Thursday 28 September 2017

Fundraising landmark

As a result of Chapman Ventilation's £1070 donation to Useful Vision, the £20,000 and £21,000 barriers for the current campaign have been broken this week. That's an incredible amount of continued generosity from so many people. Thank you!

See the image below to see the exact amounts raised for each charity. 

I reckon about *cough* £20 *cough* of the current campaign's amount is from me at the Tuck Shop!

I've got a lot of scheming and plotting going on behind the scenes and, with a lot of further good luck and generosity, I'm confident of hitting and smashing my own personal target of £50,000 for the current campaign and £317,000 overall by the time I reach Astana in Kazakhstan with #Chappie. 

The realisation of my fundraising ambitions would not be possible without the incredible support of the general public and the set of sponsors who help to make running around the world possible. None of this would be worthwhile without the charities doing their amazing work. 

Chappie - My new home

A year ago I decided that the final 11,000 miles around the world would be run unsupported. To take a motorhome and a support team through the remaining countries would be far too expensive. As a charitable venture it just wouldn't have the financial rewards that such an effort warrants. The cost of fuel, insurance and RV hire not to mention the personal cost to the support team to get to the remaining remote locations would be huge. 

So how do you run 11,000 miles unsupported?

I had an initial idea of pulling a cart with all of my supplies inside. It was Jimmy who then discovered a company, SJH Projects, that had made such a thing for an arctic marathon. I made contact with them and, after a visit to the factory in Nottingham to see a prototype, I decided that they were the right people for the job. 

The only stumbling block to getting the buggy project off the ground was money. That wasn't the case for very long at all and long term supporter, Chapman Ventilation, offered to pay in full for its production. The budget for the project was £20,000 and we agreed that any surplus money from that budget would go to my chosen charity for 2017, Useful Vision. As it turned out, £1070 has ended up being paid to the charity which is fantastic! A huge thank you goes to Chapman Ventilation for their continued support.

I announced my intentions to go unsupported using a buggy at the Around The World Ball in October 2016. To the amazement/disbelief of those in attendance I showed an image of the prototype buggy on the big screen. I'm not sure how many people took me seriously but I'm glad to report that 12 months later the Chapman Ventilation Around The World Buggy, or "Chappie" for short, is now a reality.

Another of my amazing sponsors, Fresh Freight Group (FFG), kindly transported the finished buggy from Nottingham back to the North East last week. By the way, the t-shirts designed by the children at Useful Vision and paid for by FFG have almost sold out. This is a classic example of making the sponsor's money work hard for the charities. a £645 spend has returned double that amount for Useful Vision. FFG also kindly packaged and posted all t-shirts which has also saved a lot of time and money.  Another massive thank you goes to FFG for their brilliant support.

Back to the buggy. With a carbon fibre body, steel chassis and 16 inch BMX wheels, Chappie weighs 70kg when empty. The solar panel on the roof of the buggy is connected to an internal battery which means that I'll be able to power equipment such as my GPS watch, a GPS tracking device, laptop and photographic equipment.

I'll sleep in the buggy for the remaining 11,000 miles through Serbia, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, China, Japan and New Zealand.

All of the supplies that I need will be inside Chappie including this collapsable set of pans. The first image below is a pot, frying pan and kettle all squashed down. The second image is all three in their full form. I can't wait to see what I can rustle up in those things after a hard day of running. It'll probably mostly be porridge but I reckon I might surprise myself a few times.

You'll be hearing a lot more about Chappie in the coming months and also the kit inside that I'll be relying on to help get me from Serbia to Kazakhstan in 2018.

Tuesday 19 September 2017

Jimmy is back

In Sunday's blog I mentioned that I'd had a lot of positive discussions with various people recently. The following details the outcome of one of them.

Stage five of the run around the world through Serbia, Romania, Ukraine, Russian and Kazakhstan will, of course, be unsupported. That said, there is still need of a support team back in the UK to undertake a variety of roles. I'm slowly finding the right quality of people and the first person to welcome on the team, or rather back to the team, is James Childs.

James, or "Jimmy" as he is known on the team, is once again responsible for route planning. He did an absolutely outstanding job with the route across Europe last year (as well as driving the RV from Newcastle to the start line in Lisbon and being on support duty for the first seven days). 

It was no quick and easy feat making sure that my initial high level route from Lisbon to Istanbul was documented in great detail and checked again, again and again for safety. 

Jimmy has now been tasked with repeating the exercise for next year's 2,900 mile route from Belgrade to Kazakhstan.

Jimmy's previous experience, methodical approach and eye for detail makes him the perfect person for this task. A huge thank you must go to Jimmy for giving up so much of his time for this very important task.

Sunday 17 September 2017

Lots going on

The start of segment five of the run around the world, the 2,900 mile run from Belgrade to Astana, is only 225 days away. There's so much going on behind the scenes to make this particular campaign a success. The following blog are just a few of my thoughts.

Firstly, the workings out for Team Run Geordie Run's fundraising for The Children's Foundation at The Great North Run is ongoing. I say ongoing as the money is still coming in. At the time of writing, £14,534.62 has been raised. There's still money to collect and although I would say £16,000 is more than realistic, the final figure could be as high as £17,000 for The Children's Foundation. Watch this space over the coming weeks as we near the final figure. Whatever the total, we have blown last year's total of £10,000 out of the water. 

I know that the charity will put that money to very good use to benefit children in the north east and everyone on the team should be very proud indeed.

I've already started putting together the team for the 2018 Great North Run and the response so far has been brilliant. Please get in touch at if you'd like a place. 

Further hard work and charitable scheming continues in other areas and I think it's nailed on that at least £50,000 will be raised on the next leg of the run around the world. That figure is my own personal target and has been the same for each of the previous four segments. With continued good luck, generosity and support from the general public the amount raised could be a lot more. I'm taking nothing for granted however. I work hard for each pound raised for local causes and I appreciate every penny or pound donated. 

Speaking of donations, the sale of "Run the Race" t-shirts has raised £1200 for Useful Vision so far. There are a handful of cotton t-shirts left and I'm so proud that the design created by the children at Useful Vision has proved to be so popular. 

Last week, I had a couple of really good discussions with various folk which means that I'm more excited for the next leg of the run around the world as ever before. I'll be sharing news of those meetings over the coming weeks. 

Next week is a very important one as I will finally take delivery of the Chapman Ventilation Around The World Buggy or "Chappie" for short. 

I'm looking forward to finally being able to share images of it and I'm sure that people are going to be as captivated by it as I am. 

Chappie was just a pipe dream 12 months ago and, incredibly, it's now a reality. I'm very big on  always performing actions to backup my words and delivering on my promises and Chappie is testament to that. That said, a huge thank you must go to Chapman Ventilation who have paid for its production. Without them it just wouldn't have happened and the run around the world would have come to an end. Thanks also to FFG who will be transporting it safely to Newcastle from the factory in Nottingham. 

Chappie will be my home for the remaining 11,000 miles around the world. I will eat, sleep and shelter in it and, of course, everything I need to survive will be inside it. It will be strapped to my waist while running and I'm under no illusion that pulling it across the remaining countries of the world route is going to be extremely difficult. I'm really looking forward to my first training run with it next Saturday and Sunday. If you see me between Bedlington and Tynemouth Priory please give me a wave.

In other news I have started to put together a plan for taking people on the journey in a more engaging way than ever before. I feel that it's something that I got most right using social media and a blog during the run across the USA. The blog had over half a million hits and backed up with a successful social media campaign I won the Chartered Institute of Public Relations Communicator of the Year.

For a few reasons I feel that I never achieved that standard during the run across Australia and Europe. Running 30 - 40 miles per day while taking people virtually with you online is time consuming. Over the coming months, I'll be continuing to work on the plan that I believe will serve the fundraising, the running and the story of the journey best.

Despite all of the fundraising and planning, the next segment of the run around the world won't get the go ahead until Donna and I are happy that we have a plan in place that makes the event as safe as it possibly can be. We are on schedule to make that decision some time during November 2017. In the meantime, the research, the discussions with the relevant people and the planning will continue. 

We are working as hard as we possibly can on this. We are only unqualified volunteers at the end of the day. However, using the experience and knowledge gained during the first 9,000 miles, I'm confident of being able to reach the correct decision in terms of continuing the run around the world.

Despite the go ahead of decision being in the balance, planning has started on the fourth Around The World Ball next October. I'm confident of another sold out event. Watch out for details in early 2018 about how to secure your tickets.

The latest fundraising position makes for good reading and I'm continuing to work hard to raise at least £10,000 for Useful Vision in 2017. I always enjoy reading what the children at the charity are up to and you can too on their Facebook page

I could go on but I'll leave it there for now. Watch out for further news on the blog, Twitter, Youtube and the Facebook page over the coming weeks.

Team Run Geordie Run 2017

Last year, Team Run Geordie Run raised an amazing £10,000 for The Children's Foundation at the Great North Run. I always felt that the sum raised in 2016 would be a very hard act to follow. How wrong I was!

At the start of the 2017 Great North Run weekend we had 24 runners in the main event and two in the mini event. We would have had an even bigger team but unfortunately, six runners had to defer their place through injury. I wish them all a speedy recovery and hopefully they will be able to take part in 2018.

Of course three of the team, Simon who is blind together with Jonathan and Michael as his guides, started out as fully fledged Team Run Geordie Run runners when they signed up in January. I saw a real opportunity back then and together we grew and nurtured the Running Blind brand. The three lads set off 15 minutes before the main field and the image below shows them just after they crossed the Tyne Bridge. Strangely for them, they were cheered on by thousands of people with no other runners around them for a good five miles. Sir Mo Farah then overtook them followed by the main field. The lads finished the Great North Run in 2 hours and 9 minutes. This certainly exceeded their expectations as did the amount raised which was £5,581.29 for The Children's Foundation. The fund raising isn't finished for Running Blind in 2017 and they have plans to raise funds for local blind children's charity, Useful Vision for the rest of this year. 

Back to the day before and young Archie and his brother Owen got round the Mini Great North Run with help from their Mam (Lauren) and Grandad (Ivan). Not that they needed much help with the run completed at a 9 minute mile pace! The main thing is that they had a lot of fun and the emphasis is on participation rather than fundraising. They were rewarded with a special Team Run Geordie Run goodie bag and their entry fee was refunded in the form of book tokens. Well done Archie and Owen and thank you to Lauren and Ivan for managing to keep up with them. :)  

I'm pleased to report that all runners managed to safely complete the 13.1 miles of the Great North Run safely. The majority of the team made it to the The Children's Foundation tent at the end of the run. 

Thank you to Andrew Skelton (pictured top left below) from my sponsor SOS Group Ltd for handing out the special Team Run Geordie Run goodie bags to the runners. Thanks also to SOS for paying for the runner's vests and t-shirts. 

This is the 3rd year that SOS have supported Team Run Geordie Run and it's really nice to be able to provide a goodie bag at the end as well as the smart running attire. 

At the time of writing £14,513.62 has been raised for The Children's Foundation by Team Run Geordie Run. There is still money to be collected and the final total could be as high as £17,000. That is a magnificent amount indeed and the total raised for local good causes by Team Run Geordie Run over recent years is now over £35,000.

Thank you to Gary Cowell, Steve Dobby, Carlton Fletcher, Richard Garman, David Gateshill, Richard Handley, Kelly Hannah, Matt Janson, Alexandra Jarvis, Alastair McLeod, Jonathan Hornby, Michael Dunn, Simon Kelly, Ivan Newton, Chris O'Callaghan, Connie Oldham, Lyn Rose, David Rowe, Chris Soulsby, Russ Stobbs, Alan Stoddart, Fiona Williams, John Wood, Andrew Ferguson and young Archie and Owen for all they have done for The Children's Foundation on Team Run Geordie Run in 2017.