Wings for Life Cambridge 2017

wings for life 2017

Oh dear! The camera cannot lie. Here’s me snapped at 3k and 15k running Wings for Life in cambridge. Actually I didn’t feel half as bad as I looked and I went on to 18.3k before David Coultard, the F1 racing driver (rtd) caught me up, deactivating my chip.

A few thousand of us started in Cambridge at 12am exactly and we are pursued by Dave in the catcher car who starts out 30 minutes later at 15kph and gradually increases his speed. It’s great fun, run on closed roads and well organised. It’s sponsored by Red Bull and there are plenty of free samples, if you like it, including at the drink stations. Like most runners, I favour water at a drink station and that was plentifully available. But here’s where the story turns dark and sinister.

As I ran diagonally to grasp a cup of water, I gently collided with a another runner and was deflected helplessly to a more remote area of the drinks table full of what I thought to be weak fruit cordials. Reader, I drank one in haste and ran on, fearful Dave had me in his sights. I quickly comprehended I had imbibed Red Bull instead of aqua and took off like a rocket! Actually, the only negative effect was a feeling of thirst caused by the excessive sweetness and I knew I would be caught within a few kilometres. On the return bus, we were all given a bottle of water so I have no complaints. It was a good day and I’ll do it again next year. The winner this year did well over 60k before Dave caught up with him!

It was a great running weekend. The previous day, Saturday, I ran Cambridge parkrun at 9am and then went over to a nearby village and ran a 7k at 10.30am. It’s all manageable if I don’t expect to run at peak speed. I particularly like the Cottenham 7k. It’s a charity fund raiser, Lorna volunteered and I always buy a load of plants from the local Horticultural Society stall.

Here’s me risking life and limb in the cause of increasing diversity in the natural world. I’ve created a pond with different levels of depth but I haven’t thought sufficiently about putting in the water lilies which sit around 75 cms deep. I think I’ll get a scaffolding plank which shoud be much stronger. I’ve nearly fallen in twice. This pond is situated in the Green Minds therapeutic gardening project Web site: or you can follow me on twitter:

Beyond irony! The evil Tory party are championing increased workers’ rights  as part of their election manifesto. As if.



Aliveandrunning August 17 2014


This chap (I presume it’s male) landed on a bamboo cane near the little pond I’ve created. How envious am I not to have two pairs of wings like him.

Saturday! It’s Cambridge parkrun. I’m feeling fast. I’m confident. I look skyward and see Zeus reclining on a low cloud. He gives me the thumbs up. I can’t fail to get a personal best. It’s a big field of runners today so I position myself  nearer to the front than usual. We’re off and I’m running like a fierce wind or alternatively, like the shape shifting, liquid metal T-1000 Terminator in Terminator 2 : Judgement Day when he chases Arnie’s speeding car. It seems to be going well. But what’s this? A chum greets me as he runs past! “Morning David,” I manage to gasp. A few minutes later, Sylvia passes me followed by Paul, then Mike, Paula and Giles, all cheerily acknowledging me as they cruise past. This is not how it’s supposed to be! Only my pal Dominic, who is recovering his running fitness, remains one second behind at the finish line. When I recover my breath and look up, I have a clear view of  Zeus lolling around on an even lower cloud, shaking with laughter. Obviously I am nowhere near a personal best.

In the afternoon, I went into central Cambridge which was saturated with tourists. This is really unproblematic unless you can’t manage crowds. They generally keep to a few well defined areas and it’s easy to avoid extreme congestion by leaving this well trodden path. I like them. They create an interesting atmosphere. As usual I headed straight for a bookstall on the Market Square and, lo and behold, I found 3 Penguin paperbacks that I couldn’t afford not to have. The bookseller remonstrated with me, advising me not to buy them. “Sir,” he said,”your small cottage overfloweth with books. You have enough. Think of your lady wife, the long suffering Ms Alive and Running. Do not risk her wrath, I beseech thee. Forego the sublime pleasures these low cost volumes, awash with nostalgia for your your youth, can afford you.” I considered his little speech for three whole seconds. “Thank you for your wise words but I regard it as a counsel of despair. Now, my good man, will you or will you not accept my custom? I proffered metal coins which glinted i the sun. His eyes seemed to light up but a scowl played over his face. “Aye, laddie, I will,” he muttered. “On your head be it.” He wrapped up the books in brown paper and handed them to me. Several book browsers applauded as I turned on my heels and strode away. Believe me, it’s not easy buying books in Cambridge

Cambridge junior parkrun today. 15 minutes before it’s due to start, it begins to rain fairly heavily. The adults don’t like the conditions. The children hardly notice. Despite the weather all goes smoothly. Junior parkrun is well supported by volunteers and parents and continues to be hugely enjoyable. Each runner is loudly encouraged all the way round the course and particularly over the finish line. Their faces light up with pleasure.No need to rely on the  good will of the Roman gods.

In the afternoon I went for a 10 mile run along the river Cam as part of my preparation for the Grunty Fen half marathon in three weeks. It felt easier thn last week. I got back in time to see Mo Farah win the 5k race at the Zurich European Championships. He’s got my running style!

Aliveandrunning June 24 2014 Juneathon Day 24



This water lily is part-time! It comes out late in the morning and shuts up in the mid afternoon when it’s still warm and sunny. I bought it under the impression that it was a hard working, full time lily. I concede it’s rather lovely but it needs to put more effort into flowering time.

Out with the club tonight. We did a time trial 1k followed by 4 further kilometres. With warm up jog and getting to the run site we covered around 4.5 miles in all. The weather was odd – cool and clammy. I even put the heater on in the car on the way back.

Professor Sue Bailey, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists said in an interview this morning that mental health services in England are “a car crash.” She said the services were in crisis and that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is not taking the problems seriously. I didn’t catch it. Was this an interview on Radio 4’s Today? I also managed to miss a feature on Woman’s Hour criticising anti depressants which asserted that they are as effective as placebo.

Aliveandrunning June 10 2014 Juneathon Day 10


This is my little friend, Sidney and he lives on the rockery beside the new pond. He’s not a great conversationalist but he’s reliable and has a god heart. He has assured me that the mushroom he’s acquired is not “magic” and that everything is just fine in Fairyland.

Out with the club tonight. We ran just over a couple of miles to the foot of a hill, a Cambridge hill, which means some people might dispute whether or not it met the criteria for a hill. A wise person said it rose 23 metres. It looked like  a gentle incline from the bottom. We split into groups of 5 and chased up to the  top the top as fast as possible, a distance of around 400 metres. Not far, really and we did that 5 times.  A small group of runners, including me, went up a sixth time. And then we trotted back to the University Track. A highly technical person revealed we ran 7.3 miles. We warmed down , congratulated each other on our fine performances and went home to a nice cup of tea.

Aliveandrunning May 18 2014


I ran a good 5k Cambridge parkrun yesterday and todayI ran 7.7 miles at Willingham, Cambridgeshire. I felt tired warming up and tired during the race. End result? I finished around 6 minutes slower than last year. The temperature a year ago was 10C and today it was around 22C. I had 3 drink breaks and walked whilst drinking. I think the problem was more to do with me running too much over the past week without sufficient recovery time rather than the increase in temperature. I’ll go running with the club in two days and then rest until the next parkrun on the coming Saturday. I’m doing a half marathon on June 1st and may not do another long run before this.So now the world knows! Nothing is hidden. I’ve been completely open and frank. I have mortal weaknesses. My legs won’t carry me at the moment but my head is erupting with light and energy (see above picture). Possibly this is why children were running away screaming from me today.

Much euphoria  around the pond this afternoon. Lorna noticed two fat flower buds poking out between the lily pads. The air was electric with a frenzy of  exhilaration. It doesn’t get better than this. And that’s on top of watching two dragon flies copulating yesterday!

I cooked a delicious curry tonight. Unfortunately not accompanied by Brussels sprouts.

Signed up for Juneathon.

Aliveandrunning May 17 2014


Our new pond  is proving to be a source of  endless fascination. I created it last summer and bought  aquatic plants that needed to be brought  into the house to over winter. I put them back successfully at the end of March and now they are taking off with the warmer weather. The pond has been quickly colonised by all sorts of interesting bugs, a couple of frogs  and at least one sizeable newt. Today some  dragon flies turned up, stayed around  the pond area and appeared to be mating. All this is  entertaining, very enjoyable  and relaxing.  I think  building a pond would prove to be a good method of reducing and managing stress. It can be creative and provide a sense of achievement. It doesn’t sound  riveting, perhaps, but it can be and often is. You’ll gain respect for the smallest of pond creatures and feel excitement when you spot the larger ones. And you can claim maximum mindfulness points!

I went for a long run yesterday, training for the new Flaming June half marathon, which is local to me, in Impington.My training regime is to carry on running as I would normally do but add 3 x 13.2 mile runs in the month leading up to it. I did the first one 5 days ago and perhaps I should have left longer time for recovery. I feel tired today but not overwhelmingly. Tomorrow I’ll do parkrun and on Sunday I’m running a 7.7 race at Willingham, a village about 6 miles away.

A couple of days ago, BBC news posted an item on their website  concerning the possible effects of endurance training on the heart, particularly with reference to older runners and triathletes  Apparently intensive and prolonged training, and the consequent lowering of the heart beat down to 30 per min and lower, can result in dangerous heart arrhythmias. Previous research has indicated that intensive training can stress the heart by causing multiple small tears to the heart muscle leading to recommendations limiting exercise  to around 2 to 2.5 hours per week. I seldom see any reference to people who already have  diagnosed heart disease or have experienced a heart attack. After my heart attack 5 years ago my cardiologist saw no reason why I shouldn’t run another marathon. When I checked out current thinking with the cardiac rehab team 6 months ago, the advice hadn’t changed.


Aliveandrunning April 5 2014


Hurray! Chinchin! Lorna’s back running again following prolonged recovery from her Achilles tendonopathy injury which not only stopped her running last August but also made walking painful. She successfully completed Cambridge parkrun (5k) in around 33 minutes and so far her ankle is OK. Cue renewed interest in all things running. Excellent!

Last week I ran Cambridge parkrun in just under 24 minutes which represents a reasonable return to form. Today I ran 8 seconds slower, coming in at 24 mins 4 seconds.I was roundly beaten by my two arch rivals, Mike and Kerry who both got personal bests of 22 mins 21 secs and 22 mins 20 secs respectively. A lingering doubt continues to trouble, despite my outwardly calm exterior. Did they conspire to take a short cut, away from the beady eyes of the marshals? Should I request a marshals’ inquiry? Or are they simply faster than me? No, that cannot be. I’ll definitely call for an inquiry.

Tomorrow I’m doing the Cambourne 10k alongside Mike and Kerry. I’ve arranged for 20 “spectators”, strategically placed along the course, to ensure fair play. If they beat me by more than a minute I’ll eat my (old) running shoes and post it on You Tube.



Last year, work on renovating a neglected pond came to a grinding halt when I uncovered a small colony of bees located under the old liner. What to do? I rang my old mate Tony Blair for advice. He took a few seconds free time from his Special  Middle East Envoy role to consider the problem and then gave me his sincerest view. He said “Let them live in peace…allow them their allotted life span…don’t destroy their habitat.. they’ll be gone in the Autumn… complete your pond at that point.” Thanks, Tony,” I gushed, “you’re a sage. Now, please return to sorting out the Middle East on behalf of everyone”. Two days later I received an invoice from the Tony Blair Set the World to Rights Foundation for £31,321 with reference to services provided via a phone call from Bahrain. This seemed a tad expensive but I accept this kind of top advice doesn’t come cheap.

Anyway, that was last year. The above pic is the current state of development of the pond. It’s still a work in progress but I’m reasonably happy with it. It quickly got colonised by a variety of water dwelling creatures including newts and a frog (do frogs eat newts?). water boatmen and skaters and the newly created rock garden overlooking the pond looks good. I daren’t let Tony know the good news. I know he charges £500 a second just for listening!