Memories of marathon cross countries

May I say how much I agree with Sarah Hall about the people who run marathons for charity. What some of them do, without a proper athletic background, and very often in heavy, outlandish, fancy dress, is quite awesome.

Between 1943 and 1948 I attended two grammar schools which organised annual cross-country runs, in which all pupils were expected to take part, my home grammar school in East London, and Thornes House Grammar School in Wakefield, where I was an evacuee kid.

Don’t know what distance we travelled, except that it was several miles round the lakes in the local park. And we didn’t stop to feed the ducks! I wasn’t very good at it, although in the run I did at Thornes House, one lad called Baxter, and I, managed to race each other at the end to see who would be last home. I won!

I don’t know if schools go in for that sort of masochism these days, but it is worthwhile pointing out that this took place before I was 16, and when we were still on very strict food rationing.

I don’t recall anybody collapsing, it was just a bit of fun which only a very few took really seriously. Perhaps that sort of strenuous exercise might be an answer to the child obesity problems we hear so much about these days. No problem of that sort in the 40s!

Back in the 50s and 60s there was a spate of organising sponsored 25-mile walks for charity. I remember my Young Cons in Tottenham doing such a walk round the byways of Essex. Wonder what happened to that idea?


Cornmill Lane