Sunday, 8 July 2018

A change of plan

For the last month we have been talking to the freight company responsible for delivering Chappie to Serbia about how we will get him back to the UK from Russia. As I write this blog there is no positive solution to this problem. The risk of having to literally dispose of Chappie or leave him behind in Moscow is therefore a realistic one. 

I'm not prepared to step foot into Russia without an exit plan for both myself and Chappie. The plan for me is straightforward and my Russian Visa still has plenty of time left on it. Getting Chappie back has, so far, left the freight company scratching their heads.

I'm currently on my 4th and final recovery day in Kalush and have been weighing up my options since I arrived here last week. I've spoken to Donna about the possible exit plan and we have decided that the finish line for stage five of the run around the world will now be in Kyiv, Ukraine. 

I believe we stand a better chance of getting Chappie back to the UK from Ukraine. There may also be better potential for storage should a solution not be found in time prior to my return to the UK.  We are now having a discussion about this with the freight company. Given the difficulties faced so far, I don't feel too optimistic but I'm trying to remain positive and open minded.

In terms of the remaining miles, I have 339 (5406 km) left to run. I will be setting off from Kalush on the 9th July and it will take 11 days to run 251 miles (404 km) to my next recovery day in Zhytomyr. I have an appointment with an English speaking club there and it will be another excellent opportunity to talk to people about my journey around the world and the reasons behind it.

I'll be setting off from Zhytomyr on the 21st July and it will take me 4 days to run the remaining 88 miles (142 km) and reach the finish line at Independence Square in the city of Kyiv.

Hopefully, by the time I reach Kyiv, we will have a plan to get Chappie home. While dealing with the freight company since the start of the year, I never anticipated that transport of Chappie would be such a problem. I certainly wouldn't have started this current stage around the world without a plan in place. It's been a valuable lesson and hindsight, as they say, is a wonderful thing.

On a more positive note, what we so have is a very difficult and mainly unsupported journey on foot from Belgrade, Serbia through Romania, the Carpathian mountains to Kyiv, Ukraine. This journey, has certainly been as tough as the run across Australia was if not tougher. To date, almost £37,000 has been raised for charities in the North East of England as part of this campaign. I am also told that my time in Kalush has served to inspire many local people. There continues to be many positives and benefits as a result of the run around the world. 

Followers of the Run Geordie Run Facebook page will see that my time here in Kalush has been very busy. I've talked to local and national media, english speaking groups, army veterans and their families and many other local people. It will take time to sit down and write all about my experiences in Kalush and I will do this when I return to the UK. It doesn't seem fair to rush my blog and I want to do the kindness of the people justice. 

So that's the plan. I think I'm on to Plan D now, never mind Plan B!

I'm certain that Chappie and I will have many more encounters before we get to Kyiv. One thing that I've realised is that when people see us they are very curious and want to know where we are going and why. I've not had this level of interest before on my travels abroad. Chappie has certainly served to open many new doors and I think the story of my journey around the world is as rich and profound now as it has ever been.

Finally, if you have enjoyed following the journey please consider making a donation to St Benedict's Hospice. It can be done via following this link