Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Back to the Stelvio

More by accident than design my training for each segment for the run around the world has seen me revisit old ground. 

For the run across the USA in 2011 I did a lot of training on the North Pennines which was part of my 2007 John O'Groats to Lands End route. For the run across Australia in 2013 I went back to the USA to train. The heat of Death Valley in September 2012 was ideal preparation for those scorching hot temperatures in the Outback. In preparation for the run across Europe in 2016 I went back to Australia at the height of their summer.

With a little over 280 days left before the next leg of the run around the world gets underway (Belgrade to Astana) I've found myself back in Europe. On Thursday 20th July, I'll be returning to the Stelvio Pass in Italy for a training run. 

I ran up and over the Stelvio Pass on day 61 last year. It was one of the toughest climbs of the entire tour. This time, I'll be running in the opposite direction from Agumes to Bormio. It's about 28 miles.

I'll be running up this side and it's many switchbacks. I remember being glad that I was running down it last year. I never thought that I'd get the chance to run up it.


Once at the summit of the Stelvio pass there's a huge open valley before I reach the section below. This part is quite tricky with a few tunnels. Hopefully, the traffic will be quieter when I reach there later in the day. 


The images below were generated from my GPS watch last year. So I'll be starting from the right hand side this time.


If your company would like to sponsor this XXXXXX Stelvio Challenge (where XXXXXX is your company name) then please get in touch at sponsorship@rungeordierun.com. All proceeds will go to charity Useful Vision. The current highest bid is £300. Bidding closes at 9pm on the 19/07/17. In return, there'll be plenty of mentions and credit given on my social media feeds.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

"Run The Race" t-shirts

Run Geordie Run t-shirts have raised almost £30,000 over the years for local charities such as St Benedict's Hospice, The Children's Foundation and The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. We are currently working on a new design to be produced in August. When I say "we" I'm very excited and proud to say that I mean the children that attend the skills workshops ran by Useful Vision.

The Useful Vision skills workshops are held monthly for vision impaired children aged 10 and over. During the sessions children are able to make new friends, learn new skills, increase their confidence and gain more independence. They have the opportunity to take part in various introductory taster sessions and team building exercises. Children can take ownership of projects and be involved in planning activities.


At a recent skills workshop I set the children the task of coming up with a running related t-shirt design that was limited to two colours. The outcome of the was this very snazzy "run the race" design.

The front of the t-shirt has both the Useful Vision and Run Geordie Run logos. On the back is a very nice image of children holding a "run the race" banner along with the Useful Vision mission statement.


I'm sure you'll agree that it's a brilliant design and I'd like to say a huge thank you to the children and staff at Useful Vision for all of their efforts with this. Thanks must also go to Dave Shenton at Shenton Creative who converted the children's design into a format ready for the printer to use.

An absolutely massive thank you goes to my sponsor Fresh Freight Group who will be paying all production costs. In time honoured tradition this means that every penny that the t-shirts raise will go directly to Useful Vision. The t-shirts will go on sale for £12 meaning that the full £12 goes to Useful Vision. This is the approach that has always been taken with Run Geordie Run t-shirts.

I think the fact that the children have produced something that is going to benefit themselves and other children that use the charity's services is nothing short of wonderful. 

If you would like to order a t-shirt then please follow the instructions in the order form below. T-Shirts will be posted after 14th August.
 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The Newcastle Diamonds Border Challenge

My training is really starting to ramp up as I continue my preparations for the 2,900 mile run from Belgrade, Serbia to Astana, Kazakhstan starting in just over 300 days time. It's now the right time to really push myself and revisit an old training ground; The Borders. 

I first had the idea of running from Edinburgh to Newcastle back in 2010 while training for the 3,100 mile run across the USA. The route back then involved running just over 100 miles with overnight stops in B and Bs in Melrose and Otterburn. The undulating route covering up to 37 miles per day over 3 days on busy main roads has been instrumental in my training for the run across the USA and subsequently Australia and Europe too.


I've always managed to get a very generous sponsor for this particular training exercise with all funds going to charity. They've usually been unusual and unexpected sponsors too with round the world cyclist Mark Beaumont and Northumberland Tea among the previous sponsors.

I'm very pleased to announce that another organisation has kindly responded to my request for sponsorship. This weekend's 100 mile run from Edinburgh to Morpeth will now be known as the Newcastle Diamonds Border Challenge.  All proceeds from the event will go to Useful Vision who do some brilliant work with vision impaired children in the region.


Followers of my Facebook and Twitter feeds will be aware that, since I finished the run across Europe, I've been a regular at Brough Park. That is, of course, home of the Newcastle Sapphire Engineering Diamonds speedway team. I originally went thanks to winning some tickets in a charity raffle. I was immediately hooked (as I was with Newcastle United in the 1980s) and have spent most Sunday evenings since cheering on the team. 


So it's a huge thank you to the team and management of Newcastle Sapphire Engineering Diamonds for their brilliant backing of this weekend's very tough training run and of their very kind donation to Useful Vision. The fact that there is charity money at stake gives the Newcastle Diamonds Border Challenge a real edge. 

After my 0620 train from Morpeth gets in to Edinburgh Waverley on Friday morning I'll start running back to Morpeth. As you do. I'm very proud of the fact that this whole trip is costing £5.80 (plus train booking fee).

The Newcastle Diamonds Border Challenge is an unsupported distance of 100 miles and will take 2.5 days to complete. It was originally scheduled to take a full three days but the Diamonds are at home and it's tapes up at half past seven on Sunday! That will keep me on my toes. 

I'll be carrying everything that I need to eat, drink and sleep in as I run. The route is more easterly than usual and there will be more shops and garages  than usual as I'll be consuming more water in 3 days than I can carry. 

There is also the small and unprecedented matter of sleeping rough on Friday and Saturday night. That should be very interesting as I don't like the dark. The image below is kind of how I see those night's sleep going.   


As an added bonus there is also my sponsor D-Line's cash for miles scheme that is in operation in June. Every mile that I run this month will see them donate £2 to Useful Vision. So far, £116 has been raised. The 100 miles run on the Newcastle Diamonds Border Challenge will get that figure over £300. All in all it promises to be a good fundraising month.

So finally, thanks again to Newcastle Sapphire Engineering Diamonds for their brilliant support. Please keep a look out on my Twitter and Facebook pages for my progress on the Newcastle Diamonds Border Challenge.


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Every mile counts in June for Useful Vision

They are all at it now! My sponsors that is with some superb incentive based sponsorship schemes designed to help me train and eat better as I prepare for the next segment of the Run Around The World starting in Belgrade in May 2018 and finishing 2900 miles and 100 days later in Astana, Kazakhstan. There's already £1000 in the bag for Useful Vision from SOS Group and another £1000 up for grabs should I shed another 10 pounds of fat weight by 13th June.

This time it's a huge thank you to the sponsor of this blog, D-Line Cable Management, for setting me a huge challenge to be undertaken in June.


D-Line Cable Management's challenge is simple in concept but is going to be very difficult to achieve  in terms of getting the most money possible for Useful Vision, my chosen charity for 2017. The challenge is to run as many miles as possible in June and in return D-Line Cable Management will donate £2 for each mile ran. So the question is, just how much money can I possibly raise as part of this scheme? 

My personal record for the further distance ran in a calendar month is 1,069 miles. That was set exactly a year ago during the run across Europe. It was the section from Lisbon to Andorra which included some huge climbs in the Pyrenees. I've never managed more than 158 miles in a calendar month in training. That personal record was set back in September 2009.


Given those previous distances ran I wonder that with a full time job and family commitments if it is beyond me to run 300 miles in June. That would see a £600 donation from D-Line Cable Management to Useful Vision which would be brilliant.

Whatever distance I manage to run in June, a huge thank you must go to D-Line Cable Management for their continued brilliant support. Follow the progress on the Run Geordie Run Facebook page to see how I get on in June.

Brilliant backing from my sponsors

Wherever there is charity cash up for grabs I have always worked incredibly hard to deserve it. I'm grateful beyond words for the donations that have come in for St Benedict's Hospice, The Children's Foundation, The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and now Useful Vision. I'm also very grateful that so many kind people have followed the different journeys that I have made so far around the world. It all adds up to amazing support and because of it I stand a really good chance of succesfully running 20,000 miles around the world and raising 1/2 million pounds for local good causes.

The problem I've been faced with in the past is that in between the major events across the likes of the USA, Australia and Europe I don't perform as well as I could and should in training. This can also be extended to not eating the right types of food also. Regular followers may remember that I started the run across the USA at 18.5 stone (117.5 kg). That's the picture below on the left. The picture on the right was taken 100 days and 3100 miles later! 


So what can be done differently as I prepare to run unsupported from Belgrade to Astana? The answer is easy - train harder and wiser and eat properly. Easier said than done. Incentivise that with some charity cash and I'm sure I'd do it.

For starters, in April, my main sponsor SOS Group Ltd, set me a challenge of losing 10 pounds of body fat in 4 weeks. Personal trainer David Fairlamb oversaw the start and end weigh ins and I'm pleased to report that I lost 10.5 pounds of fat in 3 weeks and 3 days. As a result of hitting this target, SOS Group were generous enough to donate £1000 to Useful Vision, my chosen charity for 2017. A huge thank you to SOS Group for their amazing generosity and continued support. 


As a result of SOS's support in April/May another one of my sponsors, Fresh Freight Group, have got in on the act and have set me a challenge of yet again losing 10 pounds of fat weight in 4 weeks. I'm now half way through this one and the final weigh in will be on the 13th June. If successful, Fresh Freight Group will also donate £1000 to Useful Vision. 


I'm sure you'll agree that the support from my sponsors so far during this campaign has been brilliant. Thanks so much to SOS Group and Fresh Freight Group. Now it's down to me to burn some fat!

If you'd also like to make a donation to local vision impaired children's charity Useful Vision then this can be done at www.virginmoney.com/rungeordierun.


To find out more about the brilliant work that Useful Vision undertakes with children then please visit their Facebook page or website.


Thursday, 27 April 2017

Useful Vision Skills Workshops

Run Geordie Run t-shirts have raised almost £30,000 over the years for local charities such as St Benedict's Hospice, The Children's Foundation and The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

We are currently working on a new design to be produced in the next few months. When I say "we" I'm very excited to say that I mean the children that attend the skills workshops ran by Useful Vision.


The Useful Vision skills workshops are held monthly for vision impaired children aged 10 and over. During the sessions children are able to make new friends, learn new skills, increase their confidence and gain more independence. They have the opportunity to take part in various introductory taster sessions and team building exercises. Children can take ownership of projects and be involved in planning activities. 


The children's design will be running related and will be printed on technical fabric t-shirt which is perfect for wearing in the gym or on a run. The production costs of the t-shirts will be paid for by my main sponsor SOS Group and ALL PROCEEDS from the sale of the t-shirts will go directly back to Useful Vision. That approach has been taken on every t-shirt made in the past which is the main reason why almost £30,000 has been raised from t-shirt sales. 


I absolutely love the idea of using the children's design together with the generosity of SOS Group to produce something that directly benefits Useful Vision. I'll be buying a couple of t-shirts myself and will be very proud to wear one whenever I'm training for the next leg go the run around the world.

I'll update the blog, Facebook and Twitter with details of when the t-shirts are available for pre order. In the meantime, thanks in advance go to Useful Vision and the children that attend their skills workshops for the effort they'll be putting into this project.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Around the World: Segment 5: The Road to Astana (Part 3)

There are 380 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 third and final section from Samara to Astana which is a distance of approximately 1100 miles.

Samara is a former closed city that became a centre of the rocket building industry after WWII apparently. My initial calculations suggest that it will take 61 days to reach Samara from Belgrade. This means that I'll have 39 days left to run the final 1100 miles to the finish line in Astana. I remember taking 37 days to run 874 miles from John O'Groats to Lands End. This just acts as a reminder how ridiculous the required daily mileage has become since then. 


The city of Sterlitamak (pictured below) lies on mile 2000 of my route from Belgrade to Astana. My initial plan has me taking 71 days to get to this city.  This is exactly in line with where I was during the run across the USA in 2011. Albeit I was 166 miles behind schedule then. Unlike the trans USA run however, this time I will be pulling a buggy with all of my kit and supplies inside. Once it is constructed and I have time to train and find my range with it then I'll have a much better idea of what my daily schedule needs to be and how many rest days I'll have in order to reach Astana within 100 days.


Magnitogorsk is the last major centre of population in Russia before the border with Kazakhstan. That's mile 2168 on the Road to Astana. The largest iron and steel works in Russia are situated in the city. Like Samara, Magnitogorsk is a former closed city.

It is a further 155 miles to the Russian border with Kazakhstan near Varvarinka (pictured below). If all goes to plan then it will have taken me 83 days to get to this border from the start line having spent 2 days in Serbia, 8 days in Romania, 24 days in Ukraine and 48 days in Russia. That will just leave 18 days and 541 miles left to run to the finish line in Astana, Kazakhstan.

I wonder what tales I'll have to share from this border crossing. I suspect the last thing the border patrol officers will expect to see will be a very tired British man pulling a big red buggy.


From looking at satellite images it looks like I'll be running through a lot of agricultural land in Kazakhstan. The city of Rudny, however, has the biggest iron ore extracting and processing plant in Kazakhstan and last year in was reported that it employed 19,000 people.


The satellite image below shows what looks like some huge mines to the north and north east of Rudney. They appear to be much bigger than the city itself. 


It will take a further 470 miles to reach Astana. The actual finish line will be at the foot of the Bayterek Tower (pictured below) which is situated very close to the Presidential Palace. What a stunning finish line that will be.  



So there we have it. My initial plan is to run the 2835 miles from the Victor Statue in Belgrade, Serbia to the Bayterek Tower in Astana, Kazakhstan in 100 days during the Summer of 2018. I may be able to take nine rest days during that time if my anticipated daily range of 31 miles in the Around The World Buggy is accurate. I'll have a better idea of that over the coming months.

It's going to be incredibly tough expedition. If I'm successful then I will have ran 11,826 miles around the world over 5 segments.

I'll talk more about my fears and worries, the main challenges that I think lie ahead and also what I'm looking forward to the most in a future blog post. In the meantime, I'll continue to work as hard as I possibly can to make segment five of the run around the world, The Road to Astana, another huge success.