Marlow 5

Not only do I have the election to distract me from writing at the moment but this morning I also ran the ‘Marlow 5’ — a race of 5 miles (or 8km in the more runner-familiar distance) around the streets of the extremely affluent town of Marlow in Buckinghamshire — part of the route goes up the High Street past Paul Costelloe’s boutique.

Marlow is a town with quite a literary heritage (see Paul Wreyford’s book ‘Literary Buckinghamshire’). Mary Shelley wrote ‘Frankenstein’ there apparently and her husband also write much of his poetry here. It’s also associated with Jerome K. Jerome’s ‘Three Men in A Boat’. I’m familiar with the place where T.S. Eliot lived, near the Two Brewers pub by the river, when he was commuting to his banking job in central London around the end of the First World War on the so-called Marlow Donkey (which is the railway branch line but also a pub). The Shelleys also lived on the same road.

I didn’t exactly prepare myself like an elite athlete for the race. Yesterday I went on a ‘brewery tour’ of Loddon Brewery (between Reading and Henley) where the very pleasant proprietor, Chris Hearn, allowed us about two and a half hours to sample as much of his excellent beer as we wanted while also having a really informative discussion about the licensed trade — great research, of course, for ‘The Angel’. (Loddon supply a lot of Wetherspoon pubs in London and the South East and their beer is well worth seeking out — particularly ‘Ferryman’s Gold’, ‘Hoppit’ and ‘Bamboozle’.

With this preparation the day before, I was quite pleasantly surprised with my time — 44 minutes 47 seconds (all electronically timed with a chip embedded into the race number — click here to see it) — which is about 10% faster than I normally run. I came 932nd  out of about 1,650. This puts my achievement in context: pretty rubbish compared with the ‘proper’ runners from clubs (like my friend Simon who was disappointed with his 33 minutes) but not quite as bad as the fun runners.

Occasionally I see running as a bit of a metaphor for writing a novel. I don’t really enjoy it while I’m doing it but it’s one of those things that gives you a sense of achievement when you complete something you set out to do. I’ve sent in an application to do the Prestwood 10k next weekend and then will do a much harder race towards the end of July — the High Wycombe half-marathon — no brewery visits the day before that one I think.

2 Replies to “Marlow 5”

  1. …are you superMacNovelist Mike – how on earth do you do it all? Well done on the run and the word count and the two novel starts!

    I ran a half marathon – the First Norfolk Marathon – in a time of 1hr 31 minutes – but it was in 1982 and I was 23! I also rowed a skiff(and slept in it) all the way alonf g the way navigation from KEW to Guildford aka 3 men in a boat – one bank holiday weekend, many moons ago. When I was a student in Oxford I was known for my punting prowess(all, all a very long time ago – as I was reminded last night when I blew out the candles on my 52nd birthday cake).

    Well well done for doing the City students website – be careful about using the images of other peoples books though…hope class last night went well – I was stuffing myself with crispy duck and braised tofu at the time!)…hope youve now decided firmly on your 4 minute reading.


  2. The photo on the website is only a temporary thing. It’s a random pile of books on the floor of my study. I’m hoping we get something from the designer to put there properly. I may go back and take some photos of dictionaries or thesauruses or something.

    Not decided on my four minute reading yet — I’ll add a blog entry in about last night.

    I did a half-marathon last year in High Wycombe — a lot slower than your time. 2hr 6 mins. I’m due to do a 10k on Sunday on a hilly course. Problem is I’ve not been able to practice due to having to look after ill children.


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