I live in a fairly dull place when it comes to finding somewhere to run. When I step out of my front door, the nearby options range from “some pavements near houses” to “some pavements near an industrial estate” with a dash of “nondescript field” thrown in for when I’m feeling adventurous. I always feel a pang of envy when I flick through a magazine and see a two-page photo of some lucky bastard running through the rawness of nature, dwarfed by the majestic hills and trails at the bottom of his garden. There’s usually a little text box in the corner, smugly informing me that “Tim, 43, has been living here all his life and has never run the same route twice. He’ll often stop mid-run to drink cool refreshing water from a crystal-clear stream, and his best friend is a f%*£ng hawk or something”.
I don’t hate Tim, I’m just very very jealous. I know that these sort of places exist, because I’ve seen their mighty panoramic loveliness out of aeroplane windows; but by the time I get back home, they’re so far away, they might as well be in bloody Mordor.
But while I bemoan the fact that there’s never anything nice to look at on my runs, I have to remind myself that sight is just one of my five senses1. And then I smile, because Tim would weep all over his f%*£ng hawk if he could smell the things I smell when I run.
That last sentence was a bit weird wasn’t it?
I live in the town where they make a popular biscuit-shaped breakfast product. I won’t use the word “Weetabix” because I don’t want this to sound like a big advert for Weetabix. I’ve grown up here, and although the stuff tastes okay in a take-it-or-leave-it sort of way, the smell from the factory has a life of it’s own.
A case in point was one of my evening runs earlier this week. I hadn’t laced up my running shoes for about a week because things had been ridiculously busy at work and at home2 so I was expecting it to be a less-than-pleasant shuffle around the block. But straight away I settled into a nice steady pace, my breathing was easy, everything just felt right. The fact that my legs were on my side for once, coupled with the lovely bright moonlight and balmy conditions, meant that this had all the ingredients of a near-perfect run.
And then the smell hit me.
Normally, that last sentence would be a bad thing, for instance if your run took you past a sewage plant or an axe-murderers house. But this was a good smell. The folks at the Weetabix factory must have been working extra hard that night, because all of a sudden I found myself swimming through a sea of malty goodness. The smell always fills me with nostalgia, whisking me back to a childhood of being served up cereal with hot milk on wintery mornings before being sent out the door, wrapped up against the cold for another gruelling day working down the wheat mines3. I’ve grown up with the aroma, and it’s difficult to describe, but I like the way it just hangs in the air, completely immersive without being sickly or overwhelming. As I ran, I was reminded of the time I travelled to the land of the porridge fairies, and they made me their king. Actually, there’s a possibility that some of that may have been a dream.
I finished a nice steady six miles and got back just in time for dinner. Unfortunately, I’d inhaled around 700 calories during the run, so I wasn’t really in the mood.
Anyway, I’m going to stop writing now, because I’m painfully aware that I’m starting to sound like a Weetavangelist, which is definitely a real word. My spellchecker is an idiot.
Just to restore a bit of balance, I’ll close this post by saying: Buy Shreddies! They’re Grrrrreat!
1 Six, if you count my unerring knack of predicting how an episode Scooby Doo will end.
2 And also because laces are hard.
3 Okay, school. You lot never let me have any fun.