Saturday 30 March – Monday 1 April 2013

Over the past two weeks I’ve been writing a series of short stories about running, six so far with another idea scribbled down in my notepad. I don’t know whether it’s because I’ve had to dig deep to find so many stories on the same theme, or simply because of the special relationship I have with running, but the inspiration for many of the stories comes from way back.

My story about a presidential guard charged with protecting him during his runs revolves around a story about Ronald Reagan’s guards leaving the briefcase with nuclear codes in on the pavement when Reagan was shot. The case was forgotten about, left overnight and could have led to WW3 if any sassy terrorist had noticed it.

I was told this during my ‘Conflict in the International System’ course at university. The course deliberately avoided either being a ‘Peace Studies’ or a ‘War Studies’ course and my lecturer enjoyed talking us through the battlefields left by the two opposing theoretical camps. Really I should have written this story twenty years ago when my imagination was first captured by the abandoned armagenon-case.

Likewise my story about the ultra, ultra runner. It dates back 22 years, to my first 10 mile run, when I chatted with a group of ultra runners (only taking part because it was organised by their local running club, 10 miles wasn’t considered a proper run and one of the men had ‘warmed up’ for the race with a 15 mile run just to make it interesting). Half the group were injured and not taking part, two of them were on crutches from running injuries, one was still limping from a similar injury. Of the four who were running, one had just returned to running after a two year break after a (you guessed it) running injury. The other three had all sustained injuries in their time. They were all mid-30s.

And the story about the runner with parkinson’s dates back a few years to my time at Parkinson’s UK. Our magazine featured a man who’d come third in an all-Ireland dancing contest. He could dance, even though he could barely walk and was in a wheelchair when he wasn’t dancing. I remember thinking ‘it’s lucky he’s in Ireland, he’d lose his benefits if he lived here’.