Everyone’s experience of lockdown has been different, and many took up lockdown projects and challenges to help pass the time and help others.
With gyms closed and sporting events cancelled, it is perhaps unsurprising that many people caught the running bug as they strived to keep their fitness levels up and support their wellbeing. However, what is more than a little unusual, is that Dr Koch, our Vice Master, ran the length of every single street in Bedford, clocking up 1,500 miles in the process.
Dr Koch told us, “In 2019 I ran the ‘Run Bedford 10k’ as part of a group in memory of Richard Garrett, a wonderful person I worked with at Bedford School who died of cancer. I didn’t realise how important that event would turn out to be for me. It gave me the bug and I started to get back into running and remembered how important a role it can play in my wellbeing.
When the pandemic hit, I decided to take some more adventurous routes than my normal ones through the park and along the river.”
Originally, it was Dr Koch’s “geeky obsession” with maps that gave him the idea to run the length and breadth of the town, and it gave him great pleasure to slowly see his Strava heat-map turn red as he notched up the streets, spurring him on to ‘paint the whole town red’. While this proved to be an amusing way to record his runs, what he also realised was that he was getting to know the town, in which he lives and works, in a rather special way.
Dr Koch was already familiar with many of Bedford’s beauty spots having lived in the town for five years. However, his runs introduced him to new sights and new neighbourhoods as he ventured through every single corner of the town, discovering new gems, and learning about the town’s rich history along the way.
As a keen historian, he particularly enjoyed running round the Iron Age hillfort near Mowsbury Park one misty morning and experiencing the hustle-bustle of the multi-cultured Queens Park’s Ford End Road, learning about the Queen’s Engineering Works and its employees, who established the ever-present community spirit over 100 years ago.
In an article in the Bedford Independent, Dr Koch explained, “I got to know where the best places are to see Christmas lights in December (corner of Falcon Ave and Dove Road) and the best views over Bedford are from Gainsborough Rise and Turner Way when it’s lit up at after dark.
Running over the footbridge over the Great Ouse with the Guru Nanak Gurdwara Temple silhouetted by the sunset before you – you get a sense that Bedford is very special. Most of all I got a deep sense of appreciation for this town, its history, its neighbourhoods, and its people.”