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Changing My Spots: How I Evolved From Sloth to Jaguar

English: a 2-toed sloth at the Jaguar Rescue C...
The sloth – not going anywhere fast (or the right way up)  Photo credit: Wikipedia

In the last 10 years, there’s been a new and recurrent theme in my life: running. Mostly I’ve not run more than 5K at a time – a nice round number, long enough to impress but not far enough to exhaust. I’ve done Race for Lifes, the Chippenham River Run (no, it doesn’t involve walking on water), and a couple of 10Ks too.

My first 10K was meant to be in Cheltenham. But then the organisers had a difference of opinion with the Town Council and relocated the race to the Moreton-in-Marsh Firefighters’ Training College. Instead of pottering gently round the elegant streets of a sedate Georgian town, we were faced with a route like Armageddon. We were surrounded by fake disasters that trainee firemen use to hone their skills: derailments, plane crashes, overturned cars and burnt-out buildings. There’s nothing like fleeing disaster to make you run a little faster.

And now there’s the first ever Hawkesbury 5K to look forward to. If the sun’s shining, that section of the Cotswold Way fondly referred to by some as The Yellow Brick Road will be glinting and golden. It will be hard not to slow down to enjoy the view.

I have not always been a runner. In school, I ran round at the back on cross-country, chatting away to my best friend Elizabeth, who was equally unenthralled with running. We kept our tights on under our shorts. She was my partner in crime in Geography too. The teacher scrawled in my exercise book “Why are you and Eliz. being so slow?” The reason: we’d got carried away with our drawings of an Oil Derrick, going on to design an Oil Graham, an Oil George, and an Oil Stanley. Our hearts were simply not in it.

Yet now one of my chief pleasures on holiday is to run in new territory. Round castle walls, along seafronts, down cobbled streets – it’s a great way to unite my adult interests of running and geography. The teenage Debbie would have been astonished at what she grew into: this leopard really did change her spots.

So if you’re not a runner yet, don’t write off the prospect. The new Hawkesbury 5K on 16th June 2012 might be just the thing to convert you. One of the great things about running is that your age doesn’t matter – you can still be running marathons when you’re 90. I’ll report back on that one. See you at the 2050 Hawkesbury 5K, if not before.

And she’s off… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(This post was originally written for the Hawkesbury Parish News, June 2012.)

If you’d like to read more about running in Hawkesbury Upton, try this: Running In Wonderland (You Can Call Me Alice)

Or for more nostalgia about my schooldays, how about this tribute to my former history teacher, Ms Trebst.


English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

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