The Blue Idol Runners
A Unique Group
The Blue Idol Runners are unique in being what we believe to be the first Quaker running group. We realised that despite being a small rural meeting there were those amongst us who have more in common than only being connected to the Blue Idol Meeting House.
Who are we?
We may be similar to other running groups in that we have a variety of ability, ranging from a successful Iron Man competitor, to fast and talented amateurs, to those of us who just enjoy the freedom of mind and body that running brings, regardless of speed. We are mixed gender and our ages range from 40 to early 70's. Some of us have been running for years and others began much more recently, indeed the member with the bright idea only started running in her 60's.
The thing that makes us different to other running groups is the Blue Idol Meeting House. We are all connected in some way to the Blue Idol, a small Quaker Meeting, in West Sussex, famous for its beauty and serenity as well as a connection to William Penn. Similar to our running experience we have members who have been attending Meeting for years and others who have just found Quakers. That being so we are a running group with a Quaker value base and ethos. Every member is valued and appreciated for their participation rather than speed, talent or skill as a runner, indeed the support and love we receive from our Meeting is a strong part of the identity of being a Blue Idol runner.
The Blue Idol Restoration
The restoration of the Blue Idol has had a dramatic effect on our Meeting. It meant that we had to raise a lot of money to pay for the work and we were unable to use the building for almost two years. We were concerned how this would affect us as a spiritual community. The Runners have helped in several respects.
As part of the fund raising effort the runners collected sponsorship for running in various races. We decided not to run as individuals, but as a group, each running in as many races as they were able and asking for sponsorship for the whole group. A fundamental belief of the Blue Idol Runners is that the group is stronger and more precious than the individual performance and consequently everyone is valued and welcomed regardless of times or wins.
We collected only a small percentage of the total needed, but the value to the fund raising effort was larger. It meant that we were able to “do something” as well as just asking for help. This made us feel better and also improved the fund raising credibility and visibility. Several people asked us about the Blue Idol and Quakers, and admired the fact that we were out running for the cause.
The Runners have also contributed to the community of the Meeting. Apart from the camaraderie that has developed between the Runners, there has been an impact on the other members of the Meeting. Friends have turned out to support our runs and want to know what and how we are doing. This has all helped to bind us together and maintain our friendships. It has contributed to the maintenance of our spiritual community.
The runners are: Chris Knott, Oli Knott, Lucy Ivankovic, Zeljko Ivankovic, Gillian Metheringham, Tom Clark, Richard Hewitt, Rebecca Wright.... Join us!
Here is an article recently printed in the Friend by Chris Knott:
The Journey is the Destination and not running a marathon
I was led to say those words 'The journey is the destination' in a Meeting for Worship in Wilmslow over 35 years ago. I did not know then that they were to be an important mantra for me in my life and none more so than recently. For I am the mother who did not run a marathon. This was how my son described me a few weeks ago.
So where to begin on this story about not running a marathon? An elder of our Meeting gave me an article from the Church Times entitled 'Running can seem like prayer' by Giles Fraser and said it reminded her of something I had said about running in one of our Blue Idol LM discussion groups. I had said that running was a bit like a Meeting for Worship, hard to get going, sometimes not wanting to be there but when it goes well it is like nothing else and lovely when it is over and you can talk about it over refreshments.
I retired from university life five years ago taking retirement a year early from my job as Head of School of Social Studies at the University of Chichester, a job I loved. My daughter knew I would be bored and encouraged me to become a volunteer community panel member for the Youth Offending Service in West Sussex. I loved it but was it enough? I suppose I could have done other useful things too but there was the restriction of spending most of the winter in Malaysia. Another long story which involves my son marrying a Malaysian, moving to Kuala Lumpur (KL) and having three children there. We decided to buy an apartment in KL about eight years ago and began this ebb and flow life when I retired. Health needs of my husband Steve were also a major factor and the tropical weather suits him fine and me too come to that.
So where does the running come in? Me who had never done any sport in the whole of her adult life, had given up anything sporting as soon as she could on leaving school. Again my daughter had a few years previously tried to interest me in running as she had started running but I was clear it was not for me. I suppose it was buying Steve a treadmill for his 70th birthday, nearly four years ago, which he wanted, and exercise had been advised. I thought I ought to show willing and began to use the treadmill in the UK but did not enjoy it at all, although I felt better for having a go. Steve took to it much better than me. Later that year, in KL, my son, who also runs, said 'if you don't like the treadmill, mum, why don't you run in the park? Our apartment (10th floor of 30) overlooks a lovely park which the residents can use. It used to be a golf course and has been beautifully landscaped with lakes and paths. There are wonderful old trees and new ones, flowers, birds, ducks, turtles, ants and lizards. It is quiet and private and so I thought that I would not be seen by too many folk and not look too ridiculous. The trouble with starting to run at 65 is that the wobbly bits are very wobbly. However, there are items to be bought that state that they 'eliminate bounce' which they don't really but are OK. So I began to run outdoors very slowly at first and not for too long but I loved it. I am not sure why but running in such a lovely area, on my own, in the warmth of a tropical early morning and actually being able to do it was a great feeling and recognising that my body was not so bad after all and being thankful for that.
On our return to UK I started running from our home in West Sussex. At first I only ran on pavements as I was not confident on roads or off road. I became adept at checking out runs with pavements, the longest being 9 miles from our house, there and back. Friends were concerned about my knees and falling and queried did I take a mobile with me. I didn't then but do now as I now run on roads and off road in Sussex as confidence has increased. I meet people on my runs who are always cheerful and encouraging. 'Hello Mrs Jogger' one old chap always says as he walks slowly with his dog. Another man, shouted 'are you doing a marathon?' 'I wish' I replied. He told me had done over 50 marathons and was now over 80 and he was going to Buckingham Palace. He was too, as it was in the local paper the following week and at the local fete he displayed all his medals and the charity for whom he has raised lots of cash.
I hope by now you are on my running journey with me.
Over the next three years getting fitter on the way I began to run further than my usual 5K. In 2009 with my daughter and granddaughter I ran a 'race for life'. Later in the year I ran a 10K in KL. My son was running the half marathon on a different route. Towards the end of my run I saw him in the distance and thought I would catch him up. Absolutely no chance but we found each other later. It turned out that I was first in my class of three. I don't think many older women run in Malaysia. At the end of 2009 I ran a half marathon in Singapore, raising some cash for a charity which a Quaker Friend had set up. My son ran the marathon but I did not see him on route. Again I was first in my class but this time I was the only one. He and I decided then that we would run a marathon together and found a flat course, essential for me, in Oslo, September 2010. It was not to be, however, as circumstances intervened in that my son and family returned to England to run a pub and Steve and I were full on as grandparents that whole summer, so no running.
So now we come to 2011. I began serious training in UK in March 2011, slowly, slowly lengthening the training runs, even including hills to build up strength. By September I could run 18 miles which is about what you should be doing prior to a marathon. I had registered for the December 4th Singapore marathon, again a very flat course, which begins at 5.00am to avoid the heat of the day, for some at least. Steve and I returned to KL in October and I began acclimatising as heat and humidity are high. Running in the park was mostly a pleasure but frequent stops for liquid were essential. A week before the race I was as ready as I would ever be. Nine months of preparation. On the Friday we were packing for an early start the next morning for Singapore when I could not find my passport. What ,you say, your passport? Yes it was not where I thought it should be. Steve and I turned the apartment inside out and upside down but no passport. I remembered I had taken it with me weeks earlier when I went to get a local sim card for my mobile phone. Did they give it back to me? Was it stolen when I was shopping? Had I just dropped it? Why did I not realise that it was missing? No answers but the bottom line was that I could not travel to Singapore and so I did not run the marathon. To say I was upset and disappointed is an understatement. What made it worse and then better was my son had secretly travelled to Singapore to celebrate my marathon. He came to KL and put it into perspective for me. No-one was ill, no-one had died, I had just lost my passport.
So was it all a wasted journey? No because, although it has taken me a bit to remember, 'the journey is the destination' If you don't reach the destination it does not matter, what matters is the process of the journey and I have discovered so many lovely things and people on the way. And besides there is always another race and I might yet be introduced as: my mother who ran a marathon.
Here are some photos of members running: