In Search of A/The Point of Life

NONDON A-Z

How trans-running was Kaidie’s sport and trans-port

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How trans-running enabled Kaidie to outwit surveillance

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How trans-running was Kaidie’s playful way to subvert the male gaze

Kaidie's Unbound Chinese Feet

My Destiny Is In My Own Feet!

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12.12.2009 – 09.09.2012, KAIDIE NONDON

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KAIDIE’S FINAL 30 DAYS: Exploring (extra-)terrestrial trails.

I did not, however, ask the Legendary Old Kings X Gentleman In White (bottom left, standing, beneath the rail sign). He could have known.

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KAIDIE’S FINAL 33 DAYS: Want to OFFER help? Come to Kings X.

Any kind person keen to offer help on how/where to find the/a Meaning of Life, come to Kings X Station today. Kaidie, adorned in bright pink and purple as Nondon Ambassador, will be waiting for YOU. Last week, these Nondon visitors tried, but Kaidie's still left clueless.

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KAIDIE’S FINAL 38 DAYS: Lost? So is Kaidie. Wayfinding with / by the Nondon Ambassador

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KAIDIE’S FINAL 42 DAYS: A ROUSING START to the Greatest Show On Earth (and the Trans-runner’s run-up beginning to her Big End)

The peasants are revolting, the world is revolving (and salutes to Sir Tim Berners-Lee).

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THE COUNTDOWN BEGINS (Day 956, or the final 44 days of Kaidie’s run for her life)

(One of, or five of) Danny Boyle’s Secrets at the 2012 Nondon Opening Ceremony, which was Spectacular for Kaidie the Spectator and Near-Spectre. With these rings of fire, the 2012 Nondon Olympics opens, and Kaidie runs towards her dead-line.

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KAIDIE’S RUNS WITH THE OLYMPIC TORCH in the RUN-UP TO THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH

Garmin GPS watch loaned to Kaidie by Urbantick; photo of Kaidie snapped by Trespasser.

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COMING SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON: NONDON 2012

Comings & goings, goings, gone: Save the surprise, says Danny Boyle. So, a pixellated prelude to Nondon 2012. What’s going to happen? (Image of the Nondon Ambassador by a [Pixellated] Trespasser)

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A Photo of the Photo-finish in fool glory, in action, in situ

Thank you for attending the Private View of The Games – Inspiring Images at Connaught Brown on the 18th July 2012, at W1H 4SD in Nondon. Pictured here is the Kaidie’s 2012 Nondon Olympics Photo Finish in its fool glory, in action, in situ. To the left of the work is that by runner-artist Jun Nguyen Hatsushiba, and to the right is that by Jamaica’s Albert Chong. Kaidie is shot here, nearly photo-finished, with the director of the gallery, Mr. Anthony Brown. Edition one is sold, with Kaidie’s broken toe nail and all, and to be displayed in the living room of the buyer soon. 4 more to go / come your way. Hurry, bye one, get one (not free)!

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FOLLOWING THE FOOTSTEPS OF WALID RAAD / THE ATLAS GROUP at the Whitechapel Gallery!

Place: Nondon. Date: 2 November 2010. Time: from 13:00hr GMT. Starting point/point of departure: Central Nondon. Loop point: Whitechapel Art Gallery. What for: To see Walid Raad's show. Route: via the City. How was it, then: Crowded. Nice Gherkin you've got. Pet peeves: 1) Shoveling past people dangling cigarettes in their fingers. 2) Women/very large people who walk slowly but occupying entire pavements 3) Women/'girls' (sic) who are in a large group but walking very slowly or giggling and chatting away in the middle of the pavement believing that they look cute and are drawing attention - indeed, from an angry runner 4) Children/babies/prams with young parents with same level of entitlement as the chatty women and fat bastards who block entire pavements and roads, as if they are the first people on earth who have given birth and hence demand special treatment and that the rest of the world have been created from playdoh. We don't blame the kids but we blame their smugly parents. GET OUT OF OUR £k*fING FACE!!!! Attire: Short-sleeved T-shirt and shorts. Temperature: 14 degrees celsius (sweaty run). Smell: Not So Terribly Good for an art gallery (or elsewhere). Quality of outward-bound run: Painful now with not one, but BOTH legs with shin splints. Could not get a comfortable gait. At least our limp is balanced now. Run back was easier and even sweatier.

On 2 November, we awoke from a 12-hour sleep (after none the previous night) to run through the City to the Whitechapel Gallery. There are many, many artists we admire (Chris Marker, Marc Chagall, AES+F, Tarkovsky, Fernando Pessoa et al). Walid Raad/Atlas Group is one of these people whose footsteps we (attempt to) follow. In a previous life we had the privilege of experiencing his performance-lecture in a workshop we attended. Already conflating fact with fiction, objectivity with subjectivity, history with memory, ‘official’ grand narratives with micronarrative in our own work, and already familiar with the genres of the essay film, performance as practitioner, lecturer and sometime writer, Raad’s performance-lecture made an impact.

At this Whitechapel show, Raad’s appropriation of museum aesthetics in a trademark clinical austerity in his approach is chillingly disturbing as it is dead funny. We particularly love the small model of a gallery which contains tiny precise replica of his work.

We realised that there was another source of chilliness, and that came from our exposed legs. Another observation: except for primary school kids, not many other gallery-goers wear shorts. Was that why we received some interesting looks from the gallery-sitters, as we did when we visited the Wolfgang Tillmans show after a 30km run in Hyde Park? Will spandex and leg warmers have saved us from the faux pas (if it was indeed one), and also help us look ‘tuned in’ onto the retro ’80s look (or at the very least, an artistically clever and ironic wink/nod, that the artistically clever and ironic art world would approve of)? As usual, suggestions and advice welcome.

The above is the GPS track of our run to the gallery and back, totaling about 8.9km. For a detailed version of this and other GPS tracks of ours in Life 1.0, look here.

Anyhow. Go run with Walid Raad. He’s not bad at all.

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No offence to all you lovely trans-dimensional running companions – virtual and real – of ours, but WE’VE DEVELOPED A FATAL ATTRACTION TO THOSE RUNNING BUDDIES WHO HAVE DROPPED DEAD, GORGEOUS.

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NONDON ON THE RUN: SUMMER 2010 #3: HYDRATED LINES OF DESIRE.

Water running in the city form their own lines of life, of thriving economic and cultural pasts and presence.  When we follow the water when we run, we superimpose yet other lines in the cityPrior to our roaring (sic) success (sic) at the Farnham Pilgrim’s Marathon in Surrey on Sunday, and prior to acquiring our ugly injuries in the final month of training, we were training hard. The map above documents our runs along the Regents Park canal (15km Kings Kross-Victoria Park and back; 20km Kings Kross to Harrow Road and back) and River Thames (30km on a Sunday morning). For the trans-dimensional runner, running is extended beyond Life 1.0, to other layers of lives, including the realms of imagination, as well as the Web 2.0 worlds. Here are a couple of maps showing our trans-dimensional desire lines. These desire lines are ours – unique and subjective. Changeable as they are, they register our marks, our presence, our existence and our being in our technologically-layered multiverse.


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TRANS-DIMENSIONAL RUNNING FOR OUR LIVES! A ROUGH GUIDE: IN THE CHAOSMOS OF OUTSIDE/IN. Or: Why running is an excellent tactic for the urban dweller.

** Breaking news: Currently #5 in the War of Films contest: CLAUDIA TOMAZ’S film about KAIDIE AND HER MEANING OF LIFE 3.0. VOTE NOW!** Vote by clicking on + sign at the top of video player. ** Don’t forget to vote for Episode 2, Run Kaidie Run, too!**

As we ran about in our neighbourhood on voting day May 2010, we found something found, and not lost. For a change. But perhaps she was unwanted, as it had been more than 2 weeks. Or perhaps she was the one who decided to leave, to have a new place to dwell.

In the physical, primary world of Life 1.0[1], running as a means of navigating the urban landscape has the clear advantage of not increasing our carbon footprints. While this single reason should be compelling enough to persuade the uninitiated, there are several more reasons  – philosophical, poetic, psychogeographical, personal and political  – why running is an excellent tactic for the urban dweller.

When we run in the city, we are able to personalise what could otherwise be an anonymous, alienating and brutal landscape. While located as an extension of the long traditions of walking (Benjamin, Debord, Richard Long, Lake District writers, Herzog et al), reality becomes more heightened for the runner (with the increased heart rate, speed, physical duress et al given the high impact activity). As an everyday (and legitimate and safe) activity, running departs from other urban tactics such as parkour, skateboarding and grafitti.

We can outrun our fears and danger when we run in the city. We could allow ourselves to be intimidated by the oppressive Barbican buildings and its heavily concrete surroundings, or, we could find our own ways around it, by running it. Running through a council estate in Peckham enables us to conquer our insecurities and paranoia, real, imagined or simply rumoured. If we have no physical advantage over another person (especially if one armed with a weapon, a hoody and ugly tracksuits, a fighter dog or ill-intent), like the Kalahari endurance hunter, we understand that we have our tenacity to rely on, that will allow us to outrun any potential matters of life and death.

Let all the 10,000[2] CCTVs in London follow our movements, for we will register as nothing more than blurs, as if in a Marinetti painting. Haussmann built broad boulevards that were not only beautiful for the flaneur (including those on hashish) to stroll on, but easier for Napoleon’s troops to run down delinquent Parisiens. We could theoretically outwit that, by running through it, as Lola did Berlin, not once but thrice, in Lola Rennt (Tom Twyer, 1998). (Indeed, Lola not only made us see different faces of Berlin, she overcame her useless lover’s problems and overturned her own fate). In precisely-built concrete jungles, the runner can find small ways to defy grand narratives, by running and discovering unknown alleyways and pockets of areas that are neglected. For tightly controlled cities that have been infamously described as having chaos is that is ‘authored’ or absurdity that is ‘willed’, running is a gesture that we can adopt as a comeback (also to the one who described it as such). If we have nowhere to run to, or to run away from, we can discover new spaces within a difficult system, to run. This is one way to ‘not let the bastards grind us down’, as the angry young Arthur reminds us in Sillitoe’s other Kitchen Sink classic, Saturday Night Sunday Morning.

Running also offers a refreshing filter for us to explore a foreign city. When we run in a new city, we interpret landmarks in ways that differ from the overexposed versions pushed forward by tourist books and postcards. Being literally and metaphorically on the ground, we can also run into places – including those that are filled with chaos and absurdity – that would otherwise be whitewashed from the glossy official or so-called authoritative versions. Exposure to the unedited and un-Photoshopped places can open our eyes, ears and minds to other, perhaps more meaningful micro-narratives than the overarching ones.

As runners, we also cease to be taken as ignorant foreigners or exotic Others who are vulnerable, helpless or simply irritating (although we now irritate in other ways, by for instance, ‘endangering the lives of other [slow] users of the pavement’, and so on). While we have previously seen how remains vital to assume the ideological position of an outsider, it is also strategic to look like a local every now and then. Other tourists or even locals ask us for directions, as if the runner has a greater authority on the given site. Indeed, we do.

Virtually anyone can run anytime, anywhere. While it remains unfathomable how the ‘female species’ are still viewed as ‘the weaker sex’ in the 21st century (this is a separate discussion that warrants another 2010,000 theses, and more, but not this one), running is a method in which the female urban dweller could subvert this tiresome outlook. While the female runner is still likely to be spectated upon, she is soon gone, away from any actual bullying that might have befallen someone in a slower mode of navigation. In return, we can enjoy a few moments of tokenistic reciprocations of taunts (after all, we have been at the receiving end from the beginning of time, since having allegedly been created from some spare rib, according to one best-selling storybook), by deliberately making eye contact with the male spectators, but swiftly sprinting off, as if saying ‘catch me if you can’. They do not, and / because they cannot, and they know it only too well. Hence, the look of impotence. A female runner navigating the big city alone can be a sign of physical and mental strength and confidence, thereby warding off any unwanted attention. Or, perhaps it is the face of intense concentration, or simply the excessive (and offensive) perspiration (and animalistic panting) of the serious female runner that desexualises her for the male spectator.

One female, foreign urban-dwelling runner is always warming up. Left: June 2010. Middle: April 2010. Right: May 2010, with our Garmin Forerunner 405 with a broken strap (due to our excessive perspiration, perhaps), here seen taped down to our wrist. We try to use brown tape instead of say, black gaffer tape, for aesthetic purposes as the former can blend in with the colour of our skin. You could not have seen the tape had we not pointed it out, could you?

Running in the city, we produce our own desire paths that subvert tracks laid out for us by the city planners. Should we have a Global Positioning System (GPS) device, we are also able to literally draw our own desire paths. In this way, we create our own unique marks in the midst of the concrete jungle. Akin to the graffiti artist’s surreptitious insignias on walls or trains (or the dog’s trail of urination in the streets), GPS drawing allow us to register our place and existence in the urban landscape. These new tracks, and indeed maps, can be shared with the online community on GPS-sharing sites[4], and further modified collaboratively[5]. From these, further mashups can be created. Like the Situationist tactic of deliberately reading a map upside down, the trans-dimensional runner can appropriate the mashups in innovative ways. In this manner, a lively Life 1.0-Life 2.0-Life 3.0 translation process is generated, all in turn allowing us to return to explore, question and understand our relationship with the city, and indeed, the builders of the city.

The glories of GPS aside, running in a city that we are unfamiliar with without a map can be liberating. Even in a city that we think we know, running without a map can open our eyes, ears and minds in new ways. In an age in which every frontier has been marked, mapped and fully known, such are small ways in which we can re-imagine and re-assess the environment that we live in, as well as its dwellers, including ourselves.

Running in the city, we can run away without physically away. Our minds travel while we remain fully embedded in the urban din. That it is neither illegal (as graffiti is), esoteric (as tai-chi is), extreme (as base jumping is, in which people jump off skyscrapers), technically-complex (as parkour is) or requiring special equipment (as nordic walking does), is the forte of running. Running is so simple as to be banal. While the likes of Roger Deakin, Byron and Martin Amis have made the activity of wild swimming sound lyrical, that it necessarily takes place outside the city, in somewhere unchartered and, indeed, wild, makes it escapist. With running, we can remain fully within a / the system. The ability to conform to a system while playfully questioning it, is an important point of the tactic of trans-dimensional running. Rather than to deny the city or reject reality, running allows us to opt in and play by the rules of the games, while slyly overturning them in personal but powerful ways. Running allows us to take ownership of a place that can be otherwise intimidating and prohibitive. By running, we see the city unpack itself in new ways that in turn also open us up.

Kaidie's desire paths for the month of May 2010.

This is an edited extract from a chapter. Where on googleearth does Kaidie do her writing (and some thinking)? Where is the place in Nondon that inspires us to generate such mindblowing, worldchanging, teethbearing words of wisdom?? To find out, read the next post!


[1] The various lives have been defined in the following ways in this thesis (as of 10 August 2010): Life 1.0 refers to the primary, physical world, ‘reality as it is’.  Life 2.0 refers to the realm of imagination, ‘reality as I like’, as well as realities made possible by Web 2.0. Life 3.0 points to our current hybrid, mixed and augmented realities made possible by Web 3.0. Life 4.0 refers to ‘Web 4.0? and other future technologically-enabled realities, as well as other cycles of our lives to come, in the form of transmigration.

[2] Justin Davenport, ‘Tens of thousands of CCTV cameras, yet 80% of crime unsolved | News’, London Evening Standard, 19 September 2007  [accessed 9 August 2010].

[4] Such as GPSies

[5] Such as open source software Qgis

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NONDON ON THE RUN: SUMMER 2010 #1. NORTH BY NORTHWEST, AND SOUTHEAST, AND SO ON. 25 July – 1 August.

** Breaking news: Currently #6 in the War of Films contest: CLAUDIA TOMAZ’S film about KAIDIE AND HER MEANING OF LIFE 3.0. VOTE NOW!** Vote by clicking on + sign at the top of screen. ** Don’t forget to vote for Episode 2, Run Kaidie Run, too!**

Restlessness is a stubborn dis-ease of ours , but if there is any season that makes one itch more than usual, it has to be Summer. As we crave for a respite from our beloved Nondon , even our loyalty for our dearest Regents Fark is wonky. The comfort of familiarity becomes repulsive. Also, only running at our favourite fark shields us from other textures, tastes and terrains.

In our continuing effort to train for our first marathon in September, as well as to find means to run away from Nondon without physically being able to do that just yet, we have been using running to explore different parts of Nondon, to see Nondon in new ways that we would not have had. And as temporary respites – quickies, if you will. In these runs, we work on distance and terrain, and put speed aside, especially since we often have to stop several times to ask for directions, or stop to read one of those map boards (or whatever they may  be called?) installed in the streets. This being Summer, we plan some of our runs heading towards lidos, and have a dip as well.

We made several trips last week, in all directions. On 25 July Sunday, we ran 20.01km along the canal heading westwards. On Monday, we did 9.01km at our usual Regents Fark. On Tuesday,  we walked 13.39km South, to the London Bridge area, to survey the space that we will exhibit in a couple of weeks. On Wednesday, we went North, running 24.06km to the rather ravishing Hampstead Heath, including a freaking %$£££^%X# freezing 1.1km swim at the Parliament Pill lido. On Friday, we ran our first ever 30km, heading westwards to and from Kew Bridge. On Sunday, we hit the canal again, this time heading towards the exotic east, but missing exactly 98% of Victoria Fark (15km).

How nice, and how different it was, and hence it was nice. We went to places that we would never have imagined to be Nondon, and ran on terrain that were different, difficult. If you would accept the argument that Nondon is generous enough a city to accomodate and indeed celebrate many variations of itself, then the existence of non-Nondons within Nondon, makes complete sense. In the same line of logic, Nondon, ie Non-London, is completely London at the same time. In Kaidie’s cosmology of the world, that ‘A’ co-exists with not-’A’  - and often in the same freaking %$£££^%X# space –  is perfectly logical. There is (some times frustratingly) no conflict.

‘Fresh sensations, new emotions, are valuable. Can we experience this in everyday life, without endless novelty, which in itself becomes pointless? […] We need that freedom’, as Jeanette Winterson says. ‘Life is too short to save for the holidays’. Indeed.

Serpentine Lido and Hampstead pond, here we come next. [Perhaps even Richmond and Tooting Bec, but we will have to budget getting there (on foot), getting back here (on foot), and having a dip (as aromatic slices of duck sandwiched in slim slices of pancake) as well. Would we have enough energy? ...] We need to plan another 5 sessions of long runs, of 30-37km each, and 1 session of 42km. Would you, my Dear Conspirators of Pleasure, have any recommendation of which way we could possibly head next? Some where not too polluted. Somewhere fresh. Somewhere that would excite us. And you, of course.

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CLOUD 9′S AND KAIDIE’S (OVERLAPPING) TRAVELOGUES

CLAUDIA TOMAZ’S TRAVELOGUE

On 15 June, Kaidie walked to Great Eastern Street to attend Bring Your Own Shorts I, organised by Christopher Birdman Dent, and had the privilege of watching filmmaker/artist/activist/writer/DJ/performance artist Claudia Tomaz’s poetically-layered film Travelogue (2008) in its entirety – sitting right next to the filmmaker! Travelogue is a beautiful 12-minute film-poem. In the place of dialogue, this is an intricate conversation, a delicate dance, between sound and images. Filmed by the filmmaker on seductive Super 8 as she journeyed from Portugal to Morocco, the film is a spellbinding. One of the most enchanting passages of the film is that of a montage of faces; the camera -and us- come face to face with the people, sometimes lingering on, other times looking away. (At this point, we think of great filmic moments that haunt: Chris Marker’s opening and closing sequences of Sans Soleil with 3 children on a road in Iceland; when the tiger speaks to the soldier in Apichatpong’s Tropical Malady, the opening dream sequence of Wild Strawberries and when fire fights rain in Mirror.)

My Dear Readers, do read about the film and watch and vote for it!

Left: frame grab from Claudia Tomaz's Travelogue, 2008. Right: Kaidie's travelogue 15 June 2010 from Kings Kross to Old Street.

KAIDIE’S TRAVELOGUE

Although we had promised Claudia to reach there early for a chat, we ended up being quite rudely late! That was because we got rather lost at the Old Street roundabout. Kaidie has a love-hate relationship with roundabouts, as she never fails to get disoriented at one, but we do love their Sisyphian loopiness (as usual). It is not as if we have never been to Great Eastern Street – but perhaps it is that we like getting lost (at the expense of our manners). This GPS track is slightly distorted, as we switched it off before we reached the venue, mistakenly believing  that we had ‘arrived’. You can look at this map, and other GPS tracks of Kaidie’s Life 1.0 travels on GPSies.

THE OVERLAPPING TRAVELOGUES OF KAIDIE AND CLAUDIA

Kaidie and Claudia Tomaz first met 5 March 2010 at the Late at Tate Britain’s Game Play, at the Blast Theory booth, but have been meeting frequently in Life 2.0. Multi-hyphenate Claudia has a wide body of works that look at technology, landscape, the city and most of all the people in them, in a manner that is sensitive, spirited and never distancing. Her ‘mutant paintings’, Transient Forms are most tactile. The very giving artist has contributed many times to Kaidie’s running blog, and recently made not one but two films about Kaidie as part of her LONDON GROUND series. In spite of our individual paths/journeys, Claudia and Kaidie always have meeting points that are meaningful and striking. Claudia and Kaidie certainly have many common grounds of interests and have been keen running partners, and will most certainly continue to be. Run Claudia Run!

Do continue to watch and vote for the 2 films by Claudia Tomaz about Kaidie! Episode 1 (12 minutes): Kaidie talks about her endeavour. WATCH AND VOTE for KAIDIE AND THE MEANING OF LIFE 3.0 NOW! Episode 2 (10 minutes): focuses on Kaidie’s running. WATCH AND VOTE for RUN KAIDIE RUN NOW!

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GIVEN THAT THE PREVIOUS POST HAD BEEN EXCEEDINGLY VERBOSE, THIS ONE IS SILENT. KAIDIE’S ROUGH GUIDE TO THE EXOTIC FAR EAST #5: RIDLEY MARKET.

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EVERYDAY ENJOYMENT WITH SPECIAL SAUSAGES in Little Britain in 25 steps: KAIDIE’S ROUGH GUIDE TO THE EXOTIC FAR EAST #4.

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THE INVISIBLE (LAYERS OF THE) CITY: KAIDIE’S ROUGH GUIDE TO THE EXOTIC FAR EAST #3.

Erratum: ‘I was confident that I could …’ on the left hand corner here at the bottom should read ‘I was confident that I could outrun this person/any one, not because I run fast (Dear Readers, we have been there before, several times), but because I knew that if I kept going, stubbornly, silli-ly, I would, eventually. So I did.’ This sentence should alternatively say, ‘I was confident that I would not run ahead of my bloody sentences and would finish them the next time before I publish anything’. There you/I go.

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YOU ARE HERE (BUT I AM THERE). KAIDIE’S ROUGH GUIDE TO THE EXOTIC FAR EAST #2: ALONG THE CANAL.

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DALSTON-KINGSLAND: KAIDIE’S ROUGH GUIDE TO THE EXOTIC FAR EAST #1

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A ROUGH GUIDE TO REGENT’S FARK: KAIDIE’S MOOMOODYMOODMOOD MAP OF HER TYPICAL RUN AT HER FAVOURITE FARK.

You can take a look at the same route tracked sehr scientifically using GPS on my page in GPSies - albeit ending up at my local Pesco’s to buy 35 tubs of some of my favourite jellied eel. Starting from last week, however, Kaidie has upped her training to 1 more loop, in preparation for her first ever Life 1.0 marathon in September, making it a total of about 18km under 2 hours each time. More updates about the race soon! Watch this space. Don’t you dare blink.


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