My mom is a born runner. As a girl, she would take the bus to school and gaze out the window imagining herself running alongside it. She had a scrapbook stuffed full of newspaper clippings about her idols Roger Bannister, Betty Cuthbert, Diane Leather, and the like. When she grew up she continued to run even though she often endured unwanted comments and stares from people who felt running was not a lady-like pursuit. Yet she persisted; even on the hottest, coldest, rainiest days she was compelled to get out of the house and run.
Me? I’m another story. The above photo of my mom and me was taken in 1985 at one of the few races that I participated in. I had just completed a 2k fun run for kids, eking out 7th place in a field of eight in my age group. I wanted to run because my mom ran, but at the time I wasn’t very sporty, instead I preferred to play with my Transformers, read Tin Tin books, or watch T.V. I became even less active in my teens and early twenties. Sport involved levels of exertion, dedication, and competition that I wasn’t interested in and I settled into more sedentary hobbies like watching movies and knitting. But a funny thing happened in my late twenties – my mindset changed, I rediscovered running, and this time it stuck. I’m not the fastest and I can’t run the farthest, but I run and, much to my surprise, I enjoy it.
Whether you’re like my mom, born with a passion for a particular sport, or like me, a late blooming athlete, this issue of Serpentimes is full of articles that prove you can become involved in sport at any age. James Edgar explores how to encourage kids to be active, Elizabeth Ayres introduces us to the brand-new Serpentine Under-11 squad, and Coralie Frost discusses cold water swimming, an activity she has loved since childhood. For those who feel like they’re too old to try something new, you must read Miwa Tonaki’s inspiring article on her transformation from 3k jogger to Comrades 90k finisher and Alistair Metcalf’s piece on the Himalaya 100-mile stage race. Further motivation can be found in Juliet Collins’s interview with Serpie Keith Evans, who only started running seriously in his late 30s, but has now run over 200 Handicaps. In addition to those stories, we have Simon Hardy’s meditation on running and conversation, Kristin Duffy’s lament on blisters, Daisy Gladstone’s interview with the new Chair Lan O’Connor, Coralie Frost’s Desert Island Races, and my piece on the search for running at the British Museum.
I give enormous thanks to everyone who was involved in creating Issue 8 of Serpentimes. The authors are credited at the end of their articles, but I would like to give a special mention to our sub-editors: David Campbell, Daisy Gladstone, Michelle Homden, Kirsty Mansfield, Kim Nicholson, Luke Parker, Anoushka der Sarkissian, and John Stoneman. Their help is invaluable. Thanks also to James Edgar for formatting the photos and Derry Lozano-Hoyland for managing the technical aspect of the site. Grace Mackintosh Sim creates illustrations for our articles; please check out her website. Finally, thanks, as always, to those who contributed photographs; they give colour and life to the website.
Welcome to Serpentimes Issue 8!
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.