Posted by: Admin | June 15, 2012

The Saturday Interview 22 – Jim

THIS is 50(?)

Jim is a pharmacist specialising in drugs used to control heart disease. Put forward for this project by his artist daughter, he opens the door to me with the words “I don’t want my portrait taken!”

Er… ok… Bearing in mind I’ve travelled over 200 miles to Cumbria to meet with him, for once I am lost for words. It turns out that he’d got the wrong end of the stick, as it were, and thought I was doing a project on what happens in the middle aged brain – what makes some people reach for new experiences and others close down? Ok. That would be interesting, admittedly, but  I can’t pretend it’s what this project is about. We agree that I will picture him fell running, which is what he loves – no close up portraits. Except this one.

Emphatically NOT a portrait…

Sorry, Jim – couldn’t resist! I think that the good-natured ribbing he has received from his wife, Andrea – conspicuous by her absence – has given him cold feet. Not to mention the ribbing he suspects he will get from his fell-running mates when they find out about his photo session.

“The greatest fell runners are the most modest and humble people you could hope to meet,” Jim tells me as we start walking. That’s one of the reasons he loves it – the camaraderie amongst runners makes the sport a social pastime as much as a competition.

“I’m not so much interested in the competitive aspect – I do it for the personal satisfaction.”

Last year he set himself the challenge of running ” The Bob Graham” – 42 Lakeland peaks in 24 hours. This, he explains to me, is the equivalent of running to the top of Everest. “I was supported throughout by other runners in shifts, even though I picked the darkest, foggiest night I could have found. That’s what I mean about camaraderie.”

Andrea – who I meet later over lunch – and Jim decided some years ago not to make New Year resolutions, but to compile a yearbook instead. In it, they create an aide memoir of all that has happened in the family in the previous year, and decide on three challenges that will take them outside their comfort zone in the year ahead. Barely a week after we meet, they set off on this year’s major expedition, a 50th birthday gift to Jim from Andrea.

“I’d always wanted to do the Cuillin Traverse in Skye,” Jim explains, “and to do it at 50 just proves to me that age is completely irrelevant if you keep yourself well and fit.”

Given his professional area of expertise, I ask Jim for his prescription for good heart health as we age.

“Take responsibility for yourself. Don’t smoke – that’s a given. After that, the single most important thing you can do is walk – 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. We know that doing this cuts your risk of heart disease by 50%. It’s that simple. Plus moderation in everything – including moderation,” he adds with a grin.

Andrea, clearly no slouch herself in the fitness department, climbed the ridge with Jim and their guide – this is the triumphant image he posted on Facebook to celebrate the achievement:

© Jim Loudon – used with permission

I am so glad that Jim agreed to run up and down those hills for me (over and over again!) in the sunshine. His attitude to life is a simple one – enjoy it. I know he will hate me saying this, but he is a truly inspirational character, and I look forward to following his adventures in the years ahead.

You can see more photographs of our fell-running friend here. Now, where did I put those walking shoes?


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