Last week I completed the Centurion Running #onecommunity challenge of running a 50k ‘ultra’ across the week. I started referring to it as my Long Winded Ultra. I really enjoyed it and it went pretty well. However as the week went on I became more and more aware of how much privilege I have to be able to complete a challenge like this without fear of harassment, prejudice or much, much worse. Here’s how my week went.

Started things off with a socially distant 10k through woodland and parkland. At no stage did we feel that we might be asked to explain ourselves for doing a leisure activity in a park.

Christian Cooper
Harvard graduate Christian Cooper asked a white woman in Central Park to put her dog on a lead, in line with the park rules in that area. She rang the police to log a false report that she was being threatened by ‘an African American man’, complete with fake hysteria. Thank goodness Mr Cooper filmed what really happened.

Had a jaunt up and down Horsenden Hill with a bit of the canal towpath thrown in. Passed loads of different people on the towpath and at no point did any of them assume I was about to mug them.

Easy 5k in the local area to keep the legs ticking over and used my phone to record a birthday message for a friend. Noone saw me go for my phone and assume it was a gun.

Stephon Clark
Stephon Clark was shot 7 times in the back by police in California. The police said they mistook the mobile phone he was holding for a gun. 

Rest day, and I went into the office. Love how much diversity there is whenever you get the Tube into town. It makes us stronger. The only fear I saw on the Tube was fear of the virus, not fear of other people going about their daily lives.

Local 7k taking in one of the nearby parks. At one stage walked a short distance between two Staffies so I wouldn’t startle them. Again, the dog’s owners didn’t feel the need to call the police on me for doing my preferred recreational activity near their dogs.

Fast-ish 8k as a combined virtual ultra contribution and club virtual event. All the virtuals. Saw about three police cars, one with sirens going. Didn’t have to factor in the possibility that they were going to detain me and kneel on my neck for 8 minutes until I became unresponsive and died.

George Floyd
After detaining George Floyd on 25th May, a police officer knelt on his neck for 8 minutes until he died. George had begged the officer to stop repeatedly, calling for his mother and saying he couldn’t breathe. 

Final 10k of the week again through a combination of woodland, parks and road. Waited for my friend for a bit at the start and we hung about on the street chatting for a few minutes afterwards (yes, at a social distance). Nobody thought we were suspicious enough hanging about their local area and then running to either call the police, or follow us in their own car, ambush us and shoot us dead.

Ahmaud Arbery
Ahmaud Arbery was out running when a father and son living in the area decided to follow him and place him under citizen’s arrest, because they said they thought he had been inside a nearby open construction site of a new build house. They confronted him with a shotgun and Ahmaud was shot dead. 

Usually I get very angry about these overt displays of racism in private, but I don’t speak up and say much. This is mainly because I worry that I will say something too clumsily and upset people, sitting here in my white, middle class, artificial ivory tower. But at this point what could I possibly say that would be more upsetting than the sad reality? It’s vile, it’s abhorrent, it’s just so wrong. This is likely to be one of those clumsy thing to say but I genuinely find it hard to fathom people committing acts of violence against other people on the basis of race, because I just don’t understand the thought process of thinking you are better than someone else because your skin is a different colour. I don’t mean that I don’t understand that racism exists, of course I do. I just find it baffling at all levels. It makes absolutely no sense.

The ultra challenge last week was tagged #onecommunity, and I suppose that was what prompted me to want to focus on this perspective. We should be one community. We should be a community of human beings, and all human beings have the right to exist in their own daily lives. Clearly though, we are not all one community in many people’s eyes.

I am sad. I am angry. I am very aware of my own privilege. And I am going to spend more time educating myself about actual practical ways I can help.


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