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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 May 2006, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
John Inverdale's Sport Relief tour
INVERDALE'S ITINARY
John Inverdale will be touring the UK for Sport Relief
Friday: Belfast
Monday: Luton Leicester Derby Nottingham Lincoln
Tuesday: Hull York Middlesbrough Newcastle
Wednesday: Glasgow Blackburn Manchester Stoke Shrewsbury
Thursday: Birmingham Worcester Gloucester Cardiff Newquay
Friday: Taunton Bristol Swindon Tunbridge Wells
John Inverdale is embarking on a one-man mission to urge the nation to sign up for the Sport Relief Mile on Saturday 15th July.

He will visit 24 BBC radio locations in just seven days - and run a mile at each of them alongside local celebrities and sporting stars.

The fun starts in Belfast on May 19 and finishes in Tunbridge Wells in Kent seven days later.

But we only want you to do one mile in one location on Saturday July 15th.

John will be keeping us posted on his progress, so check back here to read his diary.

Monday: Luton, Leicester, Derby, Nottingham, Lincoln

Good job we agreed to do this in the summer! After kicking off our Springsteenesque UK tour in the sunshine of Belfast, we've been besieged by heavy cloud and even heavier rain all day.

And a salutory less has been learned. Once a sportsman, always a sportsman.

Rammie goes the extra mile at Derby County's Pride Park
I've never run against a man dressed as a ram before, but at least I managed to win - by a short horn!

John Inverdale

Running our mile around a particularly scenic part of Nottingham, county cricketer Graeme Swann turned to the rest of us who were plodding our way through that rain, and uttered the words:

"No sprinting to the finish line OK?" He'd hardly got the sentence out, and he was gone - headed for victory, leaving the rest of us trailing in his wake.

Some people just don't get the 'it's the taking part that counts' philosophy.

In Luton, the rain didn't matter too much - we were indoors on a gym running machine - but the schoolchildren who ran with us in Leicester must have wished they'd stayed for double chemistry instead of having the morning off - it really was that miserable.

Derby provided a ray of sunshine - literally and metaphorically. I've never run against a man dressed as a ram before, but at least I managed to win - by a short horn.

but then in Lincoln, an eight year old boy overtook me ten yards from the line. The ups and downs of the long distance miler!


Tuesday: Hull, York, Middlesbrough, Newcastle

Now in marked contrast to yesterday not a single drop has fallen on the Sport Relief milers today - partly because we did some of them indoors.

The undoubted highlight was running across the Humber Bridge at 8 in the morning with Look North presenter Peter Levy.

Not a cloud in the sky, the sun sparkling on the water, and a real feeling of being alive and the genuine benefits that jogging/running can bring.

Chris Tomlinson put us all in our place in Middlesbrough by striding out to finish well clear of a bunch of rather bedraggled BBC has-beens and never-weres.

John Inverdale

We both felt so much better afterwards, and Peter, a strict sport-o-phobe, even admitted that he might be tempted to take it up on a more regular basis.

Another BBC presenter Harry Gration proved that he's still able to mix it with the best, as he stormed round the Shambles by York Minster to establish a personal best.

But British long-jump record holder Chris Tomlinson put us all in our place in Middlesbrough by striding out to finish well clear of a bunch of rather bedraggled BBC has-beens and never-weres.

John Inverdale is joined by Alison Curbishley, Chris Tomlinson and Mark Drury in Middlesbrough's Albert Park
Fun and frolics in Middlesbrough's Albert Park

One of the fun-runners who joined us on Teeside had just recovered from a three-year battle with cancer, and she has put gentle running at the heart of her rehabilitation programme.

Her red face matched her red hair at the end, but she was a ringing endorsement of how much fun running can be.

And I should mention in Newcastle that Look North presenter Carol Malia managed to run her mile on a treadmill in reception without a single bead of sweat appearing on her forehead. Ice-cool on and off screen.


Wednesday: Glasgow, Blackburn, Manchester, Stoke, Shrewsbury

You never know when a piece of Kendal Mint Cake is going to come in handy.

Maybe it was just that middle-of-the-week feeling, but we were starting to flag a bit at the end of the third day when an injection of BBC Radio Cumbria's mint cake revitalised us as we headed into the West Midlands through the relentless rain pouring from the leaden grey skies.

The day began in the wet - with Gordon Smith of 1983 FA Cup final fame leaving us all for dead as he set off around the streets of Glasgow at breakneck speed - and ended in the wet, running over the oldest iron bridge in the world in the heart of Shropshire.

John Inverdale poses in Tewkesbury today with John Rockley from BBC Radio Gloucestershire
The people of Tewkesbury get behind John Rockley from BBC Radio Gloucestershire

In between, we had the coldest mile to date - around the beautiful castle in Carlisle - and the most competitive, as various contributors and presenters on BBC Radio Lancashire tried to set PBs on a running machine in the station foyer.

When Will, one of their newsmen, ran the mile in just over 5 minutes, you feel like packing up and going home.

But you don't, because in the land of Sport Relief it really is the taking part that counts.

Although the boy who beat the field from BBC Radio Stoke and his fellow pupils from Brownhills Maths and Computing College by a street really should get into serious training - we could all be cheering him on in a few years' time.


Thursday: Birmingham, Worcester, Gloucester, Cardiff, Newquay

A day of variety if nothing else - running along a canal, a beach, a high street, a racecourse and a future Test cricket venue.

And accompanied by a pair of trainers you run past the world going about its daily business - the commuters around Birmingham's Mail Box, the staff at Worcester racecourse preparing for the next meeting.

John Inverdale is joined by an enthusiastic crowd on the beach in Newquay
John is joined by an enthusiastic crowd on the beach in Newquay

We saw shoppers in the middle of Tewkesbury, county cricketers practising in Cardiff and surfers riding the waves off Newquay.

And I suspect our night time run along the beach with the rain coming down, the mist rolling in, and the spray splashing off the sea, will be one of the enduring memories of the journey.

Surrounded by dozens of members of the Newquay Nippers Junior Surf Club we braved the elements, and at the end of it - sandy, wet and bedraggled - everyone wanted to do it again, because it was so much fun.

Sport Relief in a nutshell.


Friday: Taunton, Bristol, Swindon, Tunbridge Wells

So the trip ended in glorious sunshine in the beautiful garden setting of Tunbridge Wells running down a very steep hill and beating the Southern Counties breakfast presenter on the line. But while there has been the odd competitive edge to the races, the overwhelming mood at all 24 venues has been enjoyment and taking part.

Certainly junior cricketers at Somerset who ran round the county ground at Taunton loved every minute of it - and I even enjoyed being tripped up by a cameraman halfway round.

The treacherous car park at BBC Bristol!
The treacherous car park at BBC Bristol!

The closest any of us came to a serious accident was in the car park at BBC Bristol which rain had turned into a lethal skidpan and taking each turn at Coe-like pace tested everyone from the BBC who took part.

One of the aims of the Sport Relief mile is to get more children to run and they would certainly have enjoyed the fun and games at Swindon Town's County Ground, where Olympic athlete Katharine Merry and Commonwealth Games boxer Jamie Cox were found sadly wanting in the egg and spoon race, the sack race, and various other events reminiscent of 'It's A Knockout'.

From Cumbria to Cornwall the enthusiasm in the miles has been outstanding and we all hope that everybody who has been reading these website diaries will be pulling on their red socks on 15th July.




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