UK Run 8 : Godalming

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

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Date : 17th January, 2019

Time : 1h 10”

Number of runners (total to date) : 50 (3256)

Total distance run to date : 1610 km + 80 km in the UK

Run map and details :   https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/3310026747

Media : https://www.facebook.com/groups/WaverleyHarriers/

Can you combine Kabul, Tehran and Islamabad in one trip? And what about Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga, Samoa, US Samoa, Fiji, Cook Islands, New Zealand and Tuvalu? Are there scheduled flights into Libya? And do I really have to include every country from the last ten years on my Russian visa application?!?

These, and many more questions, needed to be discussed with Luke ‘the ever patient travel agent’ Fenn – who happens to work for Trailfinders on Guildford High Street. I also need a will and my bank recommended Stevens & Bolton – whose offices are a few hundred metres away from Trailfinders.

A trip to Guildford was therefore obviously in order. And, these days, when I go somewhere, I also try to run there. So we got in touch with Neil Boosey, Chairman of the Waverley Harriers Racing Club which is based in Godalming.

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It then transpired that Luke, who lives in Godalming, had previously run with the Waverley Harriers. And that Harriet Irving, one of the partners at Stevens & Bolton, is the club’s Senior Team Captain.

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To use a cliché, it’s a small world. (Though I can promise you it doesn’t feel small when you’re ‘island hopping’ in the Pacific…)

We all – there were about 50 of us including Luke, Neil and Harriet – met at the Wilfrid Noyce community centre in Godalming on a distinctly chilly evening. After a few words from Neil, Harriet and myself, and a group photo or two, we set off.

I wish I could tell you all about the route but, frankly, it was a dark night and I didn’t have clue where I was.

What I can tell you, based on my conversation with various runners, is that :

  • The club has c 200 members and accommodates everyone from ‘Couch to 5kers’ to social runners to racers to ultra-runners
  • Club members really enjoy both the running and the social side of the club
  • It was cold!

We ran at a decent pace, stopping every so often to concertina the group and make sure we didn’t lose anyone along the way. (The time above doesn’t reflect the pace because I don’t usually pause my Garmin at stops – having learnt from bitter experience that I often forget to click on ‘resume’ after a stop. Meaning that I then I have to run extra meters so that the Garmin – which is my ‘proof’ that I’ve completed 10 km in each country – shows the correct distance.)

Eventually we made our way back to the Wilfrid Noyce centre for a few final photos and a somewhat prolonged effort to get back into my car due to a frozen car fob & fingers.

It just remains for me to say a huge thank you to Neil, Harriet, Luke the Waverley Harrier, Dave and all my fellow runners for the support, the welcome, the company and the donations. And, of course and as always, a special thank you to Luke – the best travel agent I’ve ever worked with. Next time you put me on yet another a flight at 3 am in the morning, please bear in mind that I often have to do 7 of these runs in a week!

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Finally, if any of you can make it, then I’d love to see you in London on July 4th 2020 for the UK, and final, leg of Run the World!

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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Highgate Primary School

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

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Number of runners (total to date) : 300 (3206)

Run map and details :   https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/3304726690

My wife, Liz Morris, is a local Councillor. She seems to spend every waking hour working on behalf of local (Haringey) residents and community groups. One of her very favourite parts of the job is acting as a Highgate Primary School governor. She always comes away from meetings impressed by both the achievements of the school and the ambition it has for its pupils.

Liz was good enough to introduce me to Headmaster William Dean – pictured here with Horace the school dog.

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William was, in turn, good enough to invite me to give a Run the World talk at the school. (Run the World is a challenge I’m undertaking to run 10 km in every country in the world to raise funds for Cancer Research and to promote the importance of an active, healthy lifestyle.)

The talk took place in the main hall

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in front of about 400 students and covered both my (mis)adventures running round the world and healthy living advice. (It often seems like there is a new piece of healthy living advice every day so the talk aims to provide students with the (NHS approved) basics in a memorable, and hopefully enjoyable, way.)

In case any students (or interested parents / staff) read this blog, here’s a quick reminder of that advice and the BEANS acronym.

Be active

Eat sensibly

Avoid sugary sodas

No sweets (well, maybe a few on special occasions!)

Sleep well

After the talk, I did separate 1 km runs round the school grounds with Years 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6.

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The runs were a lot of fun and gave me the chance to chat further to a number of the students. Regular readers of this blog will know that, at almost every school I talk at, one of the pupils comes up with a question I haven’t heard before. In this case one of the students asked me, “Do you use deodorant? You must be very sweaty and smelly after all those runs..”

It just remains for me to say thank you to Headmaster Dean and all the students and staff at Highgate Primary School. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and, if I had to sum up my impression of the school, I’d say that it achieves that mix of happiness, energy, enthusiasm and discipline, that you see in the best schools. No wonder Liz is so complimentary!

Finally, if any student, parent or member of staff is interested, then I’d love to see you on July 4th 2020 for the UK, and final, leg of Run the World which will probably take place on Hampstead Heath!

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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Run 161 : Belgium – Brussels

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

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Date : 13th December, 2018

Time : 1h 17’ 15” (lots of photo stops)

Number of runners (total to date) : 4 (2906)

Total distance run to date : 1610 km

Run map and details :   https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/3224737687

It’s hard not to draw parallels between our attempts to organise a run in Brussels and the ongoing Brexit travails.

We tried everything but just couldn’t seem to find a solution. We’d contacted running clubs; the local Hash House Harriers ; the British Embassy. Nothing doing.

And we didn’t have anyone to blame but ourselves (well, me really). The chosen run date – the evening of December 13th – was guaranteed to be cold and dark. It was also slap bang in the middle of the Christmas party season. And the European Parliament was in Strasbourg, rather than Brussels, that week. (The reason for the unfortunate timing was that I had to go to Brussels to get my visas for Burkina Faso and Chad. I couldn’t go earlier for family reasons ; and I couldn’t go later for logistical reasons.)

By now we were looking at the dreaded ‘no run’ option.

In an effort to break the impasse, we went to the people. In other words, we put out an appeal for help on Run the World’s (and my personal) social media.

And the response was fantastic. All sorts of people contacted their Belgian friends and acquaintances on our behalf. (Thank you everyone!)

Amongst a welter of messages we heard from Aneil, who I’d run with in Moldova, and Major Jane Witt, the UK’s Defence Attaché when I ran in Lithuania. Aneil, who works for the EU, had recently moved to Brussels and was therefore able to run with me. Jane couldn’t – but she got in touch with a friend who got in touch with Amanda who could. And Amanda got in touch with Abby who also could.

And so there were four of us on the run – the three ‘As’ – Amanda, Aneil and Abby and me. Not as many as on some runs but, as the As were quick to point out, whatever we might have lacked in quantity, we more than made up for in quality.

And they were absolutely right. It was a great – if bitterly icy – run.

We started at the Royal Palace

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and headed towards the main EU institutions.

The European Parliament – which is where the MEPs from around Europe sit (when they’re not in Strasbourg.)

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The European Commission – which is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU. (It’s made up of members appointed by national governments and that darling of the British tabloids, Jean Claude Juncker, is its President.)

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And finally to the Europa building which houses the European Council (defines the European Union’s overall political direction and priorities and comprises the heads of state or government of the EU member states ; its current President is Donald Tusk.) It also, not remotely confusingly, houses the Council of the European Union (which is where government ministers from each EU country meet to discuss, amend and adopt laws, and coordinate policies. )

In the heart of the Europa building is the ‘egg’ which is where Theresa May was locked in negotiation with EU leaders and officials on the night we ran. (This was the meeting where Juncker described May’s Brexit plans as being ‘nebulous’.)

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A meeting which meant that a number of streets were closed off for security reasons. It may also (but probably wasn’t) the reason for the ‘European Ice Cube’ – a large chunk of ice inexplicably being guarded by numerous policemen and women.

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Having seen the major EU institutions, we then proceeded to take in Brussels’ tourist sites including the Parc du Cinquantenaire (which celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of Belgium’s independence and is where we met Abby)

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the Magritte Museum ; the Musical Instruments Museum (which, in keeping with the Brexit theme, has the words ‘Old England’ on its façade)

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Brussels Square

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the extraordinary Grand Place

the Manneken Pis ( a small statue of a boy peering into a fountain which, slightly unaccountably, draws huge crowds)

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the monumental Palais de Justice (which is magnificent in its own right and provides a great vista over Brussels)

before heading back to the Royal Palace and a final lap round the Parc de Bruxelles.

As this was Belgium, we then jogged (it was too cold to walk) to the Place du Luxembourg for a couple of Trappist Monastery beers.

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Amanda, who’s Irish, and I quickly sorted out the Irish border backstop issue – which is causing so much Brexit consternation here in the UK – before jogging off to our respective homes and hotels.

It was a very fine evening and I’d like to say a huge thank you to Amanda, Aneil and Abby for coming out on freezing night and showing me round Brussels. If any of you can make it, then I’d love to see you in London on July 4th 2020 for the UK, and final, leg of Run the World!

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!

*As you may have guessed by now, I’m a Remainer. Not because I don’t think there are arguments on both sides of the debate. But because I think, on balance, and from a European perspective, it’s better for everyone if the UK stays in the EU. And the argument that clinches it for me is this : if you were negotiating with Russia or China or the US (or India or Brazil or Japan or Saudi Arabia or anyone else) would you rather be on your own – or as part of a team including London, Berlin, Paris, Rome, Madrid and all the other EU states?

 

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UK Run 7 : Taunton

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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 : 8th December, 2018

Time : 1h 03’ 39”

Number of runners (total to date) : 276* (2902)

Total distance run to date : 1600 km + 70km in the UK

Run map and details :   https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/3213862473

Media : https://www.somersetcountygazette.co.uk/sport/17296662.dan-thompson-visits-longrun-meadow-taunton-as-part-of-run-the-world-challenge/

https://www.facebook.com/longrunmeadowparkrun/ ;

https://www.facebook.com/longrunmeadowparkrun/posts/1756411034469413?__tn__=K-R

https://www.somersetcountygazette.co.uk/sport/17281765.running-members-of-hydro-harriers-and-running-forever-clubs-take-to-the-outdoors/

If you’ve never tried a Parkrun then you really should. They’re free, weekly, 5km timed runs in a park somewhere near you. Some participants are serious runners ; others are social runners ; and still others are beginners. On the day I ran in Taunton, 261 people took part – with times ranging from 18’ 19” to 1h 10’ 35”.

Parkrun is now in 584 locations and I think one of the reasons they’re so successful is that everyone’s given a bar code and parkrun then produces a table of results for each run. These contain a wealth for data and, even if you’re not a serious runner, it’s fascinating to see how you’ve done vis-a-vis your previous times and vis-a-vis your personal demographic.

Another reason is that they’re very welcoming and supremely well organised. And a large part of that is due to the volunteers. One of them, Dave, introduced himself to me. He has stage 4 cancer, is about to go into chemotherapy, and has been given 3-30 months. He told me all this with smile on his face and I asked him how he stayed cheerful in the circumstances. He told me he couldn’t do it without parkrun.

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The Run the World ethos is that running is both great for you and great fun. But, in truth, it often goes deeper than that. I talk to people all over the world for whom running has made all the difference in their battles against physical and mental health issues.

Dave, best of luck for what’s coming up. May you defy the odds!

The Taunton parkrun consists of two loops of Longrun Meadow and on the day I ran it was plenty wet and muddy. Conscious that I would be driving back to London in my running gear, I tried to run carefully to stay as dry as I could.

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And to save my breath to talk to as many people as possible including Sharron, the remarkable ‘just out of hospital’ Taunton AC runner,

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and Jane – pic below with hint of a rainbow – who works for the police and oversees their fitness testing. (They use bleep tests : everyone is expected to be at level 5.4 and firearms and similar officers are expected to be at level 9.1 or above.)

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Having done the parkrun 5km, I was then joined by a number of parkrunners ; by runners from Taunton AC, the Hydro Harriers, the Taunton Hash House Harriers, and the Running Forever Running Club ; and by staff from Albert Goodman for a further 10km run. There were about 25 of us at the start of the run and, much like the earlier parkrun, there was plenty of mud and good chat with the runners including Harriet Hash House Harrier and various members of the Albert Goodman team.

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Albert Goodman were actually the reason I was in Taunton because I’d talked at their away day / Christmas party the previous evening at the Fleet Air Arm Museum. (For those who don’t know them, Albert Goodman are a firm of accountants based in Taunton. I’ve worked with them for a number of years despite living hours away in London – which I guess is a pretty good recommendation.)

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After the talk, they were good enough to present me with a cheque for £2000 for Cancer Research (thank you!)

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We then proceeded to the museum for their party – a museum which includes a Concorde.

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Particularly fascinating for me because, many years ago when I was in the computer / video games business, for various unlikely reasons I was flown to New York for a meeting. By Concorde.

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But that story’s for another time. For now, it just remains for me to say a huge thank you to Jamie and all the runners and volunteers at parkrun ; to Mike Cahill and everyone at Albert Goodman ; to Sharron and Taunton AC ; to Tom and the Hydro Harriers ; to Linda and the Running Forever Club ; Just Run Taunton ; and to Harriet and the Taunton Hash.

If any of you can make it, then I’d love to see you in London on July 4th 2020 for the UK, and final, leg of Run the World!

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!

*261 park runners http://www.parkrun.org.uk/longrunmeadow/results/weeklyresults/?runSeqNumber=272 + c. 15 new runners who joined us for the 2nd part of the run.

 

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Run 160 : Jordan – Amman

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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 : 23rd November, 2018

Time : 54’ 40”

Number of runners (total to date) : 60 (2626)

Total distance run to date : 1600 km

Run map and details :   https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/3183882135

Per its website, the King Hussein Cancer Foundation is an organisation dedicated to fighting cancer by fundraising; by supporting patients at the KHCF ; by providing a cancer care coverage programme ; and via programmes to increase cancer awareness and promote early detection.

They’re also, as it turns out, excellent run organisers.

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There were ambulances, banners, volunteers all along the route, police security, run leaders etc. There were also high vis vests – an item I’ve always coveted!

The only minor blip was something they couldn’t control – the weather. A thunderstorm had been forecast for the morning of our run. And, while it never came to that, it was cold with a nagging, slanting rain that broke out from time to time. Enough to deter many runners I was repeatedly told by those who braved the elements – which was a shame given all KHCF’s efforts.

Still, there were about 60 of us at the start and, of course, the great thing about running is that the weather doesn’t matter as soon as you get going.

We started at the Amman Baccalaureate School

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and, after a pre-run warm-up,

ran roughly towards the centre of town via an incline or two (Amman is very hilly) past the Queen Rania Teacher Academy and the King Hussein Medical Centre. We finished with a loop of the Al Hussein Park past the King Hussein Mosque.

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However, I’m not going to dwell on the run – excellent though it was – because these events are really about the runners and the cause.

There were runners from Run Jordan,

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and from local running clubs

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an extraordinary ultra desert runner

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triathletes

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a man who ran in 4 layers to lose more weight (he’d already reduced his weight from 120kg to 90kg) and Tim the Australian journalist who didn’t run but did take lots of footage.

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A more diverse and friendly group you couldn’t hope to meet.

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As for the cause, if you’d like to support the King Hussein Cancer Foundation then please donate here. Cancer sufferers across Jordan will be very grateful.

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It just remains for me to thank all my fellow runners and the King Hussein Cancer Foundation for all the support and great company.

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If any of you can make it, then I’d love to see you in London on July 4th 2020 for the UK, and final, leg of Run the World!

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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 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 159 : Iraq – Baghdad

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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 : 21st November, 2018

Time : 51’ 22”

Number of runners (total to date) : 40 (2566)

Total distance run to date : 1590 km

Run map and details :   https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/3183882117

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

I’ve run in a lot of places where personal security is front of mind – Venezuela and Papua New Guinea spring to mind – but Iraq was at a different level. And, before I offend anyone, let me be clear that I’m not saying Iraq is more dangerous than other places. Just that, for an overseas visitor, the security precautions are taken very, very seriously.

If you are fortunate enough to obtain a visa to visit Baghdad then Booking.com offers you a choice of hotels. However, these are all in the red zone. If you want to stay in the green zone, which you are strongly advised to do, then you must stay at the Al Rasheed.

And, if you want to stay at the Al Rasheed, then you need to use their transport as taxis (and most Iraqis) can’t enter the green zone. Which is slightly painful on the wallet because, based on my by now reasonably extensive experience of these matters, I think it is fair to say that it is the most expensive hotel shuttle service in the world.

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On the other hand, it is quite a drive in from the airport. I lost count of the number of military roadblocks and vehicles we had to pass before we got to the hotel. And, when you get there, you enter the hotel on a red carpet – which covers the walkway that used to feature a picture of George Bush. Apparently installed at Saddam’s behest, the idea was that guests literally had to walk all over the US President.

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Once installed in your hotel, you could, in theory, saunter out for a run in the streets of Baghdad or, failing that, the streets of the green zone. In practice this is considered to be too dangerous – so I’m very grateful to everyone who organised for me to run in the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) compound.

This did mean that we wouldn’t be running through the famous Hands of Victory (aka the Crossed Swords) as I’d fondly imagined. In fact, we couldn’t even get close to them and the following picture, taken during a brief and slightly nervy car stop, was the best we could do.

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As it turned out, the UN compound is a great place to run. We started with welcome speeches from Alice Walpole (the UN’s Deputy Special Representative in Iraq) and myself.

Just as I started talking, the loud speakers around the compound burst into life : “Incoming, incoming.” It was only a test – but it gave me a taste of the life led by everyone in the compound.

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About 40 of us set off on the run which took us 9 times round the compound passing unfailingly friendly and supportive security personal at each corner. Each circuit was run clockwise because to run widdershins (counter-clockwise) is apparently bad luck. (Thank you, Alice, for this wisdom – which I shall try to apply to all my future runs!)

Everyone ran at their own speed and there were plenty of opportunities to chat with the runners who came from every corner of the globe. Excellent company all of them, though special mention should perhaps be made of the Australian Ambassador who’d landed in Baghdad that morning after an 18 hour flight from Australia – and still managed a 53 minute 10km.

Here’s the UNAMI video of the event

I couldn’t have been more delighted when I heard afterwards that people enjoyed the run enough to be talking seriously about making it a regular occurrence. (Please send pictures!)

After plenty more photos

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and a number of very generous donations, I said goodbye to everyone and met with the team from Sport Against Violence. They do fantastic work in the Baghdad region and organise a number of runs for peace including the Baghdad marathon.

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They encouraged me to come back to Baghdad and to see more of the city and the people. They were very polite about it but I think they felt I was being too cautious on the security front. They may well be right and I’d certainly love to revisit Baghdad one day and run through the city. However, as the memorial to the 22 people tragically killed in the 2003 attack on the UN compound reminded me, security is, to put it mildly, a difficult issue.

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A lot of people went to a lot of trouble to enable me to run in Baghdad and I’d particularly like to thank Asif who went out of his way to help me with every aspect of the trip ; Alice Walpole; Louis ; Ivan ; Ahmed and the team from Sport Against Violence ; Glen and the British Embassy ; and last, but by no means least, my old college friend Daud who introduced me to Asif and set the whole ball rolling.

I’d also like to thank everyone who ran with me and who donated. I’ll never forget the run in Baghdad and, if any of you can make it, I’d love to see you in London on the 4th July 2020 for the UK, and final, leg of Run the World!

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!

Facts & Stats

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

Iraq is a country in Western Asia. The capital, and largest city, is Baghdad. Iraq is home to diverse ethnic groups including ArabsKurdsAssyriansTurkmenShabakisYazidisArmenians. Around 95% of the country’s 37 million citizens are Muslims, with ChristianityYarsanYezidism and Mandeanism also present. The official languages of Iraq are Arabic and Kurdish.

Iraq has a coastline measuring 58 km (36 miles) on the northern Persian Gulf and encompasses the Mesopotamian Alluvial Plain, the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range and the eastern part of the Syrian Desert. Two major rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, run south through Iraq and into the Shatt al-Arab near the Persian Gulf. These rivers provide Iraq with significant amounts of fertile land.

The region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, historically known as Mesopotamia, is often referred to as the cradle of civilisation. It was here that mankind first began to read, write, create laws and live in cities under an organised government—notably Uruk, from which “Iraq” is derived. The area has been home to successive civilisations since the 6th millennium BC. Iraq was the centre of the AkkadianSumerianAssyrian and Babylonian empires. It was also part of the HellenisticRomanMongol, Ottoman and other empires.

The country today known as Iraq was a region of the Ottoman Empire until the partition of the Ottoman Empire in the 20th century. It was made up of three provinces, called vilayets in the Ottoman languageMosul VilayetBaghdad Vilayet, and Basra Vilayet. In April 1920 the British Mandate of Mesopotamia was created under the authority of the League of Nations. A British-backed monarchy joining these vilayets into one Kingdom was established in 1921 under Faisal I of IraqThe Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq gained independence from the UK in 1932. In 1958, the monarchy was overthrown and the Iraqi Republic created. Iraq was controlled by the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party from 1968 until 2003. After an invasion by the United States and its allies in 2003, Saddam Hussein‘s Ba’ath Party was removed from power, and multi-party parliamentary elections were held in 2005. The US presence in Iraq ended in 2011, but the Iraqi insurgency continued and intensified as fighters from the Syrian Civil War spilled into the country. Out of the insurgency came a highly destructive group calling itself ISIL, which took large parts of the north and west. It has since been largely defeated. Disputes over the sovereignty of Iraqi Kurdistan continue. A referendum about the full sovereignty of Iraqi Kurdistan was held on 25 September 2017. On 9 December 2017, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over ISIL after the group lost its territory in Iraq.

Iraq is a federal parliamentary republic consisting of 19 governorates (provinces) and one autonomous region (Iraqi Kurdistan). The country’s official religion is IslamCulturally, Iraq has a very rich heritage and celebrates the achievements of its past in both pre-Islamic as well as post-Islamic times and is known for its poets. Its painters and sculptors are among the best in the Arab world, some of them being world-class as well as producing fine handicrafts, including rugs and carpets. Iraq is a founding member of the UN as well as of the Arab LeagueOICNon-Aligned Movement and the IMF.

World Bank Data

Here’s the latest World Bank data for Iraq – with the year 2000 as a comparison.

GDP $197.7 bn 2017 $36.6 bn 2004
         
Population 38.3 m 2017 23.6 m 2000
         
Primary school enrolment* 108% 2007 97% 2000
         
CO2 Emissions** 4.8 2014 3.1 2000
         
% below poverty line*** 18.9% 2012 22.4% 2006
         
Life expectancy at birth 69.9 yrs 2016 69.2 yrs 2000
         
GNI per capita $4770 2017 $2020 2006

*Percentage can exceed 100% due to the inclusion of over and under aged students

** Metric tons per capita

***The World Bank notes that the methodology can vary between countries and over time within a given country. (While much of the World Bank data generally follows understandable trends, this number often oscillates wildly suggesting that different methodologies are frequently used over time within a given country.)

Greatest Sporting Nation Data

Finally, here’s the data from Greatest Sporting Nation on how Iraq performed in the global sporting arena in 2017:

Global Cup – NA

Per Capita Cup – NA

The Global Cup aggregates results from over 1000 events across 80 sports to produce the definitive annual ranking of international sporting success. The Per Capita Cup uses the same data to produce an annual per capita ranking.

 

 

 

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Run 158 : Turkey – Istanbul

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

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Date : 20th November, 2018

Time : 1h 07’ 53”

Number of runners (total to date) : 11 (2526)

Total distance run to date : 1580 km

Run map and details :   https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/3183882101

Do you like big exciting cities? That are set on water? And are full of world class culture and history? And modern nightlife?

If the answer to all of the above is ‘yes’ then Istanbul may very well be for you.

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Even seeing the city as part of a night time 10 km run it was pretty amazing  – as I hope you’ll agree after reading this blog!

Ten of us met at the Sultanahmet tram station. The majority from the Istanbul Hash House Harriers with a sprinkling of other runners.

We went straight from the start point to the famous Blue Mosque – the extraordinary six minareted Ottoman marvel.

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We then crossed the square to the Hagia Sophia. Often referred to as the eighth wonder in the world, it was built during Byzantine times when it was the largest Christian church in the world. Following the capture of Constantinople by the Ottomans it was converted to a mosque and is now a museum.

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From there we ran through the gardens by the Topkapi Palace down to the confluence of the Bosphorus – which runs north-south through Istanbul dividing Europe from Asia – and the Golden Horn which runs east-west through the European side of Istanbul.

West along the Golden Horn, overlooked by various magnificent buildings to the Halic bridge.

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A few of the hashers – motto a drinking club with a running problem – took the escalator.

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The purists amongst us took the stairs and crossed the bridge with views down to the Bosphurus.

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Once over the bridge we headed east where we had the great pleasure of being joined by Deena who last starred in one of these blogs in Ethiopia back in 2016.

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Inland to Macka Parki and then a sharp climb before finishing in Taksim Gezi Parki near Taksim Square.

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Needless to say, this being a hash run, the evening didn’t end there. We walked past numerous bars, clubs and restaurants before reaching the establishment fortunate enough to enjoy the patronage of the Istanbul Hash.

During my various runs with hashers all over the world, I’ve noticed two things. Firstly, there are usually more in the pub than there were at the end of the run. Secondly, they’re great company.

Istanbul was no exception – compare the photo below with the one above from the end of the run.

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Extraordinarily the company that night not only included the aforementioned Deena but also someone I’d run with in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.

Talking to them all it became clear that most of them had the Istanbul bug. One runner had even taken the decision to move to Istanbul in the taxi queue at the airport – five minutes after landing in Istanbul for the first time.

And who can blame them? From what I saw it’s a fabulous city and I shall definitely be back!

It just remains for me to say a huge thank you to Maria, Tolga, Aleyd, Deena, Beat, Jennifer, and all my fellow runners and hashers for a great evening. If you can make it, I’d love to see you in London on July 4th 2020 for the UK and final leg of Run the World!

Finally, a special thanks to Deniz and Ozgur (who joined the run) from the British Embassy. 20th November 2018 was the fifteenth anniversary of the 2003 Istanbul bomb attack which killed a number of British Embassy/Consulate staff and I’m very grateful that they made the time to support Run the World on the same day as their Memorial Service. (It was one of 4 truck bomb attacks that killed 57 and wounded 700 in November 2003.)

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!

Facts & Stats

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

Turkey is a transcontinental country located mainly in Western Asia, with a smaller portion on the Balkan peninsula in Southeast EuropeEast Thrace, located in Europe, is separated from Anatolia by the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorous strait and the Dardanelles (collectively called the Turkish Straits). Turkey is bordered by Greece and Bulgaria to its northwest; Georgia to its northeast; Armenia, the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivanand Iran to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the south. Ankara is its capital but Istanbul is the country’s largest city. Approximately 70 to 80 per cent of the country’s citizens identify as Turkish. Kurds are the largest minority; the size of the Kurdish population is a subject of dispute with estimates placing the figure at anywhere from 12 to 25 per cent of the population.

At various points in its history, the region has been inhabited by diverse civilizations including the AssyriansGreeksThraciansPhrygiansUrartians, and Armenians.Hellenization started during the era of Alexander the Great and continued into the Byzantine era. The Seljuk Turks began migrating into the area in the 11th century, and their victory over the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 symbolizes the start and foundation of Turkey.The Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm ruled Anatolia until the Mongol invasion in 1243, when it disintegrated into small Turkish principalities. Beginning in the late 13th-century, the Ottomans started uniting these Turkish principalities. After Mehmed II conquered Constantinople in 1453, Ottoman expansion continued under Selim I. During the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent the Ottoman Empire encompassed much of Southeast Europe, West Asia and North Africa and became a world power. In the following centuries the state entered a period of decline with a gradual loss of territories and wars. In an effort to consolidate the weakening social and political foundations of the empire, Mahmut II started a period of modernisation in the early 19th century, bringing reforms in all areas of the state including the military and bureaucracy along with the emancipation of all citizens.

In 1913, a coup d’état effectively put the country under the control of the Three Pashas. During World War I, the Ottoman government committed genocides against its ArmenianAssyrian and Pontic Greek subjects. Following the war, the conglomeration of territories and peoples that formerly comprised the Ottoman Empire was partitioned into several new states. The Turkish War of Independence, initiated by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his colleagues against occupying Allied Powers, resulted in the abolition of monarchy in 1922 and the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, with Atatürk as its first president. Atatürk enacted numerous reforms, many of which incorporated various aspects of Western thought, philosophy, and customs into the new form of Turkish government. The Kurdish–Turkish conflict, an armed conflict between the Republic of Turkey and Kurdish insurgents, has been active since 1984 primarily in the southeast of the country. Various Kurdish groups demand separation from Turkey to create an independent Kurdistan or to have autonomy and greater political and cultural rights for Kurds in Turkey.

Turkey is a charter member of the UN, an early member of NATO, the IMF and the World Bank. After becoming one of the first members of the Council of Europe in 1949, Turkey became an associate member of the EEC in 1963, joined the EU Customs Union in 1995 and started accession negotiations with the European Union in 2005 which have been effectively stopped by the EU in 2017 due to “Turkey’s path toward autocratic rule”.Turkey’s economy and diplomatic initiatives led to its recognition as a regional power while its location has given it geopolitical and strategic importance throughout history. Turkey is a secularunitary, formerly parliamentary republic which adopted a presidential system with a referendum in 2017; the new system came into effect with the presidential election in 2018. Turkey’s current administration headed by president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of the AKP has enacted measures to increase the influence of Islam, reversed and undermined Kemalist policies, and has reversed earlier reforms such as freedom of the press.

World Bank Data

Here’s the latest World Bank data for Turkey – with the year 2000 as a comparison.

GDP $851 bn 2017 $273 bn 2000
         
Population 80.7 m 2017 63.2 m 2000
         
Primary school enrolment* 103% 2015 103% 2000
         
CO2 Emissions** 4.5 2014 3.4 2000
         
% below poverty line*** 1.6% 2015 30.3% 2002
         
Life expectancy at birth 75.8 yrs 2016 70.0 yrs 2000
         
GNI per capita $10930 2017 $4300 2000

*Percentage can exceed 100% due to the inclusion of over and under aged students

** Metric tons per capita

***The World Bank notes that the methodology can vary between countries and over time within a given country. (While much of the World Bank data generally follows understandable trends, this number often oscillates wildly suggesting that different methodologies are frequently used over time within a given country.)

Greatest Sporting Nation Data

Finally, here’s the data from Greatest Sporting Nation on how Turkey performed in the global sporting arena in 2017:

Global Cup – 31st

Per Capita Cup – 52nd

The Global Cup aggregates results from over 1000 events across 80 sports to produce the definitive annual ranking of international sporting success. The Per Capita Cup uses the same data to produce an annual per capita ranking.

 

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