RUNNING FOR LIFE

I’m leaving the initial invitation from WordPress to begin a blog as it has taken me around seven months from creating the site cjheries to actually adding any content.

It is a post Art is Everything by Julia Fry, a fellow member of Writing Our Way Home, to spur me into action.

Julia is concerned that a short piece of hers about falling in love with a splendid cake may not be suitable for WOWH – hard as the founders and owners of WOWH, Fiona and Kaspa, try to encourage members to write whatever comes to mind, and has numerous groups into which your piece may “fit”, there is still the hangover (from schooling for many of us, I suspect) to constrain us to place any particular piece of writing or visual which we create into an apt box.

There is no doubt that WOWH encourages members to begin with “short forms” (or pebbles or stones as members refer to them), and there is an unspoken pressure to be brief – Twitter tries for a similar push towards condensing language, as do the limits on comment-length on social networking sites.

Blogs like this one, as an instance, have no such constraints other than those the blogger decides to abide by for him or herself, unlike the blogs one may create within a community such as WOWH.

The lure of compression is also apparent in poetry being published in the U.K. at the moment as a glance at any of the popular poetry magazines (if any poetry magazine can ever be described as popular) such as magma, Smiths Knoll or The North, or study of the “under 30 lines” limit on so many competition entry. Some publishers even market their prose titles as “can be read in under 2 hours” as though reading has become sprinting training.

Today is the day of the annual Great North Run up in the North-East of England, and, whereas like most half-marathon and marathon runs do contain a genuine race for elite athletes, the chief purpose of most of those taking part is to raise cash for just about every registered charity in the U.K.

My purpose here is to try to understand the urge which grips people (often totally non-athletic people) to equate distance running with support for charities – why do we do it, and in such numbers, and why do local populations turn out in such force to cheer on the participants?

Contributions will be very welcome.

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