Looking back in a blur
This newsletter was first published on Patreon on 27 December 2021
Perfomance of the year? Letesenbet Gidey smashes the world half marathon record in Valencia.
Is it Monday? I’m in more than the usual blur of Christmas this year, when the days get lost amid eating and walks and family gatherings. This year, Christmas has been different. I feel more like a nurse in a field hospital, or a 1950s housewife, than an over-indulged pater familias. So far my wife, son and one of my daughters have come down with Covid. Two of us remain clear … for now. Surely it’s only a matter of time.
My brother laughed when I said it was actually good timing as I had less work on than usual. He said I was looking for silver linings. Getting sick over Christmas is never good timing, he said, especially for the children. I’ve been doing my best to make it still feel special for them, to still have treats and lashings of Christmas lunch and crackers and presents under the tree, while at the same time keeping the windows open, the clothes washed, people fed and the house in order. I’ve rarely needed a glass of wine in the evening as much as I have in recent days.
On top of all that, my back is still hurting. I tried to run a couple of times in the week but barely got a mile in before I had to turn around in some discomfort. This is not good. This is very not good. But it plagues only the back of my mind for now, while I rush around dealing with Christmas and Covid. In some ways, I think, if I came down with Covid now, it really would be good timing as I’d be forced to rest my back longer than I could bear if I wasn’t ill.
Saying that, I’m going to give the back another run-out as soon as I finish writing this, and who knows, perhaps by some miracle it will be fixed.
So with all this going on, I’ve few anecdotes of running insights to offer from the last week. What I will share - and apologies to those who've already seen it - is my look back at the year through the medium of my Twitter feed.
You don’t need to have a Twitter account to scroll through and enjoy the links. To view it on Twitter, simply click here and follow the thread:
Otherwise, here’s the long-hand version …
1. First up is this great article by Cathal Dennehy about one of the world's greatest races, the Hakone Ekiden: https://www.worldathletics.org/news/feature/hakone-ekiden-japans-most-popular-annual-sporting-event
2. Then there was my interview with my friend Ceri Rees, who let slip that when he was 12 years old he ran a half marathon in 1hr 16mins. I couldn't believe it, but turns out it was true:
3. [This one is very meta …] Back in January I read this lovely essay on newsletters [https://www.robinrendle.com/essays/newsletters/] and decided to start my own. It's called Monday Musings [!] and now lives both here and on Patreon [https://www.patreon.com/adharanandfinn].
4. This was stat of the year, I reckon … “In the history of British marathon running, 2:10 has been bettered by 17 men. At today’s Lake Biwa Marathon [on 28 Feb 2021], 42 Japanese men finished inside 2:10.”
5. It was an oldie, but I finally shared my long read online for the first time (it was originally published in Meter magazine) about my wonderful Kenyan friend Japhet Koech (yes, Japhet from Running with the Kenyans): https://www.patreon.com/posts/49342766
6. It has nothing to do with running, but there was something so sad, bemusing but also somehow beautiful about this piece on the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/apr/16/experience-ive-had-the-same-supper-for-10-years
7. In May, things got serious. I got myself an author website (beautifully designed by my partner, Marietta): https://www.adharanandfinn.com
8. Some light comedy from June that still makes me laugh (it requires a knowledge of English football AND British politics):
9. Staying away from running a bit longer, this piece by Raheem Sterling was brilliant. What a story ... It Was All a Dream: https://www.theplayerstribune.com/articles/raheem-sterling-england-it-was-all-a-dream
10. And then the Olympics were upon us. So many wonderful performances, but in terms of writing, this piece by Cathal Dennehy (again!) on the basketball was archaically brilliant: https://www.independent.ie/sport/other-sports/olympics/us-...html
11. And this was my favourite Olympic interview (we're still not back to running yet!) …
12. And this, well, this is just so darn clever …
13. Back to running, and despite all the brilliance everywhere, this may just have been the best male performance of the year, Aleksandr Sorokin running 7 (SEVEN!) 3hr 15min marathons back to back in 24 hours to break the "unbreakable" 24-hour record! https://www.fastrunning.com/training/ultra-running/unbreakable-24hr-record-broken
14. At the Paralympics, I loved this glowing heart-warmer about the guide runner who proposed to his blind runner on the track after their 200m heat: https://www.dw.com/en/paralympics-cape-verde-guide-proposes-to-runner-on-track/a-59065682
Complete with video:
15. Meanwhile, in my own running, I went back and ran around a 400m running track for 24 hours, again. Why? Here's my piece about it: https://www.patreon.com/posts/monday-musings-56375586
16. This was just bonkers ... this guy ran a 2hr 56mins marathon IN WELLIES …
17. But finally, the most incredible run of the year has to be Letesenbet Gidey's half marathon world record in Valencia, which was simply astonishing. Letsrun.com tries to make sense of it here: https://www.letsrun.com/news/2021/10/making-sense-of-letesenbet-gideys-incredible-6252-half-marathon-world-record-in-valencia/
18. All in all, there were so many brilliant performances in 2021, too many to mention, but a special hat tip to a few people I've met along the way: Beth Pascall winning Western States, Faith Kipyegon winning Olympic gold again, and Abdi Nageeye claiming marathon silver behind Eliud Kipchoge. Chapeau!
So, I hope you enjoyed a few of those links. Before I sign out, I just want to thank you all for continuing to support the newsletter in 2021, and I hope I can continue to bring you moments of insight and intrigue throughout 2022, which will hopefully be the biggest year of running of my life so far.
Happy new year!