Now that we’re two Tuesdays into the 2016 edition of Run Dem Crew, I’m pleased to say the new independence of the crew is a very good thing indeed. We’re no longer tied to one brand, which means we can work with a range of partners, and in week 1, Charlie Dark’s diplomatic yet candid speech explaining the reasons for this transition made sure everyone was on the same page. It was humbling to hear of the personal sacrifices that have been made to ensure the crew continues to flourish and we are very grateful. Charlie gave all present a clear understanding of the foundations of the crew movement and its subsequent development, including the highs of the first Bridge the Gaps and the low points when the movement has been divided or split. I’m not going to go into details out of respect for all concerned, but I feel excited to be part of this movement and confident that Run Dem Crew is moving forward with integrity and vision.
I love the new venue, Miranda London, in the basement of the Ace Hotel on Shoreditch High St, so salutes to Charlie Dark, Justin Reid-Simms and the Ace for setting this up. We’re a stone’s throw from our former home and in the epicentre of London’s creative scene. As I made my way downstairs past the fierce Grace Jones wall-prints excitement built with the volume of music emanating from the basement. On entering for the first time, it took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the lighting, which up to now has been purple to a degree that Prince would be proud of. There was Chris Adu on the decks playing some beats, and the room was already buzzing with friends.
This venue feels so right; it’s hip, underground and under the radar. While we don’t have the storage crates we used to put our bags in at 1948, this frees up more space. The toilet situation is vastly improved and more practical. Having the crew’s resident DJs playing before housekeeping and as we return from our runs is a step forward, making everything feel fresh and street smart. Loads of crew-members would love to learn to DJ, so I hope the suggestion of running DJ-ing workshops before the session can be explored. It’s great there’s a fully stocked bar providing refreshments, and I hope we can start a tradition of staying for a post-run drink in the near future. The family that plays together stays together.
This week we paid tribute to David Bowie by running to the mural in his honour in Brixton. I personally shed a few tears on hearing the news of his passing, and his records have been on heavy rotation ever since, not least his visionary latest effort, Blackstar. I was touched on arrival in Brixton to see the sheer volume of flowers, messages and candles that had been lovingly laid at this shrine. Someone is clearly looking after the upkeep of the place and it’s no less than the great man deserves.
This was my first run with the Elites since being diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma back in the spring. I was slightly apprehensive as to whether I would be able to keep up with the pace, and mindful that cold air is a trigger for my condition. However, I’m very pleased to report that having taken a couple of puffs on my preventative inhaler before leaving the house, I had no problems at all. It was a joy to be zipping through the streets with my friends at top-speed again, and I hope now to do this every week, with an aim of putting some speed back in my legs in time for Run Hackney.
This was an Oyster run, meaning we brought our Oyster cards with us and ran to a destination further away than usual with the intention of taking the tube back. After saluting Major Tom from Ground Control we ran to Stockwell and took the Northern Line back to Old St, opening up for one last burst as we turned into Shoreditch High St. I love this way of mixing up the routes we explore, and welcome Martyn’s suggestion that we do this once a month. It’s challenging running to new destinations but it’s a great way to explore the city, and to push us as runners. I’ve learned it’s much easier to get to Brixton than I had thought.
On returning to the Ace Hotel it was a little weird walking through the hipster-filled bar dripping in sweat as we made our way downstairs. It made me think of our new home as a bit like Tracy Island from Thunderbirds. On the surface it’s one thing, but if you flick a switch you find a magical and exciting world underneath. That’s how it should always be with Run Dem Crew. We don’t imitate, we innovate. Keep your eyes on us in 2016. Big things are going to happen.