During the past few years, my refuge from the hostility of today’s political environment has been sport. Not only does it lift my mood, but it seems to be the one arena of life where gaps can be bridged rather than widened. It’s funny that through sports, activities that are often designed to be competitive, pitting one person or group against another, end up helping us discover similarities and make new friends.
On a recent Wednesday night run from the Seymour Centre, I was further reminded of the importance of sport and the social connections that it encourages, by the Serpie Mental Health Champions. On the last Wednesday of every month Mental Health Champions are on hand to participate in run-and-talk, an England Athletics’ initiative that aims to encourage people to talk about mental health issues. Running and talking can help stave off mild to moderate mental health problems by easing anxiety, improving mood, lifting self-esteem, and fostering friendships. If you feel you would benefit from a run and talk with one of the Mental Health Champions, please make sure to come along to the run on the last Wednesday of the month or join the run-and-talk group on Saturday mornings.
Our 11th edition of Serpentimes contains several articles that highlight the social and mental benefits of sport. Hisayo Kawahara has curated our first Serpentimes photo essay – a wonderful piece showcasing images from the 2019 Serpie Trail Running Christmas getaway to Wales. Raul Kharbanda takes us further afield and discusses the significance of running to his life in Central Asia and Keith Evans transports us back in time to the tight-knit Serpentine running community of the year 2000. In addition to those pieces we also have Camilla Allwood’s article on tackling her first half-Ironman, Isabel Sachs’s recommendations for sport podcasts, Abu Asad’s story of taking on the two-mile Serpentine lake swim, and Kim Nicholson’s movie review of the nail-biter documentary, Free Solo.
As always, I want to thank everyone who volunteered to write, edit, and help out on this issue in numerous other ways. The authors are acknowledged at the end of their pieces, but for the others who are not, I would like to recognise them here. Thank you to our sub-editors Daisy Gladstone, Michelle Homden, Kirsty Mansfield, and Luke Parker. I am forever grateful to Anoushka der Sarkissian who in her final proofread catches all the errors I miss. Much gratitude to James Edgar for helping to format the photographs for this issue and to Derry Lozano-Hoyland who makes sure the technical aspects of the website are in tip-top shape. Special thanks in this issue to Sue Walker for her advice on our Serpentine Sentinel article. The illustrations on our articles are done by Grace Mackintosh Sim; please visit her website. Finally, thank you to all those who contributed photographs.
I now present Serpentimes Issue 11 for your reading enjoyment!
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.