Pledge Corner: Running for Parliament

by Peter Welsh

As humans, we are often inclined to go for the path of least resistance, to passively watch as the world ticks on. At our core, however, we have the potential to create meaningful change and no issue exemplifies that like the one our natural world faces.

I have always dabbled in running, falling in and out of love yet drawn back regardless. My first marathon was Humber Bridge in 1990 and I somehow got to Grimsby in one piece. It was not quite the stuff of running across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in NYC, but is fondly remembered nonetheless! Subsequent years saw plenty of other 26.2s run, including London 2001 and again in 2024.

A photo of people running a marathon. London's Big Ben is in the background. There are lots of people in the picture and a person waving a banner. It is a sunny day.
Peter (left) running past Big Ben in the 2024 London Marathon

I even gave triathlon a go (or maybe triathlon gave me a going over) culminating in getting to the 100-mile mark in the sadly singular Ironman Weymouth (now a 70.3) before noticing a marshall stepping into my square wheeled bike path brandishing a large broom. You can guess what happened next. No cigar or tattoo for my troubles that day as I was conveyed in a mini bus of shame to years of inactivity.

Ultimately, it was the Virtual Great North Run during Covid-19 which kicked me back into gear, before I threw my name into the ballot (more on ballots soon) for London – and here we are!

Watching Jasmin Paris power towards that yellow gate at the end of the 2024 Barkley Marathons, I couldn’t help but be in awe. When I learned more about her and the connection with The Green Runners, I was inspired to join this community making changes for a fitter planet.

I don’t drive, but when I joined The Green Runners I pledged to be unashamed of being a non-driver, and not be “othered” by never turning an ignition key.

More than this, though, I pledged to devote my energy in the political realm as a Green Party MP candidate for the Wells and Mendip Hill constituency in this year’s General Election.

The decision to do this was a line in the sand. Having witnessed the overt waste at mass participation events and the slow erosion of our natural world, it was time to speak out for the environmental principles that have been a lifelong interest to me.

I am standing in the General Election for a party that promotes societal and environmental justice and unlike others won’t jettison them or hide behind fiscal rule narratives and rowing back on Green(ish) pledges. Of course others will have their own views but I would appreciate it greatly if voting tactically for the environment took precedence over the stale equilibrium for decades of a binary choice for government.

Words are one thing, but action is what really matters, so I am also incorporating cycling and public transport into my campaign efforts, and encouraging other candidates to be as green as possible in their efforts to appeal to our Somerset electorate!

As many local hedgerows and crows can testify, I multitask on long solo runs around Wells orating speeches of ephemeral power. I am developing a fear that, when it comes to hustings and town hall speeches, I may need a treadmill to mount when it’s my turn to speak. I have a trusty set of Jack Duckworth (If you know, you know!) aftershokz earphones held together by gaffer tape so I may also have them on my ears to complete the vote winning vision!

A person smiling at a camera wearing running clothes
Peter on his local trails

Out of them I will often be listening to “Chaise Lounge” by Wet Leg – because it’s about something you can sit down on, which is rather comforting during the doldrums of a long run! Art is subjective after all, right?

The Green Runners face head on our individual and collective responsibility to take the risk of hope that we can stop killing the planet. Flights and car journeys need to be evaluated more critically. Why so many plastic bottles at races and endless flyers and goody-bag tat? As a NHS Mental Health Practitioner, I encounter patients with eco-anxiety underpinning wider Mental Health distress. I got it too.

All of us, however, have the chance to make a difference. The Green Runners’ Four Pillars (How we travel, kit up, fuel and speak out) are a real and precise direction I can relate to. We can all make changes in these areas. This year, almost all of us across the globe can make a start by speaking out in the democratic process.

I appreciate greatly the time and care the co-founders have put into imagining and setting up Green Runners. I am so inspired to speak out every chance I can about the climate emergency and our dreadful real tomorrow unless we care more now.

Just as with the eternal search for a Chaise Lounge on my long run, it’s easy to sit back to let someone else do the hard work for our home planet. But only if we are willing to get out and do our miles will we ever reach our goal. We can all make changes for a fitter planet.

Disclaimer: The Green Runners does not have any affiliation with any political party, nor is this an endorsement of any single party

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