Thursday, 5 April 2018

Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye

What are among my favourite things in this world? Fundraising and curry! It seems only fitting therefore that these things should be combined before I set off on the Road to Astana.

Thanks to a lot of help from my gym buddies at Primal Fitness and Performance, a fundraising evening is to be held on May 4th 2018 at Aneesas Indian Buffet Restaurant in South Shields. 

The evening is a chance to say goodbye before I set off unsupported on stage 5 of the run Around The World; the 2900 mile/100 day journey from Belgrade, Serbia through Romania, Ukraine, Russia to Astana in Kazakhstan. 

This is a chance for friends, family, sponsors, colleagues and followers of my around the world adventures to hear what my final thoughts and fears are with the next stage from Serbia to Kazakhstan due to start very soon. 

Of course, this is also a great excuse to enjoy the delicious Indian buffet at Aneesas. Thanks to restaurant's generousity, ALL proceeds from this event will go to St. Benedict's Hospice. That's every single penny that's raised through ticket sales and the fundraising fun that we have planned on the night. Thanks so much to Aneesas for this unbelievably kind gesture. They do know that I'm carb loading for the big run don't they?

The ticket price is £20 per person for this delicious Indian buffet. Alcoholic drinks are on a BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) basis. There is plenty of free parking outside the restaurant and Chichester Metro is only 0.4 miles away. Find out more about Aneesas here.


If you would like to attend then please act quick as tickets are limited and sold on a first come first served basis.

Tickets can be ordered using the form below. 

Saturday, 3 March 2018

9000 miles of support and kindness

On the back of the link to www.rungeordierun.com appearing on nufc.com a couple of days ago, there have been some brilliant messages received from exiled Geordies who live on or near my route through Ukraine and Russia. 

Given how valuable such assistance has proved to be in the past (notably in California, Nevada, The Rocky Mountains, New York, Perth and Sydney) I'll be following up on these offers of help.

I've met some amazingly friendly and helpful Geordie ex-pats during the first 9,000 miles of the run around the world. Some of them have proven to be absolute game changers and all of them have shown me some incredible kindness and support. 


Nick Davison and his family (pictured above) let me hang out at their house during the build up to the run across the USA. I remember eating the most delicious sandwiches! Nick ran the first few miles with me on day 1 from Huntington Beach. Nick also tipped off his friend that I would be running through where he lived in Denver (See below). 


I was only 2 miles into day 41 of the run across the USA when I noticed a car pulled up ahead. Then I noticed the driver with a black and white shirt on. It was Dave and Lesley Greaves (pictured above) who had been driving all day to try and find me. They were on holiday and wanted to hand over 200 US Dollars (£123) sponsorship money from the NUFC Midlands Supporters Club. What a gesture! What generosity! What great timing when I felt quite lonely on the road. 


Nick Davison's friend, John Bulman (pictured with his partner Carrie above) was a police officer that I met in the Rocky Mountains west of Denver. He ran with me for a day and helped make the miles go quicker. If memory serves me correct he was from Keswick originally and was a Carlisle United supporter. I also remember Carrie introducing me to an energy product called Honey Stinger Waffles.


A few days after meeting John, he brought his colleague to meet me (pictured above) as I ran east out of Denver. That's one of my favourite photos of the entire run around the world so far by the way.


Who can ever forget the people pictured above who ran with me for the final 13 miles of the run across the USA. I'd suffered a week of terrible anxiety finding it hard to deal with being so close to the finish line in terms of time but not in distance. 

I'll be forever grateful to the Toon Army NYC branch for the company on those final miles on what turned out to be a 60 mile day. Also present at the bottom right hand corner is Dave from Real Radio. He ran a few miles with me as I reached NYC but had to get a taxi to the finish line as his feet were sore!

Pictured below is Alan and Tim (aka The Exiles) who wrote and recorded a charity song (available on iTunes - search Run Geordie Run). Alan (and his wife) were at the start and end of the run across the USA. Tim made it to the finish in time for a celebratory pint with the rest of the Toon Army NYC branch.



Pictured above are Mel and John from Perth, Australia. John, originally from Cramlington, reached out to me after seeing coverage on nufc.com. Along with Darren (pictured below on the right) they were at the start line of the run across Australia at Cottesloe Beach. 

Darren and John ran the first 13 miles with me and it proved to be a great send off on what was to become the most difficult stage of all those done around the world so far.

Mel and John let me use the facilities of their holiday cottage on day 2 and were present on support team duties from days 8 - 13 of the run across Australia. They both cooked many a fine meal and various snacks throughout their time on the team. They even converted Graham on the support team to meat after decades of being a vegetarian such was the quality of their cooking. 


Pictured below is Helen whose relation initially saw a request for help for accommodation in Perth on Twitter. Helen was kind enough to put me up for a few days before the run across Australia started, helped me shop for supplies and (due to the nature of her job) provided telephone support when I needed it. That phycological support was extended 3 years later during the run across Europe.

Helen has had a patient knack of helping me to gain a sense of perspective and putting me back on the right course on some very difficult and dark days. 



Pictured above is the person who I refer affectionately to as "The man who saved day 63". I'll let Donna's blog post from the day take up the story.

A spectacular start to the morning was soon to be over. Mark was becoming increasingly hassled by the flies and the pain had started again in his feet. Mark sent me a message so say how much he was struggling, I knew that this would be a low end to the morning. 

As I waited for Mark to approach the RV, I started to prepare for water exchange and a snack. Just then I heard the blip of a siren. My heart sunk, I was parked perched on the corner of a farmer's track – was I in trouble? 

I coyly went to the front of the RV to step out and saw a flash of a Newcastle top! This had to be good news! 

I was greeted by a big smile from Andrew, the Zone Commander for New South Wales Fire and Rescue. Andrew had previously been in touch on Facebook as he lives in a town not too far from where Mark would be running. Andrew's Dad was originally from North Shields so the family are big supporters of 'the toon'. This was great! 

In the distance a very dreary Mark was heading towards us, he almost dropped to his knees when he saw the friendly black and white stripes. His pace quickened and he greeted Andrew with a huge bear hug!".

The rest, as they say, is history and Andrew spent the next few days bringing supplies and checking in on us. His job covered a huge area and he passed us quite a few times. 

I genuinely think that I was ready to quit that day. I dread to think what the outcome would have been without our chance meeting with Andrew.

Donna's blog for the day says it all really and concludes with:

"The break with Andrew had cost Mark an hour, it was certainly well worth it as he skipped into the next running stretch for the day.".

I tweeted "Break over. Time to get back out there. I'm in the mood to attack again.". 


Finally, there was Pete Smith (pictured above) who ran the final 10k of the run across Australia with me. The previous 2378 miles from Perth had been physically and mentally torturous. The final 6 miles with Pete were very calm, casual and I remember feeling like I was on a lunchtime training run. It was such a contrast to the previous 81 days of heat, flies, blood, sweat, tears and pain. 

Donna's blog from the day - "I presumed that it was someone who had stopped to check that Mark was ok - a common feature of the last 82 days. How wrong could I be? Just when the glory of the finish line awaited, up pops a Geordie! Pete Smith, a friend of nufc.com, lives in Sydney and had followed the journey throughout. As luck had it he was in the area with family and kindly offered to join Mark as support for the final stretch.".

As well as the people mentioned above there are the various support team members, the local well wishers, the sponsors and helpers and all of the kind people who support me via social media. Putting all of that together has meant that I have managed to successfully run 9,000 miles across the UK, USA, Australia and Europe. There are so many people to write about and thank when I sit down and think about it.

All of the liaisons with the above people can be traced back to coverage given to my running on nufc.com. There's another set of people to thank for sure!


Of course, I now have Chappie (The Chapman Ventilation Around The World Buggy) pictured above, to support me. I'm looking forward to writing about the next group of people that we'll meet between Belgrade and the southern tip of New Zealand in a few years time.

Every ounce of help offered to me during the remaining 11,000 miles across Serbia, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, China, Japan and New Zealand will be gratefully received. The support and generosity shown is never something that I take for granted. It has and will continue to help me achieve my ambition to go some way to repaying the debt of gratitude that I feel towards local charities.

Raising half a million pounds or more by the time I reach the end of the world is not going to be an easy task.  Running the remaining 11,000 miles isn't going to be easy either and isn't without its fair share of risks. What in life that is worth anything at all comes easy?

This promises to be a continuing fascinating journey and with a lot of help and support I'm confident of suceeding.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Thank you NUFC.COM

There are only 96 days to go before the start of stage five of the Run Around The World. There isn't a day goes by where I'm not checking the 2,900 mile route from Belgrade through Serbia, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan to Astana. That is on top of a whole load of other tasks to be crammed in before Chappie* and I depart on June 4th 2018.   

I must say a huge thank you to nufc.com for continued support on their tremendous website. On and off, I've had a presence on the site for around about 17 years now where they have featured many of my running exploits. 


It's difficult to quantify, but many many thousands of pounds have been donated to the charities I raise funds for as a result of the support given by nufc.com. So far, almost £295,000 has been raised for local charities. It's with a huge amount of gratitude that I attribute a great deal of that amount to the visitors to nufc.com. 

There's hardly a week goes by where somebody says to me something like "I've followed you on nufc.com since the run across the USA" or "We heard about your from nufc.com". 

As well as the incredible support from nufc.com and the many fellow Newcastle United supporters, a lot of my commercial sponsors originated via publicity on the site. Chapman Ventilation is one such example. The company is based down south but, because of their Dad's back and white allegiance, they are Newcastle supporters. 

Chapman Ventilation paid the full production costs of Chappie *(or the Chapman Ventilation Around The World Buggy to give it its full title). That's me pictured below with Chappie in the middle of a snow and thunder storm.


Thanks again to nufc.com for their incredible support. With so many people doing some brilliant fundraising I'm incredibly grateful to them for all that they have done and continue to do for Run Geordie Run and my quest to raise funds for St Benedict's Hospice. 

If you would like to sponsor my 2,900 mile run starting June 4th and finishing 100 days later on September 11th then please visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/rungeordierun.

Monday, 26 February 2018

There are only 99 days to go until the start of the 2,900 mile run from Belgrade, Serbia through Romania, Ukraine, Russia to Astana in Kazakhstan.



This is stage five of the 20,000 mile run around the world and all donations are in aid of St Benedict's Hospice who cared for my Mam. Please donate at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/rungeordierun.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Countdown to The Road to Astana - 99 days

There are only 99 days to go until the start of the 2,900 mile run from Belgrade, Serbia through Romania, Ukraine, Russia to Astana in Kazakhstan.


This is stage five of the 20,000 mile run around the world and all donations are in aid of St Benedict's Hospice who cared for my Mam. Please donate at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/rungeordierun



Monday, 19 February 2018

The Road to Astana - Significant dates.

These are the significant dates, plus some other figures, for stage 5 of the run around the world (The Road to Astana).

Monday June 4th (Day 1) - Start from Pobednik (The Victor statue) in Belgrade, Serbia.


Wednesday June 6th (Day 3) - Enter Romania.

Thursday June 14th (Day 11) - Enter Ukraine.

Sunday July 8th (Day 35 ) - Enter Russia.

Friday July 13th (Day 40) - Birthday in Russia.

Monday July 23rd (Day 50) - Halfway point in Russia, 1420 miles.

Friday August 24th (Day 82) - Enter Kazakhstan.

Tuesday September 11th (Day 100) - Finish at the Bayertek Tower in Astana, Kazakhstan, 2840 miles.


I have 8 scheduled rest days during the 100 day run. I will be spending the following number of days in each country:

Serbia - 2 days
Romania - 8 days
Ukraine - 24 days
Russia - 47 days
Kazakhstan - 19 days.


Based on the previous four world stages I expect to burn approximately 630,000 calories during the 100 day campaign. I expect to lose approximately 6 stone in weight and 20% body fat. The picture below left was taken on day 3 of the run across the USA and the one on the right 97 days later.


I will wear out nine pairs of Brooks Glycerin shoes running 2840 miles in 100 days. I'm uncertain as  to how many tyres Chappie will get through.


If you would like to sponsor me in aid of St Benedict's Hospice then please visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/rungeordierun where any donation will be gratefully received and put to extremely good use by the Hospice.

Monday, 12 February 2018

The Road to Astana begins on....

It has been a busy first 6 weeks in 2018 and the following are my random thoughts about what's going on in the build up to stage five of the Run Around The World. I can definitely feel a real sense of momentum building as the start of stage five fast approaches.

The main task recently has been to start the visa application process for Russia. I must say that the Russian Tourist Office have been very helpful and provided me with advice on what type of visa to apply for and the process to follow. I have to wait 90 days before entering Russia before beginning the visa application process so that will start on March 1st where they will send me a letter of invitation. That's the important document that I'll take to the Russian Embassy in Edinburgh and formally apply for a visa. 

Once the visa application is successful, I'll be able to confirm the start date in Belgrade as the 4th of June 2018. It's a Monday meaning that I'll be scheduled to finish the 2,900 mile run from Belgrade to Astana on Tuesday the 11th of September 2018. The start date is one month later than I had originally planned and the reason for this is so that I can see the new Star Wars movie at the end of May. I'm a huge fan of Star Wars and couldn't face missing the new film, Solo, in the cinema. Sad but true.


After I get my visa in March, I'll be booking my flight to Belgrade and the return flight from Astana. That's going to be straightforward. What isn't so, is to figure out how I can transport Chappie (pictured with me below) safely to Serbia and then safely home from Kazakhstan. At this moment in time, it seems to me like the most complicated logistical aspect of any stage so far of the Run Around The World. It's not like I can nip down to the post office for a box to post it in. It's a tricky one for sure. 


There are a whole host of other questions starting to be asked. One such one is what do I do once I land in Belgrade. Do I sleep in Chappie straight away? Do I book a hotel with safe storage for Chappie for a few days before the run starts? I'll need a couple of days to prepare for the run and grab a few supplies. The whole issue of transporting Chappie is something that I'm giving serious thought to. Watch this space when I have the answers.

  
Another ongoing task is to study the route in greater detail on Google Maps. I'm making notes as to what shops/bakeries/garages etc are available to me each day. If all goes to plan, for example, I'll be stocking up at the garage below in Ukraine on July 4th. 

Google Maps has rarely let me down and has been instrumental in my planning to run across the USA, Australia and Europe. With the addition of Street View it's possible to get a really good feel of the types of roads I'll be running on.


I also need to think about purchasing the final crucial items for the trip. There aren't many things left to get but the Garmin InReach tracking device is top of the list. This needs to be purchased soon as I want to trial it on a 3 day training exercise with Chappie in Northumberland at the end of March. I need a couple of lights to attach to the rear of chappie and also one for my harness. I also need to start thinking about the kit I'll be running in and get the sponsors logos applied.

Also on my list are a few Team Run Geordie Run related tasks and it looks like we will have a slightly larger team (close to 30) than last year at this year's Great North Run. Thirteen of the team have come from Primal Fitness and Performance where I've been training four times a week recently. The picture below is of me pushing my new favourite piece of kit, The Prowler. Me and it have a love/hate relationship!


I'm really enjoying my training at Primal. The consistency that I've found to get out of bed early to attend four morning sessions four times a week is unprecedented. It's been very hard work but I feel far more mechanically sound than ever before and the mild pain that I've experienced in my knees for years has completely gone. I should add that this pain usually disappears during the big trans continental campaigns but is always apparent in normal day to day life. I'll leave it to the experts to analyse that one.

Back to Chappie, and thanks to my main sponsor, SOS Group who are providing me with use of their large van from March, I'll be able to transport him(?) to various locations to train with. This will give me more options than always running with Chappie from my home in Bedlington. 


In other news, I'm pleased to confirm that the Around The World Ball will be held on October 13th 2018 at the Biscuit Factory in Newcastle. Tickets will be on sale at the end of February and are likely to be priced at £45 each or £400 for a table of 10. Fingers crossed that we sell out our fourth consecutive ball. 


There are so many other things I could talk about including the great start to fundraising that has been made for St Benedict's Hospice. At the time of writing the first £1000 has almost been raised. The  amount raised for this fundraising campaign is £26,529.26 and I'm confident of breaking the £300,000 barrier for the overall amount raised around the world before I start running in June. 


Thank you to everyone who has contributed to that total. Thanks also to the sponsors shown above for their continued support.

Finally, for this blog post, I'll close with the simple image below which illustrates the countries ran through of the four completed stages and those that I still have left to do. A whopping 8,991 miles have been ran through 13 countries too far. All that remains are the remaining 11,009 miles through 7 countries. 


If you would like to sponsor my efforts in aid of St Benedict's Hospice then any amount would be gratefully received at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/rungeordierun

Sunday, 7 January 2018

A busy January of training and planning

With just 150 days to go until the start of the 2,900 mile run from Belgrade to Astana there is hardly a day to spare in terms of training or planning.

This week has been very productive and it started with a very tough session at Primal Fitness and Performance at 0630 on January 2nd! I A further 5 gym sessions and a 7 mile Sunday morning run with my pal Steve Dobby (pictured below) completed a good week of training.


From a planning point of view, I had a very good meeting with Steve on Tuesday. We worked out a training schedule for January and a loose plan up to the end of May. We also came up with a list of tasks to be started in January. These include my Russian visa application, researching the freight options for Chappie, creating a kit list with the weight of each item and researching the best running kit to use given that I won't have access to a shower very often. 

I also continued looking at my route to Astana (as checked by Jimmy). I got as far as Oradea in Romania where I found a Lidl right on my route. With me being self sufficient, it's places like these that are going to play a hugely important role. I've already spotted many garages, delis, bakeries and supermarkets along the way. There are also many long stretches without any such facilities where I'll be making use of every bit of available space in Chappie to store as much food and water as I can.


I managed to setup my new fundraising page for St. Benedict's Hospice this week. Thank you to those kind folk who were quick to make a donation. 

There is a long way to go to hit my fundraising target for the Hospice in 2018. A very long way! With over £25,000 raised in 2017 for Useful Vision and The Children's Foundation the signs are there that there is enough support to be able to achieve this.

To say that last year's £25,000 and this year's targetted £30,000 is keeping me on my toes is an understatement. I'm working as hard as I possibly can to deserve the incredible generosity of sponsors and the general public alike. As I've said many many times, that generosity is something that I have and will never take for granted. If you'd like to make a donation then please visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/rungeordierun.



January will continue to be a busy month and I'll be meeting Steve again at the end of this month to discuss progress made. Meanwhile, Jimmy will continue to check and double check my route. Watch this space for further updates.

Progress being made on the route to Astana

A huge thank you to Jimmy for checking and double checking the first 54 days of my route from Belgrade to Astana. It’s a painstaking task and to have a fresh pair of eyes look at the route is a massive help. It also frees me up to do other things. Jimmy is a software tester and has all of the right attributes for this task. A keen eye for detail and a willingness to leave no stone unturned being just a couple. 


There are still 46 days left to check. Slicing the 2,900 mile route up into 31 mile chunks while checking each one from a safety and facilities point of view will take another month or so. 

Thanks for your efforts so far Jimmy.