Last week I found out that the Dutch edition of Why We Run is going to be published in September. This is exciting for lots of reasons, and Amsterdam has a special place in my heart since it was here that I met Sylvia Kristel, of the Emmanuelle films, when I published her memoir, the first book I acquired while at 4th Estate. More recently, it was in Amsterdam that I took on my first 100km ultra-marathon. 44 laps of a forest on a beautiful May afternoon.
44 laps is, well, 44 laps and by the end of it, having seen one huge tent constructed, nearly burnt down and packed up again in the space of one day, I never wanted to set foot in that forest ever again. I did though come 4th in 10:19, and got my place on the Spartathlon.
The Amsterdam Marathon is in October, so I have my fingers firmly crossed that I’ll be asked to come over and do a bit of running to promote the book. The dream though that I am holding out for, in case any French publishers are reading, is to have an excuse to come and run in France, not that one is needed, granted. I’m not talking about Paris, although the Paris Marathon is a treat. I’m talking about the 240km Canal du Midi that runs from Bordeaux to the Mediterranean. Built in the 17th Century it is Europe’s most spectacular man-made waterway. Unesco declared it both ‘one of the most remarkable feats of civil engineering in modern times’, but also ‘a work of art’.
To my shame I had never heard of it (Mrs H rolled her eyes at this), until I read Kim Willsher’s piece in The Observer about the possibility of the 42,000 trees that line the canal that are under attack from a fungus that will mean that most will be destroyed within twenty years. I am no sentimentalist, but to have lost this great wonder without having seen it with my own eyes seems like a great shame. So, this is one of the big runs for next year. A multi-stage meander from the Atlantic to the Med. It may not get into the record books, or even a French book deal, but it will certainly be more adventurous than 44 laps of a forest, even more so if Mrs H lets me bring the boy along too.