280. Running wild…

“Only ten minutes to go,” says Laura.  “You’re doing brilliantly.  If you’re finding it difficult, you can slow down a little.”

You know what, Laura – I really can’t. If I slow down any more, I will be running backwards. If you could really truly see me, you be much more likely to suggest, in the words of the good Doctor, that I get a shift on.

I’m on Week 9 of the Couch to 5K running programme: the last week – 30 minutes running.  Which isn’t actually 5K in my case; more like 3.5 km due to having minuscule legs.  I’m actually fairly pleased to get this far as Jellywomen definitely don’t like running.  But the fact is, it helps with the tremor: I definitely shake more on the the days when I’ve not exercised.  As fellow Parkie Nick Cole (@buzbyc) put it on Twitter this morning #exerciseismedicine (congratulations on your first 5k Nick).

The challenge now is to keep it up.  I got to this point – running for 30 minutes – once before, about five years ago, but gradually my good intentions fell by the wayside and before I knew it, I was single-handedly doing the 5K to Couch programme, which is surprisingly easy.

Some people, of course, run for the sheer fun of it and, as I was having a little procrastinate on Twitter this morning, I came across the story of one such inspirational cove.  This was shared by Scott Pack who posts under the fabulous name @meandmybigmouth. He says:

I want to tell you about a remarkable woman that you almost certainly haven’t heard of.  Her name is Florence Ilott and, in 1934, she became the first person to run across Westminster Bridge within the twelve chimes of Big Ben at noon.

As a teenager, in the early 1930s, she started working at the House of Commons. She was one of the tea room staff and lived on the premises. She cried all through her first night as the chimes of Big Ben meant she was unable to sleep.  Her roommates told her not to worry and that she’d get used to the noise in no time. Sure enough, the next evening she slept like a log and never noticed the chimes at night again.

Although the origins are unknown there was a long-standing tradition for staff at the Commons, including MPs, to occasionally attempt to run across Westminster Bridge at noon before Big Ben struck twelve.

Florence was an amateur sprinter and one of the MPs suggested she give it a go. So just before noon on April 14th 1934 she donned her running gear and awaited the first chime.


The event was recorded by reporters and photographers from the Associated Press, Daily Sketch and Evening Standard who saw her make it across the bridge by the tenth chime, becoming the first person to achieve the feat.


She had a successful career as a sprinter, particularly at the 220-yard dash. These were back in the amateur days when runners were awarded prizes such as clocks, crockery and canteens of cutlery instead of money. In later life her home was full of the prizes she had won.

Florence Ilott was born on 20th September 1913 and died on 31st May 2002, at the age of 88.  She was my grandmother.

Scott goes on to give some more details about his Nan – if you’re on Twitter, do look it up – and then he links to this fabulous bit of video which came to light recently.

Fabulous.  She’s going so fast, you can’t even see her iPod. I wonder what she was listening to – any suggestions?






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