Oh you know, the day I interviewed an astronaut… AN ASTRO-FLAMING-NAUT

So I nearly missed the email while trawling through ‘share your commerce goals’, Groupon and ‘files won’t open’ messages in my inbox.

My eyes flickered on a subject header: ‘INTERVIEW OPP: Space race! British ESA astronaut Tim Peake will run the London Marathon in Space’.

Awesome, thought I. I’ll get back to that later. I continue trawling for a few seconds until: ‘Didn’t you read in ’10 effective things entrepreneurs do’ that anything that could take under two minutes, just do it?’

So back to the email I go. ‘We were wondering if you would be interested in participating in this afternoon’s conference call with Tim.’

Britain’s Tim Peake, European Space Agency astronaut, in training for the Digital Virgin Money London Marathon on 24 April 2016. Tim’s six month mission on the International Space Station begins on 15 December 2015. Picture Bob Martin for Virgin Money London Marathon This picture may only be used with permission from Penny Dain at London Marathon

Pic credit: Virgin Money London Marathon

That was in a few hours time and I didn’t miss want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So I responded to sender of said email Shana from Sportsbeat in a very controlled, I-interview-astronauts-all-the-time manner.

“This sounds awesome! Would love to get involved. Thanks!”

So not three hours later I was on a conference call along with an unknown number of journalists listening to British astronaut Tim Peake – who was weeks away from launch and currently quarantined somewhere near the launch pad in Kazakhstan – discuss the fact he would be running the London Marathon from the International Space Station come April 24.

To combat gravity he will be wearing a harness equivalent to his own bodyweight so that he can run on the treadmill (I know, who knew, they have a treadmill in space!) and he will be a digital ‘icon’ running the race interactively and have screens showing everyone running on the streets of London while he’s running the famous route 400km (248 miles) above the Earth and going at a pacey 27,000km per hour (16,777mph). It’s unlikely he’ll be eligible for the World Record attempt.

So to ask a question us journos were asked to press the ‘star key’ then number one on our keypads and then the organiser would state who was next up to ask a question. I punched the buttons immediately as didn’t know how many other people were on the line.

First up was a journo from the Mirror, and to paraphrase, he asked if Tim believes in Alien.

Next up was Jo Dunston (if you read my blog a lot you’ll know no one ever gets my name right) from Sports Liberated.

So what do you ask a man who is the first Briton to be selected by the European Space Agency for a mission to the ISS, the first British man in space and who is weeks away from going up in a flaming rocket to space?

“Please tell me that instead of wearing trainers to do your London Marathon run you’ll be wearing moon boots…”


By Jo Gunston

Tim blasts off into space from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on Wednesday 15 December 2015 at 11.03am (GMT) and is due to return to Earth on 5 June 2016. It’ll be live on the major news stations on the tellybox or online.

The full interview with Tim (where I ask further probing questions, try to contain yourself) will be online ahead of the Digital Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday April 24.

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