London 2012 Anniversary Run – supporting RLSB

Burning off the lardbutties at the QEII Olympic Park

As the anniversary of the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games approaches, I’m reminded that this time last year, I was one of the many apprehensive Londoners/Brits who thought the Games would bring chaos to the capital (though I tweeted that I was looking forward to London 2012 back in 2008 on the closing of the Beijing games). I’m so glad I was wrong about the chaos.

Any concerns I’d initially had, evaporated on watching Danny Boyle’s wacky Opening Ceremony on Friday 27th July 2012. I was immediately hooked. Cynics all over the UK heaved a collective sigh of relief – it was going to be amazing. And in a bonkers British kind of way.

From there on in, I couldn’t get enough of the Games – totally addicted to TV coverage, iphone app updates and going to whatever live events I could (in streets, in parks, in squares, in shops, at BT London LiveExCel, and the Olympic Stadium) right through to the ‘Greatest Team’ parade on Monday 10th September (all compiled in this YouTube Olympics + Paralympics 2012 playlist).

There was no ‘chaos’. Just six weeks of unblemished, festive atmosphere created by excitable, friendly, chatty folk – friends and strangers alike.

While I was gripped by the Olympics, the Paralympics really was the main event for me. This advertising campaign succinctly said it all:

Thanks for the warm-up to the Paralympic Games

Paralympic athletics just blew me away, particularly F11 (blind) & 12 (visually impaired) long jump. From my own school days I remember how difficult the long jump was – the fear and anticipation of flinging yourself forwards as far as you possibly could into a sandpit only to get sand stuck in your clothes and shoes and everywhere. I can’t begin to imagine the challenges of doing that without, or with limited, sight.

Then again, it’s hard to imagine doing any sports, or most things actually, without being able to see.

Oksana Zubkovska (Ukraine), F11/12 VI Women’s Long Jump gold medallist

This Sunday, 21st July 2013, the National Lottery (a sponsor of the 2012 Games) is organising an anniversary run – a 5mile (8k) course around the re-developed Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. And I’ve been lucky enough to get a place through the ballot (green wave, no. 8601).

So ten months on, I can’t wait to go back and see the Olympic Park & Stadium. But more importantly, I want to do this anniversary run for a charity that helps people with sensory impairment to do sports and other activities – that’s why I’ve chosen the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB) and their Great Greenwich Give campaign, which is on 24th July. Great timing.

If you’d like to help me support RLSB’s services for blind and visually impaired people (no matter how small the amount) simply text RLSB99 £2 to 70070 to donate £2 (or an amount of your choice) or visit my JustGiving page.


Why support RLSB?
RLSB exists to stop childhood blindness becoming a lifelong disability. Their amazing work includes:

1. helping young people cope with being blind and live beyond blindness through an expert blend of education, sport, creative and developmental services, delivered in local communities in London and the South East

2. pioneering projects like the Conversational Internet, a smart solution enabling visually-impaired (VI) people to interact with information on the internet benefitting VI people world over

3. providing tailored learning and development at a residential college in Kent (where the likes of Darren Leach, paralympian swimmer, studied), and – in 2013 – expanding services to support VI people to live life without limits in their own communities across London…

RLSB’s ‘Great Greenwich Give‘ campaign aims to raise an ambitious £24k in 24 hours on 24th July, to continue expanding services for blind people age 0 to 90 in the Greenwich borough area. Find out more here.

Anniversary Countdown

Right now, it’s…

~ one day and 16 hours until the start of the Anniversary Run

~ eight days and three hours until the anniversary of the Opening Ceremony

And if you happened to notice the absence of LardButty blog posts last summer, my fixation with the Olympic & Paralympic Games may now go some way to explain that. But hopefully you didn’t, and were pre-occupied too. We’re London 2012 +1.

Related links:
~ My JustGiving page at

~ The Guardian’s coverage of the Paralympics 2012

~ My BackToTheStadium photos on flickr

~ RLSB’s Great Greenwich Give campaign (on Storify)

~ YouTube:Olympics + Paralympics 2012 playlist

Streb – one odd day

Surprises Streb: Human Eye grand finale

Today is One Extraordinary Day. It’s not just extraordinary, it’s really quite bizarre.

After mounting anticipation for the *secret date* to be revealed for London 2012’s Streb extreme action performances (The Guardian on daredevil dancers on Friday, The Culture Show on Streb rehearsals on Wednesday) as well as the give-away Sunday Culture Trail (London 2012 ‘explore’ listings) saying to “watch out for amazing surprises en route” on Sunday, I was at least expecting the schedule of events to be revealed – not just the date.

You know – give times and locations so that people can travel to the Thames and incorporate an event or two into their day.

But no.

On waking at 08:30am I check relevant websites and tweets for the latest info. The Surprises Streb (UK) website has now gone live and the first of seven events has been and gone… at 07.30 this morning at Millenium Bridge. Who was up and about in time to get transport into central London by 07:30 on a Sunday morning I wonder. Still, the photos look great from the comfort of my bed.

Locations and times of subsequent events are revealed about 45 minutes in advance, throughout the day, at intervals of 2.5 hours. I can only assume this is to deter people from coming to watch, to deter crowds? Even though we’ve seen significant marketing, really selling these events, including visuals of acrobats sky diving over Tower Bridge. And we’ve been told of the immense training, planning and risks required of Streb dancers. A lot of effort.

We already have plans for this afternoon so a few more performances come and go, until the evening when I’m sitting on a bus to Vauxhall. The ‘grand finale’ is announced: “a performance for daybreak – Human Eye” on the London Eye at 22:30 (daybreak?). I’m in good time to stroll along Albert Embankment. There’s a beautifully dark moody sky and the South Bank isn’t especially busy.

Location + details revealed 45 mins beforehand:

A troupe of dancers like a swarm of red ants crawl out of the Eye’s innards and spread out on every other spoke. Gliding down, moving, stretching as the Eye spins a full turn every 20 minutes.

The dancers are backlit and projected on to the huge screen that is the Shell Building. And it looks immense.

Extreme action dancers – gymnastics on the London Eye

~ Streb photos on flickr
~ Surprises Streb (UK)
~ LIFT 2012
~ Streb video-clips on YouTube

I can’t strebbing wait for one extraordinary day

But when will that day be?

If you haven’t heard already, extreme action acrobats are going to perform outdoors across London – jumping off structures, flying through the air, challenging gravity. And it’s all a big secret.

The eclectic space that is London is being put to creative use with street installations, big dance events and pop-up performances, ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games which will – inevitably – create chaos for Londoners and tourists alike trying to manoeuvre around the capital.

One of the pop-up performances is the brain-child of artist, dancer and performer Elizabeth Streb who has deservedly earned a reputation as an ‘extreme action choreographer’ in the States, with her groundbreaking performance at New York’s Whitney Museum in 2011. Other performances by her Brooklyn-based dance company include human fountain and ascension.

Pop-up performance, Streb: One Extraordinary Day

This is no ordinary dance company though – Streb is to dance what parkour is to running. Her urban troupe are known more as ‘daredevils’ than dancers: “If you want to be an action specialist,” Streb says You have to agree to get hurt!

This imagery is spectacular. You can’t fail to be impressed by the prospect of ‘extreme action’ dancers diving in the sky over Tower Bridge.

If Streb lives up to her Evil Knievel reputation and these events live up to the marketing (and if it stops raining) it’ll be awesome.

~ About Streb: Streb’s bio + achievements
~ Book by Streb: How to Become an Extreme Action Hero
~ Evening Standard article, 21 Jun 2012:
London 2012 Festival – Streb extreme action hero
~ Culture Show: See Streb dancers rehearsing in London
~ Culture Trail – Sun 15 July: Free Culture Trail with AMAZING SURPRISES
~ What is Streb extreme action? Find out about Streb extreme action

Past performances:
~ Whitney Museum Groundbreaking – May 2011
~ Streb – Ascension at Whitney Museum, Human Fountain etc (First 3 mins are the best)
~ Streb Vs Gravity
~ Streb performs Man Walking Down Building or Man Walking – with voiceover
~ Streb – Human Fountain (short)