My Running Bucket List

Since writing this blog I have discovered the world of blogging in general, during my wanderings and meanderings around the blogosphere I have come across a great many ‘Bucket Lists’, I’ve even come across entire blogs dedicated to writing about each item a person completes on their stated bucket list!

For those that don’t know, Oxford Online Dictionary defines a Bucket List thusly:



“A number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime: making this trip is the first thing on my bucket list

So, it was inevitable really that I would end up compiling my own running related list. Obviously, some of the items on the list I will never in my lifetime be able to achieve – I’m just not that good enough a runner in all honesty! However, it was fun to compile a list of both dreams and things that could actually become a reality.

Without further ado, I give you in no particular order, ‘My Running Bucket List’:

1. Compete for England at the Commonwealth Games or for Great Britain at an international or European level. (Saying that, I’m no Nationalist, so if any other nation offered the chance to compete at such a level I’d more than likely jump at the chance!)

I like to think that in some way this dream could one day become a reality. Team GB didn’t even send a Men’s squad to the 2012 Half Marathon Championships so who knows, with enough hard work, grit and determination I might make a provisional selectors list one day. As for the Commonwealth Games, well, I really doubt that will ever happen – I’d have to try for a place on the Marathon squad and I’ve still yet to even run a marathon! Unless something spectacular happens and I pull something miraculous out of the bag on my debut next year I think 2014 will be forever a dream! There are other international and European competitions out there for a variety of distances and on a variety of terrains – the prospects are many, the road is long and a dream is but a dream until hard work makes it a reality!

2. Travel to Japan to experience the Japanese passion for road running, particularly the ekiden.

This one will definitely become a reality one day. It has always been my intention to see the world in fits and starts – I never understood the ‘gap year’ concept and so I’ve never really done much travelling. However, now that I’m older I would love to use my passion for running to help me get out there and see all there is to see! Japan is such a draw, their culture, traditions, cuisine – everything – is just so completely different from anything I’ve ever come across! What an experience it would be to find myself in the throng of an excited crowd, watching a race unfold but not really having an understanding of everything that is going on…

[There are a lot of things on this bucket list that involve travel, so I’m sorry if it gets tedious]

3. Meet Paula Radcliffe.

It would be an honour to meet Paula. I would love to be able to tell her how much she inspired me when I originally took up running and how much she continues to inspire me when the going gets tough during races or in training – I just think of how hard she worked through all the stresses and strains of a life pretty much dedicated to running and how much she achieved by doing so. I still open ‘My Story so Far’ every now and then just to read a few pages and for some reason her new billboard adverts I see around never fail to bring a smile to my face!

 4. Run a marathon.

I think this is on every runner’s bucket list until it’s actually been achieved. As I’ve mentioned in other posts I’m already planning on getting this done next year and I am really excited to see how I’ll go…especially as I’ve set myself the challenge on a sub-3 hour debut!

I know Toni Reavis has decried big city marathons and other road running races as ‘fund runs’ and parades but I have every intention of running as a club runner, for points if possible, and treating it exactly as it should be treated – as a race!

5. Run an ultra-marathon.

I love the ultra-running community! Granted, I’ve never run an ultra but I feel connected to the community via a network of blogs, podcasts, Twitter interactions and from interviewing Sage Canaday and Ellie Greenwood for this very blog.

It seems inevitable to me that as I get older the distances I run will become longer – that seems to have been the natural progression for most non-elite Ultra runners. The idea also excites me as a number of these non-elites appeared at Ultra races and ended up winning and finding themselves a new and exciting career opportunity! Obviously, with Ultras, there is also often the location and terrain to take into consideration – altitude, mountains, trails, woodland, rivers, lakes – all of these can be encountered during an ultra race and I for one look forward to the day I toe the line in some far off land…heck, even a not so far away land like Scotland, to witness and experience all of this for myself.

6. Win a race.

From the moment I crossed the line in my first ever race I knew that one day I wanted to win. I stepped up my training and took it far more seriously after I felt the exhilaration of crossing the line even way down the field! I’ve read so much written by professional athletes who cannot seem to adequately describe the feeling of winning but Paula Radcliffe gives it a very good go in her book ‘My Story So Far’.

There is no doubt in my mind that I’ve got a good shot at winning the Bushey Quarter Marathon, scene of my highest ever finish so far (12th with a time of 42:45) and that’s while I was a chain smoking, heavy drinking student! I am most certainly going to give it a go in 2013…and 2014…or until I actually emerge victorious!

7. Race abroad.

I feel as though I have never really traveled in my 29 years on the planet. Running has not only given me the gift of community and health but also a very good reason to travel and to finally see a bit more of the world! I would certainly like to run my debut marathon somewhere in Europe and as you will see from number 8 and 15 on this bucket list it’s not just marathons that can entice me to go farther afield!

8. Race the Fifth Avenue Mile.

The mile, what a distance. What a wonderful distance indeed. I think the mile is best served by a road race and what better road surface that 5th Avenue in New York City?! I currently have a PB of 5:34 for a cross country metric mile – I’ve no idea what my road mile would be as I cannot seem to find a mile stretch of paved road that doesn’t require me to cross traffic! I would absolutely love to toe the line at this event with a clean slate for road miling – I’d love to be able to set my PB in New York City and run with some of the best milers on the planet.

9. Visit Track Town, USA.

Eugene, Oregon – the name of the place sends tingles down my spine. I’ve read so much about the maze of perfect trails surrounding and bisecting the place and I would feel honoured to spend a week or two running these very trails and attending track meets. I feel the place has got to have a touch of magic about it and I would absolutely love to try and get some time on the track during my stay – 20x400m or maybe a down the clock (from 1100m) session…it’d be even more amazing if I could toe the line for a 3000m or 5000m race too…

10. Visit Boulder, Colorado.

Much like Eugene the name of Boulder sends shivers down my spine. The idea of living, training and working in Boulder has such a pull over my dreams – I often find myself daydreaming about obtaining a green card and becoming a run bum residing in the mountains of Colorado and going on training runs with the CU Buffaloes…one can dream!

I feel it is much more likely that I will get to visit Boulder one day, hopefully for a couple of weeks. Something tells me my dream of becoming a run bum and living in the mountains around Boulder will never come to fruition due to visas and Green cards and bureaucracy and, well, life! 

11. Attend an NCAA National Cross Country Championships race.

This was going to be ‘Attend a World Cross Country Championships race’…however, it seems that if all goes to plan I’ll be in Poland next year to see the 40th World Championships contested!

As I have such an affinity with NCAA Cross Country I thought it would only be fair that attending a National Championship race had to go on this list – I’m not fussed if it’s Division I, II or III – just attending would be great! I’ve heard that US college kids certainly know how to appreciate their athletes and certainly know how to party once the competition is done! It would be an amazing experience, I’ve no doubt!

12. Coach a cross country team.

I would love to be one of the driving forces and the inspirations behind a future success story. I’d also love to be the guy who could maybe one day instill a passion for health, running, dedication, hard work and fun through running into the youth of the generation coming up behind me. I’d love to be the next Mark Wetmore, coaching the same team, made up of different runners year on year, to successes and triumphs beyond what they may have thought possible – much like the Alberto Salazar of Cross Country!

13. Run from Bekoji, Ethiopia to Iten, Kenya.

This is a rather massive undertaking! After watching ‘Town of Runners’ and reading ‘More Fire: How to run the Kenyan Way’ I was filled with a desire to visit both countries and both towns – it then struck me that it would definitely be possible to undertake a multi-stage, supported run between the town of Bekoji and then towns of Eldoret and Iten! 

There’s no doubt in my mind that I would do this to raise awareness of Shoe4Africa and other worthy causes that serve both Ethiopia and Kenya – due to the total distance of the run I feel it would be best served by taking a relay approach with a few runners, each running a certain distance on any given day. Some days the runners (my friends) would run together as a group and other days maybe they would leap frog each other to achieve that day’s desired distance goal! Anyway, as you can see, I’ve been thinking about the logistics of this one for a while and that fills me with hope that one day in the future it may actually happen!

14. Run from Melbourne, Australia to Sydney, Australia.

This idea came to me after my best friend decided to emigrate to Australia and get married to his Australian girlfriend. I’m set to be the Best Man at their wedding in November 2013 which will be happening just outside Melbourne.

I’m thinking with enough noise on Twitter and Facebook this is not an entirely impossible task to plan and execute in 12 months! I think that the trip has the potential to raise funds and awareness for the right cause too – which cause I’ve yet to decide on but I’d like my running to be able to benefit others in some way!

15. Run the Ragnar Relay Race.

I spotted this fantastic race after reading Crazy Running Girl’s (aka Lora) race report. She and her friends ran the race as part of her Hen party before getting married. It looks like such a fun race with teams covering a great distance over the Adirondacks in New York State, living out of a van along the way. 

After reading Lora’s race reports and seeing how she ended up fuelling her recovery towards the end with peanut butter and gummy bear sandwiches (?!), I felt that with my love of organisation, planning and logistical nous I would be able to make sure my team wouldn’t have to endure such crazy nutritional dilemmas! Even if it turned out my best laid plans did not quite work out I think the craziness of it all just adds to the fun and excitement of the whole event – I particularly like the idea of running a leg or two in the darkness as I love training at night and it’s rare to be able to race in the dark unless you’re running an ultra!

16. Attend an Olympic middle or long distance track Final.

I have never been to see professional athletics live and up close but after watching the Olympics unfold on television I vowed that one day I would find myself in a huge stadium with other athletics geeks, shouting encouragement to the athletes as they ran by! 

The idea of seeing the world’s best athletes competing up close and personal for the world’s most coveted prize (an Olympic Gold medal) fills me with such excitement and joie-de-vivre that I just know one day I will make this a reality! Heck, if I have to travel to some far flung destination alone to see 15 minutes of action, so be it (so be it indeed as it sounds like a fantastic excuse for a holiday)!

17. Write for a running magazine.

To freelance for a world renowned running magazine or to write an article about running for one of my favourite newspapers has only been a dream since I started writing this blog. When I was a young teenager I wanted to be a war journalist, foreign correspondent or football writer and I guess writing this blog is allowing me to live out my boyhood journalism dream in one way. It would be fantastic if one day an Editor somewhere decided to value my work enough to actually pay me for it!

I have applied for a few sub-editing, freelancing and staff writing roles with newspapers and running magazines in the not-so-distant past but so far I’ve had no luck with getting an interview. So, Editors and Publishers, if you’re out there reading this and would like to commission a grass roots opinion running column or would like to syndicate my ‘Six of the Best’ interviews then please feel free to get in touch!

18. Race at an Indoor track meet.

I have a very vague recollection of watching Indoor track on television as a child. I’m not sure if this ever actually happened…anyway, my desire to run on an Indoor track was solidified when I read ‘Once a Runner’. John L. Parker Jr.’s description of the smells, sounds and sights of an Indoor track meet for some reason really fired me up. I feel that without having had this experience at least once I’ll never feel fulfilled as a runner! I’m not sure if my Club competes at any Indoor meets but I’ll be making enquiries in the very near future – make no mistake! 

Until such a time as I find myself running on an Indoor track I’ll be trying to get tickets for the Aviva British Grand Prix that will be held at the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham on Sunday, February 16th 2013…this will also be the first time I will have seen Athletics up close and personal, indoors or out!

2 thoughts on “My Running Bucket List

    1. Al Flowers Post author

      Thanks for the comment Lora! I can’t believe it’s been two years since I wrote this!!

      Since then I’ve managed to tick off #4 by running the Pisa Marathon in December 2013 which also ticked off #7! I’ll be racing the Frankfurt Marathon in October too. I’ve also managed to tick off #5 by running the 40 mile Grim Reaper on August 1st this year – my next ultra is already lined up too, the 50 mile South Downs Way in April next year!

      I wonder whether 2015 will take anymore from the list… 😀


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