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Wild Running by Benjamin Peel

It was the poet Philip Larkin who memorably wrote, ‘Where sky and Lincolnshire and water meet’, in The Whitsun Weddings and I am fortunate to have a ruggedly beautiful coastal nature reserve on my doorstep which I never tire of running through.

In summer the North Sea, which for most of the year has a dull grey appearance, can shimmer and dazzle with a tempting cobalt blue sheen and there have been occasions where I have worn swimming shorts and plunged in for a refreshing post run dip and been able to clearly see the Norfolk coast across The Wash with an inquisitive seal sometimes popping up to say hello.

In winter, however, I have braved arctic winds blasting across the sea and occasionally been stung by swirling snow storms. The rewards of winter running though have included a rare sighting of a muntjac deer that has been startled out of the undergrowth.

The Japanese author Haruki Murakami in his book ‘What I Talk About When I Talk About Running’ writes at length about how running aids his writing and I concur with him especially with regard to it on a solitary basis. A novel or play is a journey that both characters and reader or audience go through or even perhaps endure.

The writer is the first person to plot out that journey though and in doing so faces many obstacles as will the characters. Running allows any knotty problems of construction to be put aside at the outset until a rhythm has been settled into and then almost without knowing it the mind can wander off and a solution almost magically presents itself.

Landscape plays a crucial role because running through an urban area means being too busy concentrating on traffic and pedestrians but being able to traverse an area which only requires an awareness of rabbit holes and often barely seeing another person means I will always be grateful for being able to step straight out into this wide skied vista.

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