Tuesday, 7 July 2015

A fantastic gift

I arrived home tonight from the gym with this very special and unique gift from Donna. It's the kind of thing that I'll be able to look at and a million memories, good, bad and horrifically tough will be triggered. 

It's one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. It will have pride of place somewhere where I can glance at it from time to time and reflect on what turned out to be a most incredible journey that took me to the brink both physically and mentally.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Biggest training challenge yet for 2016

With only 300 days left until the start of the run across Europe I decided to step things up last week with an increase in mileage and difficulty. The week got off to an unusual start with what you might call a bit of "high temperature training". Donna and I reprised our roles as Dorothy and "Courage" the Lion at The Children's Foundation Family Fun Day at Kirkley Hall. 

We've ran the Great North Run twice in the costumes over recent years. The Fun Day was almost as difficult with lots of hi-fives, fist pumps and pictures taken on a sweltering hot day. We were originally asked to don the costumes and a collection bucket for 30 minutes "here and there" giving a bit of recovery time from the very warm costume. However, the generous attendees kept putting lots of change in our collection bucket and apart from a 10 minute breather we stood for four hours having a lot of fun with children and grown ups alike. 

With thousands in attendance, the Family Fun Day was a huge success for The Children's Foundation in terms of awareness and fundraising and I believe another event is already in the planning stages for next year. Sadly I'll be running across Europe at the time but look out for a special Run Geordie Run stall.

The weeks running got off to a solid start with standard lunchtime runs including a pleasant 8 mile run around Havannah Nature Reserve on a very warm day and a random 10 mile route including Newcastle on what was the warmest July day on record. Both runs were very comfortable and saw me try a product from CherryActive called BeetActive for the first time. This is a drink which, taken an hour or so before exercise, helps to delay the onset of fatigue. It's hard to measure how successful it was as I'm getting fitter every week but I was surprised just how comfortable and consistent both runs were during the week.

Saturday's plan was to run from Bamburgh to Seahouses and back as many times as I could in an 8 hour period. I left my car at Bamburgh and ran self supported for the entire day. I set off along the beach at 10:30 in horrible wet and windy conditions. There weren't very many people out at all thanks to the weather.

To my surprise, I found running past the caravan site where I spent every Summer from the age of 3 to 18 a very emotional experience. I have many happy memories and it just served to spur me on for the rest of the day.

Soaked from head to toe, I made it to the "Lookout" at Seahouses golf course in just under an hour via the beach and the harbour pier. Suddenly, my aim for the remainder of the day and to keep things as interesting as possible had become to reach each point in Bamburgh and Seahouses in under an hour.

I ran back to the car in Bamburgh along the road in 47 minutes with some decent pace. I bought myself some time to take on some energy food and set off with time to spare from the point of view of getting to each point in under an hour.

The 2nd journey back to Seahouses was quicker than the first and took 54 minutes. The journey back to Bamburgh started off quite slowly but miles 15, 16 and 17 got progressively quicker with mile 18 at sub 9 minute mile pace. It's a shame I got back to the car as, despite the now boiling hot sun beating down, I had found a really good rhythm and had plenty of energy.

Given that I was only half way though the day having ran for 03:54:00 I decided to have a quick sit down in the car and something to eat. This was a fatal move as I had a tactical snooze for just over an hour. I certainly needed it and many late nights working on the logistics of the run across Europe and early starts in the gym started to tell!

After my sleep I ran back to Seahouses in an hour and took the same time to get back to Bamburgh. I decided to call it a day at that point after running 27.5 miles in 07:16:56 (including tactical snooze time!). I hard burned 4200 calories in that time which meant only one thing. Fish and Chips in Seahouses! They were delicious and well earned I thought as this was the longest that I'd ran since day 81 in Australia.

Sunday saw very little evidence of the previous day's running in my legs. This was thanks to CherryActive of course. The plan was to attempt to run from the bottom of the bank near the Priory in Tynemouth, up the steps in King Edwards bay, up 4 ramps in Longsands and 2 ramps in Cullercoats bay. I then did the whole thing in reverse back to the bottom of the bank near the Priory while adding in some active recovery along the pier. That 1st "lap" was 6.5 and took just over an hour. The unfortunate thing was that I wasn't just jogging up each ramp, I was sprinting up them. I found it impossible to ignore the challenge of powering up each climb. This wasn't turning into the workout that I'd hoped for and I wasn't keeping anything in reserve at all. I've got to admit that I throughly enjoyed getting onto my forefoot and really letting my arms help to get to the top of each climb.    

I decided to do each climb twice during the 2nd lap. This was absolutely exhausting and I made good use of the active recovery time between each sprint. I reached the finish line after 12 miles. You can see from the graph above just how many climbs there were.

The session was a lot shorter than I'd planned to do but I was very pleased with the effort tweeting:

"Stopping after this lap. I've sprinted up every climb so far. Very pleased. This is not an 8 hour or even 3 hour workout just yet."

"Brilliant response though after yesterday's very tough session. This has been a real confidence booster for sure."

"I'll have a repeat of this weekend in August and try and learn and improve. @cherryactive played a huge part today. No aches from yesterday."

"The enthusiasm to run that was missing in the build up to Australia is well and truly back and has been growing well since February."

"1300 ft of climbing today over 12 miles. Think all of these stats mean that I've qualified for a Sunday dinner!!"

So without doubt this had been the best week of training so far in the build up to the run across Europe. 3 gym sessions and 58 miles of running was very pleasing. This week sees a much lighter schedule with only 30 miles to run and 3 gym sessions.

There is a real momentum gathering for the run across Europe. Not just in training but also with the planning side of things. I'll talk more about that later this week.

One thing is for sure, all of the planning and prep done over the next 300 days is crucial to the success of the next big run. 

Friday, 26 June 2015


Tickets are still on sale for the Run Geordie Run "Around The World" Ball. The fundraiser, in aid of The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children's Foundation, will take place at The Biscuit Factory in Newcastle on October 10th 2015.

The ball will be hosted by radio's Sony Gold Award winning duo Gary and Lisa and musical entertainment will be provided by the superb party band; "Tiny Afro". There will be the usual host of games, raffles and auctions. Although many of them with a twist and not your usual charity ball fare. Previous attendees will know that the quality of the food at The Biscuit Factory is second to none and we are working on a unique "Around The World" themed menu.

The ticket price is £55 each or £500 for a table of 10.

The last Run Geordie Run charity ball in 2011 was a complete sell out so please act quick to take advantage of the cheaper ticket price and to avoid "massive disappointment". At the time of writing, half of the tickets have now been sold.

If you would like to attend, then please download, print and complete the ticket application postal form here or fill in an online form here.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Unfinished business

Regular followers of Run Geordie Run will need no reminding of how and why I came to be a fundraiser. It all started in 1994 doing the Great North Run in aid of St. Benedict's Hospice. The staff at the Hospice cared for my Mam during her final days battling cancer. 

In 2009, I decided to fundraise for a local children's charity. There are so many brilliant ones in the region but it was The Children's Foundation that was chosen for their broad range of projects and the amount of children that the money reached.

In 2012, after 18 years of fundraising for St. Benedict's Hospice, I decided to switch my fundraising attentions from palliative care of terminally ill people that the Hospice provides to a charity that funds treatment and research; The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. You can read more about that decision here.

I recently totalled up how much I'd raised for the 3 charities (plus a small amount for NECCR in 1995). The amounts, as a result of so much public generosity, are as follows:

St. Benedict's Hospice - £99,421.91
The Children's Foundation - £92,311.65
The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation - £31,507.24
North of England Children's Cancer Research - £250

I make no apologies for constantly talking about amounts raised. That cash is the ultimate fuel for my running feet. The opportunity to raise those funds for such wonderful charities has made coping with the death of my parents more bearable. When I announced details of the Run Around The World last year I said the following when talking about the pain of grief "Thankfully, through fundraising, I have found a way to control and even some days numb the pain. There is no doubt in my mind that raising funds for such good causes as The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children’s Foundation has been as beneficial to me as it has to them and the beneficiaries of their charitable good deeds.".

Anyway, back to the main point of this blog post. You'll notice that the amount raised for St. Benedict's is just short of £100,000. It's a mere £578.09 away from that 6 figure sum. That, dear readers, is what I like to call "unfinished business".

In an attempt to try and break through the £100,000 barrier for the Hospice I'll be running the Virgin London Marathon in April. I'll be calling it my 100,000 Challenge.

The London Marathon is a tough event and I want to do the Hospice proud in memory of my Mam and Dad. With a bit of luck and the continued generosity of so many kind people I'm sure it will be a success.

If you would like to sponsor the 100,000 challenge then please do so at my Virgin Money Giving Page here