Editor’s Intro – Of young energy and old times, inspirations and love, expanding boundaries and learning lessons


Kids love running. There are very few children I’ve met who won’t go haring off as soon as they have worked out what their legs are for. The photo is of me aged about three getting in to my stride, and thankfully my dad was already a runner so my initial enthusiasm had a wonderful role model to follow. By the time I was eight I was racing and by the age of twelve I had done my first 10k and my first Met League. That early start set me on the path to more running adventures, excitement and friendships than I am able to remember. So I am delighted to be able to bring you two articles on our juniors section – one written by one of our juniors, Reema Abamecha, and another with Megan Roberts bringing together stories of three mums and their sons who have run the Met League Cross-Country together.

There will be as many different inspirations for running as there are runners, but an inspirational coach can go a long way. Diana Valk interviews a leading example, Beate Vogt, who is our first “Serpie Legend” in what we hope will be a regular feature. Beate has trained many of the triathlon squads, and seen her athletes progress from novices to triathletes and then on to completing Ironman events. In that vein, we catch up with Clare Freshwater, who extends her Issue 2 journey from novice to triathlete to the impressive step to Ironman 70.3.

Turning to other really long distance events, Phil Bradburn gives us his tips from his successful completion of the “Grandslam” of four 100 mile races in a calendar year and Hisayo Kawahara was brave enough to attempt the legendary Dragon’s Back race last year that runs the entire length of Wales with an ascent equivalent to almost two Everest climbs. This is one race that despite my fell running exploits still fascinates and scares me in equal measure; sometimes you have to attempt challenges that you risk failing. Coralie Frost explores the subject of failing to finish, and how you can learn more from a bad day than you do from a hundred good days.

Returning to cross-country, Sarah Pemberton brings us tales of how San Francisco XC differs rather significantly from our own. And staying abroad, Hans Ho reports from his “Schengen Sprint” last year that took nine Serpies on a journey to run across the borders of the six countries that signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957. Whatever side of the debate you are on, the EU has shaped our club and Hans’ fun and positive response to a result he had campaigned against makes for an interesting exploration of European life at this moment in time.

We go back to another long-ago moment in time, with Kim Boursnell digging deep into the Serpentine newsletter archives from 1982 to bring us a fascinating story about the remarkable test of endurance that had to be overcome before anyone was allowed to enter the early London Marathons. The New York marathon was the inspiration for London and Sue Lambert, now in the W75 age group, tells us about her experience in what was her 65th marathon.

But where would we all be if we didn’t have volunteers to keep all our races going? George Allan responded to a club call-to-arms last year and tells us how he became a Time Lord and Kemi Yusuph reports from the amazing volunteers at our very own New Year’s Day 10k and 3k races. The article brought back memories of one of my NYD10k volunteering experiences, when Val Metcalf had explicitly asked me to pre-run the course, as a safety check, believing she could rely on me not to be too hungover. Waking up in St. Albans half an hour later than I had planned and with a horrendous headache was not part of the plan. I ran across St. Albans, took every short-cut I knew, cursed an unexpectedly closed gate, stumbled on to the train while praying my stomach contents stayed put, ran to the tube at the other end and made it to Hyde Park by the skin of my teeth. I think Val was none-the-wiser about how close I came to ruining that year’s NYD10k.…until today.

And finally, it isn’t all athletics. We all know that Serpies is half a running club and half a dating club. Kim Nicholson chats to three couples who met through Serpies and were willing to share their stories. And Kristin Duffy reviews one of the best places to catch the Serpie of your desire – the Christmas Do.

What a bumper issue. As ever I am honoured to be able to bring you the fruits of the hard work of the amazing team who have delivered Issue 5 to you. The authors all get their own credits but thank you also to our fantastic sub-editors: Kirsty Mansfield, John Stoneman, Luke Parker, Michelle Homden, Daisy Gladstone, Natalia Delfino, Anoushka der Sarkissian and Victoria Edgar. Some of the authors also sub-edit other articles for which they deserve a special thanks. Grace Sim does our illustrations; do check out her website which includes the wonderful design for the New Year’s Day 10k mug this year.

And with that I leave you to Issue 5…we all very much hope you enjoy it.

James Edgar is editor of Serpentimes, has been a member of the club for a decade and racing since he was 8 years old.