I have mentioned quite a few times that the Grand Union Canal is my home run. Every time I go there it feels secure, and familiar, yet at the same time there is always something new to notice. Even the name is good - the is something noble and Victorian about a Grand Union. But safety is not something that all canal runners can take for granted. A couple of months ago I noticed this story about alligator attacks in Florida, including an attack on someone running by a canal.
I know they are different types of canal but it did make me think about mild it is to run in the Home Counties. The climate is mild - you can mostly run all year round, the scenery is pleasantly undulating, people are pottering about on boats or strolling by the water. There is an air of easy contentment. However that was not my first thought. No - I immediately thought of Carl Hiassen. It could all have come from one of his novels, especially his first,
"Tourist Season" which is about a small group of terrorists who want to stop the relentless development of Miami and the destruction of the wilderness. It includes scenes of a crocodile munching on humans and also the canals.
At the same time I read about Steve Vaught a fat man who spent a year walking across America from coast to coast. He wanted to loose weight but more importantly reclaim his life(his blog is here). When reading about his story all I could think about was a novel I really enjoyed last year
I am drawn to stories about redemption through physical endeavour and a long lonely journey. By moving outside our normal range in order we see ourselves more clearly. In fiction it is easier to make a neat ending where everything becomes clear, whilst in real life it is likely to be messier, less clear. Steve Vaught was like that he did not loose as much weight as he wanted and his wife left him but he gained a number of insights and moved a long way in reshaping his nature.
I was struck by the coincidence of reading two stories where reality and fiction had become entwined.
So far I have yet to read the story of a middle aged man quietly running through the domesticated countryside of Hertfordshire, on a pleasantly warm morning, passing a few people out enjoying themselves. If there is such a story it would probably be called "Not a lot happened - but is a good way".