With February well and truly underway, it is time to ‘taper’ or let the legs have a bit of a break before Running after Routlegde officially starts on Friday the 14th. Less time on the roads & trails has allowed more time for planning the finer details of the run route. I’ve also been able to spend some time retracing Katherine Routledge’s roots in Darlington and County Durham.
This week began with a trip to the Durham County Records Office, in the city of Durham itself – one simple stop up the train track from Darlington.
Local records offices are amazingly busy places: people bustling around tables with paper files and leather bound books, ordering copies and discussing their findings. I checked in, listened to all the instructions and armed with a pencil and notebook, began my search for records related to the Pease family of Darlington and specifically references to Katherine Maria Routledge (née Pease).
After a couple of hours, what I found most interesting was the diary of one of Katherine’s brothers, Wilson Pease. Wilson wrote a diary for the majority of his adult life, recording amongst many things: travels to India and Europe; meetings with Quakers around England; visitors to his residences in Darlington; and aspects of daily family life in a wealthy Quaker household. Wilson’s original diary has been transcribed, but I did view the original, which is in excellent condition. It seems that Katherine was much loved by her family, but they often found her attitude to life exasperating (Katherine did not care for small talk)! Additionally Wilson’s diary is peppered with poetic quotes, lyrics and words from sermons, which gives a good insight to his personality but in reality Wilson was the noble, grounding force for the family who were often concerned about Katherine whilst she was away at sea.
Overall the day in the records office renewed my sense of who Katherine was – an intelligent and bold woman, yet someone who was often troubled by the contradictory nature of life. The records have also given me a great set of references for places in and around Darlington to visit and have confirmed that the run route should end on the Hamble River, outside Southampton, at a village called Bursledon where Katherine & William Scoresby Routledge lived whilst they were planning the Easter Island Expedition.
The actual route for Running after Routledge is now online HERE, and with help from people who know England inside out, the final details are being put into place. We have been using a combination of OS and Google Maps to plan the exact pathway through England that I will be taking. It’s looking like a fairly straight shot from Darlington south to the coast – over three hundred miles – but with support from local runners, friends and family along the way – it will surely fee like less?
In the search for extra advice and information, I’ve been reading a few more great books about ultra running. One in particular has a fantastic title: “Hairy McNair’s Humongous Hobble: Land’s End to John o’Groats in 18 days.” It’s a brilliant story of what it takes to complete such a distance, over nine hundred miles – and what might sound like a crazy idea is broken down by the book into the day-by-day steps of how to keep the journey rolling. I’ve made lots of notes on factors such as nutrition, pacing, team work, and maps!
One person to take extra inspiration from is Jamie McDonald, the Brit who just ran across Canada – over 5000 miles!! Jamie made great use of social media throughout his run, using Facebook and twitter to communicate the ups and downs of his journey. Jamie hung on to his goal and arrived at the Pacific coast roughly a year on the road, raising £150,000 for the SickKids Foundation, the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity and the Pied Piper Appeal.
On a final note, if anyone was able to watch the BBC4 documentary about Rapa Nui, Easter Island last week then I’m sure you will agree it was a fascinating programme that provided a balanced outline of the island’s history. If you didn’t catch the programme and have access to the BBC’s iplayer, there are still a few days left to watch it online HERE.
With all this inspiration I’m off to work on basics such as a food shopping list ‘fit-for-an-ultra-runner’, and find a few extra pairs of shoes! My current pair of road running shoes look a bit worse for wear…