How to Almost Run a Half Marathon

Many years after I almost ran a marathon, I ended up almost running a half marathon. On this occasion I did at least begin with every intention of running the thing.

It began when Rob Smyth of The Guardian newspaper decided, very nobly, that he wanted to do something to raise money for the Laurie Engel Fund. Laurie was the teenage son of legendary cricket writer Matthew Engel and you can find his story here.

Rob is someone I am proud to call a friend and so when he first floated the idea of a sponsored run I was keen to sign up, despite not having run for about five years (and that in an event which turned out to be a complete disaster).

The first snag was that Rob’s original idea was to run from The Oval cricket ground to Lord’s cricket ground, a distance of a little over five miles. That, I thought, was doable, given my general level of fitness, training and susceptibility to crippling shin splints. However, whilst I wasn’t looking, this was changed to a run from the All England Tennis Club (marking Laurie’s love of and talent for tennis) to the Guardian’s new offices near Farringdon. This was a distance less of ‘doable’ and more of ‘twice as far as I had run in my life’.

Notwithstanding this, I felt that I had to dig in and go on. But there was another problem. I was going to have to delay my training by about three weeks because the run would now be after a trip to Australia, thereby leaving me roughly the same amount of training time for this run as I would have had as a much fitter 18-year-old running a full marathon.

Fortunately, I broke my toe on that holiday. It was in many ways a fortunate break as a lot of sponsorship money was riding on my participation in the event. In fact, I probably got more money for walking around the course than I would have done for running it.

I can’t remember how much we raised for the charity, but I know that I have still never run further than six miles, and I think I’ll keep it that way.


That day was also the first time that I met Lee Calvert (who was running) and Jarrod Kimber (who wasn’t). I ended up writing for both of their websites, Blood and Mud and Cricket With Balls. Without them I wouldn’t be (occasionally) paid for writing for other people now. Thanks, guys.

About Richard

Just your less-than-average married father of one
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