London Run 20 : Harrow with the London Tube Run

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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  March, 2020

Time : 1h 10’ 58”

Number of runners (total to date) : 15 (7043)

Run map and details :   https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/4636632241

A few weeks ago I did my Walthamstow run with the London Tube Run – a social running group which specialises in running the routes of London’s tube lines. I enjoyed that run so much that, when I saw that they were running the Metropolitan Line, I immediately got onto google maps to see which boroughs* it runs through.

Quite a few as it turns out– some of which I’ve done and some of which I haven’t. I eventually decided on Harrow – the plan being to take in some of the sights of Harrow and then join the tube runners for the Harrow to Rayners Lane section of their run.

I started at the Heath Robinson Museum in Pinner which, as the name suggests, is dedicated to the great British cartoonist

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contraption builder

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and all round eccentric – William Heath Robinson**.

Set in the lovely surroundings of Pinner Memorial Park, the museum is very much worth a visit.

Keeping with the tube line concept,  I then ran south from Pinner alongside the Watford branch of the Metropolitan line. Past a charmingly narrow football pitch – presumably the cause of a lot of ‘football on the lines’ delays –

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to North Harrow and then Harrow tube stations.

From Harrow I ran up the hill to the Doll’s House on the Hill

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and the centre of Harrow-on-the-Hill – all churches, chapels and grand buildings

before heading down Football Lane to the Harrow school’s*** extraordinary sports facilities and playing fields.

Its indoor sports complex alone is bigger than some of the schools I talk at.

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From there I ran back to Morrisons in Harrow where the London Tube Runners were subsequently to appear in all their glory.

A refuelling stop ensued (picture at the top of the blog) before a short – particularly by the standards of those who were running all 25 miles of the Metropolitan Line from Aldgate to Uxbridge – run to Rayners Lane tube station.

It was now time to say goodbye to the tube runners and return to normal Sunday life. Or as normal as life gets under the coronavirus threat. Obviously none of us had shaken hands and, inevitably, there’d been a lot of talk about running events that had been cancelled (the Tokyo marathon) and which might be cancelled (the London marathon). But I couldn’t help wondering if we’d all still be travelling on the tube – and running in groups alongside it – in a few weeks’ time.

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But let’s leave that for a future which hopefully never happens. For now, it just remains for me to say thank you to Phil, John, the Pauls and all the tube runners for the company and the warm welcome. See you at the next one – whenever it may!

I’d love it if you stayed in touch with Run the World – either via social media (links below) and / or by joining in the UK leg of Run the World on Hampstead Heath on 4th July 2020!

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!

*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 we’re really hoping that everyone will take part in some – or all – of the LBC!

**William Heath Robinson (31 May 1872 – 13 September 1944) was an English cartoonist, illustrator and artist, best known for drawings of whimsically elaborate machines to achieve simple objectives.

In the UK, the term “Heath Robinson” entered the popular language during the 1914–1918 First World War as a description of any unnecessarily complex and implausible contrivance. The term  “Heath Robinson contraption” is often used in relation to temporary fixes using ingenuity and whatever is to hand, often string and tape, or unlikely cannibalisations. Its continuing popularity was undoubtedly linked to Britain’s shortages and the need to “make do and mend” during the Second World War.

***Harrow School is a public school for boys in Harrow, London, England.The School was founded in 1572 by John Lyon under a Royal Charter of Elizabeth I, and is one of the original seven public schools that were regulated by the Public Schools Act 1868. Harrow has three terms per academic year (2017/18). Harrow is the fourth most expensive boarding school in the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference. Harrow’s history and influence have made Harrow one of the most prestigious schools in the world.

The school has an enrolment of 829 boys all of whom board full-time, in twelve boarding houses.It remains one of four all-boys, full-boarding schools in Britain, the others being EtonRadley and Winchester. Harrow’s uniform includes morning suitsstraw boater hatstop hats and canes. Its alumni include eight former British or Indian Prime Ministers (including PeelPalmerstonBaldwinChurchill and Nehru), foreign politicians, former and current members of both houses of the UK Parliament, five kings and several other members of various royal families, three Nobel Prize winners, twenty Victoria Cross and one George Cross holders, and many figures in the arts and sciences.

 

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UK Run 10 : Loughborough University

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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 : 13th  February, 2020

Time : 1h 15’ 25”

Number of runners (total to date) : 3 (7028)

Run map and details :   https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/4547141014

The good folk at the Philanthropy Company had invited me to Loughborough University to be interviewed at a Sport England seminar on fundraising. The seminar took place at the SportPark – a £15 m development that is home to many of the country’s top sports governing bodies and national sports organisations.

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After the seminar, Adam from Sport England and Andrew from the Philanthropy Company took me on a guided run around the campus. It was like no other run I’ve ever done* –  Loughborough Uni really is extraordinary.

We went first to the Sports Technology Institute where, famously, they created the roundest footballs ever for the 2010 World Cup.

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From there we went to the Holywell Conference Centre which had hosted ‘Kit Out Day’ before the 2012 Games. Kit Out Day is the day when all the athletes – accompanied by a personal shopper – go round mountains of branded kit selecting everything they need for the Games. And why is this relevant? Because Adam, as he modestly put it, was the last person selected for the 2012 GB squad. (Personally, I might have rephrased that as “I am an Olympian and you, mere mortals, are fortunate to be running with me.”)

The room in question is currently occupied by Toyota but try to imagine it as an upmarket JD Sports populated by some of the finest sportsmen and women on the planet pushing laden shopping trolleys…

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From there we passed some somewhat damp beach volleyball courts

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a massive outdoor Throws Centre

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to one of the student accommodation areas which just happens to have a running track winding through it.

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It also has a hotel containing, slightly counter-intuitively, altitude rooms on its first and second floors. As I understand it the rooms remove oxygen so that you can sleep at up to 5000m. The basic idea is that you train low and sleep high. Which is, apparently, the best of both worlds.

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After this I lost track of all the amazing places we went to but they included an enormous indoor athletics centre

and Powerbase – the largest weights room I’ve ever seen.

Plus the National Tennis Academy

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the National Cricket Performance Centre

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and seemingly endless sporting facilities and research institutes of one sort or another.

All in all, a truly remarkable run – it just remains for me to say thank you to Andrew, Adam, and Caroline for the invite and tour!

I’d love it if you stayed in touch with Run the World – either via social media (links below) and / or by joining in the UK leg of Run the World on Hampstead Heath on 4th July 2020!

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!

*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’m doing the challenge to raise funds for Cancer Research and to promote the importance of an active healthy lifestyle.

I’m also doing a further 44 runs in the UK – including Loughborough – to take my global total to 250 runs.

By completing 250 x 10 km runs I will have run 2 500 000 meters – a metre for every cancer sufferer in the UK.

To date, I’ve run in 183 countries – please see the website and the blog for more information – and done 29 runs in the UK. I also do talks and media about Run the World and have recently set up the Run the World Foundation to support programmes that provide healthy living education and motivate and encourage people to adopt active lifestyles.

 

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London Run 19 : Westminster with the Mikkeller Running Club

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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 : 11th  February, 2020

Time : 1h 02’ 44”

Number of runners (total to date) : 14 (7025)

Run map and details :   https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/4541237347

When I first tell people about Run the World* I can sense that they often think it must be quite glamorous. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. The runs and the school talks are great but the logistics, the sitting round at airports, the transfers and the flights are, at best, a grind and, at worst, a complete nightmare.

And the evenings are probably most accurately described as humdrum. I’m usually on my own. In a non-descript, modestly priced hotel. Deciding between pasta and chicken and rice. Or, for a bit of variety, chicken and chips.

My one treat, at least in countries that serve alcohol, is a local beer. And, after a day of travelling and running, that beer – and its normally just one – tastes pretty good.

So when I saw something on Facebook about the Mikkeller Running Club’s run + free beer offering I decided I had to give it a go.

If you’re not familiar with the Mikkeller Runing Club (MRC) then the origin story is pretty interesting. Mikkeller is a multi-award winning Danish brewery founded in Copenhagen in 2006. After a few years, or so the story goes, the founders realised they were getting fat from drinking too much beer. So, in 2014, they started a running club based on the principle of a run followed by a beer. The formula proved such a success that there are now 230+ chapters around the world.

The one that caught my eye was the Soho London chapter because it runs in Westminster.  A borough I still needed to run in as part of my London Borough Challenge.**

The Soho chapter gathers at 6.30pm on a Tuesday evening at the Brewdog pub on Poland Street. Where I met run leader Phil, old friends Anthony and Claire

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and various new friends (the ever photogenic Anthony seems to be in all the photos…)

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There were 14 of us at the start and we set off through Soho to Piccadilly (don’t be put off by the black image – click on play and there’s a perfectly good video)

Around Green Park, down Constitution Hill and up the Mall as far as the ICA.

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At which point the group split with the 5kers heading back to Brewdog and the rest of us heading through St James’s Park to Parliament Square, past the scaffolded Big Ben

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and onto the Embankment where we stopped for a photo opp with the London Eye.

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North up the Embankment before making our way back to Brewdog through Covent Garden and Soho.

Where we paused for the now traditional post run plank

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and the slightly less traditional ‘bench rest’

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before finishing up with that free beer.

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It just remains for me to say a huge thank you to Phil, and everyone at MRC Soho chapter for the company and the warm welcome. The evening was great fun and I’m sure Anthony, Claire and I will be back!

I’d love it if you stayed in touch with Run the World – either via social media (links below) and / or by joining in the UK leg of Run the World on Hampstead Heath on 4th July 2020!

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!

*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 we’re really hoping that everyone will take part in some – or all – of the LBC!

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World Health Organisation Recommended Levels of Physical Activity

5–17 years old

For children and young people of this age group physical activity includes play, games, sports, transportation, recreation, physical education or planned exercise, in the context of family, school, and community activities. In order to improve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone health, cardiovascular and metabolic health biomarkers and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression, the following are recommended:

  1. Children and young people aged 5–17 years old should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily.
  2. Physical activity of amounts greater than 60 minutes daily will provide additional health benefits.
  3. Most of daily physical activity should be aerobic. Vigorous-intensity activities should be incorporated, including those that strengthen muscle and bone, at least 3 times per week.

18–64 years old

For adults of this age group, physical activity includes recreational or leisure-time physical activity, transportation (e.g walking or cycling), occupational (i.e. work), household chores, play, games, sports or planned exercise, in the context of daily, family, and community activities. In order to improve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone health and reduce the risk of NCDs and depression the following are recommended:

  1. Adults aged 18–64 years should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
  2. Aerobic activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes duration.
  3. For additional health benefits, adults should increase their moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes per week, or engage in 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
  4. Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.

65 years old and above

For adults of this age group, physical activity includes recreational or leisure-time physical activity, transportation (e.g walking or cycling), occupational (if the person is still engaged in work), household chores, play, games, sports or planned exercise, in the context of daily, family, and community activities. In order to improve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone and functional health, and reduce the risk of NCDs, depression and cognitive decline, the following are recommended:

  1. Adults aged 65 years and above should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
  2. Aerobic activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes duration.
  3. For additional health benefits, adults aged 65 years and above should increase their moderate intensity aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes per week, or engage in 150 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous intensity activity.
  4. Adults of this age group with poor mobility should perform physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls on 3 or more days per week.
  5. Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups, on 2 or more days a week. 6. When adults of this age group cannot do the recommended amounts of physical activity due to health conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.

Overall, across all the age groups, the benefits of implementing the above recommendations, and of being physically active, outweigh the harms. At the recommended level of 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity activity, musculoskeletal injury rates appear to be uncommon. In a population-based approach, in order to decrease the risks of musculoskeletal injuries, it would be appropriate to encourage a moderate start with gradual progress to higher levels of physical activity.

https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/44399/9789241599979_eng.pdf;jsessionid=CD0F46D511B330EF0DA50102C3E00DB2?sequence=1

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Run the World 6th Anniversary Blog

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2019 was another extraordinary year for Run the World during which I had the honour and pleasure of meeting, running with, and talking to thousands of people all over the world.

Highlights included :

  • I’ve now run in 183 countries (and 27 UK cities and London boroughs)
  • With over 7 000 people
  • And given Run the World school talks to over 6 400 people
  • Total funds raised to date for Cancer Research reached £50 200 / $ 64 759
  • The Run the World Foundation made its first donations to programmes focused on motivating and supporting people to adopt active, healthy lifestyles
  • Planning started for the UK leg of Run the World in London on July 4th PLEASE JOIN US – WE ARE HOPING TO WELCOME REPRESENTATIVES FROM AS MANY COUNTRIES AS POSSIBLE!!!

There’s more detail below but first a reminder of why we do this:

  • We’re looking to raise as much money as we can for Cancer Research. At a time when cancer rates are rising across the world, this has never been more important.
  • And we’re promoting the importance of an active, healthy lifestyle and the mental and physical health benefits it brings – including a decreased risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, depression and dementia. (It also, as I always tell my school audiences, helps with academic performance!)

Runs & Runners

I have now run in 183 countries, and with more than 7 000 people, and was on target to complete all 206 countries by the 2020 Olympic/ Paralympics. Unfortunately my daughter fell seriously ill in December 2019 and I’ve had to cancel all my running trips for the foreseeable future. I won’t now be able to keep to my original schedule but I will visit and run in the remaining 23 countries as soon as I can!

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I also started my London Borough Challenge to complete a 10 km run in every London borough (plus the City of London) – which has allowed me to run with a number of the groups who make up London’s extraordinary social running scene

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Finally, during the year a new ‘tradition’ also emerged of a post run group plank…

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The UK Leg of Run the World

The UK run will take place on Hampstead Heath in London on July 4th 2020. We will start at 17.30 in Highgate, London (tbc) and there will be 5km run and walking options as well as the 10 km run. The run will be followed a garden party fundraiser for Cancer Research.

It would be fantastic if you or your contacts could join us – and please wear the colours of any country with which you have an affiliation by birth, residence, family or affection. We’re hoping that as many countries as possible will be represented on the day!

Fundraising

Total fundraising now stands at almost £50,000/$65,000 and I hope to exceed £60,000/$80,000 by the finish. Thank you, as always, to everyone who has donated – it is enormously appreciated by both myself and Cancer Research!

Talks

In addition to the running and fundraising, I now do school and adult Run the World talks. These combine stories of my (mis)adventures around the world with Run the World’s second objective : promoting active, healthy lifestyles. Please do contact me if you know an audience who might be interested. (Quotes and references about previous school talks can be seen here.)

In addition to talks all around the world

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I’ve now also talked at wide range of schools across London

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The Run the World Foundation

Inspired by my experiences around the world, I recently set up the Run the World Foundation to support programmes, people, charities and companies that motivate and support people to adopt active, healthy lifestyles. To date the Foundation has made grants to the Noela Lyonga Foundation – who created the Youths Who Run the World project in the Cameroon

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– and to the Panathlon Foundation – who offer fantastic sporting and leadership opportunities to students with disabilities in the UK.

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I am currently in discussion with a number of other parties across the world – please do get in touch if you’re involved with or aware of a project I should be supporting.

Staying in Touch

Please, please do like / follow Run the World on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter because it’s a great way 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!

Thank you, dear readers, for all your support to date and please don’t hesitate to get in touch – about any of the above – or just to say hello! (Run the World can be contacted by commenting on this blog or via social media as above.)

 

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London Run 18 : Waltham Forest with the London Tube Run

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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 February, 2020

Time : 1h 07’ 32”

Number of runners (total to date) : 26 (7011)

Run map and details :  https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/4507763871

I love London. I love its culture, its night life, its sport, its people, its diversity, its history. I love its canals, its parks and the mighty Thames. I love the countless walking and running routes. I even love the tube (outside of rush hour of course!)

So I was very excited when I saw on Facebook that a social running group called the London Tube Run was going to be running the route of the Victoria line.

If you live in, or ever visit, London, you’ll be familiar with the Victoria Line. It’s the one that slices through London from Walthamstow Central in the north to Brixton in the south via – as the name suggests – Victoria. It’s the quickest way to get from north to south, there’s a train every ninety seconds and if, like me, you live on the Northern Line you’ll probably wish you lived on the Victoria line.

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What’s more Walthamstow Central

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– the starting point for the run – was in Waltham Forest. A borough I still needed to run in as part of my London Borough Challenge.*

So I made my way to Walthamstow, met Phil, London Tube Run’s founder,

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and John the co-organiser, before setting off at a social pace with 25 other tube runners.

I started by running with Phil so that I could hear the origin story :

Phil was training for the Brighton marathon and noticed that he was running past various tube stations. He decided to try running whole tube lines and realised that it kept him interested and motivated. So he posted about an upcoming run on Facebook. Two other people showed up. Just enough so that he had to take it seriously. And the whole thing has grown from there. Sometimes, particularly in the lead up to the London marathon when there are a lot of people looking for long runs, they’ll have 40-50 people joining them.

Having chatted to Phil, I dropped to the back where John was sweeping up and we talked all things running. (Did you know that, with a bit of planning, you can do both the Tokyo and Kyoto marathons during a two week trip to Japan?)

As we chatted we passed through Walthamstow market

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and past Blackhorse Road tube station

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Tottenham Hale

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Seven Sisters tube which is just down the road from White Hart Lane (yes, I still call it that) where Spurs were to beat Man City 24 hours later

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Manor House

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Finsbury Park tube

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To – misguidedly in my opinion – the home of the Arse

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And finally to Highbury & Islington station where there was a break to allow other runners to join the group.

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By now I’d run 10 km so it was time to say good bye. But first it was time to say hello to Graeme, an old friend and colleague from the games business.

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Fitting timing as ‘Sensible Soccer’ – one of the games we published – has just been commemorated with a special edition first class stamp.

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And also to do the traditional post run plank with Phil.

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The run was great and I realised I needed to add one more item to the list of things I love about London : its endlessly inventive ‘something-for-everyone’ social running scene!

It just remains for me to say a huge thank you to Phil, John and everyone at London Tube Run for the warm welcome. I’d love it if you stayed in touch with Run the World – either via social media (links below) or by joining in the UK leg of Run the World on Hampstead Heath on 4th July 2020!

And sorry I didn’t make it all the way to Brixton where John showed us all how a plank should be done!

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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!

*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 we’re really hoping that everyone will take part in some – or all – of the LBC!

 

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London Run 17 : Barnet with the Barnet Hill Academy

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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 : 14th January, 2020

Time : 1h 05’ 09”

Number of talk attendees (total to date) : 140 (6424)

Number of runners (total to date) : 70 (6985)

Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/4440354122

Recently I had the pleasure of giving a Run the World talk* at Barnet Hill Academy in the London borough of Barnet. I talked first to the senior school and then to the junior school and both audiences were a pleasure to talk to – attentive, charming and engaged.

However, the really magical moments took place after the talk.

I’d discussed with the school that, as part of my London Borough Challenge** I’d be running 10 km in Barnet after the talk. We agreed that I could start the run in the school playground and that some of the students might join me for the first few hundred metres.

And sure enough, some of the Y 6 students changed into their PE kit and joined me at the start – while the rest of the junior school lined the perimeter. We set off and, slowly, one by one, students from the perimeter started to join the run. And then a few more did. And then almost all of them did. And finally some of teachers and staff joined in.

By the fifth lap there must have been at least 70 of us running and I had a huge grin on my face because this was running at its best. A group of people simply getting out there together and enjoying exercising in the fresh air.

After the run we did a mass stretching session and then the second magical moment occurred. Year 6 presented me with the inspirational posters they’d created in advance of the talk. Fantastic stuff – I was very touched!

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Eventually I said goodbye and set off for the rest of my Barnet run which took me to York Park, over the Cool Oak Lane bridge

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to Welsh Harp Open Space overlooking Welsh Harp (aka Brent) reservoir.

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From there I went north through mud and water to West Hendon playing fields.

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By now it was raining quite hard and I realised I needed to stay on pavements so I made my way to the A5 and ran south to Staples Corner – the mini spaghetti junction that is the confluence of the A5, the M1 and the North Circular Road.

I ran east from there to Brent Cross, opened in 1976 it was the UK’s first large enclosed shopping centre. By now my fingers and phone were so cold and wet that I couldn’t take any more photos – so here’s a picture of Brent Cross on an infinitely sunnier and warmer day.

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And then north up Hendon Way and west along Graham Road and Montagu Road back to the school for the end of my run in Barnet – London’s largest borough by population.

It just remains for me to say a huge thank you to Shuayb Piprawala, Sarah Hussein and all the staff and students at Barnet Hill Academy for the warm welcome, the run and the posters. I 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 4th July 2020.

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!

*For any readers who weren’t at the talk, 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 176 countries to date.) I’m doing the challenge to raise funds for Cancer Research and to promote the importance of an active healthy lifestyle.

The Run the World school talk combines stories from my runs around the world with healthy living advice .

**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 we’re really hoping that everyone will take part in some – or all – of the LBC!

 

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Run 182 : Afghanistan – Kabul

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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 : 4th November, 2019

Time : 55’ 24”

Number of runners (total to date) :  10 (6640)

Run map and details :   https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/4318903331

If you live in Afghanistan, or have visited recently, or have just see the media coverage, you’ll be aware that life there isn’t always easy.

And, since you already know that, I’m going to write about something different. I’m going to write about the positive experiences I had when I was there and, in particular, about running and the good it can do.

I’m fortunate that the tour company who looked after me in Kabul – Untamed Borders – is closely connected with the running scene in Afghanistan. So closely that my guide for the trip, Gul Hussain, was the founder of the Marathon of Afghanistan.*

Gul and Mahidi (our driver) picked me up at the airport and took me straight to Free to Run’s offices where they woke me up (overnight flight, no sleep) and introduced me to the Free to Run** team.

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I’ve included more detail below but suffice it to say that Free to Run do fantastic work providing sporting opportunities and healthy living training to girls and women across Afghanistan.

Energised by their story, I talked to them briefly about a new concept for a global relay that a few of us are working on. (At a set local time, on a set day, everyone would run or exercise for up to hour. At the end of the hour the ‘virtual baton’ would pass to the countries in the next time zone creating a 24 hour Mexican wave of activity around the globe.*)

Buoyed by their enthusiasm, I headed off to my hotel to, in theory, catch up on my sleep. In practice, I spent many hours fighting a losing battle with jet lag..

…to be woken by my alarm after about three hours sleep. I got up groggily and suddenly there was blood everywhere. You’ve no idea how inconvenient a nose bleed (altitude induced ; Kabul sits at 1800 metres) is when you’re trying to pack in a hurry….

Gul and Mahidi whisked me off to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan for my Afghan 10 km. I’m a UN kid (having lived in New York thanks to the UN ; Bangkok due to ECAFE ; and Geneva due to WHO) so it’s always something of an honour when I can run with UN.

The run had been organised by the local UN welfare team and we started with the group photo above and then about 10 of us set off on the run.

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Not all of us did the full 10km but, for those who did, it involved three circuits of the compound. From which you’ll gather that the compound is fairly large. Which it needs to be house all the staff

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and all the various in-country UN agencies including, I was excited to see, the World Health Organisation.

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It was a great run in perfect weather with excellent company and we finished with a group plank where some interesting techniques were on display!

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It just remains for me to say a huge thank you to everyone at UNAMA, particularly the welfare team who see running as an important part of the staff welfare mix, Free to Run and Untamed Borders for all their help, support and donations.

I’d love to see you all in London on 4th July 2020 for the UK, and final, leg of Run the World!

* The Marathon of Afghanistan takes place in Bamian province, a magical mountainous hidden valley suspended in the midst of the Hindu Kush in central Afghanistan. The astonishingly beautiful valley, a UNESCO world heritage site, is recognised as one of the safest provinces in the country and remains almost completely untouched by violence. The inaugural marathon took place in October 2015 and was the first international marathon to be run in Afghanistan. Around 120 runners took part in the marathon and associated 10-kilometer race, including Zainab who became the first Afghan woman in history to complete a marathon within her own country.

** Free to Run’s mission is to enable women and girls to safely and boldly engage in outdoor activity in conflict-affected regions. Through a combination of sports programs, life skills development, and community outreach, we help females to reclaim public space and change views about the roles they can (and should) play in a society. Our programs are designed to develop community leaders who can bring people together across cultural, ethnic and religious lines. We work to provide our participants with the tools to succeed because they can and will be a force for positive change.

***The objectives would be to raise awareness of the physical, mental and social health benefits of exercise and for participants across the world to come together in peace and unity.

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.

Afghanistan Occupying 652,000 square kilometers (252,000 sq mi), it is a mountainous country with plains in the north and southwest. Kabul is the capital and largest city. The population is 32 million, mostly composed of ethnic PashtunsTajiksHazaras and Uzbeks..

The political history of the modern state of Afghanistan began in the 18th century. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state in the “Great Game” between British India and the Russian Empire. Its border with British India, the Durand Line, was formed in 1893 but it is not recognized by the Afghan government and it has led to strained relations with Pakistan since the latter’s independence in 1947. Following the Third Anglo-Afghan War in 1919 the country was free of foreign influence, eventually becoming a monarchy under Amanullah Khan, until almost 50 years later when Zahir Shah was overthrown and a republic was established. In 1978, after a second coup Afghanistan first became a socialist state and then a Soviet protectorate. This evoked the Soviet–Afghan War in the 1980s against mujahideen rebels. By 1996 most of Afghanistan was captured by the Islamic fundamentalist group the Taliban, who ruled as a totalitarian regime for over five years. Following the 9/11 attacks, an intervention by the US and its allies forcibly removed the Taliban from power, and a new democratically-elected government was formed, but the Taliban still control a significant portion of the country.

Afghanistan is a unitary presidential Islamic republic. The country has high levels of terrorism, poverty, child malnutrition, and corruption. Afghanistan’s economy is the world’s 96th largest, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $72.9 billion by purchasing power parity; the country fares much worse in terms of per-capita GDP (PPP), ranking 169th out of 186 countries as of 2018.

 World Bank Data

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

GDP $19.36 bn 2018 $4.06 bn 2002
Population 37.2 m 2018 20.8 m 2000
Primary school enrolment* 102 % 2017 21 % 2000
CO2 Emissions** 0.29 2014 0.04 2000
% below poverty line*** 54.5 % 2016 33.7 % 2007
Life expectancy at birth 64.1 yrs 2017 55.8 yrs 2000
GNI per capita $550 2018 $450 2009

*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 Afghanistan performed in the global sporting arena in 2018:

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 183 : Saudi Arabia – Riyadh

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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 : 5th December, 2019

Time : 54’ 25”

Number of runners (total to date) :  75 (6915)

Run map and details :   https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/4318903331

I’ve been trying to get to Saudi Arabia for years but have never been able to obtain a visa. And then, in September 2019, in line with Saudi Vision 2030 – the plan to, inter alia, diversify the Saudi economy away from oil – the regulations changed and I could apply for a tourist visa.

So I applied online – and received my visa an hour later. Which was great. But now we needed some local contacts if I was to make the most of being in Saudi Arabia!

And then, as luck would have it, I met Asem, a Saudi journalist working for the BBC, on one of my runs in London. Asem introduced us to Albara. Who introduced us to Rod. And it went from there.

By the end, representatives from most of the running clubs in Riyadh were involved and they did a fantastic job of organising the run. (Please read Rod’s piece about the run and Riyadh’s running scene which I’ve copied and pasted below.)

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The net result was that 75-80 of us met at the park in Wadi Hanifa which is a 120 kilometre valley (wadi) that cuts through Riyadh. It’s an excellent place to run – even at night – and, after a warm up and a welcome speech, we set off in three groups based on expected pace.

I’m not going to try to describe the run in detail because, to be honest, most of the way I was talking most with my fellow runners and, thanks to my impromptu translator, with one of the many picnicking families along the route.

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Once we’d finished we had the largest Run the World group plank to date

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followed by a bilingual happy birthday to sing-along

And then countless photos with runners

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including those who’d just set new 10km PBs

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my translator

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and any number of the brilliantly friendly people who’d come along to support the run. (I’ve added some more photos at the bottom of the blog.)

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A group of us then went for dinner where we discussed some of the recent changes in Riyadh life. Pop stars and sporting events are coming to the Kingdom (Usher and Joshua v Ruiz were due to take place two days after the run ) ; cinemas are open ; women can drive, eat in restaurants, and have their own changing rooms in shops. And running – and particularly social running – is becoming ever more popular. (Again, please see Rod’s piece below.)

To cap it all off they also somehow arranged a birthday cake for me!

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What more can I say ? It was a great run and a great evening and I owe a huge thank you to Rod, Asem, Albara, Guido, Mamdouh, Aabeda and the Riyadh Road Runners, Amal and the Riyadh Urban Runners, the R7 Run Club,  Badr, Vivian, Nezar, Ibrahim, the British Embassy and Council, DQ Running Club, Al Bustan Runners, Thalia Street Runners, KatakboJuan Runners & KSU Movement, Rima, and many others!

I’d love to see you all in London on 4th July 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!

 From Rod

The idea that we as runners have demonstrable cultural practices is super cool to me and last night was a revelation, we maybe run for different reasons & purpose but our testament of putting one put in front of the other were indeed remarkably powerful. Coming full-circle and watching runners both season veterans and new bloods pounding hard to finish the 10KM is undeniably wonderful. It’s rad to see everyone at Wadi yesterday for this organized-confusion with Dan Thompson’s incredible project “Run The World” in Riyadh. It’s a potent endeavor that bring together people from different culture and celebrate life as it’s core. Dan Thompson is such a silent towering instigator!

The running boom in Saudi particularly in Riyadh has been evolving for years now and all of these groups that sprouted were drawing inspo to each other. Would like to point out that these city clubs and groups don’t want to change the direction of the sport in The Kingdom. They just want to contribute to the community. If anything, I hope they’ve been able to paint a picture of the full dimensionality of running in Saudi Arabia, opening that space to build ties with people from different spectrums, social class, genders and orientation.

And we’d like to help push the understanding that elite runners aren’t fetishized superhumans from the other side of the planet; they’re just like us: runners who have highs and lows like everybody else. If anything, we have hope to mix it up, add some nuance and some storytelling and problematize people’s assumptions about what running culture looks and feels like in Saudi and in the region  — what it is and what it could be tomorrow, for all of us.

Again, if you would like to help in fighting to eradicate cancer, you may check www.cancerresearchuk.org and/or donate at www.justgiving.com/Dan-Thompson11.

Would like to acknowledge some clubs/groups that showed up —DQ Running Club, Al Bustan Runners, Thalia Street Runners, KatakboJuan Runners & KSU Movement (let me know if I miss anything) and throwing huge shoutout to Guido Tavares of Riyadh Road Runners and his amazing legions, Amal Maghazil of Riyadh Urban Runners and her incredible diverse squads and of course to Nezar Altuwaijri and his tour de force beast of minions —amazing to see different crews and clubs supporting Dan’s and his moving project and coming together as one lovely running community of Riyadh. This run would’ve been impossible if it’s not this grassroots movement that sprouted all over the city. Grateful for everyone and your individual’s effort & support.

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Facts & Stats

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

From Saudi Arabia is a country in Western Asia constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula. With a land area of approximately 2,150,000 km2 (830,000 sq mi), Saudi Arabia is geographically the largest sovereign state in Western Asia, the second-largest in the Arab world (after Algeria), the fifth-largest in Asia, and the 12th-largest in the world. It is the only nation with both a Red Sea coast and a Persian Gulf coast, and most of its terrain consists of arid desert, lowland and mountains. As of October 2018, the Saudi economy was the largest in the Middle East and the 18th largest in the world. Saudi Arabia also has one of the world’s youngest populations; 50 percent of its 33.4 million people are under 25 years old.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded in 1932 by Ibn Saud. He united the four regions into a single state through a series of conquests beginning in 1902 with the capture of Riyadh, the ancestral home of his family, the House of Saud. Saudi Arabia has since been a totalitarian absolute monarchy, effectively a hereditary dictatorship governed along Islamist lines. The ultraconservative Wahhabi religious movement within Sunni Islam has been called “the predominant feature of Saudi culture”, with its global spread largely financed by the oil and gas trade. Saudi Arabia is sometimes called “the Land of the Two Holy Mosques” in reference to Al-Masjid al-Haram (in Mecca) and Al-Masjid an-Nabawi (in Medina), the two holiest places in Islam. The state’s official language is Arabic.

Petroleum was discovered on 3 March 1938 and followed up by several other finds in the Eastern Province. Saudi Arabia has since become the world’s second largest oil producer (behind the US) and the world’s largest oil exporter, controlling the world’s second largest oil reserves and the sixth largest gas reserves. The kingdom is categorized as a World Bank high-income economy with a high Human Development Index and is the only Arab country to be part of the G-20 major economies.

The kingdom has the world’s third-highest military expenditure and, according to SIPRI, was the world’s second largest arms importer from 2010 to 2014.

World Bank Data

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

GDP $786.5 bn 2018 $189.5 bn 2000
         
Population 33.7 m 2018 20.7 m 2000
         
Primary school enrolment* 100 % 2018 96 % 2005
         
CO2 Emissions** 19.4 2014 14.4 2000
         
% below poverty line*** NA NA
         
Life expectancy at birth 74.9 yrs 2017 72.6 yrs 2000
         
GNI per capita $21 600 2018 $8 150 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 Saudi Arabia performed in the global sporting arena in 2019:

Global Cup – 118

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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British International School, Riyadh

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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 : 5th December, 2019

Number of talk attendees (total to date) : 500 (6284)

Number of runners (total to date) : 200 (6840)

One of the best things about Run the World is the opportunity to speak at schools across the globe. Its invariably a pleasure to meet the students (and the staff!) and the British International School Riyadh was no exception.

Perhaps fittingly, it was Y 7-9 sports day on the date I visited and, before the competition kicked-off, I was able to talk briefly about the mental and physical health benefits of an active lifestyle. And to stress that being active doesn’t necessarily mean taking up traditional sports. Dancing, spinning, gymimg, walking – basically anything that gets you moving and raises the heart rate – are all great. Even if you think of yourself as ‘non-sporty’ there‘ll be an activity out there that you’ll love!

Wishing them all the best of luck for sports day we moved on to the Y 5-6 talk. But before I get onto the talk, a bit of background. 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 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.

The Run the World school talk combines stories from my runs around the world with healthy living advice focusing on exercise, diet and sleep.

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I have to say Y 5-6 were a fine audience – lively, well informed and enthusiastic.

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Afterwards we went to the gym for some stretching and balancing exercises before finishing by running round the gym four times. I only hope the students enjoyed it as much as I did!

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It just remains for me to thank John McCance, Jackie La France, Cheryl Wood and all the staff and students at BISR for the invitation and the warm welcome!

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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