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Diary of a Marathon Ape Man - Sunday/Monday 15th/16th February

Mea culpa - I admit it! This weekend, what with last minute deadlines, preparations for my departure and one of the family being ill, I'm afraid that marathon training was simply squeezed out. Instead, a marathon shop in Tesco's was the nearest I came to running, and as for cross-training, with my son Matt's help, we heaved up the surviving part of the big bush that blew over in the gales. We'd taken off most of the dead-wood (home-grown kindling) and last weekend I'd sunk a concrete post on the other side of the wall it grew against. It just needed a strong tie that wouldn't cut into the bark, and I have to say I was quite chuffed when I thought of using an old tyre off my bicycle - passed around the trunk and looped through itself, it was just long enough (with much heaving and grunting) to pass over the post et voila, one upright, if slightly unstable, tree that is already coming into bud and should recover fully (I don't know the name of this bush, but I once used a couple of trimmed branches as tomato canes, and although the tomato plants didn't do too well, the canes sprang into leaf and are now bushes in their own right!).

The other run - more of a sprint than a marathon - was between the security men at Terminal 3 who insisted on examining every obscure device in my camera-bag (it always gets them curious, with its mix of specimen tubes, survival gear and camera-kit), to Gate 18 which on the monitors was flashing 'now closing'. Dashing through airports with the somewhat weighty camera-bag over one shoulder and my briefcase in the other hand, containing a ridiculously heavy laptop and a pile of paperwork, has long been a consequence of my 'cutting it fine' approach to flights. But I do think I was less out of breath when I made it to the plane than usual. Could it be that this marathon training is beginning to work already?

Last weekend Vassili told me that the secret of running a marathon is never to get out of breath - but that is really tested when you run uphill!! A few days ago, I rang to order an Indian take-away for a family treat, only to find that they didn't deliver. Never mind, says I, it'll be good training, so I pulled on my pied trainers and bounced up the hill to the Gloucester Road. I was puffing and blowing when I got there, and so there was much hilarity when I explained I was training for the London marathon. "You'll never make it if you can't even run for a take-away," laughed the lady behind the counter. She had stacked the foil containers in a plastic mushroom tray, with nan breads and poppadums on top, and I had to run with one hand holding the tray and one stopping the light-weight poppadums from blowing away. It was dark, so I didn't notice the effect my jogging was having on the bottom layer of containers, but let's just say that by the time I arrived home it looked like I'd taken a rogan josh shower… perhaps it's true that running adds spice to your life?

The scent of street food here in Kuala Lumpur certainly adds spice to an evening stroll, but after a night spent scrunched up in the back of economy class, I didn't feel much like running. The direct Malaysian Airlines flight from London is the quickest way here, but the eight hour time difference means that you disembark feeling like you've just had breakfast, but it is already nightfall, so Monday just disappeared. There was just time to meet up with Sarah Mundy from UNEP, Nairobi and share some delicious open-air nasi goreng and fish'n'noodles (a bargain meal that cost less than £4 for two) whilst discussing the GRASP side event planned for tomorrow lunchtime at the CBD CoP7 in KL (for the uninitiated - i.e. those who speak plain English - that's the Great Ape Survival Project presentation in the margins of the Convention on Biological Diversity Seventh Conference of the Parties in Kuala Lumpur!); more on that in the next installment

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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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