Well, that was certainly an adventure! 191 miles running from Bosworth battle ground, near Leicester to Westminster Abbey in London bringing Tudor history to life. My run started and finished at the locations that the Tudor monarchy began and ended. If you have told me I’d have done that at the beginning of the year I’d have said you were crazy!
You see, I’m not a runner, but I want to be. I want that freedom to just set off on foot, that speed of travel and the fitness to leisurely go places. Before this run, I’d only ever run one half marathon before and that was over a year ago! I’m so injury prone and afraid of injury which has always held me back. Plus I just never believed I was any good at running and always found it really tough.
Enough with the excuses. I wanted to see more of the country I live in, learn about its history, get outside and get fit in the process. Setting myself a challenge such as this also meant that I couldn't back out and was going to run whether I liked it or not.
The Tudors, King Henry VIII and all his wives he divorced or beheaded is legend. I wanted to show people how much of what they learnt about at school in textbooks is actually still there to go and see. I want to make history lessons more interactive by taking you to the locations where the events took place.
The living history society in all their medieval battle attire saw me off on day one from the location of the battle of Bosworth. I ran off down the hill in high spirits only to have to stop 50 meters later after my over filled back pack ruptured and spewed out its contents all over the grass, much to the spectators amusement.
For the first 3 days storm Katie wouldn't leave me alone and it was ridiculously hilly. I was freezing and soaked through everyday. So much so that my feet were stained a grey/black colour from the dye in my trainers and socks. I was very appreciative of my friends granny who lent me her cosy slippers to warm my feet up after one such afternoon.
On the morning of Easter Monday, day 2, when it snowed for 2 hours and then rained heavily I have never been so cold in all my life, and I’ve been in the arctic at minus 35 degrees! The wind was so strong it was literally blowing me over. I couldn't breathe never mind run and was afraid of being blown into the traffic on the little country roads.
Running along the Grand Union canal was bliss. The sun came out, it was peaceful but best of all I could just lose myself in my thoughts and run without having to stop all the time to navigate and think about finding hidden places for a wee.
The glamour of adventure continued as I crossed over the M1 motorway twice and even stayed in the Days Inn hotel at the M1 Watford gap service station. The days soaked though and cold must have got to me as on day 4 I woke up with a chest infection and green gunk coming out of every hole in my face. I felt awful but continued with the very snotty run. Day 5 wasn't much fun. I was reduced to walking the 16 miles along the nosy polluted A5 to Dunstable as I felt so unwell. I was desperate not to pull out and therefore continued and powered through by eating a whole bag of jelly babies. It was either them or the 4 ibroprofen I had taken in the last 48 hours for a sore knee which probably gave me a dodgy stomach. That lasted 3 days.
I crossed inside of the M25 and made it to Hatfield house, former childhood home of all Henry VIII’s children and future monarchs, plus Batman and Lara croft in the films. From here it was a lovely run through the countryside to London. London was exciting as every day there was a historic venue to tour and by night friends kindly hosted me and I’d then head back to start running where I’d finished the previous day. It was also great that a few people tracked me down via social media to come and run with me, even strangers!
My best day had to be the penultimate day running with friends from Greenwich to the Tower of London followed by a pub lunch and tour of the Tower. Everyone was chatting to people they'd just met and the history geekiness was enjoyed by everyone.
Upon completing the run the same realisation occurred to me once I’d finished as always seems to happen on the big challenges I do; I am far more physically and mentally capable than I think I am, I always surprise myself. I wanted to challenge myself but also enjoy the run, this wasn't about busting a gut and falling over the finish line every day. This had to be sustainable for 2 weeks, but it wasn't just about the running, it was about learning Tudor history and about the venues I was visiting too. From a running perspective, this challenge has cemented the importance of stretching, its vital!! I regretting not stretching and was hobbling around on the days I didn’t stretch and felt fine on those when I did.
Overall, I loved most of it and quickly settled into the routine of route planning, running, stretching and resting. I’m so glad I did this as it has motivated me to run more and given me the belief that I can push myself and be a better runner. I can’t wait to get out there running again and really enjoyed my “beat the bus” running commutes whilst training which I will definitely continue.
Favorite fact learnt:
King Richard III remains were identified by tracking down his 17th and 19th decedents from his sister and obtaining DNA samples. Imagine someone knocking on your door tomorrow to tell you that, had the battle have not been lost by King Richard you could currently be sat on the British throne!
Group Tower of London run and tour - Exercise is always more fun with friends!
List of venues I ran to: Bosworth battle ground, King Richard III visitors centre, Hatfield house, Windsor castle, Hampton court Palace, Greenwich, Tower of london, Banqueting house, St James Palace, Westminster Abbey.
Map of my run: