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New Year, old route

January 1, 2013

View from Alexandra PalaceIn an early series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Giles announces that no self-respecting demon or vampire gets up to any hijinks on Halloween because it’s considered too tacky. Perhaps the same rule should apply to runners and New Year’s Day.

It’s the first sunny day in about a year, and since we saw in 2013 in sedate style (my girlfriend has succumbed to the cold I fought off over Christmas) I’ve woken up feeling in no way destroyed. Given that it poured down with rain overnight, so the paths are likely to be clogged with mud, I see this as an opportunity for a nice uncrowded run.

Having devised this year’s London Marathon training plan on New Year’s Eve, this is technically my first marathon-training run. As a mark of solidarity, my girlfriend has decided to subject herself to 4Music’s New Year Kardashathon (back-to-back episodes of Kim and Chloe Take New York).

‘Watching this is a post-post-ironic statement on our consumerist throw-away society and the dearth of aspirational female role models for young girls,’ she announces.

‘Okay,’ I say.

‘What is corned beef? It’s from cows raised next to corn, right?’ Asks Kim Kardashian.

I leave the house and head through Finsbury Park, up Woodland Walk, through Highgate Woods, to pick up the north leg of Woodland Walk to Alexandra Palace. As anticipated, there’s mud. Lots of mud.

And everyone in the world has had roughly the same idea as me.

Sure, there’s more than a fair smattering of New Year runners, plodding gingerly up the dirt track. There’s also dog walkers, taking cute mud-coated Scotty dogs/entertainingly coat-clad whippets/barely domesticated over-excited over-sized wolves for a stroll. And, since there’s barely been a dry day since Christmas, every kid who received a scooter or a bike is also taking their new toy out for a ride.

Despite a bit of a chilly wind, it’s still mild for the time of year and there’s something weirdly satisfying and splashing through puddles and feeling mud pellets smattering against my back. Since London is really flat, the gentle incline of the route leads to some good views and it’s a clear day so the terrace around Alexandra Palace offers a pretty impressive panorama. Spent boxes of fireworks and empty bottles of champagne litter the paths as a reminder of the previous night’s festivities.

I run to the bottom of the hill and then back up to the summit before retracing my tracks back down to Finsbury Park. Maybe it’s the New Year spirit, maybe it’s the sunshine, but two separate runners say ‘Hi’.

I arrive back home 12.5 miles later with enough streaky mud on my legs to look like I’ve had a bad spray tan.

The Kardashathon is still going on. My girlfriend looks up from the TV as I get into the house. ‘Ants are small,’ she says.

Two lessons from today:

  1. A sunny New Year’s Day means off-road paths and parks in a city are going to be congested.
  2. A Kardashathon deprives the brain of even more oxygen than a marathon.
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