Fencer, you remember Max Titmuss and his charity run in a fencing uniform to raise money for Ataxia UK? And not just any run, but the Great Wall Marathon in China? With just one month to go, it's time for an update...  

Smog, Generosity and Sore Legs: Marathon Update

by Max Titmuss

One month to go. The days are getting longer and warmer in Beijing. Simultaneously I am getting to experience to mild embarrassment that comes with asking people to donate. It is hard to be subtle: “Hey! We haven’t spoken in a few years. How are you? By the way, care to donate to my charity marathon?” What can I say: it’s for a good cause! That said, it has not been necessary to prod people too much. I have been in awe of the generosity of friends and family. Every donation, large and small, means the world to me, and I have been in awe of people’s willingness to donate to what was initially just a bit of a lark. So far everyone we have raised almost £1,500: an incredible sum. This is really something I had not expected; it has left me incredibly humbled. But there is a downside. Now I have to train harder! Training for a marathon in Beijing presents its problems. Back home rain is the major cause to think twice before going outside. Here it is the pollution. Not willing to die for the cause, (I know, sorry) I only go out for runs on days when the pollution is at a reasonable level. Yet upon returning to Beijing there were two entire weeks where the pollution level was at various times ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’, ‘unhealthy’ and ‘very unhealthy’. Luckily so far since being back we have not strayed into the ‘hazardous’ zone: at this point the air becomes much like a thick pea and ham soup of particulates (please don’t breathe too deeply).

From earlier this year: just makes you want to go for a quick jog, doesn't it?

Otherwise, all seems to be going according to plan. A 16km run in my Leon Paul fencing kit raised a few eyebrows (word from the wise: if you don’t like being stared at, don’t go to China. Moreover, don’t run in public places in a fencing kit), but it did not kill me. In fact, it was a breeze. That it was probably my longest run ever yet at the same time I was appropriately dressed for the fencing salle is neither here nor there.

Feeling inspired: if 'socialism with Chinese characteristics in the modern era' doesn't make you want to run a mile (or 26), I'm not sure what will.

The training continues!   If you want to contribute to this good cause that merits more attention (don't know what ataxia is? Check out Max's first post here on our blog or the Ataxia.org homepage): you, too, can support Max in his fundraising by donating here.