For the Love of Sport

We’re suffering from an Olympics hangover. Grasping for the remote, hoping to quench our thirst with one more early morning edition of Good Morning Rio, before stumbling back to bed to nurse our lethargy.

Our addiction has not come from an athletic back-story. Sure I’ve lumbered through a few marathons and Pete’s knocked out more than respectable 10k and sprint triathlon times, but to be honest our greatest skill is in the viewing. Pete recalls his childhood, weeping with disappointment when the Olympic flame was quenched. This time around we’ve been able to enjoy the games with the girls. Sophie calls young pole-vaulter Eliza McCartney “my girl” and Ruby has found a new idol in gymnast Simone Biles.

So what does this mean for our sabbatical?

Pete’s helped to build a stadium or two in his time. So visiting a sporting arena of any sort is to him, a cultural delight. Getting along to musicals in London’s West End will certainly be my thing alone. Inspired by Rio, our ruminating over our trip has suddenly become peppered with plans to witness sporting events; watching cycling at London’s velodromes, gasping salty air while enjoying the sailing on Britain’s south coast, or seeing our kiwi athletes in their usual habitats, competing in the European sporting circuit.

We also plan to thread our family’s joy of participating in sport throughout our trip. Park Run is a weekly timed event, run at 8am every Saturday across the globe. The girls like to join us as intermittent participants in this event at our local park. We intend to make Park Run our currency in different locations on our trip; the Ashton Memorial in Lancaster, Porthleven in southwest Cornwall, or the event in the French wine region of Bordeaux are all beckoning.

Another beacon on our travel itinerary is the Dallam Running Club, established in part by Pete’s father over 30 years ago. They meet every Wednesday night and run the stoned-walled hills and valleys that make up the fells of South Cumbria and North Lancashire. In summer they clamber over those walls, watching for mother ewes protecting their young lambs. In winter they run with head torches, clad in thermal material from head to toe, sometimes leaving tracks in the snow. Each week a different area will host the run at their local pub, coupling the two hours of exercise with a tar thick pint of frothy topped beer. Those old taverns, with their colourful bunting slung across dark timber walls and cosy low ceilings, are the perfect setting to immerse yourself in northern England.

It’s amazing how connections to sport can become such an important part of living. I feel transported already.


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