Sorry this post is a week late. Life is chaos, chaos is life.
Edited to add: Chaos indeed, in the first edition I forgot to put my finish time! Well, I did better than I thought: 2hr 28:55!
But well, I ran the Wales Half Marathon and it was amazing. Last year it was incredibly painful, and I could only call it fun in the most masochistic sense of the word. This year, with a tiny amount of training (a weekly run with Jog Belper, a bit of yoga, and one eight mile run) it was actually an enjoyable challenge to run 13 miles. Well, most of it. Some of those long evil hills could only be power-walked. Still, it was beautiful.
My last-minute sponsorship quest for Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity paid off, with £115 raised so far. This includes £10 given to me during the race itself, by two guys running for the equally excellent charity Hand in Hand for Syria. This was a really touching gesture of solidarity as we struggled up Manorbier Hill.
Thank you so much to everyone reading this who sponsored me. That money will go a long way towards supporting people displaced by the wars and unrest in the world. It seems a weird disjointed blog post, thinking about them and going on to write about champagne, but I suppose at least something good has come from this, for more than just me and mine. Spreading the love.
We stayed the whole weekend in Tenby, a big family affair. My cousin cycled 112 miles, which is an unimaginable feat of endurance. Mum, two aunts and brother did the half marathon, and my brother’s girlfriend did the 10k. Chris was my essential moral support, waiting at the finish line with a bottle of champagne.
Afterwards we went paddling. Because why the hell not? Champagne on the beach, the glow of athetic achievement… what a buzz. Never felt anything like it. All kinds of magic.
Oh yeah, just to be annoying, why not donate to:
Or hey, why not go for a run yourself? Or a walk, a bike, a stretch, a swim, whatever you feel like doing, whatever is possible for your own body. I was skeptical as hell about exercise improving mood, but I think I’m convinced now. I’m already looking for the next race…
Apparently I don’t learn, because after nearly crippling myself last year, I’m running the Tenby Half-Marathon again! But maybe I learned a little bit, because I have been training, and can definitely run for at least an hour. The race will be more like 3 hours, but never mind. It’s progress.
And I’m now begging for money again. Not for myself, but for Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity. Their main fundraising page there details the work they do, and how absolutely necessary it is. They are an amazing grassroots organization who are giving a lot of time and energy to help those in desperate need. They help refugees across Europe and beyond, from France to Greece to Syria.
Everyone told me that Arbor Low, toppled stone circle and barrowful of bones, was a place of bad vibes. So of course I had to go. Sunday was sunny and bright, the kind of day that makes you ache to get out of the house. Chris drove us into the countryside along a series of narrowing and increasingly rutted trails, following the Satnav because we still foolishly haven’t gotten round to buying a map. Yes, that’s right. We’re those idiots, charging into the unknown, relying on Google Maps and Chris’ uncanny homing pigeon abilities to save us.
So we found Arbor Low, and the cheeky farmer trying to charge an access toll because you have to walk through their field to get there. The circle is on high ground, and the surrounding earthwork is imposing, giving a sense of shadowed claustrophobia to the central ring of stones. To induce claustrophobia on top of a moor, under a beautiful blue sky, is quite a feat. The rest of the landscape has such a feeling of expansiveness, entering the circle is like feeling a cloud cover the sun. Each stone lies flat in the grass, toppled perhaps by witch-fearing medieval folk or just the ravages of time. The wind whips around the circle, the head-high raised earthworks somehow offering no shelter at any angle. Sheep wander freely, and some hikers sat happily picnicking on one of the stones. That seemed like a bad idea. Too many ghosts for sure, and maybe they’re contagious. The least evil-feeling place was, surprisingly, the round barrow forming part of the earthworks, where archeologists have found human remains and grave goods. They also found human remains in the centre of the circle. Human sacrifices? Honoured burials? The neolithic equivalent of someone doing Black Mass in your favourite cathedral? It’s a mystery.
The feeling of sorrow is there. A similar melancholy to ruined churches, but with more than a touch of enmity. 4000 years is a heavy weight of history. So now there’s a place which could have been beautiful, now haunted by ghosts and hostile weeping, out there on the moors. It’s cold and lonely at Arbor Low.
For more fascinating historical info on this place, click here. They seem to know their stuff, and cite a fascinating array of historical sources.
As for myself, maybe I’ll do a cleansing ritual just in case. The mourning of the Earth is not to be trifled with.