On Running

1 May
Naomi Benaron

Naomi Benaron

The only time I run is for the bus or the train.

I’m not saying I’m proud of this fact. And I’m getting to that scary age where running without some kind of stretching warm up is positively bad for my health. A long way, in fact, from the time where simply walking was just impossible. My five year old gives me this uncomprehending look when I tell him to walk (like when crossing the road), you know – that’s a run. Nope, that’s a skip. A walk is when one foot is still on the ground when the other one leaves it. Slow. Not fast. Still blank look. You know, like mum and dad. Oh – boring!

I’m also not a fan of watching sport. Maybe a bit of tennis. Perhaps even snooker though to be honest I’m not even watching the current world championships. (Whenever I watch it, Ronnie O’Sullivan loses. So I stopped. And he wins).

So when Swindon Festival of Literature director Matt asked me to chronicle the running event on the opening day (Monday 7 May) it was, at first, a dutiful ‘yes’ in response.

Then when he told me about the people taking part and their interesting stories, I was hooked.

Successful business women and runner Kate Allatt suffered a massive stroke which left her locked into her own body. I can’t even begin to imagine what this must have been like. The sheer frustration, boredom and utter loss of control of your life. She used her will power to break out of the prison of her body and eight months later – contrary to all diagnosis – she walked out of hospital.

As part of this event with Swindon Festival Freedom parkrun she’ll be running the longest run yet since leaving hospital. Good luck to her. I’m looking forward to hearing about her book Running Free: breaking out from locked-in syndrome.

Especially flown in from the USA, first time fiction author Naomi Benaron is running and talking about her book Running the Rift. She’s taken the advice ‘write about what you know’ – Naomi is an ironman triathlete and worker with survivor groups – with fantastic results, creating an award-winning novel.

Here’s a review on Amazon:

‘The sense of place is palpable. You can almost feel, smell and taste Rwanda as you read it. While it is fiction, it feels so real that I found it hard to believe that this wasn’t a true story and that Benaron isn’t Rwandan (she’s not).” Full review here.

It’s a life affirming story set against the mid-90s genocide in Rwanda. At this event, I’m expecting big grins and tears surreptitiously wiped away.

Will I dust off my running shoes? Maybe…find out next week.

PS There’s another festival going on in the second week of this festival (until 25 May): Swindon Festival of Walking.

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