Thursday, 14 April 2016

Posters in the RV

The images below are just a sample of World War II style posters that will be displayed in various places in the RV motorhome. While it's a slightly tongue in cheek approach, the posters will serve as a reminder of many key points to the support team and myself.

Particular attention is being given to safeguarding against being behind schedule. i.e. the "mileage deficit".  Losing miles will lead to huge problems logistically. The issue is that the support team plan has a lot of "moving parts". In real terms, this means a lot of support team changes. People coming and going from specific airports at specific times means there is very little margin for error.

There has always been a mileage deficit in any run that I've ever done. Somehow, in the USA I clawed back 5 days of running during the last 3 weeks to finish on time in Coney Island. I was having to run 40 - 45 miles consistently when the original requirement was just to do 31 in the USA.

In Australia, the mileage deficit was massive and the damage to my feet, my mental state and the size of the support team meant that it couldn't be clawed back. Given the difficulties that we faced it was a miracle that I was able to reach the finish line at Shellharbour at all. It still remains the hardest fought and greatest victory to date. If I get to the finish line in Europe on time or, indeed, at all, I have no doubt that the 3400 miles from Lisbon to Istanbul will eclipse the previous 3 segments of the run around the world. 

Eating the correct types of foods is always important. The main problem that I had during the run across the USA and Australia was eating enough food. Ironically, the opposite problem that I have in regular life! 

The poster below is a reminder to all that fuel and water on the RV is a precious commodity. Every drop of water that comes out of the taps or shower must be replaced. To do that costs time and fuel to get to a place where the water can be filled up. We must be very mindful of this as a team.

I have a £7 per day food budget. Again, every scrap of food must be used very wisely. Any leftovers must be used where possible. That is a budget for a person who will be burning over 6000 calories per day.

I'll publish the other posters over the coming weeks across my social media pages. You can get to my Twitter, Instagram or Facebook pages using the links in the header at the top of this page.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The climbs in Europe

I decided to create a graph representing the summit of each of the 16 major climbs I'll be running up in Europe. I kind of wish that I hadn't.

I did a lot of uphill running during the run across the USA but nothing anywhere near on the scale of  Europe. Day 44 in the USA was a run up to the summit of Berthoud pass (pictured below) at 11,000 ft. To this day, it remains one of the greatest days of running that I've ever had. 

People who know me are fully aware that I enjoy a mountain to run up. Give me 41 miles in the Rocky Mountains over a 41 miles on the long straight and flat roads of Australia any day.

The images below were taken from my GPS data from day 44 in the USA and recently uploaded into Veloviewer and Strava.

I'll be uploading similar images from each of the 16 major climbs in Europe. It should really help to illustrate just how difficult each climb is and bring the slopes to life.

Monday, 11 April 2016

New website sponsor

The charity fund for The Children's Foundation and Sir Bobby Robson Foundation received a welcome boost this week. North East based manufactures, D-Line, are now the proud sponsors of

This award winning blog will be celebrating its 10th birthday next year. During that time it has chronicled the highs and lows of my fundraising adventure around the world. It's going to be be jam packed with news of the progress made in Europe very soon so watch this space as proceedings get underway on May 1st on Guincho Beach.

Thank you to D-Line for their very kind donation to the 2 charities.

"D-Line is a UK company with a global reputation for innovative cable management products that satisfy popular demands where time, safety and appearance matter."

Run Geordie Run Support Team vacancies

For 95 days out of the 100 days it will take to run 3,400 miles across Europe there are at least 2 people on support team duty. For the remaining 5 days (day 85 - 89), Andrew Skelton (pictured below) is unaccompanied. We've already lost 1 person in this slot but had hoped that Andrew could help us through that shortfall in personnel. 

In a cruel twist of fate Andrew suffered a fracture in his right foot at the weekend. This is a huge stroke of bad luck which means that Andrew won't be "fit enough to carry out support team duties to the standard that is required and expected".

We wish Andrew a speedy recovery. I know from speaking to him today, just how deeply disappointed he is and he feels that he has "let the team down". This isn't the case but I know that is little consolation to Andrew. Thankfully, his very caring wife Karen will be on hand to nurse him back to health. Just when you thought she couldn't possibly run around after him any more than she currently does. But seriously, get well soon Andrew.

Andrew's absence means that there are now 3 support team slots that require filling. They are as follows:

North East Spain

Sunday May 8th to Monday May 16th. Vigo to Dijon. 1 person needed.

A flight into Vigo on the 8th May and out of Gijon on the 16th May would be required. 

Serbia, Bulgaria

Friday July 22nd to Friday July 29th. Belgrade to Sofia. 2 people needed.

A flight into Belgrade on the July 22nd and out of Sofia on July 29th would be required. 

Support Team Duties

Being a member of the Run Geordie Run Support Team is one of the most difficult and rewarding jobs there is..... or so any previous member of the team often tells me. Driving a large Motor Home (the one we had in the USA is pictured below), ensuring that, as the support nerve centre, it is functioning at the optimum level at all times, is just one of many tasks that needs to be undertaken.

Ensuring the safety of the runner, cooking, cleaning, identifying safe overnight stops, liaising with local police (inevitably a motor home in the middle of nowhere can be seemed as suspicious!), spreading the word about the run to passers by, not getting lost, ensuring that the route is safe depending on changing conditions and coming up with quick and effective solutions to whatever problem or hindrance occurs are just the tip of the iceberg when talking about support team duties. Support man Steve Harrison is pictured below driving in the USA.

The support team pay for their own flights and any accommodation (if needed) at the respective airport. Accommodation is provided for you en route, obviously in the form of the RV.

There are a whole host of pictures of the previous support teams on the Run Geordie Run Facebook page here.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Your questions answered (Part 2)

Thanks again to everyone who asked a question on the Run Geordie Run Facebook page and via Twitter recently. Here are the latest set of answers with more to come in the coming days.

Dave Shenton

What is the highest point you will reach? The highest point on the run from Lisbon to Istanbul is actually the highest paved point in Europe at 9088 ft (2770 m). The Col De L’Iseran in the French Alps (pictured below) is the 15th of 16 major climbs that I’ll run up. 

I’ll reach the summit on day 50 of the run across Europe. It will start with a category 5 climb in the first 4 miles. Then it’s an uphill marathon (26.2 miles) with 6213 ft (1894 m) of ascent to the Cold De L’Iseran. The day will end with 10k (6.2 miles) of running downhill. 

The total elevation for day 50 is 7851ft (2392m). It promises to be possibly the toughest day of running that I’ve ever done. 

No day that I ever ran in the USA comes close to what I will be facing on day 50 of the run across Europe. 

Have you done anything different with your training for this run? I haven’t ran as many miles in training as I did before the runs across the USA and Australia. While I'll be going into the run across Europe carrying the usual excess weight, I'm probably in the best mechanical shape that I've been in for a quite a while. That includes my feet too.

I’ve been going to Crossfit Northumbria a lot since July 2015. While it's very enjoyable I’ve really found myself way way out of my comfort zone. Yes it's very challenging but what an almighty buzz you get after a session. 

The quality of fellow attendees is very high indeed. While I look out of place, it's impossible to feel out of place with the encouragement offered from trainers and peers alike.

Not many people will know this, but the whole Crossfit Northumbria experience has helped me get the all important mental edge back that I had going in to the run across the USA. 

Having to dig deep when there is nothing left in the tank and attempting something that seems unachievable are two valuable lessons that I’ve had to re-learn after the tough times in Australia. This was evident recently when I ran 65 miles unsupported from Edinburgh to Wooler. I approached the event with a really positive mindset and finished a good few hours ahead of my predicted time. I got stuck into the many climbs that the Scottish borders offered with a quick finish on both of the days that the run spanned.

I'll get lighter, fitter and quicker in Europe during the 100 days. That's inevitable. Getting my mind and therefore my focus and determination attuned to a highly consistent level from day 1 is what will give me the best chance of success.   

How many calories do you think you will burn a day? Based on previous experience and recent stats I should burn between 6500 and 8000 calories per day. This is based on recent 30+ mile runs wearing a heart rate monitor and GPS watch. 

How many will you consume? Again, based on previous experience this will average between 3000 and 4000 calories. Some days will be much less as I always struggle to eat during the big events. I wish I had that problem in normal life!

Gary Phillipson

How many plasters will you go through? I have no idea. I can say that we have an extensive medical kit thanks to C&P Medical who once again have supplied everything that Sports Therapist Jason Stobbs and Podiatrist Alison Meldrum asked for.

Mark Wilson

Which country's food are you least looking forward to having on the route? Being the broad minded foodie that I am I can honestly say that almost anything goes in Europe. It's the finished cooked product from some of the less domesticated support team members that concerns me. 

The low point, in terms of food, in Australia was David Fairlamb's omelette offering where he used iced coffee as an ingredient. Oh how we laughed!

If the team can get anywhere near to the quality of John Dobby's bacon and egg sandwiches (pictured below during the run across Australia) then I'll be very happy. 

Sarah Doy-Banks

What will be your luxury item in your suitcase? I don't have a suitcase because I'll be fortunate enough to have everything that I need packed in the motorhome in Newcastle. The one luxury item that I do have is Cherry Active's cherries covered in dark chocolate. There are almost 1000 calories in a bag!

How many pairs of trainers will you go through? I have 8 pairs of Brooks Glycerin 13 shoes. That's a lot of shoes and once again I'm extremely grateful to Brooks for their continued support.

How much weight are you expecting to lose? If I start the run across Europe at 17 stone (108 kg or 238 pounds) and 25% body fat I would expect to finish at 12 stone (76 kg or 168 pounds)  and 11% body fat by the time I reach Istanbul. 

While this is pure guesswork, I was very close to the final figures in the USA and Australia. The image on the left below is me at 18 stone on day 4 of the run across the USA. The one on the right was taken 100 days later. I lost 20% body fat and 5.5 stones (35 kg or 77 pounds) of weight.

Which parts of Europe are you excited about running through and which parts of Europe are you dreading if any? I'm looking forward to running through the Pyrenees and The Alps most of all. The Pyrenees alone will see me run 60,000 ft uphill in 7 days. That's the same as sea level to the summit of Mount Everest twice.

I'm not dreading any particular country or region but some border crossings in Eastern Europe are a concern in terms of the delay they may cause.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Your questions answered (Part 1)

This is the first in a series of posts which will answer the many questions that were asked via my social media pages.

I'd like to tackle George Caulkin's questions first. George is a well respected journalist for The Times and a patron of The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. 

What are the biggest physical challenges? I've had plantar fasciitis and Achilles trouble from over exercising. How do you deal with, prevent that or are you just made of elastic? Any tips? There are many physical challenges but I think you are specifically referring to coping with injury and damage sustained during the run. 

During the run across the USA my feet were in a terrible blistered state during the first 2 weeks and the final 2 weeks. The run across Australia saw damage to similar areas of my feet from day 2. It got much worse for the next 60 days. Up to 3 hours per day was spent treating my feet during the final weeks of the run. That proved just enough to get me to the finish line. 

A lot of the time I just put up with the pain and damage. There were times in Australia when I was taking more painkillers than I probably should have been. The best painkiller proved to be sparkling wine given to me by a passing owner of a winery called Tony Gorman (pictured with me below). The positive effects lasted an hour or so. "Good times" so the saying goes.

The tip for any troubles you may have is to seek expert advice and treatment. I see podiatrist Alison Meldrum at The Cradlewell Clinic in Jesmond on a regular basis. She has an excellent reputation amongst the North East running community. She was responsible for looking after me after the USA and Australia runs. For the first time in many a year I’m running as pain free as I can ever remember. Alison is part of my support team in Europe and we have been looking at prevention rather than cure this time around. As a result of her diagnosis I now wear a specially designed insole. One other change we’ve made is a simple one and that’s to go up ½ a shoe size. This will hopefully reduce the amount of blisters when my feet inevitably swell due to the high mileage. 

Favourite music while running? I regard myself as a music snob, yet seem to end up listening to high energy camp disco while running? Why is that? You probably can't answer that. I probably don't want you to. I listen to all kinds of music when I run. The most effective for me is dance music and trance in particular. A local DJ, Ross Anderson, has supplied me with some playlists for use in Europe. I’m going to use these sparingly and when the time is right. I listened to all of the Now That’s What I Call Music series in Australia. The rest of what I listen to is too vast and far too embarrassing to talk about! 

Any running superstitions? I always run on the side of the oncoming traffic. That’s more for safety than a superstition I suppose. I always finish a run on a round mile. That’s probably more OCD than a superstition. So I guess "No" to superstitions.

Plans to watch Euro 2016 while away? No plans. There’ll be very little spare time unfortunately. 

Can you imagine life without running? I can’t imagine life without fundraising therefore I can’t imagine life without running. 

What do you dream of, fantasise about on a long run? A favourite food? A feather pillow? A hot shower? The day to day training thoughts are usually filled with ideas of how to raise further funds and raise awareness. I’ve had some major PR and fundraising victories over the years as a result of thoughts while training. 

During the big events, if there is a thought to be had, good or bad, I usually have it. I once sent a message to Donna saying that it would be nice if we could get a new vacuum cleaner. At the time it seemed very important. After months of being away from home, I guess I long for normality. 

I think the most common thought in any circumstance is that of a bacon sandwich! 

Do you ever stop to look at the view? And what has been your favourite? I've run around the bottom tip of Manhattan and the length of Copacabana beach and couldn't stop smiling. I do get the opportunity to take in the view while I’m running. The Mojave Desert in California was an incredible place. Later on in the run across the USA, the Rocky Mountains and in particular Rabbit Ears Pass and Berthoud Pass (pictured below) were simply stunning as well as being incredibly tough places to run. 

What is the one thing you couldn't run without? You can only name one. I’ll not say the obvious answer which is my trusty Brooks Glycerin running shoes. In Australia, I don’t think I could have finished the run without a fly net (pictured below). Surrounded by thousands of flies every day for 82 days was very unpleasant.

Thanks for those questions George. Watch this space for more questions very soon.