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London Marathon: Over £9,000 raised for South London Special League!

Our original target was £2,000 to provide weekly tennis sessions in Greenwich Park. Thanks to the phenomenal support from our family, friends, community, the Westcombe News and Blackheath and Westcombe Ward who donated £4,500, we have raised more than four times this amount.

L-R – Cath Farrant, Olwen Davies, Helen Marley-Hutchinson, Rachel-Mai-Jones, Miren Davies

Sharon Brokenshire, MBE, Director and Founder of South London Special League says the extra money will go towards new Powerchairs for Greenwich Powerchair Football Club. (GPFC):


“Greenwich Powerchair Football Club play in the  South England Region League and travel each weekend to matches. It is essential we are able to provide modern competitive equipment for our players.

The 10 Powerchairs are getting old and expensive to maintain. A new Powerchair costs over £7,000 and the Marathon money will go towards buying new Powerchairs.

Powerchair Football is a skilful, fast-moving game, enabling physically disabled players to play football at whatever level they desire – at a really competitive level, or just enjoy being part of the game. Many players prior to Powerchair Football lived solitary and isolated lives; the health and wellbeing improvements are enormous and can be seen at every game.”

A huge Thank You to everybody who supported our appeal – every penny is making a direct, positive impact on people’s lives, providing much needed opportunities for our diverse, disabled community of all ages to meet friends, get fit and have fun.

We hope to see the Powerchair team in action one weekend soon. In the meantime, there’s still time to donate to our Marathon Appeal.

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Matthew Pennycook MP for Greenwich and Woolwich, visits Greenwich PFC

Local Newspaper, Big Impact: Westcombe News’ support helps quadruple original fundraising target

Our 2021 London Marathon Appeal for South London Special League was the first story in the Westcombe News’ new Sport, Mental Health and Fitness section in September 2021 and since then, the paper has featured us each month:

We provided our Virtual Marathon route in October 2021 and the amazing fundraising result in November 2021.

The Westcombe News has a circulation of over 3,000 highly engaged local residents. It’s a local newspaper with a big impact. It helped us smash our initial South London Special League fundraising target of £2,000 and raise it to more than £9,000.

We’ll be providing regular updates of the positive impact this money is having in our local community in upcoming editions of the Westcombe News.

London Marathon 2021: Saturday August 7, 23km

Running for South London Special League

Outside the conditions were wet.

Cloudburst, torrential downpour, heavy rain, mist.

Inside my head, I was deep inside the world of provincial Russia, listening to Michael Frayn’s radio adaptation of Anton Chekov’s Wild Honey.

David Tennant stars as village schoolmaster Platonov. He’s the man who seems to have it it all. Wit, intelligence, a comfortable and respectable life, and the attentions of four beautiful women.

Platonov tells other people how to live their life. When challenged on why he hasn’t made more of his own, he replies, “I lie here like a stone and people walk into me.”

Frustrated dreams, farce, tragi-comedy, life in all its varied colours constantly intervene.

Exactly the kind of recognisable, beautiful escapism you need when the rain keeps falling and you have 23km to run before home.

London Marathon: Monday August 2 – 15km

The run where I found that elusive, mysterious link between conditions and performance.

The right weather. A warm summer sunrise, the light sprinkling the Thames with diamonds.

The right music. Mathew Herbert’s 1998 classic Around the House

The right track: In the Kitchen

The right motivation: training for the London Marathon, fundraising for local charity South London Special League.

And I’m running strong and fast and nothing can stop me. Work worries, life worries – they all fall away for a little while.

And this is why I do this, why so many of us do this, to push ourselves, to motivate each other, to give something back.

Training Block 2 has officially begun.

Saturday 7 November 2021: Running, Listening, Thinking, Understanding

Trapped under the ice, blinding white above, deep, endless, frozen dark beneath, struggling ever more weakly, knowing he is about to die, terrifed…

Understanding by Ted Chiang on BBC Sounds.

Leon finally emerges from his deep coma and the nightmares caused by the accident that almost killed him in hopsital. He’s been given a test treatment, Syndrome K. As he takes more of the drug, an unexpected side effect emerges: the startling increase in his intelligence.

Not particularly academic at school, Leon notices with astonishment how K opens up his mind and his perception. The drug makes Leon first notice and then begin to understand strange patterns, the interconnectedness of art, music, science, everything that surrounds us.

But the drug soon starts to take over and Leon becomes increasingly enmeshed inside his own consciousness, turning ever more inward while his brain searches restlessly for the ultimate Gestalt, the pattern that underpins the entire universe.

Award-winning US writer Ted Chiang’s sci-fi thriller was published in 1991 and explores with rich lyrical density, what it is like to become ever more self-aware. The sad irony: the more self aware and hyper intelligent Leon becomes, the more he’s becoming locked inside his own head, separated from the rest of humanity while seeing how connected we all are, the strands of energy that vibrate between person to person.

‘Benevolence’ muses Leon, ‘being able to bestow generosity on other people. How many emotions are required by the presence of another person….’

Leon creates his own language from all the languages of the world so he can express the inexpressible. He writes a poem ‘which is like combining Finnegan’s Wake and Pound’s Cantos…’

Ted Chang’s book is packed with rich descriptions: Leon’s search for the ultimate Gestalt and the struggle to describe what lies beyond the capabilities of human language – yet still having to use language to describe what lies beyond words and most mere mortals’ comprehension.

Gestallt – the patterns and the systems that underpin us, climb inside and understand the secret machinations of the universe…

After his third dose of K, Leon watches his mind watching itself working itself out, each time creating chemical reactions and interconnections. Leon’s watching himself watching himself fall into ever deeper understanding but the more understanding, the less that is understood as the universe expands out in a giant fractal. Soon, he’s using more of his brain than any other human in existence but his mind is getting too big for his brain, a mere piece of organic matter, to contain.

Exploring the nature of reality and existence – that life is an illusion, that life is just a dream – that the true reality is just out of reach. That to be biologically concious means we can never get to ultimate reality – our thoughts, our emotions, our attachments constantly getting in the way.’

Ladywell Fields, Saturday 7 November, 7:49am

Patterns everywhere. Life ending and beginning across the globe one second at a time. The condition inexorably changing as time moves constantly forwards one moment to the next. Steam rises from the subway, smoke curls up from the bonfire, the child laughs, the clouds chase each other across the sky.

Plane trails, leaves falling, people walking. The exhalation of my breath running on a cold Autumnal day.

The universe: zero point, one giant fractal. Half into half into half and back out again.

Further Thoughts and Reading

There was a definite mind expanding, examining theme to this weekend. The trailer at the end of Episode 3 was for The Haunting of Alma Field.

I discovered Gestalt Therapy – developed in the 1930s by Fritz Perls in Berlin: https://gestaltcentre.org.uk/what-is-gestalt/

And then explored the infinite expanding and contracting beauty of fractals:

https://fractalfoundation.org/resources/what-are-fractals/

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/fractals/set.html

My First London Marathon

26.2 cold and soggy miles, over £2,500 raised for South London Special League.

One of the most challenging things I have ever done…

I spent much of Friday afternoon staring apprehensively out of the window at the rain pouring down relentlessly. Visions of me twisting my ankle in Oxleas Woods led to a rapid rethink of my planned route. The carefully mapped out circular route via the Green Chain and Oxleas Woods seemed a wonderful idea on a crisp Autumnal day, less so during a downpour.

Just about to head out on my very first marathon…

First loop – Westcombe Park, Blackheath, Lewisham Way to Cator Park and back – 14 miles

The only other people I saw out that day were bedraggled dog walkers and other marathon runners, easily identifable even if their numbers weren’t visible under their wet weather gear by the look of stoic determination. As we passed each other, we high-fived and continued our unique journeys towards the magic 26.2 miles, step by wet and soggy step.

Second Loop – Westcombe Park, Thames Path to Rotherhithe and back – 12 miles

Final 6 miles – run a couple of steps, walk a couple of steps to a landmark a little in the distance. A car, a statue, a lampost. Wince, walk, swear, run repeat…

My neighbours saw me run out and were following me on the Virgin Marathon app. They were waiting for me to stagger back round the corner. I’d miscalculated the final 0.2 miles which meant I’d finished at the bottom of the hill instead of at the top. I very nearly flagged down a bus to take me that final bit.

Once Lockdown is over, South London Special League are going to spend the money we raised to provide tennis on Friday morning in Greenwich Park.

Sunday October 3rd 2021 will be my second London Marathon. I’ll be running once more for South London Special League, helping raise money for Friday Morning tennis in Greenwich Park. I’m looking forward to watching the sessions and the players develop over the year and will provide an update here.

Saturday 12 September – 31km

31km, 19.2 miles. My longest distance ever. I was running a steady, much slower pace than I’d originally planned; once more I found myself naturally speeding up for the final 4km and actually enjoying the run.

26.2 miles amazingly now feels achievable. I just need to figure out the final part of my route and avoid the strangely magnetic presence of the A205 South Circular when I reach Eltham…

Helen’s London Virtual Marathon Route

Greenwich  to Cator Park via the Waterline Way (Approx 7 miles).

Green Chain route to take me from Beckenham to Eltham Palace (Approx 14 miles).

The next part is still TBC as I lost the Green Chain route and ended up on the A205 South Circular for the third time. The plan on the day  is to continue on the Green Chain route  to Oxleas Wood, pick the Thames at Woolwich and loopback until I reach 26.2 miles.

Running Soundtrack

Greenwich to Beckenham: Re-listened to Duncan Marley’s Zero Point on Mixcloud.

Beckenham back to Greenwich: Change of scene via BBC Sounds. I travelled to nineteenth century Russia and a classic tale of doomed romantic love with Anna Karenina  – imagining Beckhenham Mansion (below) was the place where Count Vronksy abandons Kitty to dance with Anna for the first time…

Saturday 5 September – 27km

And welcome to my penultimate Long Run…

Where I awarded myself a Personal Best for Distance – not for time, this was one of my slowest runs ever – more like a fast walk in parts!  However, this was my first long run where not only my legs weren’t screaming at me to stop for the final 2km, but where, amazingly, I was actually picking up speed for the final few km instead of slowing right down.

So there’s a first marathon lesson – run much slower than you normally would for the first half.

Next October with one marathon under my belt, I will focus on improving my time.  This year, I’m focusing on enjoying the unique London Lockdown Marathon experience and raising money for South London Special League.

The playlist this week moved between The Prodigy Experience, Arab Strab’s Monday at the Hug and Pint and The Last Romance, Baxter Dury’s Prince of Tears and  Marhaba by Maalem Mahmoud Guinia.

The green contemplative peace of Beckenham Woods – another part of London I didn’t know existed before marathon training.

Following the Green Chain from Beckenham to the Tudor / art deco architecture fusion of Eltham Palace. 

 

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