I was particularly struck by one of the swimmers referring to what he referred to as a Russian concept of living water ('Zhivaya voda'), with the pools somehow infused with some of the life force of all who have swam in them before- something continually renewed by each swimmer returning to the water.
I sometimes have a similar sensation running over historic courses in the footsteps of thousands who have run them before. This is nowhere more so than on Hampstead Heath where I ran in the South of England Cross Country Championships last month. Athletics shares the sporting landscape of the Heath with swimming, with its cross country courses and of course the Highgate Harriers running track at the bottom of Parliament Hill - in recent years home to the iconic 'Night of 10,000m PBs' races.
The cross country races start by another swimming landmark on the Heath - the Parliament Fields Lido -from where so many runners have charged up to the top of the hill at the start of the National and Southern Champs. Most of the greats of English athletics have run that course, including David Bedford who incidentally features briefly in 'The Ponds' as a sometime swimmer.
|The start of the senior women's race in South of England Cross Country Championships,|
Parliament Hill, 26 January 2019
Back to Parliament Hill: South of England Cross Country Championships 2016
National Cross Country Champs, Parliament Hill 2015