Last Sunday morning (March 22nd) I should have been on the start line of the Twin Lakes 20-mile race, surrounded by countless other runners and friends alike, bathed in the glorious Spring sunshine. It was to be my final race in the build-up to Brighton Marathon, my big PB attempt. These races, like everything else, fell victim to Covid-19 and with it any semblance of normality. Instead, as the world ground to an eerie and fearful halt my partner and I ventured out our front door into a world I don’t really recognise anymore.
We made a plan to still complete the 20 miles but in our own way: We would walk to Blenheim Palace, run two loops around its stunning grounds and then walk home.
We walked the 5 miles to the palace in normal isolation, living where we do it is not abnormal to see no one on our footpaths and roads. We spent much of the time phoning our mothers and wishing them a happy Mother’s Day and talking about what we would do now we were both destined to be working and living from home for the foreseeable future. Hopeful optimism of what we could get accomplished in the simpler life that would now be our new normal; tasks left on the backburner no more.
But as we entered the gates into the Palace grounds, we were not prepared for how busy it was. Crowds of families and friends getting their last gasp of freedom before the lockdown closed the shutters on our independence. We didn’t run round the grounds as much as we’d planned, darting off the paths to avoid people as best we could. But soon enough we decided that we couldn’t and shouldn’t be running around here anymore. Instead we sat far apart from everyone, looking down at the stunning Palace in the distance and decided that it would be a while before we would be back here again.
The Palace was built in the 1700s, it has stood strong and unwavering through world wars, terror, recessions and previous pandemics. To a building of such age this crisis is but a blink of an eye, a black spot in a tapestry of colour.
The Palace will be there when normal life resumes, unchanged by the time we are apart. But for now we wished it goodbye and made our way home a different way, still clocking up 13.1 miles and promised to finish the other miles during the working week.
I know saying goodbye to people right now is difficult and utterly heart breaking but we will be together again and that hug will still feel like home because while everything may seem like it’s changing, the people we love and our connection to them will not.
It is times like these that I feel incredibly fortunate to have made the memories I have, and this blog is so cathartic to read through at the moment. Blissful escapism to a world still wide open, yet to be shaken and shattered by this vicious virus.
To that end I will be spending more time writing on this blog while in isolation, catching up on races not yet written about like the emotional trial of the Snowdonia Marathon and the jaw dropping Dead Sea Marathon. I’ll also be writing about my experience of walking across Luxembourg which was only a week and a bit ago but feels like a life-time ago. These and many other pieces I have half finished or left scribbled on posit-notes in the past will be popping up over the next few weeks but if there is anything you would like me to write about please just comment below or send me a message on social media.
I want to finish with a quote from the writer Hank Green commenting on these confusing times on his YouTube channel:
“Robert Frost once famously said that the only way out is through and I believe that I also believe that that the only way through is together.”