Monday 20 July 2015


You may or may not of heard about a new smartphone app about called Periscope. It's a video streaming app for iPhones and Android devices.

I tested it out for the first time tonight with a short broadcast. I was pleasantly surprised at how many followers I already had (99). Of those, 30 or so tuned in to my very first Periscope broadcast.

Mobile signal permitting, I'm going to look to use Periscope in the build up to and during the run across Europe. Being able to broadcast the start of the run from Lisbon, perhaps a scenic section in the Alps or the dramatic finish in Istanbul is truly a mind blowing thing. It's going to help take people on the journey in real time from the comfort of their smartphone. 

The mock screen shots above are ideas of other uses. Alison Meldrum's treatment at the Cradlewell Clinic, Carlton emptying the RV waste, live coverage of me running and perhaps a special live broadcast of "Ready, Steady, Cook ... with the support team" could feature.

In preparation for these "exciting" broadcasts why not download Periscope for iPhone or Android and follow @rungeordierun. You can also view on PC/iMac here.

Thursday 16 July 2015

First Europe Support Team Meeting

The chances of me running 3400 miles across Europe in 100 days are currently very slim to say the least. That might sound a tad defeatist but I felt exactly the same at this stage prior to the runs across the USA and Australia. 

It's not all doom and gloom, however. With less than 300 days to go before the next segment around the world starts there is still time to do things that will improve my chances. The first thing I'm doing is to meet regularly with the support team. The first meeting was held recently at the Jury's Inn in Gateshead.

By the time everyone on the team starts their tour of duty in Europe it is very important that they know the importance of their role, what it involves and the high and consistent standards that are expected to be maintained. 

Present at the meeting were Sports Therapist Jason "Stobbsy" Stobbs pictured below (middle) with  myself (left) and James "Jimmy" Childs (right). 

Stobbsy will put plans for his impending wedding to one side and join the tour in the French Alps during mid June. He'll really have his work cut out to keep me in 1 piece as I tackle climbs such as d'Alpe d'Huez, Col du Galibier, Col du Telegraphe, lacets de Montvernier, Col de la Madeleine and Col de l'Iseran to name but a few.

Jimmy has put in a huge amount of hours in recent months refining my initial route and checking it for safety. He's added bits on here and shaved bits off there. He's got me some rest days at strategic points and increased the mileage where necessary on other parts of the route.

Jimmy will be charged with driving the RV from Newcastle to Lisbon and will be present on the "kick off" team during the first week. He'll return for the final 10 days to Istanbul as part of the "anchor" team. It's a good job he likes driving as he'll also be bringing the RV back to Newcastle from Istanbul. Jimmy has also recently started jogging in an attempt to get fit enough to accompany me for a few miles.

Also in attendance at the meeting was my wife Donna pictured above with Andrew Skelton. Donna will ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible from Run Geordie Run HQ in the UK before joining the "anchor" team for the final 2 weeks. Donna will liaise, where necessary, with the relevant consulates across Europe, carry out numerous social media duties, act as account manager during the run with the various sponsors and basically fix anything that requires fixing. The buck stops with her on most things away from actual running.

Andrew will be joining the team at various points still to be decided in Europe and will be driving the RV, cooking, cleaning and keeping me company with a few miles here and there. Those jobs may not sound as important as say Jimmy's route planning, Stobbsy's sports therapy or Donna's logistical duties. Make no mistake, they are just as important! As has been proven in the past, any weak link in any aspect of the support team and life becomes very difficult on the road and the chances of success decrease.

Like Jimmy, Andrew has also recently started jogging in an attempt to get in shape and help me get through some miles.

Malcolm Nichol (pictured above) will be joining the tour with his wife Nickela (pictured below right) probably in the Pyrenees. These 2 are a very positive and outgoing couple and their motivation during the tough mountainous stages will be of vital importance.

Carlton Fletcher (pictured above) completed the list of attendees at the meeting. Carlton will be on the "anchor" team with Donna and Jimmy. His previous experiences of the run across the USA and Australia will no doubt stand us in good stead. Carlton is an innovative thinker and is almost certain to provide maximum comedy value which will help when the going gets tough. 

I was 4.5 days behind schedule with only 14 days left of the run across the USA when Carlton joined the team. We lost a further 16 miles but clawed back a whopping 148 miles while Carlton was on duty in the USA. He's the obvious choice for the final 2 weeks in Europe along with Donna and Jimmy.

Not in attendance were Mark, Rachel and Richard. I'll talk more about them and their roles on the team in the coming months. In the meantime, thanks to the manager (pictured with us above) of the Jury's Inn, Gateshead, for letting us use the brilliant meeting room facilities. 

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.