Thursday, 12 July 2018

Day 36

This blog starts last night where I didn’t try to go to sleep until I received the final score from the England match from Donna. Before the final whistle two huge farm vehicles turned into the side road where I’d setup camp. Thankfully, there was enough room for them to pass. 

Yet again I slept with the top half of the hatch open and covered by a mosquito net. It made for a much better sleep. I saw a few people walk past at around 0500 and for the next few hours there was the odd cyclist, horse or farm worker. 

I packed up camp and set off at 0830. Compared to previous days, today’s route was very straightforward. I did, however, add a few miles to stay on the road and not go off-road. It was a wise decision given the adverse weather late in the day. 

I spoke to Donna via a WhatsApp call to wish her a happy wedding anniversary. We recalled where we had spent our anniversaries. France, Slovenia and Italy was the answer. This is the first one we’ve spent apart. 

Back to the day’s running and there were a few rolling hills to contend with. I felt very weak due to the lack of food and the hills of the previous three days. 

I reached Kupchyntsi at 1030 and decided to stop and cook a ration pack. Unfortunately, I was joined by a drunk Ukrainian man who insisted in speaking to me even though I told him I was English. He sat himself down next to me and offered me some vodka. I declined and packed up my cooking stuff. I continued on my way and he tried to keep up alongside talking Ukrainian. He was invading my running space which forced me further into the road. I put my foot down and I soon lost him. 

I’ve seen many monuments in my time in Ukraine. I quite liked this one. 

There were a few climbs to get stuck into and I eventually took a right turn eastward to Ternopil after 12 miles. Just prior to that turn the couple below handed over a donation to St Benedict’s Hospice along with a religious card and some biscuits. As ever, I was very grateful for the kindness shown here in Ukraine. There hasn’t been a day so far without such kindness. 

After 14 miles I decided attempt to cook something again. I was running on empty and felt very hungry. All I could think about were cheeseburgers, chicken and Coca Cola. I plummeted for a ration pack of chicken in black bean sauce. It wasn’t bad. 

Just around the corner from where I’d cooked lunch was a shop. I bought a nice cold can of coke and a large bottle too. The can was drank straight away! I got asked for a few photos while on the main road. The people had all seen Chappie and me on the tele. These people always have kind words. This man said “Best of the best”. 

I could see dark clouds surrounding me and I knew it wouldn’t be long before I’d get a good soaking. Just before the storm hit, a drunk man on a bike pulled alongside to my left. He occupied the space that Chappie’s right hand wheel usually does. Again, this meant that I was forced further into the road. This was a much busier road than before and I tried to outrun him without success. The hill that we were on was just too steep. He eventually turned off to the left and it was then that the heavens opened. 

Normally, I’d always try to take shelter from a thunderstorm but I knew that people were waiting for me in Ternopil and also I was a little bit agitated from the drunk cyclist. I used the adrenaline rush to good effect and put in some of the quickest miles of the day. 

The rain stopped after 2 hours and the roads were flooded. Fortunately, my waterproof and poncho combination kept me reasonably dry. I could feel that my feet weren’t in good shape however. 

As I descended into Ternopil a group of four people (from the council) were there to greet me. The now traditional selfie was taken and they liaised with Iryna a university teacher in Ternopil who I’d previously been speaking to regarding accommodation. 

I got a text through from Iyrna to say that a hotel had been found and there was a journalist there waiting to speak to me. The hotel was at the top of the final climb of the day. I’d managed 23 miles and in a decent time considering all of the climbing. 

I had a quick shower and ventured to the adjacent restaurant for a burger, some chicken, potatoes and cabbage. I also downed a lot of Coca Cola. Basically, it was everything that I’d been craving. 

I spoke to Iryna, a teacher and her students while I ate. They were really nice people and they had some really good questions. 

I retired for the night to inspect my feet. They aren’t a pretty sight unfortunately. All they have left to do is 7 days of 25 miles to Zhytomyr. They get to rest for 1 day there. Then it’s 4 days of 22 miles to the finish line in Kyiv. 

On a more positive note, it’s my 47th birthday tomorrow! If you’d like to send me a present then any cash donated to St Benedict’s Hospice would be greatly appreciated. That can be done via

Thanks in advance for helping to make my birthday a special one. I think the picture below was taken on my 12th birthday. I don’t think I’ve change much!