In the long run
I don’t write enough about running yet of all the magnificent things I get to do every week, nothing cheers me like being on the run.
Perhaps I have been staying schtum because in both 2013 and 2014, I didn’t hit my target of 1,000 miles-a-year but I put that to rights in 2015.I was dragging the wing a bit last year as well and thought it was going to be third time unlucky. That was before I met the hard-pressing Boston police commissioner Bill Evans at the Golden Bridges conference in mid-October.
He kindly invited me out to join his morning jog at the ungodly hour of 4:45am. Which sort of got me thinking about just how mealy-mouthed were my own excuses for not putting in my weekly 20 miles. So I stepped up my pace in late October and brought in my arrears in November and December, clearing the 1,000 miles mark (with four to spare) on my 56th birthday — 31 December.
Real runners think 1,000 miles is a warm-up but for me it represents about five working weeks in 2015 spent on the move. And, indeed, my clearest thinking (admittedly, there’s not a lot of that) is done on the run but where, I hear you ask, do you get five weeks?
Probably from the time I’d spend watching TV or out carousing — certainly pubs and jogging are not good bedfellows so there’s two pluses right there.
I’m off and running this year again and have finally registered for the park runs — setting myself the target of doing all seven in Belfast between now and the SPAR Craic 10k in Belfast on St Patrick’s Day. Around 300 took part in the Queen’s Park Run on Saturday in atrocious conditions. Heroes all.
So if you’re looking for a new year’s resolution, you could do worse for mind, body and soul than putting on your gutties and taking it to the streets. I’ll see you there.
One challenge I was applying my mind to as I hobbled in with the stragglers at the Park Run in Queen’s on Saturday was how we can bring the magnificent Silent Testimony exhibition by artist Colin Davidson to our sister city of Boston. Colin is an exceptional citizen artist — a moniker applied to Robert Ballagh as well — in that he feels a duty to build community. In Silent Testimony he does that in spades by creating a powerful body of art — inspired by the victims and survivors of our conflict — which encourages healing and reflection.
The exhibition leaves the Ulster Museum for Paris next week and from then, if we can swing it to Donostia-San Sebastian, another wounded city. After that, however, it would be a tragedy if Silent Testimony went into storage. So I have Boston, certainly New York and St Louis, Missouri, in my sights.
This is a major work which can only be shown in an art gallery but there should be enough venues in North America to ensure the message of hurt and hope embodied in Silent Testimony is heard by Irish America. (Not that Colin is any stranger to North America, he will be at the Smithsonian in March to show his Brad Pitt portrait while his Angela Merkel addressed the cover of Time in December.)