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Community spirit

by kirsty
Thursday 30th April 2015

Run247 columnist Kirsty Reade raves about the running community and points out that if you’re ever feeling a bit despondent about the state of the world, taking part in or watching the London Marathon will restore your faith in humanity

Community spirit

Photo © Pete Aylward

All the best things about the running community, and humanity, were in full effect last weekend at the London Marathon: the support, the inspirational performances, the spirit of ‘all being in this together’, Paula’s rousing send-off, the moving stories of the runners raising money for charity. If you’re ever feeling a bit despondent about the state of the world, taking part in or watching the London Marathon will restore your faith in humanity. Running, in general, is a pretty good lens through which to see the good in people and in a tiny corner of Oxfordshire last weekend that was particularly true.

A friend and I were organising a small run (small as in numbers of runners, not small in distance as there was a 50k and 25k), a surprisingly stressful business as I lay awake at night thinking of all the things I needed to do or that could go wrong. What if somebody falls in the river? What if nobody turns up? What if we annoy the locals? And my top two biggest fears: what if people miss course markers and get lost and what if they don’t enjoy it?

A few things did go wrong, but all this served to do was illustrate just how fantastic the running community is. Firstly, the toilets we were supposed to be using hadn’t been unlocked. Major panic as toilets are priority number one for runners when they arrive somewhere (or are waiting to start, registering, in fact doing anything, toilets are important - fact). Cue my (runner) friend’s mum getting the key for the village hall so runners could take care of business.

Thanks Janet!

Community spirit

Photos © Pete Aylward

Then a man came out of his house, which backed onto the field we were using for parking. My toes started to curl as I was pretty sure he was going to complain about the noise/cars/runners/anything. But no, he was wearing a Lakeland 100 t-shirt! He was one of us! He’d heard us talking about the toilet situation and had come to offer runners use of his bathroom! And he was pretty gutted that he didn’t know about the run as he travels all over to do ultras and now one was happening right behind his house! Sorry Jason and thanks for the use of the toilets, the hot water and the ultra chat!

Nobody fell in the river but a couple of people went slightly astray. I waited at the finish, ready for them to complain but they were really nice about it and even enjoyed those extra miles! I love runners. I can’t imagine people being so understanding in my job as a publisher. You know that contract we agreed for a book of 300 pages? Well I’ve made it 500. And you have to deliver it six months earlier than we agreed. Is that cool?

All of the runners were just so nice, laid-back and friendly. We loved hanging out with them. It felt a bit like creating our own perfect day and hoping that other runners liked it too. I’m not sure if that would stand up as a business plan on Dragon’s Den but the running community has given me so much over the years and it would be really good to feel like we’re giving something back.

When you start running you think it’s going to be a fairly solitary pursuit. I never realised how many people you could meet, how it would bond you with the most unexpected people and lead you to having the most unlikely conversations with virtual strangers at 2am on top of a mountain. I read about a new counselling service in the newspaper this morning, where the therapist runs with you and you talk through your issues. It made perfect sense to me. I talk way more (much too much) when I’m running with people and they could probably get anything out of me.

It’s a very special community and the London Marathon and many other events really highlight that. One of the definitions of ‘community’ is ‘the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common’. That sure fits. I also hurriedly looked up ‘cult’ and it just misses. Phew.

Community spirit

Photos © Pete Aylward

Check out www.undergroundultra.co.uk to find out more about Kirsty's races


About The Author

Kirsty Reade

I’d describe myself as borderline obsessed with running, racing, reading about running, and watching others run so hopefully I’m fairly typical of Run247’s visitors. I tend to do longer races, particularly off-road marathons and ultras, but am pretty much a fan of any distance. I'm passionate about helping runners of all levels to improve through running communities I'm involved in, such as Underground Ultra and Free Range Runners. 


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