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  • Heather Lawson

And the Ultra marathon runner's specialist subject is ...?

I can’t tell you how bloody annoyed I am to be writing this blog about the UMR, but it is my own blooming fault.

I’d set a reminder but in the run up to Christmas, with the food shopping (the Ultra Marathon Runner (AKA the UMR) is running again so that is treble the amount of food shopping!), present buying, house buying and other general every day matters, I hadn’t cancelled the hosting of the InForTheLongRunBlog site.

So Wix kindly relieved me of several hundred pounds and renewed the hosting for ANOTHER 3 YEARS!! So, I am sorry guys and gals, but thanks to the stories of my life with the UMR will be flowing!

The last blog was in August 2020, so there is a lot of catch you up on. To be honest I had buried a lot of it, in the hope of never having to mention certain events ever again but it seems the Universe has something else in store for me.

Just today I started a writing retreat (online unfortunately with Beth Kempton - but Oh, what I would do to be in a little log cabin with just my laptop for company), so it seemed only right that I reignite the UMR stories and open that window to my life living with someone obsessed with running.

So, after a 3-year hiatus where do I start? Well the UMR is still as obsessed with running as he was, the flat is still full of stinky running shoes, there is a calendar in the kitchen that has races ticked off for 2023 and some already inked in for 2024 but a lot has happened in 3 years – and not all of it has been positive, for either the UMR or me, so there is a lot to blog about … but let’s start with a subject that the UMR knows a lot about.

In fact, I have joked that he could go on Mastermind, and have this as his specialist subject. And the subject is Gravesend.

Yes Gravesend, a town in Kent on the banks of the river Thames, famous for the burial site of Pocahontas, but not really known for much else. And for those of you that dont know Pocahontas was a Native American woman belonging to the Powhatan people, who died in Gravesend in March 1617 before she was able to make it back to her settlement in Jamestown, Virginia.

She was married to a tobacco planter at the age of 17 or 18. The Rolfes then travelled to London where Pocahontas was presented as an example of a 'civilised savage', with the hopes of stimulating investment in Jamestown (according to Wikipedia!). She became a celebrity, but died before she could return home and was buried in St Georges Church in Gravesend.

Back in the day Gravesend was a stopping point for coaches on their way from Dover or Canterbury to London, but it isn’t really a destination town, unless you want to run marathons! Now Gravesend has a cyclopark, and this is the backdrop for a company called Saxons, Vikings & Normans (SVN for short) who are allowed to use the facilities for their marathon races. The company is great, and according to the UMR they provide great goodie bags (including a massive bar of galaxy chocolate) as well as very creative medals and in 2022 the UMR decided to run over 13 marathons there.  

Why you might ask? Well yes, why indeed? I mean the scenery isn’t reminiscent of the South Downs, and the A2 is within earshot on every step but the UMR had a goal in his sights in 2022, to become part of the 100 marathon club and it was easy to sneak off, with a few muckers (read: other obsessive marathon runners) and get a marathon under his belt.

Very weirdly with 99 marathons under his belt the UMR chose, yes, he actually chose to run his 100th marathon in Gravesend!

It was New Years Eve 2022, and the final marathon was nigh. The weather was appalling but I wanted to do the dutiful thing and support the UMR reaching his goal of 100 marathons.

“I’ve arranged for a few people to run the same race” the UMR said “so don’t rush down”.

“I’ll want to take it slow so I can run with everyone and have a chat with them as we run, so it will be a slow marathon. So, get there for around 1.30pm to see me finish”.

Now I knew this was a total load of “insert any expletive of your choice” and headed out from home to arrive around 1pm. The run was hellish, there were puddles everywhere and I don’t think I had ever seen so many dry robes ever, not even at the coast.

These marathons are run as laps, so seeing a few familiar faces, “Is he on his final lap I asked?”

“The UMR?”

“Yes, how long before he finishes do you think?”

“Oh, he finished about 15 minutes ago. He’s gone to get changed and warm up”.

I caught up with one of the UMR’s friends, Richard who had travelled from Essex to ‘run’ with Jamie, to find him running on his own on his final lap, not enjoying the sights and sounds of Gravesend. He was running on his own in horizontal rain, and if I had been him, I would have been slightly peeved!

Any how the 100th marathon was completed, a trophy, medal and T-Shirt all celebrating this fact were presented by the lovely Theresa Massey, who herself has run over 300 marathons and amidst his running friends, the UMR’s goal had been both reached and celebrated with many a hot chocolate (and occasional beer … or two!).

As I waited to take the UMR home, I stood in the rain annoyed with myself for:

1) not listening to my own intuition and leaving earlier, the UMR never runs a slow marathon!

2) for missing him going over the finishing line and getting that iconic 100th marathon finishing photo and

3) for choosing to spend my spare time in cold and wet Gravesend.

So, there you have it, I started this blog episode annoyed, and have suitably finished it annoyed too!

But I hope I haven’t annoyed you, the reader, too much as there are plenty of blogs to come!

PS: if you live in Gravesend, no offence was intended in the writing of this blog! 😊


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