11th March 2020 was my last day of running in Italy, Pisa. Italy declared a complete lockdown and I repatriated to Paris. I had tried to re-start and go around Italy via Switzerland, Germany and Austria. But France’s lockdown caught up with me on 17th March 2020. Then the whole of Europe shut down into various degrees of lockdown. I headed straight to Paris to take shelter at my parents’ place during the crisis.
I went for 2 weeks of isolation, limiting my trips outside to the strict minimum, unsure if I may have caught the disease in my Italian travels. Citizens of France were allowed a maximum 1hr outdoors a day, within 1km of their homebase. Such were the rules.
I then moved into action. I joined the citizens’ movement “#PourEux Paris” aiming to fill the gaping hole left in the social solidarity network in France. Most people traditionally working benevolently to distribute meals to homeless people are retirees. These retirees were ordered to stay home, being the most vulnerable. Distribution centres also had to close, unable as they were to implement the new strict sanitary measures. Homeless people were left without much support at all.
#PourEux (“ForThem” in english) emerged a few days after the lockdown was declared, functioning more or less as a tech start-up. Efficient. Stay-at-home citizens register their “extra meal(s)” portion(s) on an app. Accredited delivery riders (or runners in my case) get the info on an app. They pick up “tasks”, organise their rounds, and distribute home-cooked meals to those in the streets. Nearly instantly. All for free.
Joining #PourEux Paris was the bottle of oxygen I needed badly. A social worker, I was allowed outdoors, unrestricted, to carry out my duties. I got to do my lunchtime round by bike : 20 to 30km of riding, picking up meals from people’s doorsteps and distributing to those living in the streets. First spotted first served basis. Then I would do the dinnertime round running, using my stroller BoB as a carrier. Another 20km of running around the deserted streets of the city.
I got to keep a physical activity regimen fit to maintain my form. I also got to feel useful. An invaluable gift. I got to have social interactions everyday. Conversing (at a distance) with the home-cooks. Conversing with the people living in the streets. Connecting, learning, exchanging. Having fun too and discovering Paris. I am very privileged to have been a part of this movement. It literally made life in lockdown not only tolerable but utterly connected and relevant.
On June 3rd 2020, Italy is reopening its borders and allowing free movement across the country. I am flying to Roma and reaching Pisa by train, to restart the World Run exactly where I left it in March. One season forward, into Summer.
I will have to cut some of my route, as I need to make it to the next continent (Australia) before September (climate requirement).
I will cut the Southern parts of Italy, cutting straight from Pisa to Venice.
I will also cut the Southern parts of Greece, Peloponesos and Athens namely, heading straight to Istanbul. This is quite sad. I have lived over 5 years of my life in Athens and I had been looking forward to running across the city and catching up with many friends and acquaintances. Including running the route of the “classic marathon” from Athens to Marathon. And a pilgrimage to the place where I “learned” to love running, outside of Marathon, on the Bay of Schinias.
These are the consequences of the 2 months+ delay caused by the lockdown.
Before I started the run, I said the only thing I was positively expecting from the journey, was to be surprised, in any possible way. Well…. So far the journey is delivering very well on that promise!
Rendez-vous June 4th, on this website, where the daily blogposts will restart along with the World Run!
Thank you all for your support and kind messages throughout these very special times
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