Well, I did it. I did a monobologue! And I’m happy to report that, unlike in the dream I’d had the night before, the cast of Ghostbusters didn’t burst into the theatre halfway through my bit and start hurling great big handfuls of butter at me.
Before I get too far ahead of myself, I should really explain what this “monoblogue” thing is all about. On Saturday 2nd August, the lovely team at Write This Run borrowed a theatre in South Kensington and invited a handful of running bloggers to do away with the warm, safe anonymity of their keyboards and instead take to the stage to deliver their blogs live. An interesting concept made terrifying by the fact that I was one of these bloggers.
Liz & Laura, the dynamos behind Write This Run, introduced the evening (“it’s like the vagina monologues, but without the fannies”) and then it was on with the show.
Richard Lyle told us how “everything hurts” and had the audience wincing in sympathy as, in eye-watering detail, he described the various aches, pains and chafes that afflict the runner. However, the moral of his tale was that these things are all a walk in the park compared to a scrotal cat-attack.
Sadly, I missed the next couple of bloggers (Sam Begg and Jon Wood), as I decided I should really nip downstairs and write my bit (I may have left it a teensy bit until the last minute). I was especially gutted to miss top blogger Katie King aka CakeOfGoodHope (who was also my WTR team-mate at the Reading Half this year).
Luckily I was back (gin and hastily-scribbled notes in hand) just in time to see Susie Chan take to the stage. I’ve been following ace ultra-runner Susie on the twitter for ages now, and hers was the monoblogue I’d been looking forward to the most. She didn’t disappoint, and told a great story of how she sort-of-accidentally entered the Marathon Des Sables and found herself sharing the start line with a man who really liked cows.
Closing the first half was Richard Askwith, author of Running Free and Feet in the Clouds. He talked passionately about the joys of running outdoors, and of connecting not only with nature but also with yourself. His enthusiasm for the subject was so infectious that I half-expected the theatre to be empty for the second half, as the audience all ran off in search of some verdant countryside to explore.
<interval. I drank more gin>
Luckily, the audience did return after the interval, otherwise I would have been very lonely up on stage. I’ll post a transcript of my bit soon.
After my nonsense it was time for a proper runner, and they don’t come much more proper than Cat Simpson. Globetrotting ultrarunner Cat passed some of her medals around the audience1 while injecting us with the travel bug2 as she talked about the amazing places she’d raced in and how running is the best way to explore a new country. Cat is currently training for the Atacama Crossing, a 250km self-supported race across the Atacama Desert in Chile (Fifty times more arid than California’s death valley). There aren’t words that would do justice to how much of an awesome feat this is. If I ever enter it, my preparation will consist of staying at home and hiding in a cupboard until the race is over.
Kate Foster took to the stage and spoke passionately about the healing power of running, and how she’d found a new sense of peace once she learned to let go of numbers. Everything she said rang true, and I hope that one day I can unencumber myself of stats and arbitrary goals, and just run for the sheer joy of it.
I’d never heard of Julie Welch until that night, but she’s now my absolute favourite “Old Lady Runner”. Striking a perfect balance of warm and cantankerous, I really want to be her when I grow up. As well as eating miles like a hungry leopard, Julie is also an author and the editor of Strider magazine (the journal of the Long Distance Walkers Association). She really is ace, and I came very close to wetting myself when she described her dislike of gyms (“full of people in twatty little shorts”).
Closing the show was Nell Frizzell, who offered an alternative viewpoint to the cliché of runners being heckled by construction workers. I sometimes get sexually harassed while out running, but only by myself. Nell also offered some brilliant fashion tips, and I don’t think I’m the only member of the audience who’ll be rocking the “child’s-underpants-waistband-as-a-headband” look this summer.
Huge thanks to everyone who came along to watch Monoblogues, and huge-er thanks to Liz & Laura for organising the whole thing (and for not beating me up over the lack of cat pictures).
1 Anyone who says they heard me mutter “I’ve earned this” as I tried, unsuccessfully, to sneak Bulgaria 2013 into my pocket is a filthy, dirty liar.
2 Not literally. That’d be horrible.
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