Terrified I’d be found out as a fraud, those first steps were slow and tentative. But I kept going and the city rewarded me. As my feet landed, a rush of fresh, crisp air hit my face, and a view of St Paul’s came in to sight, lit up in the night, decoupaged on the skyline in a way that makes me gasp even today.
My bravery had been rewarded, London had scooped me up and held me close as it whispered in my ear the city is yours.
Being granted the key to the city is the most magical thing. Suddenly running becomes full of promise, expectation and anticipation. You realise you can run for miles without crossing the same street twice, neighbourhoods open up and the city simultaneously shrinks and expands before your very eyes.
A canal can guide you from rough industrial heartland to genteel stucco, past giraffes and monkeys, hip cafes and bookshops on boats, all in a matter of miles. A river takes you on a loping tour through naval history, past soaring skyscrapers and seats of power before dipping in to muddy trails before your legs are worn. Where else can you go from dodging wildlife to running past Prada in a matter of miles.
Whatever your mood, the city knows which run will be the perfect antidote. No landscape remains the same and no matter how often you run the same route there’s always a moment to take and savour. It warms me to the core.
There have been so many occasions when London has been unbelievably kind to me, picking me up when I’ve fallen, holding my hand as I wobbled towards bigger and scarier challenges. The city has led me to new friends and rejuvenated connections that were nearly lost. When my breath has caught in my chest it’s given me a moment to recover, and when I’ve been too tired and stiff to run it’s carried me. It’s both my bodyguard and number one fan as I run, persuading me I can take on anything and supporting me on my journey. Without that generosity, that openness and love I wouldn’t be the runner I am today.
Thank you London.
Where else can you go from dodging wildlife to running past Prada in a matter of miles.