Try Skating and get Scotland rolling

Date: August 2010
Location: Goodwood
Event: Inline Skate Marathon

Charity begins at Goodwood by Ashley Holdsworth

July 2009. A pub in Glasgow. We're having a 'fun things we used to do when we were little' conversation. Roller skating, says one friend. Ah yes, skating...that was fun, wasn't it, really fancy trying it again.

Two weeks later I've found Don online and set up a lesson. I'm floundering like Bambi on ice but it's a huge buzz, I can see why people get hooked...in fact, I want to do it again, really soon! Don mentions the Goodwood Roller Marathon, which is taking place that weekend. I'm amazed, a skate marathon? For charity? An hour's drive from my parent's house? Hmmmmm.

Goodwood Roller Marathon

So I book a course of lessons, get sorted with my own pair of K2 Alexis (thanks Don!) and start practising round Glasgow Green. It's a patchy surface (how many times have I clipped the front wheel of my skates in a well disguised pothole?) but a good place to practice striding and corners. And practice I do, round in circles, trying to master parallel turns, remembering to bend my knees, skate a bit faster with long, even strides. That's the intention anyway. The reality is clumsy wobbling with an earnest expression. My mother kindly tells me I look like a 'very serious skater'. The reality, I fear, is I just look serious. I keep reminding myself it's supposed to be a fun way of getting some exercise and wave cheerily at the local ne'er-do-wells who offer 'encouragement' from time to time.

And then it's autumn, wet, cold and miserable, with the paths covered in slimy leaves hiding chunks of twig, then ice during that long, hard winter. Not ideal skating conditions for a clumsy rookie. So I take the only sensible course of action and...

...snap up a pair of K2 ice skates on eBay and head to East Kilbride ice rink (sorry Don). It's much easier to skate on ice than on wheels (less friction) but still good balancing practise for a wobbly beginner. The Clyde freezes near my house and I'm tempted to have a go but am persuaded by a friend who works in ambulance dispatch it's probably not a good idea.

Winter turns, very slowly, to Spring and the voice at the back of my head tells me Goodwood's getting closer. So back to the Green and Don's sessions at Yoker and the Maccabi centre. Registration opens for Goodwood and I'm torn between the half marathon and the full distance. I pick the full 26 miles. What's the worst that can happen?

Goodwood Circuit

Goodwood Circuit

A nasty fall exactly two months before Goodwood, that's what. My right elbow swells up overnight and I can hardly move the joint. The doctor gives me various pills, which make me sick, and suggests it's a hairline fracture, which will heal. No reason not to get back on my skates, as long as I'm careful. So I do, and spend the evening of the Longest Day slowly and carefully gliding round Glasgow Green in golden sunlight. It's not about being as fast as possible now, it's about finishing in one piece and enjoying the journey.

Thankfully Goodwood is a friendly roller marathon for inline blades, quad skates, longboards and even those dinky wee scooter things you see children whizzing round parks on. It's an event for all ages and abilities and proceeds from the event go to the NSPCC. I'm raising personal sponsorship for Macmillan, a charity close to my heart as they helped my father when he was unwell last year. In case you're unfamiliar with Macmillan, it's an organisation that provides practical and emotional support for people affected by cancer, including the family and friends of patients.

If you'd like to sponsor me, by the way, I've set up a Just Giving account at www.justgiving.com/Ashley-Holdsworth. Or drop me a line at AshleyHoldsworth@aol.com.

Hope to see you there.

Ashley Holdsworth