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The Secret World of Runners

28 May 2012
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There is a world out there that only I know about. While people are sleeping, just after the sun comes up, when the grass is still heavy with dew, there is a land waiting to be discovered.

At 7am on Friday morning I wasn’t switching off my alarm in North London, or heading back from a grey run around the Holloway Road. I was pulling on my trainers 100 miles away, ready to head out through the suburbs into the Georgian streets of a small market town.

Seventies’ semis quickly gave way to cobbled back-streets, then water meadows. A spaniel emerged from the riverbank, shaking sparkling droplets from his coat. Up past the station and my old school walls, out of town and through the lodge gates to the Park.

I stopped to stretch by the cricket pitch and raised my eyes above the path. I took in May blossom, cow parsley, horse chestnuts in flower, pollen floating in the rays of the sun. A flock of sheep, newly shorn, ignored me.

I ran 6 miles before breakfast just to run down this avenue of trees.

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I stopped at the top of the avenue, turned and caught my breath. It was a moment of complete happiness.

This is why I run. I remember now. I may not be able to find this world every morning in North London, but I know it’s out there, waiting for me.

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