The Corridor Marathon

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On Sunday 18th October, 13 isolating freshers from Trevelyan College ran a corridor marathon between them. Since then, they’ve made the headlines at BBC News, raised over £2,500 worth of funds for Help Musicians UK and even made a marathon Instagram account. But who are the people behind the Household 14 marathon? Interview Editors and chat to three of the participants, Milo Anderson, Francesca Hibbit and Emily Horsfield, who reflect on the marathon, their mutual love for music and their experience of being freshers in isolation.

The trio explain light-heartedly that the idea of the marathon began as a way to pass the time. Milo explains “I made a joke about running a 5K along the corridor and it just kind of spiraled from there”. However, the group soon realised that they could be turning their lockdown laughs into a valuable fundraising opportunity.

United by their “passion for music and respect for the industry”, they “felt that Help Musicians UK was a charity that would have the impact we wanted”. And they’ve certainly made an impact. In fact, a much larger impact than anyone could’ve expected. Milo explains “we thought we could raise maybe £200 for the charity and maybe even get on a Durham Instagram page… and then the BBC got in touch!” At the time of this interview, Emily reported that they had raised £2,530, including £500 worth of gift aid.

Francesca explained that the funds will “create opportunities and provide support for emerging professional and retired musicians of all genres”, as well as “organise health and welfare support, such as a mental health helpline and a hearing health scheme”.

The three of them agree that “a lot more could be done to support the arts” during this crisis. As Milo puts it, “I think the arts are such an important industry; in the UK they are a massive part of our culture, so to leave them on their own in their time of need is absolutely not what we should be doing”.

The group spoke to the CEO of Help Musicians UK, James Ainscough, who explained that the fact that musicians are generally self-employed means that they often don’t have access to financial schemes such as furlough. Milo, whose parents are classical musicians, added that he’s heard stories of professional musicians having to turn to “delivering pizzas just to stay afloat”, adding “it’s really awful to see highly trained people turning to any job just to keep their families going”.

Despite not being music students, the three freshers have a mutual passion for music. Between them they play the cello, flute and piano, and are vocally trained. They explained that college household groupings enabled them to find people who had similar interests to them. The group has been entertaining themselves throughout isolation by “doing acapella stuff in the evenings”.

The group seemed optimistic and grateful for the support the college has provided. Milo deems it, “an interesting and unique experience”, adding that “the college has been trying their hardest to make it as normal as they possibly can which has been really nice to see”. Francesca adds: “I think for us it’s been quite a positive experience – they matched our household really well so being in isolation for two weeks hasn’t been a difficult experience”. The group also agreed that isolation has brought them “a lot closer” together as a group than they would otherwise be. However, isolation does have its downsides; as Milo put it, “I love my household, but I’d quite like to speak to other people as well”.

We asked the group about their advice for other freshers in this strange and difficult year. “It’s really difficult to see being locked down as an opportunity”, Milo chuckles, “but it can be if you look at it in the right way. I don’t want to sound preachy, but you can start that thing you’ve always really wanted to do”. Emily agrees that it’s important to “make the most of spending time with the people you’re with and enjoy the fact that you’re all in this together”.

The group explains they have been discussing ideas for future events, including “climbing the stairs to reach the height of Mount Everest”, but agree that they “might give it a break for a little while!”

Photography by Constance Froment

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