Friday, 24 October 2014

The BMC - British Mountaineering Council's 70th anniversary

The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) has been celebrating its 70th birthday throughout 2014. The idea of an umbrella group to link disparate climbing clubs and associations was conceived by Geoffrey Winthrop-Young at the turn of the century but it wasn't until the 1940s that his idea began to receive a sympathetic hearing.

The Standing Advisory Committee on Mountaineering (SACOM) was created in 1943 and the following year Winthrop-Young, then president of The Alpine Club, was successful in bringing about a motion to create the BMC. It was formed in December 1944, in part to provide mountaineering advice to the wartime authorities.

The press - or at least the Manchester Guardian - reported the setting up of the council in August 1945.

The Manchester Guardian, 7 August 1945

One of the BMC's initial concerns was the "Collection of climbing information from 'here and abroad' and to investigate scientifically the value of new equipment and how to procure it." By 1947, as the following piece illustrates, it was becoming recognised as the agency to discuss matters such as belay technique.

The Manchester Guardian, 21 July 1947

Thursday, 23 October 2014

The Swimmer: running and swimming through London

Lining up for the first plunge of the day at Highgate Men's pond
In The Swimmer, John Cheever's celebrated 1964 short story, Neddy Merrill decides to swim home via a dozen or so of his neighbours’ pools. Of course, to link this chain of water, he has to run across lawns, through woods and down busy roads.

Inspired by Neddy’s watery journey, two south Londoners, Will Watt and Jonathan Cowie, came up with the idea of The Swimmer, a relaxed half-marathon that takes in a number of London’s finest parks and open-air pools. Starting in Hampstead in north London, the route heads down through the centre, crosses the Thames and ends up “back home” at Brockwell lido, near Brixton.

Running across the Heath
After months of admiring it from afar, I finally signed up for the October Swimmer. It’s a brilliant event and I’ve written up the day – or rather early morning – for the Guardian’s running blog: The perfect joy of swimming and running through London.  

Continuing the theme of transplanting great sporting feats to the streets of London,  someone has also invented a London version of the Bob Graham Round. Heights of Madness is a run that takes in all the inner London boroughs - 41 miles, 12 summits in an amazing six hours. Now if they combined this with the Swimmer...