What is it with our writers this month? They seem to be thinking in terms of military history as much as outdoor fitness. Jonathan Manning manages to talk about the D Day landings (and the film The Longest Day) whilst Dominic Bliss tells of tales of equally extreme bravery when American troops fought to save trapped comrades in France. I thought I’d commissioned them to go cycling and walking!
So is Tony Robinson going to crop up with either Jonathan or Dominic as they make their respective forays both into France and dig up the past? Nope, but both our contributors seemed compelled to mark their pieces with the bravery of our forebears, without whom their jaunts into the outdoors would no doubt be very different.
Jonathan rides the first stage of the Tour de France over two days - “Le Grand Depart”, which is back on French soil this year and finishes at Utah Beach. His brush with WW2 happens on numerous occasions as he rides a route that saw many battles, which are still in the living memory of a few – see page 42. Meanwhile in another part of France Dominic treks 50 miles over the high Vosges and through thick forests over 48 hours, come plenty of shine, and a bit of tumultuous thunder. Perhaps it was the latter that reminded him of the crescendo and cries of battle that took place in the woods of this region again in WW2. Our man stops to learn of the tale of a very brave band of Asian US troops on his Grande Randonnée – see page 50.
In many war films there’s a heroine (real or conjured up through the minds of the directors and plot writers) well, Milly Voice is this issue’s outdoor fitness answer, as she falls in love with Manchester, The Peak District and its fells and escapes London – see page 34. It’s obviously not a matter of life and death, but Milly’s determination to seek new running pastures, certainly invigorated her life – and she recommends that you do the same.
Physical and mental strength, bravery, courage, selflessness and an unswerving determination. These are some of the qualities used to describe the brave who fought for freedom at home and abroad in our finest hour in order for us to be free. Our world of outdoor fitness requires some of the same qualities in order to succeed – although, I hasten to add, success and failure are judged on a much, much less important basis, and of course, it’s got to be fun (well, most of the time).
Damian Hall went after a FKT (Fastest Known Time) around the Isle of Wight. Mr Hall, believes he’s now in the record books – well, those that probably exist in the ether of the www – see page 38. He’s laid down a challenge for others to go out and beat. If it’s one of you reading this, do let us know. Damian will be most pleased… perhaps! (He might also argue that he went the long way round!)
Enjoy the warmer months, get out as much as you can and challenge yourself. Perhaps you’ll find yourself in some place where a momentous event from the past took place, if so reflect, pay thanks, and rejoice in the fact that you are able to now enjoy that place.