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To my shock, I ran ten miles. To my greater shock, for seven miles of it, I felt like I could carry on forever. 

When I first started my training in April, I knew I was inching closer to St Mary's Lighthouse in Whitley Bay from where I live in Tynemouth. I kept seeing it before I turned back round, rising white and tall, often from a sea haze. "I’ll run there by September” I resolved. Well, I did it. The reason it was special was because I got married there last May. It was a heck of a difficult journey to be able to meet and recognise a nice man and commit to him- now my body has made that journey the hard way too! I thought I might not, as I’d had some panic runs the fortnight before, overdone it by trying to suddenly go faster than my body’s (slow) pace and got very wheezy. I was kind to myself, pulled back for a few days, and must have pulled the energy back to do the ten.

Two women I’ve been chatting to about their training were both on the verge of not being kind to themselves, and, much as I’m obviously not an expert, I was able to jump in and urge them both not to overdo it. I imagine it’s a common error in us beginner runners. My friend said her trainer used to say to her "Always do less than you want to do”. It’s counter-instinctive- but I bet it prevents alot of injuries! 

My, probably penultimate, blog poem was inspired by the Great North Run exhibition at South Shields Museum. Lots of memorabilia from the 30 years of the event. The one that most caught my eye was the correspondence in which Brendan Foster asked for permission to hold "a fun run”:

If, however you decide...*

*Last line of discouraging reply from the Northumbria Chief Constable to Brendan Foster’s letter asking permission to close roads for the first Great North Run in 1981

If, however you decide,

old ladies will blast Chariots of Fire

from their windows


Armies will be instructed,

calendars will be constructed,

it will grow and grow. 


Men and women in iron chariots

will break records

with bleeding hands.


Millions will make resolutions

for thirteen miles of road,

surprise themselves by South Shields sands.


Lives will be saved and ended here,

arteries unblocked, pathways unlocked,

our city spaces will never look the same,


we’ll see bodies move in the light of day,

that work can come from play,

crowds will choose their own frame.


They will become strange fruit and superheroes,

they will discover their best and beat it,

set an impossible goal and meet it. 


Mountains of litter, laughter, money, prayers

will be unleashed, the timid hopes we daren’t voice,

you will contradict our worst fears.

We will carry on thinking as far as thirteen miles over the horizon,

as tall as a sixty six foot Angel,

as long as a bridge spanning a river for a thousand years.


As, so many of us running, I am going to be raising money. Mine is going to the National Autistic Society who have helped me with research for a show I’m writing about Autism, and the way that autistic traits are more common in artists and scientists and the general population than is generally thought. So, here’s a cheeky mention of my fundraising page if you can spare a pen’worth or two for a poet:

Good luck you giant shadow army of runners getting last minute runs in, and loading up on those carbs- and remember- be kind to yourselves! 


Kate Fox is a poet, writer and broadcaster. She was Poet in Residence for the Great North Run in 2011, and is working on a new show for families for the 2012 Great North Run Culture programme called The Starting Line.
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