Editor’s Introduction – In Praise of Clubs

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Ready, Set, Go! The start of a Summer League relay at Headstone Manor.

Why do we join running clubs? Running is a sport that you can easily do on your own with minimal equipment and online training plans, yet running clubs are enormously popular. I think a major factor in this popularity is that clubs help us take an intrinsically solitary, sometimes lonely sport, and turn it into a kind of team sport that even introverts like me can enjoy. This thought hit me on Monday night while I was participating in the foundation track session at Paddington. Running around the track with my fellow club members, not only helped me pace myself, but also created a sense of camaraderie that encouraged me to push harder.

Of course, these training and social benefits are what we expect from a club, but clubs can give much more. I have always enjoyed writing, but it wasn’t until the relaunch of Serpentimes that I began writing more regularly. Similarly, I never dreamed of organising a magazine, but with Serpentimes I’ve found a friendly environment in which to learn about editing and web publishing. When I joined the club I never would have expected that Serpentine would help me gain experience in these disciplines, but that’s exactly what I’ve found. The club has provided me with a low-pressure venue in which to foster my interests and discover new ones.

In this issue of Serpentimes you’ll find a tremendous mix of articles, including several about our beloved clubs and their benefits. First, James Brown tells us how he finally put aside his hesitations and, with the support of the club, became a certified Level 2 triathlon coach. Likewise, Josephine Wildridge writes about how a chance volunteer gig at an athletics event helped her discover a love for athletics officiating. We know a lot about our own club, but what about some of the other local clubs? James Edgar dives back into the past to uncover the origins of the clubs we compete against in the Met League. In addition to these articles you’ll find Pamela Taylor’s interview with Tamara Lopez about her post-partum running adventures, Calum Young’s ruminations on the importance of telling people about his first marathon, Charles Doxat’s memories of growing up near and running in our much-loved Royal Parks, Kirsty Mansfield’s article about her struggle with chronic pain, Kristin Duffy’s book review of The Rise of the Ultra Runners by Adharanand Finn, and my piece on the link between creativity and exercise.

As always, I want to thank everyone involved in this issue of Serpentimes. The authors get a credit at the ends of their articles, but there are many other folks who work behind the scenes to help make the magazine a reality. Let’s give a huge round of applause to the sub-editors Daisy Gladstone, Michelle Homden, Kirsty Mansfield, Kim Nicholson, Luke Parker, and Anoushka der Sarkissian. Thanks also to James Edgar for formatting the photos and Derry Lozano-Hoyland for managing the technical aspect of the site. Our marvellous illustrations are done by Grace Mackintosh Sim; please check out her website. Finally, thank you to all those who contributed photographs. They add an enormous amount to the articles.

Without further ado, I present Serpentimes Issue 9.

Diana Valk has been a card carrying Serpie since she moved to London from the U.S in 2012. When she is not running she is thinking about bioarchaeology, Spanish verb conjugation, or the next book on her reading list.