John Marshall was greeted at the end of his last run with a welcome party organised by Austrian Ambassador Gregor Schusterschitz
British Ambassador to Luxembourg John Marshall completed an impressive 700 kilometres running through 105 communes in Luxembourg since October last year. He tells Delano why he did it and where he plans to run next.
Jess Bauldry: When and why did you begin this running challenge?
Ambassador Marshall: I began in October, 2016, with my first run being from my house to Mersch. My initial challenge was to run round Luxembourg, ie close to its borders. So after Mersch I ran to Diekirch and, on my third run, from Diekirch, via Reisdorf, to Bollendorf Pont on the River Sûre. Then I followed a clockwise route, along roads, cyclepaths and footpaths, always starting my next run where I finished the previous one. I ran most weekends, with most runs being in the 20-25km range. In February, after 19 runs and having run round the country, I arrived back at Reisdorf. Challenge complete. But, having realised that my run had taken me through 52 of Luxembourg’s 105 communes, I decided to run through the rest. My thirty-fifth and final run last week took me from Tuntange back to the city through my final two communes of Kehlen and Kopstal.
I did it for two reasons. First, because I thought it would be an interesting personal challenge, and one which would enable me to get to know Luxembourg better. And second, I thought it would motivate me, especially during the winter months, to run the distances I needed to train for the London and Luxembourg marathons I ran earlier this year.
What did you gain from running 700km through Luxembourg, besides blisters?
No blisters! The first rule of running is to buy good shoes that fit. I think I have a pretty good knowledge of Luxembourg’s geography now! And a good knowledge of how much effort has been made by successive governments and the local authorities to make Luxembourg’s beautiful countryside accessible to the general public. I have run along some spectacular cycle paths and walking trails in every part of the country. I have also gained a very good knowledge of Luxembourg’s public transport system--I did almost all of my travel to and from my starting and finishing points by bus or train. I am a big user of www.mobiliteit.lu and hugely appreciate the reach and reliability of the public transport system.
Photo: HMAJohnMarshall/Twitter. UK ambassador John Marshall with Georges Heinrich on the final leg of his run
What were the highlights of the challenge?
There actually wasn’t a dull stage. I enjoyed all 35 of them. But running through the north of the country, in January, when the fields and trees were covered in snow was exquisite. Running through the vineyards of the Moselle with their autumn colours was beautiful too. And, in recent weeks, I have really enjoyed running through the hills around Wiltz, Kautenbach and Bourscheid. Some tough climbs but exhilarating too.
As part of the “Guide for a Day” scheme you took some runners out in Luxembourg. Can you tell us more about this? How did it go?
It was great. At least, I enjoyed it! It was a hilly, 10km run around some of the backstreets and woodland paths of the city. Seven ladies, six Luxembourgers and one Ukrainian, participated, and we chatted in Luxembourgish as we ran! The weather was good, and at the end we enjoyed a glass of Nyetimber (a very good English sparkling wine) in my garden. I thought it was a great initiative and I will volunteer again if they repeat it next year. But next year I think I will suggest a run out of town, perhaps in the countryside around Wiltz.
What will be your next sporting challenge or do you plan to hang up the running shoes?
I don’t have any major plans just at the moment. But I do plan to participate in some of the runs in Luxembourg this autumn such as the 20km Route du Vin in September and the 12km Walferlaf in October. There is a run somewhere in Luxembourg almost every weekend it seems. So, we’re spoilt for choice.