggesting that potted poo is the cure for cancer. She was referring to a colorectal cancer programme in Wales that’s sending a kit to everyone over a certain age. All you’ve got to do is put a little of your poo in the pot, send it back, and you’ll get a free colorectal cancer test. Not everyone is taking advantage of this and Sian was making the point that we should all take every opportunity to get tested for cancer.

Because if you’re going to get cancer – and half of us are – then you really, really, really want to catch it early.

Simon, who ran with me in Swansea, gave me permission to share his sister’s story. She had a melanoma (skin cancer that can spread) on her thigh. It didn’t get spotted early enough and she died. Aged 42.

Simon was happy for me to tell the story in the hope that it might do some good. So please, please be vigilant. And listen to people like Sian when they tell you to get checked. (Regular readers may recall that, last year, I had a melanoma on my face. I couldn’t see it, and would have ignored it in any event, had my wife not insisted I go to the doctor.)

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Back to the run which was again, after Cardiff, organised immaculately by Adam from Run Wales.

For those who aren’t familiar with Swansea (I wasn’t), its set on a massive bay – and beach – that runs from Port Talbot to the famous Mumbles.

Here’s Sian’s commentary on it – including all the celebrities who hail from the area.

The promenade along the bay is a great place to run – so that’s what we did. 5km west from the 360 water sport centre

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and then back again.

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We discussed everything from cancer to whether cats purr when they’re in pain to how friendly and welcoming runners are all around the world. A truly excellent run.

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It just remains for me to say a massive thank you to my fellow runners for the company and the donations, to Adam for organising the run, and to Sian and Nia for joining us and talking about cancer and what we can do to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

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And, since we’re on the subject, here are Run the World’s top three (non-medical!) tips for fighting cancer:

  1. Donate to Cancer Research 
  2. Live an active, healthy lifestyle. (Cancer Research estimates that 40% of cancers are avoidable with the right lifestyle.)
  3. Be vigilant and put a bit of your poo in the pot!

Finally, if you’re reading this in Wales, then check out the Run Wales website which has all the information you need to start / continue/ improve / enjoy your running!

If you’d like to help fight cancer then I and, far more importantly, cancer sufferers around the world, would be immensely grateful for any donations to Cancer Research : https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dan-Thompson11

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!

 

 

 

 

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UK Run 3: Cardif (Caerdydd)

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

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

Date : 31st July, 2018

Time : 54’ 03”

Number of runners (total to date) : 53  (2374)

Total distance run to date : 1480 km internationally + 30km in the UK

Run map and details :   https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2899590677

Media :  https://www.facebook.com/IRunWales

I first went to Cardiff in 2002 for the Brand X League Cup final. Horrific traffic in both directions and Spurs lost to Blackburn. A thoroughly miserable affair.

I was back in 2015 for the All Blacks against Georgia in the Rugby World Cup. I went by train and met up with my bro and Joe (his son ; my nephew). Much better.

Sport was also the reason for my third visit. Which seemed appropriate given that Cardiff was celebrating a great sporting triumph – Geraint Thomas winning the Tour de France.

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More specifically, I was there for Run the World Cardiff

The run was organised by Adam Bitchell from Run Wales. Adam is quite a serious runner. He ran for Wales at the 2014 Commonwealth Games where he came 15th in the 10000 metre final. In 28 minutes odd.

 

I know what you’re thinking. That’s not good enough. Dan, you need to give him a few tips.

Seriously, though, stop for a second and consider what he did. And then go outside and run 100 metres in 17 seconds. Once you’ve done that, imagine running 100 of those. Consecutively. Because that’s what Adam did. Elite runners really are amazing.

He also put together an excellent run in Cardiff.

There were about 50 of us at the start on the banks of the river Taff. From there we did 2 loops of the (5km) Park Run. It’s a lovely route – along the river, past cricketers in the evening sun, through Bute Park and back to the start.

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And, as ever on these runs, there were any number of inspiring people to talk to. Roshan who’d lost his wife and had a quadruple bypass.

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Mel who has type 1 diabetes (the rare one) and who was recently part of the group who broke the World record for the most people with type 1 to finish a half marathon.

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The Rhondda runner who was told by his doctor that, at 50, he shouldn’t take up running. He’d ignored that advice and was now, somewhat to my surprise, pacing me through the field.

I say ‘surprise’ because I’d found my last run – at a Syrian refugee camp on the Lebanon-Syria border – so debilitating that I’d been concerned that I wasn’t in good enough shape to finish the Cardiff run. Let alone run at a pace that left Adam eating my dust.

Ok, that last bit isn’t entirely accurate but it’s amazing how much easier it was to run in British weather with good company all around. Including running the final few kilometres with Adam and Lucy. I can report that there Adam’s running seemed to involve a lot more bounce, and a lot less sweat, than mine…

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As you can probably tell, I loved the run in Cardiff. It was the perfect example of social running. Great exercise; great fun.

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It just remains for me to say a huge thank you to Adam, Run Wales and all my fellow runners. I hope to see you all in London on July 4th 2020 for the Run the World finale!

And, if you’re reading this in Wales, then don’t forget that the Run Wales website has all the information you need to start / continue/ improve / enjoy your running!

Many more pictures from the evening below.

If you’d like to help fight cancer then I and, far more importantly, cancer sufferers around the world, would be immensely grateful for any donations to Cancer Research : https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dan-Thompson11

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!

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Tahaddi Lebanon

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If you’d like to help fight cancer then I and, far more importantly, cancer sufferers around the world, would be immensely grateful for any donations to Cancer Research : https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dan-Thompson11

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

Date : 24th July, 2018

Media : https://www.facebook.com/tahaddilebanon/

You know what ‘strawberry’ is don’t you? It’s a sweet fruit, often eaten with cream. Particularly at places like Wimbledon.

It’s also the street name for the combination of chopped up sweets and heroin used in the toughest parts of Beirut to get kids hooked on drugs.

Slap bang in the middle of one those toughest parts, just west of the tragically famous Shatila refugee camp, are the Tahaddi Education and Medical Centres. As Catherine, Tahaddi’s co-founder explains in the following video, their aim is to be right in the centre of the (tremendously disadvantaged) community they serve.

And what was I doing there? Two days earlier, Tahaddi Lebanon and Run the World had teamed up for the run in Beirut – Tahaddi with the aim of raising money for their emergency cancer fund. Ghia from Tahaddi then invited me to come and see their work and give a couple of Run the World / healthy living talks.

We started in the Tahaddi Education centre which provides non-formal education. It has a warm friendly atmosphere and lots of happy-looking kids. In fact, it felt much like the junior schools I visit around the world. They even have a long waiting list – like many a good school.

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However, I think it’s fair to say that their selection criteria are a little different from many of those schools. To start with you need to be someone who won’t – without help – make it in the Lebanese public school system. Like a Syrian refugee, or a member of the Dom ethnic minority (historically connected to the European Roma community). Your personal and domestic situation will then be considered. If you have a disability or are perhaps suffering from trauma, if your parents are not around or are in jail, if there is a history of domestic abuse, your admission will be prioritised. Only the most needy get in. Which is to say that plenty of very needy don’t get in.

After seeing round the Education Centre, we went to the Medical Centre where I met the doctor in charge. We discussed whether or not the healthy living advice in my talks was relevant for the local audience (it was) and the difficulties of dealing with addictions in such a harsh living environment. He then arranged for me to meet a cancer sufferer.

She had throat cancer but couldn’t afford any further treatment. She also had a big lump on her arm and a distended stomach, and was very weak. Her weakness was a problem as her son was in jail and her daughter-in-law had just returned to her family, leaving her one-year-old daughter behind.

She couldn’t lift her granddaughter so her 10-year-old daughter, who normally attends the Tahaddi Education Centre, had to stay at home to look after the granddaughter. In a ‘house’ with no bathroom or running water.

When drafting this blog I wasn’t quite sure what to write next. Perhaps it’s best to just let the story speak for itself.

I conveyed, as best I could through a translator, my sympathy and went outside with Catherine who wanted to show me a little of what street life is like for the local kids. The following video, with Catherine’s voice over, will, I hope, give you some sense of what they face.

At the end of the visit I gave two talks – one to some of the adults associated with the Centres

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and one to a number of the students, including the 34 I’d run with two days previously. Here are the kids shortly after I finished talking. Either they really enjoyed what I had to say – or they were very pleased I’d finally finished. That much exuberance is worth watching in any event!

Thank you Ghia, Catherine and everyone at Tahaddi for the visit and the hospitality. It was an experience I shall never forget.

If you would like to donate to the Tahaddi cancer fund, then here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/tahaddilebanon/ Your support will allow the Tahaddi Health Center to attend to more cancer patients who are not able to receive needed treatment because of prohibitive medical costs.

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!

 

 

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Run 148 : Syria – Arsal Refugee Camp*

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If you’d like to help fight cancer then I and, far more importantly, cancer sufferers around the world, would be immensely grateful for any donations to Cancer Research : https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dan-Thompson11

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

Date : 23rd July, 2018

Time : 1h 05’ 45”

Number of runners (total to date) : 17  (2321)

Total distance run to date : 1480 km

Run map and details :   https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2878602267

Media : https://brussels-express.eu/running-in-a-refugee-camp-dans-experience

https://www.facebook.com/SB.overseas.charity/ ; http://sboverseas.org/2018/07/25/dan-thompson-10km-runs-in-arsal/ ; https://www.facebook.com/SB.overseas.charity/videos/1963956526960862/

Thanks to a stomach upset, which had kept me bouncing from bed to toilet for the previous 18 hours, I’d only had 3 hours sleep the night before.

To make matters worse, my back had almost gone into spasm during the twenty minute wait at the military check point on the outskirts of Arsal. And I had a nasty little blister on my left heel.

I was well and truly drained and in no shape for a run. Especially one which started with a steep 400m climb in hot, dusty conditions.

Feeling a touch sorry for me? DON’T!

I’m one of the lucky ones. One of the very lucky ones.

Running with me were 16 children from the education centre run by SB Overseas (a Belgian NGO that provides aid to refugees and conflict victims) in Arsal. They were all refugees from the country a few kilometres away on the other side of the mountain range – Syria.

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On first sight, my fellow runners were exactly like all the other school kids I talk to, and run with, around the world. They all set off far too fast and were out of breath after 200m (to be fair, it really was quite steep). As I was to discover, they also like to fool around, ask cheeky questions, and generally throw themselves into life with great enthusiasm. Again, much like their global counterparts.

However, there’s no getting round the fact that a refugee’s life is very different.

After the run I gave my standard Run the World / healthy living school presentation to the group who’d run with me. There’s a point in the presentation when I talk about the importance of not taking mobile devices into the bedroom (they interfere with sleep). Before I said anything to the group, I turned to Louma who was translating, to ask if they had any mobile devices. I thought she said, “Yes, they have mobile phones.” (Turns out this was a misunderstanding – they don’t have phones.)

So I went ahead with the advice. At which point she looked at me as if I was an idiot (I was) and said, “They don’t have bedrooms.”

They may not have bedrooms or phones – or a lot of other things that some of us take for granted. But they were great kids and I was honoured to have met them and learnt a little about their lives.

But what about the run I hear you cry? The school children ran with me for the first kilometre or so and after that I was expecting to be on my own. But, on the day, that wasn’t felt to be safe so Moutaz drove alongside me with Felix taking pictures.

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Given the speed I was running at, that must have been pretty dull for them. Sorry guys. If I’d been capable of running any faster, I promise I would have done!

Arsal wasn’t entirely what I expected. 7 years ago it was a small mountain village. But then the Syrian war began and it’s subsequently grown enormously. It’s now a mixture of large concrete buildings – some bordering on villas – and rows upon rows of tightly packed tents measuring approximately 2m by 5m each.

As you may have guessed, the refugees live in the tents. For which they pay both ground rent and tent rent. No easy task when, officially, they can’t be employed in Lebanon.

Already having fled conflict, they now live below the poverty line. This has a variety of consequences as SB Overseas has seen from its work on the ground. One such consequence is the rise in the practise of child marriage in Lebanon amongst the Syrian refugee community – from 13% to 42% since the start of the conflict.

One of the proven ways of tackling child marriage is through education, something that most of the refugees can’t afford. Which is one of the many reasons that SB OverSeas has opened three schools in Lebanon: in BeirutArsaland SaidaAccess to education is especially important in places like Arsal, a so-called ‘red zone’ as it has been subject to threats from ISIS.

Of course, what the refugees really want to do is to go home. And everyone agrees that they should. But the question the refugees face is whether or not it’s now safe for them to return ? Will there be somewhere for them to live? Some way of earning a living?

Not that these concerns deter everyone. As the soldiers at the check point told us, there was a lot of movement that day. Apparently a group of 500 – 1000 refugees were setting off for Syria.

I wish them, and all the other refugees, the very best of luck. Whether or not to go home shouldn’t be a life or death decision.

It just remains for me to say an enormous thank you to Louma, Moutaz, Felix, Rima, Jade, Caroline and everyone at SB Overseas for making the run a possibility. If you’d like to donate to SB Overseas then here’s the link : http://sboverseas.org/donate/

And an equally enormous thank you to everyone I ran with for the company and presents. I will never forget my time in Arsal.

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!

*The concept behind Run the World is to run 10 km in every country in the world. And Arsal isn’t actually in Syria. However, The British Foreign Office currently strongly advises against all travel to Syria so running with Syrian refugees, on the Syrian border, seemed like a great substitute. (Once its safe, and I can obtain a visa, I will run in Syria.)

More pictures from the day below.

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Run 147 : Lebanon – Beirut

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If you’d like to help fight cancer then I and, far more importantly, cancer sufferers around the world, would be immensely grateful for any donations to Cancer Research : https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dan-Thompson11

Date : 22nd July, 2018

Time : 55’ 39”

Number of runners (total to date) : 350  (2304)

Total distance run to date : 1470 km

Run map and details :   https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2878602251

Media : https://www.facebook.com/BeirutMarathon/ ; https://www.facebook.com/tahaddilebanon/

I hesitate to use the expression ‘life affirming’. It’s one of those phrases that gets over used in these hyperbolic times. But they were the words that came to mind as I walked away from the run in Beirut.

And they seemed fitting because the story starts with something as life affirming as it gets. A pregnancy and a birth.

I met Rima at an antenatal course when she, and my wife. were heavily pregnant. A group of 6 of us became firm friends and a few months ago we met for dinner. The conversation moved onto Run the World and Rima suggested I run in Beirut when she was there in the summer. No one says ‘no’ to Rima so I immediately agreed.

Rima talked to her brother, Nabil. And Nabil talked to Ghia at Tahaddi Lebanon. And Ghia talked to the Beirut Marathon Association (BMA).

With the net result that there were about 350 of us at the start of the run in Zaitunay Bay.

Where, after couple of welcoming speeches, we set off shortly after 7 am.

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The BMA had put together an excellent run – starting east and taking us on a loop through the Downtown area before heading back to Zaitunay Bay and then along Beirut’s famous Corniche as far as the American University of Beirut and back to the start point. Beirut’s a fine place to run even if, at least for someone used to an English climate, it’s pretty warm by 8 am.

After the run I spent the best part of an hour talking to, being interviewed by, and posing for pictures with, my fellow runners. Allow me to tell you about some of them, starting with Tahaddi.

Tahaddi (which means ‘challenge’ in Arabic) is an NGO that provides health and education services to some of the poorest and most disadvantaged families in Beirut (including Syrian refugees). 34 of the children they help came along to the run . They’d all been training hard and, one way or the other, most of them completed the 10km. Which is pretty impressive given that they were aged 10 -14.

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Why did they do all that training and running? To raise funds for the Tahaddi Medical Centre so that it can treat members of the local community with cancer. People they normally have to turn away for lack of funds. I’m going to do a follow up blog on my subsequent visit to Tahaddi but please believe me when I say that they are working with people in a desperate state. People who need our help. If you’d like to donate then the fundraising page is here.

I also met people from the 542 training program organised by the Beirut Marathon. The program is completely free of charge and provides runners with 5 months of training from volunteer coaches to help them complete their first marathons.

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And the woman running and campaigning to raise awareness of colon cancer and the apparently simple screening procedure. I said I’d helped promote the cause by going to get checked. (I did the test for that male favourite, prostate cancer, and it’s got to be easier than that…surely…)

And the person who’d taken up running to address their mental health issues. And diabetes fighter who is raising money to fight diabetes.

rtw lebanon 21That’s the great thing about running.  It’s not just about getting fitter and healthier – important though that is. It’s also about the people you meet and all the good that gets done.

It’s almost, dare I say it, life affirming.

It just remains for me to say a huge thank you to Albert Cheaib and everyone at the Beirut Marathon Association. To Ghia and all the runners and staff from Tahaddi. And to the extended Kabbani family: Rima, Nabil, Joumana, Julian, Omar, Dalia, Bilal, Claire and Sam. And not forgetting Yusuf / Joseph who was born at almost exactly the same time as my eldest, Freya. A happy coincidence that led to a great run in Beirut!

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!

More pictures from the run below.

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UK Run 2 : Edinburgh

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 If you’d like to help fight cancer then I and, far more importantly, cancer sufferers around the world, would be immensely grateful for any donations to Cancer Research : https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dan-Thompson11

Date : 25th  June, 2018

Time :  58’ 55”

Number of runners : 83 (50 at the Run4It Run Club ; 33 at Cargilfield School)

Total distance run to date : 1480 km

Run map and details :   https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2806471634

Please like / follow Run the World : Facebook ; Instagram ; Twitter

Every Monday at 6pm the Edinburgh (Lothian) Run4It Run Club meets at, appropriately, the Run 4 It shop on Lothian Road in Edinburgh. The run is free, professionally organised, and the format varies week by week to include both standard runs and interval training. Judging from the feedback I heard on Monday, people love it.

Emma, the store manager, had been good enough to invite me to join the run. And Debs, who organises the runs, had been good enough to plot a 10km route (not their usual distance) to accommodate my certifiable plan to run 2 500 000 metres by completing a 10km run in every country in the world – plus a further 45 in the UK. (For readers not familiar with Run the World, I’m raising funds for Cancer Research and the rationale for running 2 500 000 metres is that it’s a metre for every one of the UK’s 2.5 million cancer sufferers.)

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There were about 50 of us at the start, too many to take a group photo outside the shop so we set off for the local canal for the group shot at the top of the blog.

Those of you who know Edinburgh, will know that it’s a beautiful city. And a hilly one. Except, of course, by the canal. Where it is flat.

Which made it an ideal route as far as I was concerned, as every bit of my body, including, bizarrely, my hands, was still suffering from the 80 minutes of hell that was the ‘social’ triathlon I’d done 2 days before,

It wasn’t just the flatness that made it a great run. There was also the company, the beautiful sunlit evening and the ‘different groups running at different speeds meaning that everyone had someone to run with’. The route even took us past that temple to Scottish rugby that is Murrayfield. Very exciting for a sports nut like me.

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But all good things come to an end and it was time to say goodbye and thank you to my fellow runners. And meet up with Mike, one of my oldest friends and a recent Edinburgh convert.

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We were planning to do a bit of evening sightseeing but the World Cup, and the need to refuel, demanded that we started with a quick visit to the pub.

Much is made of the rivalry between England and Scotland at football. However, I couldn’t help noticing that the locals spontaneously cheered when Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty. Just as they would have done in any pub in England.

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After that we strolled along Princes St, overlooking the Princes Street Gardens and under looking Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile. Taking in the local sights which included, to my somewhat clichéd touristic delight, some Scottish dancing

and some drum and bagpipe.

Mike’s not the only old friend to have succumbed to Edinburgh’s charms. David moved there with his family a few years back and he’d arranged for me to talk at his daughter’s school, Cargilfield.

This was an interesting one for me. Many of the schools I’ve talked at abroad have had British teachers – and plenty of them had warned me about British students. Apparently we’re an unruly bunch.

As a result I wasn’t sure what to expect from Cargilfield – my first school in the UK.

I needn’t have worried. These were bright, engaged, well informed* students and I thoroughly enjoyed the talk.

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Afterwards I went for a 1 kilometre run with Y 4. I couldn’t tell you whether they all enjoyed it as much as I did but they were a confident, enthusiastic group and it was great meeting, and chatting with, them.

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I could go on for a long time about Run 4 It, about Edinburgh and about Cargilfield. But this has already been a long blog and it’s time to say my thank yous. To Emma, Debs  and Run 4 It. To Mike. To David, Lisa, Headmaster Rob Taylor, Mr Pike and all the staff and pupils at Cargilfield.

It was a fantastic trip to Edinburgh and, if you could all just guarantee that the weather would always be that sunny, I think I might move there!

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!

*Better informed than me when it came to the height of Ben Nevis! (For the record, the correct height is 1345 m.)

 

 

 

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UK Run 1 : Newcastle

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If you’d like to help fight cancer then I and, far more importantly, cancer sufferers around the world, would be immensely grateful for any donations to Cancer Research : https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dan-Thompson11

Date : 26th  May, 2018

Time :  1h 02’ 27”

Number of runners : 32

Total distance run to date : 1470 km

Run map and details :   https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2732990391

Media : https://www.newcastle.gov.uk/news/run-world-challenge-comes-newcastle-weekend-aid-cancer-research-uk

https://newcastlemagazine.com/cancer-research-uk-run-the-world-challenge-coming-to-newcastle-47160/

https://www.facebook.com/NorthernInstituteForCancerResearch/

https://www.facebook.com/NewcastleUnitedFoundation/

I wasn’t sure how to start this blog. Should I write about the great city of Newcastle? And all the warmth, help and support I received there? Or about how nervous I felt before this – my first of 45 UK runs? (Taking my global total to 250 runs – which is equivalent to running 2 500 000 metres. A metre for every cancer sufferer in the UK.)

Or about Mike and the group of friends I go walking with every May. (This year’s walk had been along the Northumbrian coast meaning that we’d come into Newcastle that morning after a night in Whitley Bay.)

All fine topics but I think I’m going to start by writing about that most un-British of subject matters – emotion.

After the welcome speeches from CRUK’s Carolyn – who talked about the Northern Institute for Cancer Research’s fantastic work  – and myself, two runners approached me to say that the day before they’d attended the funeral of one of their closest friends who’d died from cancer. They’d taken a collection at the funeral and were going to donate the money raised to cancer research.

I was struck by their generosity and thoughtfulness. And their grief. Which I could almost physically feel – and which took me back to my mother’s fight against cancer and its cruel, harrowing, killing clutches.

By this stage I was tearing up and it took a ‘manly’ throat clearance or two before I could make my way to the start of the run.

But before we get on to the run, I’d like to take us back to the preceding Wednesday when I’d arrived in Newcastle. Active Newcastle had provided us with great support from the outset and had introduced us to Garry, the Policy and Communication Business Partner at Newcastle City Council. Garry met me at Exhibition Park and we spent about an hour on photos and video from which he put together the following video. I can’t bear to watch myself on film but I’m told he did a pretty good job.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10155693628823790&id=37542908789

From there I made my way to St. James’ Park, one of the world’s great football grounds, to meet up with Ashley from the Newcastle United Foundation and to attend one of their FREE fitness classes. (Which include High Intensity Interval Training and Running Fitness classes every Wednesday 5.30 – 6.45 pm. Give them a go – they’re professionally coached and very friendly!)

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Between some of the people from the class, some people who’d seen Garry’s video, the walking crowd, some extended family, Michael’s local contacts and a team from Womble Bond Dickinson, there were about 30 of us at the bandstand in Exhibition Park for the start of the run.

For those who don’t know it, Exhibition Park contains the aforementioned bandstand, some tennis courts, a pond, a skate park and a cafe. And a brewery.

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From Exhibition Park we made our way on to Town Moor, which is an extraordinary 1000 acre green space in the centre of Newcastle. Home to hundreds of cows, it hosts the annual Hoppings, Europe’s largest travelling fair, each June. If you’re ever in the area, it’s also an ideal place to run and walk.

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The run itself was a mix of the pleasure of running and meeting new people. And the sadness of hearing more about the funeral and the friend who’d died unexpectedly early of breast cancer.

All in all , it was great – if emotional – run.

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Huge thanks to everyone who supported the run / walk and Cancer Research UK. To Jodi and Active Newcastle. To Garry and Newcastle City Council. To Ashley and the Newcastle United Foundation. To Mike and the walking boys – Julian, Nic, Julian, Paul (and not forgetting Ann Marie and Gilly from the entourage!). To Chris and Misa, from my extended family. To Asmah, Alison, Sadia, Francis and David from Womble Bond Dickinson. To Mike’s friends including Ian and Lucy. To Carolyn from CRUK.  (Photos of all these good folk below.)

As Mike likes to remind me, I am a namby-pamby, smashed avocado eating, foreign lager drinking southerner but I loved being in Newcastle and I hope to see you all down south one of these days. Perhaps for the London leg of Run the World on July 4th 2020!

Please like Run the World on Facebook to receive notification of future blogs and news about runs, races and running clubs across the world. And also just to show your support because, however silly it may sound, it makes all the travel and running that little bit easier if you think people care!

Garry

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Ashley

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Womble Bond Dickinson

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(Some of the) walking boys

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Chris & Misa

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Early runners

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Cows (Town Moor)

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Attempting to map read

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