A Marathon in Jordan

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I decided a few years ago to run a marathon each year in a country I’d not been to before. Last year took me to Greenland and a marathon on the Polar Ice Cap.

This year in September I will run the Petra Desert Marathon in +35 degrees to a height of 1,250m which is nearly the height of Ben Nevis. Several of the runners from the Greenland trip are joining me and we’ll stay on for a week camping in the desert. The excitement for me is the challenge and secondly, I’ll raise money for my favourite charity, The Eve Appeal, which researches early prevention of gynaecological cancers.

I treat every adventure as an opportunity to meet local people and get to know more about them, their culture, their likes and dislikes, their politics. As a poet I want to hear how they use language to express feelings which can add a piquancy to expression, especially in translation, and is often easier to record than you would imagine.

Take this short poem for example. It’s called Land, by the Jordanian poet, Suheir Hamad. In a few lines she captures the sweetness of her Arab lover, a challenge in every language:

 

his approach
to love he said
was that of a farmer.
most love like
hunters and like
hunters most kill
what they desire

 

he tills
soil through toes,
nose in the wet
earth, he waits,
prays to the gods
and slowly harvests
ever thankful

First published in Swindon Link