Wednesday, 26 May 2010

walk the world and end hunger

My friend Diane Shugart invited me on Facebook to join the Walk the World initiative on June 6th. I didn't really know much about this annual event, organised by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in cooperation with its global partners TNT, Unilever and DSM.
I found out that last year alone 360,000 people walked in 210 locations around the world, raising enough money through their donations to provide school meals for one year to more than 20 thousand children in the world's poorest countries.
Since its inception in 2003, Walk the World has grown to become a global event, bringing together over 2 million participants and raising millions of US dollars to feed poor children in school.

There are 1.02 billion undernourished people in the world today. That means one in nearly six people do not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life. Hunger and malnutrition are in fact the number one risk to the health worldwide — greater than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

In places like Athens, where as Diane points out on the Facebook page of the event, with no walk 
currently set up and no time to organise one, it is possible to join the Virtual Walk, donate online and upload your photo on the event's wall (
So, on June 6th I will make sure that after I run my scheduled kilometres for the day, I will then cool down by virtually walking on this website to support the fight against hunger!

To access the Walk the World website, you can click on the following link:
Walk the World on June 6th!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

This is not a blog about running!

First, let me make one thing clear.
This is not a blog about running. Running is an important part of my life, and at some point I would like to explore in more detail this special affinity. I like the endorphins of course, post-exercise, but I also like the discipline and the test of patience. Yes, I am one of those people who actually like discipline and perhaps even routine!

So, I have posts coming up which are not running related, I already have them half-written mentally, kicking to get out, though we will all have to wait a bit longer before we can read them on the computer screen!

But today I want to talk about morning runs and in particular this morning's run.
Now I am not really a morning person and I always have a tough time running in the morning. It takes about twice as long for the body to wake up as it does in an evening workout. For me, at least. But I also remember Meseret Defar, who is very sweet and easy-going, giving exactly the same answer when I briefly interviewed her post-race for the IAAF World Cup in Athens in 2006. She said, I celarly remember, that the morning workouts are always the toughest for her.

Today, my motivation for the morning run came from a promise. Some time ago I promised a friend from Barcelona, Daniel Justribo, an avid runner who also likes writing, that I would send him a few pictures of the Stelios Kyriakides statue in the suburb of Filothei.

Daniel had written an article on the life of Kyriakides, and I thought it would nicely complement his post. So, today, I ran with a mission. Starting from home, in Aghia Paraskevi, and running all the way to Filothei, to take some pictures and then head back. Distance unknown, I estimated it would be something like 7km, although in the end it ended up being slightly longer, at 10.6km.
The weather was perfect, a cool sunny day, in the morning hours just before it starts getting hot in the city. The pavements were a hassle, I had to watch every step, pavements are so dangerous in Athens, in some places completely falling apart. Some mayors need to look more closely into this issue!
But when I reached Filothei, the shade of the acaceas, the tranquillity, the empty streets lined with pretty houses, the carefree joggers on the Filothei track, the lingering stream behind the Stelios Kyriakides stadium, and finally the beautiful statue of Kyriakides himself on the outside of the small luscious square perfectly rewarded my inspiration and kick-started my day!
The digital camera in hand, I took my photos and then headed back happy, and satisfied! Here is one of them, the rest you can find soon in Daniel's link below! 

Daniel Justribo's article on the life of Stelios Kyriakides (for the Catalan speaking friends out there!) can be found by clicking on the link

Saturday, 22 May 2010

a year for firsts

An important first step towards getting to know my bearings in Oxford is getting familiar with the local running scene. The Charlgrove 10K Running Festival, which took place on May 3rd at the village of Chalgrove in south Oxfordshire, was, I realised later, the first official race - well, fun run, was more like it - that I had ever run in the UK!

For this bank holiday, the organisers had designed a 10K single lap race course through local villages and the surrounding South Oxfordshire countryside, with the start and finish at the Chalgrove Village Festival ground.
There were about 220 runners participating in this first edition, and after the race, most stayed on for a chance to enjoy the Chalgrove Festival atmosphere. Dog show, kids' activities, arena displays, funfair, beer tent, food, helicopter rides, vintage cars and steam trains, rides, penalty shoot-out, craft stalls and many other attractions were there to enjoy!

 At first a sudden hail seemed likely to ruin everything. Well, this is England, after all, I thought, trying to ascertain how it would be possible to run in these conditions! But then the rain miraculously stopped just minutes before the start and we all re-emerged from under the tents and were faced with a glorious sunshine!

As I was running and trying to maintain an under 5 min/km pace throughout, I could not help but admire the
vast expanses of bright green fields around me, a sight that for dryland Greece is not the norm.
Flat and green, great, I thought! And then, at the 6th km mark, a hill that made my legs burn, baby, burn!
Fortunately it was over soon, and then it got flat-out again as we re-entered the small quaint village to finish in about 50 min in front of the palyground's inflatable yellow castle!

Heath Bampton (Bristol and West) won the first ever race in 34 minutes and 56 seconds and Sue Street (Tipton Harriers) was the leading lady in 40 minutes and 30 seconds.

The second race is scheduled for 13.30pm on Bank Holiday Monday, May 2nd 2011. Hopefully ma and Colin can make it again!


P.S. Loved the color of the race T-shirt, a bright acqua blue. A keeper, even if these t-shirts are usually too big for me to wear except as nightshirts!