Ely New Year’s Eve 10k – fast, flat, wet


Actually this race takes place three miles or so outside of Ely, at Little Downham, but only a pedant would split hairs. It’s a lovely race to finish the year and I enjoyed it.

For the last month, I’ve managed to run six days out of seven. The aim was to run a minimum distance of two miles every day but other stuff got in the way and I think a day off a week is sensible. I’m not putting everything into it and I always feel better for having run.

Yesterday, Cambridge parkrun was soft going underfoot but not the mudbath as in the previous couple of weeks. Temperature was 0c or -1c which is very chilly for me but I wore the appropriate kit which proves that I am a sensible chap. I need to up my mileage because it’s exactly eight weeks to go before the Camridge half marathon. It’s come around so quickly. I think they can accommodate 9000 this year. It’s a flat course and fast if you are fast and near the front of the first wave but otherwise it can get very congested in town. Nevertheless it feels special running throught the strreets of Cambridge and it’s well supported by spectators. This is the race where, some years ago, I didn’t drink after finishing and became dehydrated. I needed medical assistance but recovered quite quickly. Unsurprisingly, treatment was very cheap – water! I used some of it to wipe the egg off my face.

This is a Flying Spoon transporting the Egg of Destiny (whatever you are thinking about this will be right).

This is big handed Norbert. Set him on your desk or work space and he will help you to retain your sanity and sense of humour.

This is Man of Rust, a good friend of Norbert.


Instagram @beyondstrange

The latest damaging revelations in Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House should hardly come as a great surprise. As of yesterday, the headlines in the UK media (the book has not gone on sale here yet) focussed on Trump’s child like personality, his need for immediate gratification, capacity for distraction and doubts about his mental stability and fitness to be President. Trump has characteristically retorted vehemently via a number of tweets which included the self assessment  that he is”genius… and a very stable genius at that.”

Given Trump’s general manner and demeanor, his extreme pronouncements, his absolute condemnations of individual and groups, his bullying and arrogance, his cultivation of the bigoted, simple minded and credulous electorate, these observations from an insider make a lot of sense. The unsettling aspect (among many) for me is that not only did so many people voted for him but that he still has so much support. This is a feature of past fascist, extreme right wing, plain speaking demagogues who, despite vicious scapegoating and targeted cruelty towards particular groups, continue to enjoy much public approval. God save America. Time to live your religious principles rather than pay lip service to them.






CAUTION : very slippery



Icworth House, near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk and the venue for the first Hoohaah 10k of the year. Beautiful setting and a lovely trail course (in the main) BUT VERY MUDDY.


In fact there were hundreds and hundreds of metres of mud and easily qualified as the most muddy race I have ever taken part in. To enter the restaurant/cafe, shopping emporium and second hand bookshop, one had to don these blue plastic over bootees! One didn’t look very cool.

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Fair enough. I wasn’t impressed by their bookshop, however. Not a patch on Wimpole Hall’s and I didn’t buy anything. Highly unusual, highly irregular but a memorable experience thanks to the blue bootees.

Still, the race was very enjoyable and later we had coffee at an outside cafe with our chums.


I found myself inadvertently sitting on the orange side and consequently ruined the symmetry.

Tuesday was running club and we did a “country fartlek” from the University of Cambridge Athletics Club to Grantchester Meadows, along the Cam.

Today, we ran Cambridge parkrun. Cold but a great deal dryer than last week. I couldn’t catch any rivals. I’ll have to choose new and slower rivals.

Tomorrow, it’s the London Marathon. Spectating, not running. It’s not easy devising a training regime for marathon spectating. I’ll know tomorrow when it’s all over.



Muddiest ever Cambridge parkrun


The entire Cambridge parkrun course was replicated in this short section. I took this pic on my warm up route and met a runner who warned me I would need a boat to proceed further. Many of the puddles occupied the entire width of the path so avoidance wasn’t an option. The rain held off but temperatures were low (for me) at around 2-4c. Despite the weather, 359 splashed their way round and it really was good fun.


Here’s a good picture of Lorna (in the middle) with running (and chatting) chums. Looks completely normal.


Here’s Lorna at the end of the race and about to receive her number token. Something has happened in the time these two pics were taken and I’ve yet to receive an adequate explanation. How long was she running while munching her glove. This certainly isn’t normal!

Tomorrow I’m doing a 10k race at the Icworth Estate, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. This promises to be another mud bath which raises the possibility that we mud splattered runners won’t be admitted to their very nice cafe/restaurant. or even worse, I’ll be turned away from their second hand bookshop.

Me : Do you realise I’m a National Trust member and therefore entitled to benefit from the full panoply of facilities and privileges which are accorded to my subscription?

National Trust official : On your bike, sunshine, and come back when you’ve had a bath and smell a lot sweeter!

Thanks to Stoke Gifford Parish Council, parkrun is national news following their decision to charge parkrun or parkrunners for using the open spaces of Little Stoke park as a course. They’ve been roundly condemned for this move because it contradicts the founding principles of parkrun and constitutes a degradation the philosophy of a free, inclusive, volunteer organised, run for all. There are nearly 400 UK parkruns and around 850 worldwide. Additionally there are about 90 Junior UK parkruns. Stoke Gifford Parish Council are very naughty, very foolish, very short sighted and probably Tory dominated.


Janathon Day 2 Into the gloop. Again!


Vanity, vanity. All is vanity. Here’s yet another picture of me. This time I am running in today’s Cambridge parkrun. I’m just behind another open mouthed runner. It was very muddy but unlike yesterday, relatively warm so I made the right decision to run in a short sleeved top and shorts.

The gloop made for a slow time. I couldn’t convince myself I was sprinting like a gazelle. Nevertheless, I usually feel I am running faster than I am. I’ve done quite a bit of running in the last five days and although the speed isn’t there, the stamina is. I don’t feel tired or achy so that’s a good result.

After being completely splattered in mud, I showered the equivalent of several kilos of mire down the plug hole and then repaired, with Lorna, to a friend’s house where we had a delicious breakfast with a group of like minded running chums. And very relaxing and enjoyable it was, too!  We were invited to join a newly forming mid week evening 10k running group which sounded great. I’ll almost certainly take it up. Of course, I’ll need a head lamp, a very bright one to turn the Cambridge night into daylight. And if Lorna asks nicely, I’ll let her borrow it!

Cambridge half marathon in 8 weeks. Gotta get training.

Alive and Running February 23 2015


And so to Londinium last Friday. This picture was taken in Foyles on their new site on Charing Cross Road. As my daughter Shanti commented, it’s like Borders used to be before they imploded.

Is anyone familiar with the old Foyles and their particular way of doing business? You took the book(s) to a counter without a till, a receipt was given to you with details of book(s) and price, you toddled off to someone in a booth, paid your money, your receipt was stamped and you took it back to the counter where your book(s) were crying their eyes out because they felt so lonely and abandoned. The pay booths were often a good way from the counter where you left them so you might have to traipse (relatively) long distances. Fittingly, Foyles was the setting for my only episode of book rage around 35 years ago. I had already undergone their payment rituals when I noticed I’d been overcharged. I went back to the first counter (without a till) and then returned to the payment booth for a refund, despite showing signs of exhaustion. The cashier who had served me had changed and had gone to the top floor along with her money. I would have to find her to obtain my refund. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t find her, the red mist came over me and burly security men suddenly materialised displaying an appropriately burly attitude. Readers, I got my refund but it was a messy business. See Foyles in Wikipedia for a fuller description of this quirky, exasperating, labyrinthine vast shop in it’s prime. I miss it as I do Borders.

What’s happening on the running front? A very muddy Cambridge parkrun on Saturday morning with a slow time to match but I will be improving once the weather is kinder to me. On Sunday, it was Cambridge junior parkrun and it was good to see the first lady come first over the line. I was official photographer and took around 250 pics. 139 children took part in muddy conditions (they run part of the adult parkrun course) and a good time was had by all, thanks to the volunteers and supportive parents.

Today was my last long run before the Cambridge half in just under 2 weeks. I did 11.6 miles and it felt fine. It didn’t rain as previously forecast but there was a strong, bitter wind blowing that frequently slowed my pace. I’ll probably go out with the club tomorrow evening and have a rest day on Wednesday.


DSC_0571 Thanks be to the Greek gods there are still some wonderful book sellers around. These four are in Cecil Court or Tottenham Court Road. You’ll be able to get any book you desire through these shops but a deep pocket is essential. It’s not Poundland although a good proportion of these fine books will have originally been under that price or not much over.




Cecil Court still has (possibly) eight or nine bookshops offering fine or first editions, and they are generally much better lit nowadays giving the impression of cosiness rather than the gloom of a single low watt night light. They also appear to be open for business rather than closed to a snooping public. In the past, they seemed motivated to appear unwelcoming.


Finally, here’s Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Frith Street, Soho.

We had a lovely day simply walking around London, from Euston Road, down Tottenham Court Road, into Soho and China Town. I took a load of pics and could have taken a million more.


Aliveandrunning January 3rd 2015 Janathon Day 3




Oh my giddy aunt! Cambridge parkrun was a complete mudfest. In fact, it was mud with stilts on! Never in the entire world history of muddy races has it been muddier. These magnificent parkrunners are wading through thick, gloopy mud up to two metres in depth. Can you believe it? No, not really. This pic was taken at one of the Spartan races in August 2014. Nevertheless, it accurately reflects today’s parkrun conditions (almost).

When it was announced there would be a 25 minute pacer for the 5k race, my expression remained unchanged but I treated myself to the equivalent of a mental snigger. As if I would require the services of a 25 minute pacer. Possibly a 21 or 22? Unfortunately, around half way, the lad with a huge 25 on his hi viz top breezed past me with his posse of followers and that was that! I was left eating non existent dust. I was moderately consoled when I looked at the results page. Most people, including the winner (nice chap) finished about 2 minutes off their best times. It was raining as well and the temperature seemed to be dropping. I didn’t really warm up despite being dressed for the weather. I collected the signage around the course after the race so, for the purposes of Janathon, I walked an extra 2k.

Cambridge junior parkrun tomorrow. The conditions will be poor with ice and/or fog predicted. Last week they ran a modified course rather than cancel it and hopefully they will be able to do so again.

A couple of New Year resolutions –

1. Look upon tabloid readers more kindly and appreciate that there is a wide gamut of perspective and opinion.

2.Eat more Brussels sprouts.

I’m struggling with the first one!

Aliveandrunning September 6 2014


No Cambridge junior parkrun at Milton Country Park today because one of the series of Spartan obstacle races took place instead. I’ve not seen any of the mud run/obstacle events before and didn’t think they would appeal to me. But I was completely won over. The people taking part had a great time and it’s a very entertaining to watch.


Despite an initial impression of lots of men in macho posturing mode, this quickly changed when I saw the effort required to negotiate the course and the number of women taking part. By the time the runners hauled themselves up this ramp, they were very wet, muddy and slippery. Not everyone could do it but they all tried it. They weren’t worried by looking undignified and they got a lot of cheers and encouragement.



This a small pond I run past when I do Cambridge parkrun. It’s stagnant, smelly and looks like a swamp. It is a swamp! It looks filthy and vile. As I watched dozens wade, swim and stagger across, I confirmed  it was all these things. A big Cambridge triathalon  has just been cancelled because of the degradation  of the water quality in the Cam. Well, the Cam is like crystal clear mineral water compared to this mud bath.




No Cambridge parkrun at Milton Country Park yesterday because today’s Spartan race. Ms Alive and Running not able to accompany me to Wimpole Estate parkrun because she has joined a cult and is away for the weekend. But I wasn’t alone in the car. I gave my pal Kerry a lift despite his track record of being 2-3 minutes faster than me over 5k. This clearly demonstrates my current altruism, so different to last week when I had a nice collection of little dolls (which had surprisingly similar features to some of my faster friends) and a selection of needles. I’ve recycled all that paraphernalia now and turned to the mild side. I fully accept that I will be  frequently beaten by chums  and my mind is at peace (or piss as a European accent might have it).

They had a record 362 runners at Wimpole yesterday and I came in at 125th. Kerry ran a good race but his personal barcode didn’t scan which meant that he was regarded as an unknown when the results went online. There were quite a few unknowns sprinkled throughout the 356 and Kerry didn’t know his position number or his approximate time . He wasn’t an unknown unknown but a known unknown. Possibly he regarded himself as an unknown known. Who knows?Anyway, there’s a campaign afoot to change his status to to known known which I have contributed to. But wait! The text I received from parkrun central tells me I am second in my age range. If Kerry becomes promoted to known known, I am demoted to third in my age category (behind Kerry). This is a test of my integrity. My integrity remains intact. I spend most of the night tirelessly working on Kerry’s behalf to get him the justice he deserves.




Aliveandrunning February 14 2014

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Nice break from the wind and rain on Thursday around the Cambridge area, at least in the morning. I went for an eleven mile run, including a long stretch by the side of the Cam, stopping only to take some pics. I decided not to eat before running and therefore I didn’t have my daily porridge until around 1pm. Then I had my lunch at 1.30pm.


Before the run I took Rupert for a walk in Worts Meadow.This tree is fascinating. It’s a walnut and despite having a huge hole in the trunk, still produces leaves and nuts. The sap still rises! The pool in front of he walnut is magical. Don’t scoff at the tree’s condition or suggest it should be cut down. The water will suck you down then spit you out like a cannon ball. It will remember you as well. Don’t take any risks. Openly offer the tree compliments. It’s very susceptible to flattery.



Yesterday evening I made spaghetti bolognese, seen here in all its multi coloured glory, with mixed salad, chopped raw onion, cheese and red onion flatbread and broccoli (a reasonable substitute if you’re fed up with sprouts. Was it Dr Johnson who said “If you are tired of sprouts you are tired of life?)

I went for my annual cardio-vascular review at the surgery yesterday morning. I’m not sure if I saw a practice nurse or health care assistant. She clarified whether or not I had a problem with a high potassium reading (no), asked me a few questions to check for depression and took my weight and blood pressure, didn’t seem to know I had a heart attack 4 years ago and couldn’t tell me if my BMI of 20.4 was outside the “normal range”. She was friendly and pleasant but I couldn’t help wondering if the appointment was a waste of time. It’s more about ticking boxes to achieve a particular standard. It tells me nothing about the current state of my heart disease.

Extremely windy in the Cambridge area today although the trees in Milton Country Park (where Cambridge parkrun is held) gave a lot of protection. Still plenty of mud around to slow me down, though. I gathered up the signs and direction arrows again after the race. It felt odd retracing my steps on deserted trail paths, and curiously enjoyable.

I read today that two cyclists in Berkshire have been killed by a car being pursued by the police after a domestic incident. I suspect that giving chase to cars not willing to stop are regarded as a perk to the police and almost no consideration is given to public safety. If you accept the transactional analysis  model of our behaviour reflecting adult, child and parental elements in our personalities then the police frequently reveal they are stuck in the immature adolescent stage. This results in a motivation to drive fast cars fast with no reasonable justification and a mandate to provoke a lethal pursuit.

Aliveandrunning Janathon January 11

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Day 11. From this to that! The post race snap of my new trail shoes doesn’t really do justice to the mud love-in that took place at Wimpole Estate 1st anniversary parkrun today. And, unbelievably, I didn’t win it, thanks to the 72 people that barged in front of me. To put it another way, if those 72 people had stayed in bed rather than get up for a 9 am start race, I would have been covered in glory as well as mud.

It was a glorious day. A blue sky, low, very bright sun ( I accept the sun is generally bright in a cloudless sky: it just seemed extra bright today) and a little too cold for me but manageable. 207 finished, the first coming in at 19 minutes 13 seconds and the last recorded at 55 minutes 28 seconds. That’s the thing about parkrun; it’s completely inclusive (with the proviso that you are able to run or walk). As for the conditions underfoot, we started off on a puddle and soil infested asphalt path and then transferred to marshland, swamp, morass, bog and finally quagmire in that order. However, I was impressed by the quality of the mud. It was runner friendly, forgiving, light hearted. It had a certain je ne sais quoi unlike the evil mud at Hinchingbrooke on New Years Day which tried to drown me.

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Me running past Wimpole Hall and with my daughter Isobelle who also took part. My son Dan ran Valentine’s Park 5K and got a personal best on fast, flat paths. Lorna took some great photos and we met up with a load of friends. A very enjoyable morning. The only sour note? Their second hand bookshop (previously loved and treasured then abandoned books) was not open before 11 am and we left at 10.45. OK, I can deal with it.

I felt tired when I sat down in the afternoon and started to doze. The sun shone and the temperature had risen a little higher so I went for another run lasting around 45 minutes. Much more alert after I returned. Note to self : when exhausted run for an hour plus.