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Date : 25th October, 2014
Time : 1h 2’ 44”
Total distance run to date : 310km
Run map and details : http://connect.garmin.com/activity/623297697
In the UK we have something called the Natural Childbirth Trust (NCT) which runs antenatal courses to prepare you for childbirth and the cataclysm of the ensuing weeks. Liz had heard that their courses weren’t great but that you made new friends – new friends who were at the same life stage.
She was keen to go. But I demurred as part of my general denial of the impending change in our lives. “Surely we already have enough friends” I said (idiotically).
Turned out that she was right on both counts. The course wasn’t great. In fact, my personal view is that the course, with its pro natural birth obsession, endangered the lives of both Liz and the as yet unborn Freya. I’ll never forget the look of exasperation on the doctor’s face as we entered the 36th hour of Liz’s labour and he turned to us and said “Caesareans aren’t so bad you know – that’s how I was born”. (As an aside, I suspect the childbirth debate will one day move on from ‘too posh to push’ to a proper discussion of the physical damage done to woman by natural childbirth.)
But we did make some great friends on the NCT course – including Darren and Stacey.
Among Darren and Stacey’s many fine attributes is the fact that, one rainy afternoon whilst on holiday in Cyprus, they decided on a whim to go and look at properties. And ended up living that universal British dream – they bought a place in the sun.
Now I don’t know what images you have of Cyprus. Perhaps family package holidays. Perhaps the Brits-abroad hedonism of Ayia Napa. But my image has always been of a man in clerical black with a big greying beard. Or, to give him his name, Archbishop Makarios.
And to understand the Archbishop’s media omnipresence in the 1970s, we need to take a brief look at Cyprus’s recent history. Cyprus is in the South-Eastern corner of the Mediterranean, with Egypt and Israel to the South, Syria and Lebanon to the East and Turkey to the North. Inevitably, given its position, it’s been fought over and occupied by any number of foreign powers. Most recently, the British who were in situ from 1878 to 1960 when Cyprus gained its independence.
As often happens, the departure of an external unifying force lead to increased internal tension. Both between the Turkish Cypriot and the Greek Cypriot communities and between factions within the Greek Cypriot community – some of whom wanted union with Greece (‘enosis’) and some of whom believed in an independent Cyprus. Makarios – who was both Archbishop of Cyprus and President of the Republic of Cyprus – became a strong proponent of an independent Cyprus.
The tension peaked in 1974 when the military junta in Athens organised a coup which overthrew Makarios in favour of the enosis faction. Turkey responded by invading (twice) – resulting in an estimated 200 000 Greek Cypriots fleeing South (with 40-60 000 Turkish Cypriots going in the other direction.) An uneasy peace was reached with the island effectively divided in two. A division that, extraordinarily, remains in place forty years later.
And did this turbulent recent history affect my run? Well, not exactly. In fact it was about as civilised and pleasant as a 10k run can ever be.
7 of us set off at the start on the seafront in Limassol. Athina and Christos to do a 4k walk ; Stacey to do a 500m run followed by a fast 9.5k walk ; Noah to do a 6k run followed by a shoe malfunction and then a further 6k walk with Stacey ; Liz, Sienna and myself to do a 10k run. (Darren, Freya and Amy provided invaluable support by finding a seaside cafe and eating an enormous waffle.)
The run was flat, warm, but not too hot. *Proud Dad alert* Sienna (my 9 year old) chatted the whole way and, despite numerous water stops, completed her 10k in a new PB of 62′ 44″. Overall, it was as good as these runs get for me.
Thank you Darren and Stacey for the wonderful hospitality. And Athina and Christos for their support – and for letting the girls spend time with your exceedingly cute puppies. Puppies which have in no way made it difficult to maintain our domestic ‘No Dogs’ policy….
(Sienna wants you to email me if you think she should get a puppy!)