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How Many Miles in a Square Mile?

Now I know what you're all thinking: "Miles in a square mile? But that's absurd: linear and areal quantities are incommensurable!"

Well, maybe some of you are thinking that.


Ok, well for the benefit of probably nobody, I will explain that the Square Mile in question is actually the City of London, and the number of miles is how many you can run in exactly one hour. It's the first Adidas City Run of the year, and Amanda got a reduced-price entry thanks to an advance heads-up from SSP. At full price she probably wouldn't have bothered, but a bargain is a bargain.

So the idea is simple: a closed-road one-mile route starting from St Paul's Cathedral, timing mats every tenth of a mile, and you see how far you can go in an hour.

Our first sight of St Paul's as we cross Blackfriars Bridge, walking from Waterloo Station. If it wasn't a Sunday, we'd probably have hopped on the Waterloo and City Line tube, but it's not a long walk - a leisurely 20-30 minutes or so. It would be nice if it was a bit warmer though, and it's quite misty. We could use some nice photogenic blue in the sky, but we're not going to get it.

I'm sure this is new since we were last this way (which was not recently, it must be said). Many years ago, I worked just off Tottenham Court Road, where Elron's band of merry personality testers did their thing in those days, but despite often walking past them, I somehow never managed to get my personality tested. Not that I'd have time now, either, we are on a mission. Not a missionary mission, of course.

We continue on our way, not followed by men in black making it subtly obvious that they are following us.

As I'm standing near the portaloos waiting for Amanda, a voice calls "Hi Steve!". It's Dulwich Paul, who apparently also got a discount entry and wouldn't have done it otherwise. Seems he and Claire took part in the inaugural event last year, and though she's hors de combat herself right now, she had apparently suggested she might come to support. None of us have seen her, though. [Later we will find that she would have come except that: a) she hadn't had a confirmation back from Paul of which wave he was in; and b) didn't know we were going to be here at all.]

I head forwards to take up position for the start and find Sally just about where I reckon the best place for starting photos is. Great minds, eh?

Poor Anthony is in a bit of a physical state at the moment; let's hope he's back in action soon.

No more time for chatting; to work now. And she needs to hop smartly out of the way before the oncoming horde tramples her!

There she is, my very own personal oncoming horde.

The race route map as published is a bit vague, but it's happening over such a small area that it's easy enough just to walk in the right general direction until you come upon some runners. But I need to get to the other side of the road, and right now it looks like the simplest way to accomplish that is to walk back to St Paul's and go behind them.

Hmm... It's not quite iconic London scenes all the way...

The Guildhall seems to be about the only significant bit of classic ancient architecture, and unfortunately you can't get the runners' faces and the building itself at the same time.

Ok, a bit less 15th-century, this is No 1 Poultry, designed by Sir James Stirling though not completed until 1997, after his death. It's Britain's youngest listed building according to Wikipedia! (Grade II*, awarded in only 2016).

It's hard to tell people apart when they're all wearing the official shirt, but fortunately Amanda can be readily distinguished by noting that only she has the number 0762. This is easily remembered if you're a terrorist or armed insurgent, as 7.62 millimetres is the size of the ammunition for your Kalashnikov.

Paul's a bit easier, on account of the fact that he's wearing a long-sleeved blue top underneath, but even so, on a previous lap I was confused by a completely different chap with a similar overall build also wearing a blue shirt and quite close behind Amanda.

The end of the mile circuit and turnaround point is sadly not quite in the shadow of St Paul's, just a not particularly inspiring bit of street.

How did the old nursery rhyme go? "Baa baa black sheep, have you any coffee?" No, that definitely sounds wrong somehow.

And that's it, the clock strikes zero!

I've worked out that Amanda will definitely have completed seven loops and be on her eighth by the time the hooter sounds, but not exactly where she'll be, so my best bet is to wait at the finish. Wherever she is, it'll only be a matter of a few minutes to get back here.

Everyone now makes their way back towards St Paul's for medals and other goodies.

I suspect I shouldn't really be here to take this picture, but I got caught up in the throng and the marshals are not security heavies.

And since St Paul's didn't feature in the race itself, we will just have to find another excuse for a picture of Amanda against it.

Back at the race village, for reasons we never quite fully understand, the city of Portland, Oregon, is wooing potential visitors with naked cyclists. For the full lowdown, I suggest you check out

I have not brought my bike today, and it is far too cold for naked cycling if I had.

Now as we're in London, we're making it a bit of an outing so we're off to the theatre. To the Arts Theatre for "Six", which is a musical; but not as we know it, Jim. It's a kind of feminist re-working of Henry VIII's marital shenanigans for the #metoo generation, which sounds terribly worthy, but it's a riot!

This is not how Lucy Worsley dresses up as Catherine of Aragon!

Notwithstanding all the usual photography/recording/etc strictly forbidden notices, the cast positively encourage everyone to get their phones and cameras out for the final encore.

Anne Boleyn (second from right in this shot), gets Frock of the Show award from us, but it's all one hell of a Tudor/glam-rock/Spice Girls mashup. Recommended wholeheartedly (unless you like both your women and your music demure):

The show has been brought forwards from the original time so the cast can attend the Olivier Awards, where all six of them are up for a collective Best Supporting Actress. Sadly they won't win, but we think they wuz robbed :-(

Oh yes, Amanda's official classification in the results will be 7.3 miles. She finished the race most confused because her Garmin said 6.94 miles or something when she was sure she'd completed 7. That's the problem with GPS in heavily built-up areas, it really is not very accurate because the radio signals bounce off the buildings all over the place. Paul's GPS wouldn't even get a signal at all!

So I think this week we have something for everyone, even terrorists and armed insurgents.

Love to all (except terrorists and armed insurgents – unless they're brave and noble freedom fighters, of course),


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