Thursday, 30 March 2017

Fundraising is being paused for now

At the time of writing the total amount raised around the world stands at £269,906.90. It has been raised for local charities as follows:

St Benedict's Hospice                      - £100,031.91
The Children's Foundation              - £120,713.57
The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation -   £48,911.42
NECCR                                                   - £250.00
TOTAL                                            - £269,906.90

Fundraising in respect of segment 5 of the Run Around the World will now pause until I gain approval from the respective charities. I had hoped to ask for this during Spring 2017 but it's going to take all of this year to complete the aforementioned research and planning. Donna and I are nowhere near happy enough that we have a safe event to undertake next year. Therefore I'll seek charity approval early in 2018. The reality is that I need "wife approval" first!

In the meantime, I'm heavily involved in two projects which I hope will raise £20,000 for The Children's Foundation this year. The first is Running Blind and the second is Team Run Geordie Run. I'll talk more about those on my blog soon.

I've recently been speaking to a new charity and will fundraise for them during the rest of 2017 on the back of a series of personal challenges relating to training with the Around The World Buggy. I hope to bring you news of that charity in the next few days. My aim is to raise between £5,000 and £10,000 this year for them.

So despite "pausing" my Around The World fundraising, I hope the amount raised for local good causes in 2017 will be close to £30,000. It would be brilliant to get the total amount raised to a figure over £300,000 but that's going to require a lot of hard work, luck and generosity. Watch this space. 

Around the World: Segment 5: The Road to Astana (Part 2)

There are 400 days left before the run Around The World resumes with the fifth of eight segments due to start in May 2018. Work has continued this week on getting the route established for the 2,900 mile segment from Belgrade, Serbia through Romania, Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan. I've nicknamed this segment "The Road to Astana". This blog post talks about the second section from Kiev to Samara which is approximately 970 miles.

There will more than likely be two days of rest taken in or around Kiev and Donna, my wife, may fly in with some fresh supplies and possibly some new wheels for the buggy. I've yet to inform her of this task so you, the reader, are hearing about it first.

I'll be heading in a north easterly direction out of Kiev and I was surprised when I found this amount of green not too far from the city centre.

I'll pass through the city of Brovery which is known as the shoe making capital of Ukraine and is also home to the national mint.

It's 220 miles from Kiev to the border with Russia. That's a nice round 1000 miles in total from the start in Belgrade to the border crossing into the Russian Federation at Bachivs'k. The image below is as far as Google Street View goes. We will be taking the usual advice from the relevant authorities well in advance. This is one of Donna's tasks and the help and guidance that we've received in the past has always served us well. In fact, it was the difference between getting into Serbia or not from Croatia during the run across Europe.

It will take a further 760 miles to reach Samara in Russia via Lipetsk, Penza and Kuznetsk. Some of the roads that I've seen on Google Street View look in poor condition. This is bound to take its toll on the Around The World Buggy and add another challenge to an already growing list.

I've seen a few images on Google Street View like the one below. If that's fruit for sale then I'm sure I'll be taking the chance to buy some. It will make a nice change from the freeze dried food that I expect to be eating for the vast majority of the 100 or so days that it will take to reach Astana.

The approach to Samara via what looks to be a busy main road looks tricky. I think, by then, I'll be used to such roads and may look to run that stretch at night or at first light.

I think there will be another couple of rest days taken in Samara. It remains to be seen whether Donna or any other support team person can make it to Samara with supplies and spare wheels. That level of detail will come out during the planning excercise that is going to take the rest of 2017 to complete.

I'll be looking out for the monument shown below in Samara. I think it's a must to get a picture of the Around The World Buggy with the R-7 Rocket known as “Semyorka" in the background.

So that's the first 1750 miles covered in 2 short blog posts. The final blog post next week will detail the final 1100 miles from Samara to Astana. 

Meanwhile, it's safe to say that, more than ever, I'm in awe of this section of the run Around The World. I constantly wonder what it will be like to have to fend for myself without a support team. The lack of a support team brings huge advantages to me personally as well as huge challenges too.

The construction of the Around the World Buggy is currently underway. Once I start to train with it in the UK in a few months time, I think a lot of my questions and worries will be answered. If the first 9000 miles were difficult then things are, without doubt, about to get even more difficult. Many physical, mental and logistical boundaries are going to be pushed. If you want to raise the big money for charity though, as I do, then these are the lengths I am happily prepared to go to. 

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Around the World: Segment 5: The Road to Astana (Part 1)

There are just over 400 days left before the run Around The World resumes with the fifth of eight segments due to start in May 2018. Work has continued this week on getting the route established for the 2,900 mile segment from Belgrade, Serbia through Romania, Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan. I've nicknamed this segment "The Road to Astana". This blog talks about the first section to Kiev which is approximately 780 miles.

Last year I finished segment four, the run across Europe, at the Victor Statue (pictured below) so this will be the start point next year. I'll need to backtrack onto the end of last year's route in Belgrade for only six miles or so before heading north east though various Serbian towns such as Zrenjanin and Srpska Crnja.

The border with Romania near Jimbolia is only 80 miles from the start meaning that I'll be entering the 15th country of the run Around The World very early on in segment five.

After 280 miles I'll reach Satu Mare (pictured below) which is situated in the north west of Romania close to the borders with Hungary and Ukraine. It's only another 20 miles to the Romanian border with Ukraine where I'll enter country 16 of the run Around The World.

I'm taking a slight detour along the Tereblya River through the Synevyr National Park (pictured below) in Ukraine. This will see me run up the first challenging climbs of "The Road to Astana". The park is home to brown bears, wolves, wild boars and lynx. Sleeping in the Around The World Buggy amongst that lot should be very interesting. I hope they like porridge!

The journey will then head north east through Ukrainian towns and cities such as Kalush, Terebovlya, Krasyliv, Starokostyantyniv (that's going to take some practice to pronounce) and Zhytomr before reaching Kiev after 780 miles of running.

Watch this space for further details of the Road to Astana route next week.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Further excellent support from Brooks

The commercial support of the Run Around the World has been amazing so far and really has been the difference between success and failure. Without that backing, there would be none of these long distance running events and I would not have been able to raise £268,000 to date for local charities.

Segment five of the Run Around The World, dubbed "The Road to Astana", will see me run 3,000 miles unsupported and pulling a buggy from Belgrade through Serbia, Romania, Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan to Astana. This segment will start on 1st May 2018.

"The Road to Astana" wouldn't be possible without the amazing backing of headline sponsor SOS Group Ltd plus further incredible support from Chapman Ventilation, D-Line Cable Management, Fresh Freight Group, Virgin Money and Cherry Active. 

I'm pleased to report that the commercial backing from my current sponsors far outweighs the cost of doing the next segment of the Run Around The World. So much so, that there is a surplus of £20,000. This is what I call the "charitable fund". The challenge is to make that money grow for the charities and it is being used to fund schemes as small as the department tuck shop right up to paying for running t-shirts/vests for Team Run Geordie Run at the Great North Run. That particular scheme saw £888 spent last year and amazingly £10,000 was raised for The Children's Foundation. The picture below is of some of the team handing over the cheque to Nicola Crawford from the charity. 

One of the challenges I'm now faced with is thinking of similar new schemes. Of course, Run Geordie Run t-shirts have raised close to £30,000 since 2009. There may well be another one soon. Watch this space.

Back to the subject of commercial support and regular readers/followers will know that I've worn Brooks shoes ever since the Around The World run started some 9,000 miles ago in John O'Groats. The picture below was taken in Pennsylvania during the 3,100 mile run across the USA. I went through 8 pairs of Brooks Glycerin running shoes in 90 days. They were kind enough to fly this pair out and I completed the run in them over the remaining 10 days. 

I'm very pleased to report that Brooks will, once again, be supplying me with running shoes for the "Road to Astana". A huge, huge in fact massive thank you to them for their amazing continued support. I'll be sticking with the trusty Glycerin model of shoe. It has certainly undergone many changes since I first wore them and now comes in a variety of splendid colours.

I feel it is very important to stick with Brooks Glycerin as I have picked up next to no injuries during the first 9,000 miles of the run Around the World or indeed the 6,000 miles on top of that during training. There aren't many runners that I know who can boast a clean bill of health such as that.

I've selected a few images from the archives of this blog to remind me of some of the key images of my trusty Glycerin shoes. This first one is when I first met up with Brooks staff at Northern Runner in Newcastle.

The image below is my suitcase full of Brooks shoes ready to run across the USA.

The Brooks shoes used in the USA made a prime time appearance on BBC One during the build up to the 2011 Great North Run. That can be viewed here.

The next appearance was on national Australian TV at the start of the 2,384 mile run across Australia. Footage from that run can be viewed here.

Finally, the images below were taken on Alpe d'Huez during the run across Europe in 2016. 

It is an absolute understatement to say that Brooks and Run Geordie Run have come a very long way together. It's a continued relationship that I'm delighted to have. 

As with all of the other commercial sponsors, their backing is hugely important as I strive to raise at least half a million pounds for local good causes by the time I reach the end of the world in New Zealand.