Southfield Academy

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Date : 11th July, 2019

Number of talk attendees (total to date) : 110 (4847)

Number of runners (total to date) : 80 (6258)

Run map and details :

I’m currently undertaking a challenge – Run the World – to complete a 10 km run in all 206 countries in the world. (I’ve run in 173 countries to date.) I’m doing the challenge to raise funds for Cancer Research and to promote the importance of an active, healthy lifestyle.

A couple of years ago I was running in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, and I was asked to give a talk at a local school about my experiences. It seemed to go well and ever since then I’ve been giving an increasing number of talks.

Run the World now offers schools a menu of activities including the talk ; a Q&A session ; a run ; and in-talk exercise sessions. And Ms Davies – Head of PE & Sport at Southfields Academy was kind enough to invite me to give a talk to Y 7 – followed by a run and a stretching session.

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The talk starts with stories about my runs around the world – the extraordinary, and often inspiring, people I’ve met and things I’ve seen. Then we move on to the healthy living section of the talk finishing with the slide that really summarises why I do these talks.

In 2018, Harvard aggregated a huge amount of research on healthy living and its impact on life expectancy. The conclusion? If you adopt the five healthy habit referred to in the talk – healthy weight, diet and levels of exercise combined with no smoking and no/low alcohol consumption – then, on average, women will live 14 years longer and men will live 12 years longer. Even adopting one healthy habit will, on average, extend your life by two years.

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So far, so good. And so far, so normal. Then it was my turn to listen. Led by Ms Davies, three of the teachers stood up to talk about why they run.

They were extremely eloquent and it reminded me why I’ve fallen in love with running. As one of the teachers put it, it doesn’t matter how bad the weather is, you’ll always be glad afterwards that you went for a run. It’s great socially – both as an activity to do with friends and family but also as a way to meet new people. (It’s the way one of the teachers stays in touch with her sister.) And, of course, for most people, it’s highly beneficial for their physical and mental health.

And, if the thought of running itself doesn’t appeal, why not combine it with fundraising for Cancer Research or plogging (jogging while picking up plastic) or doing good deeds?

There ends my appeal to readers to give running a go – time to get back to the story.

After the talks, we went outside for a 1 km run – partly in King George’s Park and partly around the school’s all-weather pitch (part of the school’s excellent sporting facilities).

As I ran with the students I thought about how, when I was their age, I didn’t run. And how much I wish I had. Partly for the reasons listed above and partly because it would have made me so much better at football / cricket / rugby / hockey (team sports being my then obsession.)

Oops, I seem to be back on my mission to encourage everyone to run..

Anyway, after the run, and a quick stretching session

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I asked Ms Davies how long she thought it should take a reasonably fit person to run a kilometre. Obviously it depends on age, but her view was that 6 minutes would be right for someone in Y 7. (As an aside, please do get in touch if you know of any generally accepted standards in terms of how far / fast people should be able to run at different ages.)

So there you have it. Lots of reasons to run – and a target to aim for if you do take up running!

It just remains for me to say that I very much hope the students enjoyed the talk as much as I enjoyed meeting them!

And I also hope they will stay involved with Run the World – either via social media (links below) or by joining in the UK, and final, leg of Run the World on Hampstead Heath on 4thJuly 2020.

Finally, a big thank you to Charlotte Davies and all the staff at the school for the invitation and warm welcome !

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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 :

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!


About Run the World

I'm running 10 km in every country in the world - a total of 205 countries - by the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. I'm doing the Run the World challenge to promote the benefits of sport and physical activity and to raise money for cancer research following the death of my mother from cancer. If you'd like to donate to Cancer Research - - then I know they'd be very grateful.
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