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.