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Diary of a Marathon Ape Man - March 14th 2004

To run, or not to run? That is the question…

For the first time in ages, I had a lie in this morning, wondering whether to try a short run or not. The torn calf muscles seem to be healing well, and although stiff and a bit uncomfortable when used, I was keen to resume training. I recalled my target, from the Flora Training Day on 1st February, was to do an 18 mile or so run by the end of March. But the memory of last weekend's pain in the leg was a strong disincentive to risk over-taxing my strained calf again.

Yesterday morning I gingerly jogged a few hundred yards to the barber's on Gloucester Road, and was encouraged because it didn't hurt as much as I'd feared. But getting the balance right between building the strength up and not straining it again is a tricky one. In the afternoon, I drove to Andover to see my father and family, and as he'd heard about the injury, he was surprised to see me able to walk in a straight line with barely a limp. The reason for the visit was to take Matt and Ben to a panto, 'The Astonishing Adventures of Bo Bo Peep', in the village hall in Abbotts Ann. If it seems odd to be taking 19 year old gap year students to a panto, I should mention that my Dad writes and produces pantos and plays, and this was one of his. Interestingly, the plot has a strong environmental theme: Bo Bo Peep's mother, Dame Trot, has a farm which is the only known source of a rare mineral - Rhubarbium Custardii - that the evil scientist, Solomon Grundy, wants to acquire, by hook or by crook, to fuel his experimental space rocket. I won't give the plot away, but being a panto, the farm is saved, Bo Bo Peep marries the Principal Boy and they all live happily ever after (or at least until the curtain call…).

In parts, the plot bears a striking resemblance to the coltan story in Rwanda and eastern D.R. Congo, where the dirt beneath people's feet was suddenly found to be highly valued for a rare heavy metal called tantalum, used in aviation alloys and the manufacture of mobile 'phones, laptops and games consoles. The difference is that here, the 'evil barons' with brief-cases full of dollars do acquire the valuable mineral but so far, very few people seem likely to live happily ever after. Unless, that is, the high tech industries that buy the coltan are prepared to invest in the region to develop an environmentally and socially responsible system of mining. The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund in London has been active in bringing together all the stakeholders in this business - from the artisanal miners to the biggest buyers, and the conservation agencies involved - to do just that; find out more at

Also at the family gathering was my brother Chris, a drummer and composer, who has become deeply involved in Rwandan music and dance. Next week, he and his musical partners Dorian Hayes and Boris Hunka, are hosting the Ballet Inganzo, a troupe of young musicians from rural Rwanda. The first Ballet Inganzo UK tour was in 2002 when, on a shoestring budget and with my elderly orange camper-van as a leaky tour-bus, they wowed audiences in schools and festivals across the south of England. Last year, Chris, Boris and Dorian travelled to Rwanda to meet the whole troupe of 28 (the budget only stretched to six and a translator on the tour). So inspired were they by the power of the music and the warmth of the welcome, they set up Inshuti-UK and applied for grants to bring the same small team over for a second tour.

For details see

The post-panto conversations went on 'til after midnight because this was the last time this group of Redmonds would be together before scattering across the globe. My Father and his wife, Pat, are off to Australia to look up long lost branches of the family there; Matt will soon head off to spend three months diving and monitoring coral reef ecology off Sabah; and Ben is heading for South Africa soon after that to work on a Zulu archaeological dig, and volunteer in a game reserve. It was well after 2.00am when we got back to Bristol, so I was doublu glad of my Sunday morning lie-in, and the chance to mull over events, but eventually the call of the marathon won and I pulled on my running gear and bouncy pied trainers. Very carefully at first, I slowly jogged down the street. Hmm, not too painful, so I headed for my office (about three quarters of a mile) and caught up with a few more emails, then gently jogged back home. OK, so it's less than a couple of miles, but given that a week ago I couldn't walk more than a few paces, it felt pretty good. But will I be able to build up to 18 miles by the end of the month? Or 26.2 miles by 18th April? This is a chance for any gambling readers to take a punt - try putting a large per-mile sum on my page - after all, I might have to drop out after the first few miles (hee hee hee!)

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Born Free is increasingly receiving donations from supporters who have run in other national races including the Great North Run, the Great South Run and the Flora Light Marathon for Women - all raising money for wildlife projects.

If you are taking part in any of these events or others no matter how big or small contact if you would like to raise funds for Born Free.


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