Book review: Running Blind, An Alternative View of the London Marathon by Simon Webb

I’ve been a member of GoodGym (since August 2017. It's a charity that helps you to get active while helping out in your local community. I’m a big fan and have genuinely got more out of the volunteering than I have put in. One of the great things that GoodGym has led me to is guide running, in my case, organised by the charity Achilles International. This is where you run with a visually impaired person, in training and perhaps also over a Parkrun or in races. I have also run over 25 marathons around the world on my own, including the London Marathon three times (one of which was a GoodGym place). Hence, one Christmas, I received the gift of Running Blind by Simon Webb from my daughter’s boyfriend (clever chap!).

The book is actually mostly about the history of the people, communities and buildings you will find along the route of the London Marathon. The story-telling and research here was of great interest to me - I love London and it’s constantly changing ways. There’s also a fair sprinkling of dad jokes. How welcome this is I guess depends on your point of view (and age!), but I chuckled along at various points.

The history covered in the book goes back hundreds of years, as you might expect for a city like London. I related to lots of the 70s and 80s cultural references, in particular, though. For instance, tales of the Deptford music scene, including Bobby Valentino. I have had the pleasure of meeting Bobby several times when I introduced Phil Odgers of The Men They Couldn’t Hang fame on stage at my local music festival, the Hanwell Hootie, when they played there together - some good nights were had.

And, do you know how the Kings Road got its name? Look it up, it’s a good one.

I also loved the quote about not being able to be a proper Londoner until you’ve run ithe London Marathon. I wonder what Robert Elms of BBC Radio London would think of that? I’m a huge fan of his show which is all about London but I’m guessing he’d respect that view, whilst disagreeing from a personal perspective!

Simon is a visually impaired runner and I’ve left mention of this til later on in my review. He talks about this off and on in the book, whilst not making it a central theme. I think the book is about a love of London and its people. And I'm with Simon 100% on that. Perhaps there are other books out there that focus on the experience of visually impaired runners (please suggest any you would recommend). Running Blind is a really good read for anyone who loves London and its amazing marathon.

28 February 2022