Meet the Runner

My name is Arnold Diepman. This week’s ”Meet the runner” might as well be renamed as “Meet someone who runs”. Why? You will find out.

I joined the club in August 2020. The year Covid struck. From that infamous Thursday the 12th of March I was deprived off my 31km cycle-roundtrip-commute. It took me five months to realise that the commuting kilometres not made had an inverse proportional impact on the numbers displayed by the weighing scales. So action had to be taken – leading to my only personal best in running till then: joining a running club. Not just a running club but Sportsworld. Is there another club you get to know about by just a stroll in the park?

So any personal bests since? That is easy enough to answer. As someone born with two left feet – I guess this is something nobody in the club knew about me – and no eye-ball co-ordination – a further revelation – I was not destined for sport. So I gave myself a year from joining to ready my bones, muscles and tendons for my life as a runner. As life is full of temptation, I was just over 11 months on my way when I convinced myself that I was ready for my first race: The IMRA “Djouce -The Ayling Abyss”. Is there a more scary sounding race to choose as one’s first? A long story short, this race did not crown me with my first official PB in actual running. Instead it ended with my first official DNF. With hindsight that label was a little bit harsh. I should at least have been awarded with a FWH (“Finished With Handicap”) or FDH (“Finished Despite Handicap”): After a flying start up and down the Djouce – of which the picture testifies – I was forced – due to powers beyond my control – to bum slide down the Abyss. On its floor the first aiders were pleased to confirm that they had seen worse ankle sprains. So wrapped up with ice packs – ‘cold’ enough to make a nice cup of hot tea – I soldiered on to pass the finish line well beyond the ETA and received a hero’s welcome from club members who stayed waiting. The first aiders might have seen worse sprains but had never seen a broken leg, as broken it was.

So I was back to square one. It took me well over 7 months before I was running again whilst singing along the way as that is what I do when I do not run – broken leg or not. I sing in a choir, highbrow type of music. Not necessarily everybody’s cup of tea but soul touchingly beautiful non the less. 9 months in and there is temptation again. It is early November. The weekend after the Dublin 2022 marathon: Upstairs in the Phoenix Park visitor’s centre following the Sunday long run. Club members are reminiscing about the race; lonely training sessions forgotten, pain no longer felt, a rosy picture painted and … the trap is set. That evening I set my second personal best; I entered for the Dublin marathon 2023. I got the entry and here is hope: I want to finish this race running and without handicap. Can anything go wrong in the next 7 months? Touch wood.

This is my life so far as someone who runs. I do not consider myself a runner; I do not have a favourite race distance, meal before a big race, (national/international) race and do not chase personal bests. But as someone who runs I can say that the long slow runs on Sundays with all the trimmings are most enjoyable and that I have started building up an eclectic set of spots where I have fallen, none of them being a favourite. I can truly say running is getting into my blood and is there to stay. And if there is a personal best to be set, is there a better one to aspire to then the target set by Trevor and Judith? Keep running!