Wednesday 4 November 2020

Stage X - The route

Today is the 32nd anniversary of my Dad's death following a battle with cancer. It seems a fitting day as any to announce details of a special stage, which I've referred to as "Stage X" of my run around the world.

The image below is the route I'll be following for my Stage X. Of course, this special stage has been dreamt up while the world is in turmoil and as a result of not being able to run from Kiev, Ukraine to Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan as planned next year.

It will all kick off on the 12th July 2021 at Bamburgh Castle and here's the twist - I just so happen to turn 50 years old that week and that number has influenced this special stage in a huge way. Long time followers will remember when I ran 40 miles during the 3100 mile run across the USA on my 40th birthday. I always suspected that my next significant birthday would involve a similar feat.  

So I'm very pleased to announce that Stage X will involve 50 miles of running every day for 5 days while following the “Northumberland 250” tourist route in a clockwise direction. Stage X will start and end at Bamburgh Castle and will involve 15,000 ft of elevation. The daily start and end points are as follows:

Day 1 - Bamburgh to West Woodburn
Day 2 - West Woodburn to Allendale Town
Day 3 - Allendale Town to Kielder
Day 4 - Kielder to Kirk Yetholm
Day 5 - Kirk Yetholm to Bamburgh Castle (via Holy Island) 

The final day promises to be fun with the safe crossing time off Holy Island (at the 34 mile point that day) ending at 6.20 pm!

The aim of Stage X is to raise funds for St. Benedict's Hospice and hit an overall charity total of £350,000. The current around the world total is £332,981.13 giving Stage X a target of £17,018.87 for the Hospice.  

The daily mileage is huge and the chances of success not great (I always say that!!). I believe it promises to be a very interesting journey to follow and it’s local for once!!! This will be one of the simplest events I've done in terms of logistics but one of the most difficult to actually run. There's hardly any margin for error. Is there even any margin?

Running against a backdrop of beautiful Northumberland, a place where I spent all of my childhood holidays is going to be very special. I vaguely remember exploring Bamburgh Castle as a 4 year old with my Mam and Dad. Donna and I were married there in 2014. To start and finish this route in such a special place is just how I'd like to be spending my 50th birthday. I'm not one for gifts and parties. Hitting the fundraising target for the Hospice will be all the gift I really want. 

Whatever the state of the world next summer I truly believe that this won’t have to be cancelled. I will have a small support team at best. The worst case scenario is that I will run it unsupported. So whatever the rules/tiers/bubbles etc I'm optimistic of being allowed to run the 250 miles round Northumberland.

The level of difficulty means that I'm certain that Stage X is definitely worthy of sponsorship. 250 miles in 5 days is quite a task. 

I’ll be trying to recruit commercial sponsors and hopefully the general public will show their generous side too. All costs associated with this run will be paid for by myself. That will likely only be food, fuel, insurance and accommodation (if there’s time to sleep). Every single penny raised will be in aid of St. Benedict’s Hospice.

There’ll be much more detail to follow in the coming days. That’s all for now and if you’d like to make an early donation then please visit #rgrstagex

Sunday 4 October 2020

Stage X - Week 1

There are 9 months to prepare for Stage X of the run around the world. Tomorrow is day one and week one of training for it. The image below of my gym whiteboard shows my plan for the week ahead. It’s a tough start with an 0630 Versaclimber UK session at David Fairlamb Fitness followed by a half marathon (Fish Quay to Seaton Sluice and back). Learning to run the big distances while fatigued is something I’ll have to get used to again if I’m to have any chance of succeeding next year. 

Back to my whiteboard and my “wise words of the week” were quite easy to derive this week. This section contains the phrase that I will have at the front of my mind throughout the various weeks. To come up with a relevant phrase, I imagined Sir Bobby Robson writing his team talk on my board. Incidentally, I once saw one of his flip charts after a Champions League game with a simple but powerful sentence. This section of my whiteboard will play a huge part in what I do over the coming 9 months. So this weeks wise words are simply “SET THE STANDARD”. 

If you would like to suggest and sponsor my "TUNE OF THE WEEK" in aid of St. Benedict's Hospice then please get in touch at It’s the same email address if you or your company would like to add your logo to the big space available on the right of the board. 

I'm looking forward to the week ahead which involves climbing, running, rowing, pulling, pushing, lifting, twisting, throwing and stretching. It's basically a lot of the fun things I've enjoyed over recent months put together in a structured way. There's also a bit of what I don't enjoy too much but need to do. It's no good staying in the comfort zone.

Watch this space for progress throughout the week. I’ll also be explaining more about what the WOD boxes are too.

Tuesday 29 September 2020

Mont Ventoux attempt

I’ve just finished arguably one of the toughest things I’ve ever done in training. I had another go at climbing Mont Ventoux on Zwift! My first attempt last Sunday saw me reach half way before being interrupted. I was keen to have another go before the map left Zwift for a few weeks.  

I went from wanting to quit, to wanting to get to the top so many times over the course of the 3 hours and 36 minutes I spent on my Watt Bike. Sadly it wasn’t to be and I called it a day with just less than 2 miles to go. Body temperature, hunger and general discomfort played its part in my decision. Ultimately, it was the burn in my quads that defeated me. 

To be sat on a static bike and totally focussed is testament to how brilliant Zwift is. It’s much better on a big screen than an iPad and totally engrossing. The first time I almost quit was just before I got a view of the tower at the finish line. As soon as it appeared on screen however, I pushed on. I even managed a decent chunk of time out of the saddle with a decent amount of power (way above my threshold) generated. 

The “attacks” (I use that term lightly in this case) got fewer and fewer and my mind went to a very dark place. Some good music selections got me through another couple of miles but the quad pain took me into an even darker place. When I stopped pedalling with the finish line in view, I felt no way disappointed. It’s been years since I put that much effort into exercise on my own. 

I think 3 things cost me tonight. Firstly, Zwift seems to take into account my real world weight. I get on the scales everyday so that figure is bang up to date. My scales update Apple Health which in turn updates Zwift. Secondly, this was my longest session of exercise since I did the stay at home duathlon back in April. My fitness is a long way off where it needs to be. Finally, I’m just not conditioned for this type of effort for that duration. I’m sure there’s science behind it. All I can do is try and interpret how I feel and put it into layperson’s terms. That approach has worked out well for me over the years. 

What I do like about Zwift and my Watt Bike is seeing the power I’m generating on screen. I also take into account my heart rate. I tend not to look at RPM but do also not KMh. With all of those real time stats to hand during the workout, I find it very easy to judge if I can be working harder, be in a higher gear and knowing how close I am to breaking. I wonder if there is a lesson to be learned there that could be applied to running. 

For Stage X, a high level of performance will be required if it to stand any chance of succeeding. There’s so much food for thought at the minute and I’m really loving that. If you read my latest post on this blog you’ll be aware that training for Stage X gets underway this coming Monday. That first session will be so tough that I’m taking a full day off work to get it done. Tonight’s ride was 90 minutes late getting started due to a late work meeting. I will have no such distractions on Monday. As I type this, I’m feeling extremely hungry. It’s far to late to eat. I’d be surprised if I’m not having my weekly visit to Greggs for breakfast in the morning. “One brown sauce and one red please” will be my usual line. You should know the drill by now.

Monday 28 September 2020

Stage X Training soon to start

The special stage of the run around the world (nicknamed Stage X for now) that I talked about recently will be held next Summer. I intend to announce exact details about what Stage X entails on the 4th November which will be 32 years to the day since my Dad sadly lost his fight against cancer. With it being 25 years since my Mam also lost her fight, it remains hugely important, relevant and appropriate to continue to raise as many funds as possible for St. Benedict's Hospice. 

Having given Stage X a lot of thought since the idea popped in my head 2 weeks ago, I’m convinced that this could be one of the toughest physical challenges that I’ve ever faced. Success is far from guaranteed and everything I do between next Monday (when formal training starts) and Summer 2021 will be hugely important. Quality, effort, tenacity, determination and consistency are just a few words that spring to mind that will needed if Stage X is to be successful. 

I’ve spent the last week trying to work out what a training plan will look like. It reminds me of when I sat down in 2008 to plan the build up to the run across the USA. I think with all of the experience gained running 10,000 miles around the world so far, the logistics surrounding Stage X should be quite straightforward. What won’t be though, is the type and volume of training which I believe I need to get though. I’m no expert in any of this but I feel that I need to reach the heights in training that I consistently found from 2008 - 2010 (just before I broke my ankle!!). What a training campaign that was up until that point. What a relief that I recovered in time to run across the USA as planned in 2011 (The image below was taken on one of the early days of that run on Route 66 in California).

Back to Stage X and one of the most important aspects of my training must be to continue to have fun while I’m doing any form of exercise. This recently rediscovered love of keeping fit is not something I planned. It just happened. I’ve really managed to find a good balance lately with plenty of variety and many opportunities to work as hard as I possibly can. From David Fairlamb Fitness Beach Bootcamp (pictured below) or Versa Climber class to a circuit in my home gym or a good old fashioned run around the block, I’ve enjoyed every minute. 

I’m very conscious of keeping this enjoyment going over the next 9 or so months until Stage X begins. With fun and enjoyment in mind, as well as an appreciation of the size and scale of Stage X, I think I’ve got a really good training plan established. It will undoubtedly get fine tuned over time but I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in. I don’t recall being able to say that for many years. 

Each training week will be laid out on my whiteboard on a Sunday night for the week ahead. There’ll be fun elements to this too and also an opportunity for followers to get involved. I’ll explain more about that this coming weekend. 

Training proper for Stage X starts next Monday. The first session to get through will be tough. So much so, that I’ll be taking my first day off work this year to do it. 

Sunday 20 September 2020

Stage X

I wrote the following on my blog last month - "While my foot has been taken off the 'around the world run' pedal for now, rest assured that it will continue when it's safe to do so. In the meantime, I'm going to just do some exercise and I'm going to do it with a huge smile on my face.". I'm so pleased to report that continues to be the case. Every time I have put on a my kit and shoes I feel so motivated to give maximum effort in whatever I do. Confidence is high and the feeling I've had this summer after any session has been one of euphoria. I really find it difficult to explain why exercise is having such a positive effect this year. Perhaps I shouldn't bother and just enjoy it for as long as it lasts. (It's worth reading the 2 previous posts for a build up to this post if you haven't done so already.).

It feels prudent to use this new found motivation and enthusiasm to continue to raise funds for St Benedict's Hospice. It's also a perfect opportunity to plug the gap left by the paused Run Around The World. Of course, stage 6 should have been done next year. Sadly, given the state of the world currently and the pandemic we find ourselves living with, it's just not possible to carry out the 2100 mile run from Kiev, Ukraine through Russia to Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan. That will happen one day when it's safe to do so. The picture below is where I finished stage five back in 2018 and where the virtual around the world progress flag is currently planted.

So where does that leave me in terms of a replacement event next year? Well, I've decided to do what I'm calling a "special stage of the run around the world". It will be held during the summer of 2021. It will be massively difficult. I don't believe it has been done before. I have a route planned. I'm certain that it won't fall foul of any pandemic related restrictions. Ultimately, like all of my events, it will be very worthy of public and commercial sponsorship. 

For now and until I announce full details of the event in November, I'm calling this section of the run around the world, "Stage X". It's a working title to be used while I work out the finer details and while the event remains under wraps.

For the first time since the run across the USA, Stage X will be a stage that is self-funded. That means that ALL proceeds from commercial sponsorship will go to St Benedict's Hospice. For the avoidance of any doubt, it's worth restating that EVERY penny of public money will also go to the Hospice. This has always been the case and always will be.

Stage X will not require the services of Chappie who is safely stored away and ready to return to assist me onwards from Kiev in the future. Chappie spends most days in the sun keeping his battery charged. It's a hard life!

Stage X will require a support team and I've already got a pretty good idea of who might be first on the team sheet when asked. There's a clue in the image below.

As with all previous stages around the world, I rate the chances of success as slim at best. I see that as being realistic more than pessimistic. It's safe to say that Stage X has me concerned! It has an element of fear about it that I intend to use as motivation and for focus over the 10 months that I have to train for it. You might think, "why bother if you don't feel it's possible?". It is that kind of philosophy that I've always followed. This, for me, doesn't feel too different to the build up to stage 2, the run across the USA. 

Stage X promises to be quite an extreme spectacle of running endurance. I've no doubt in my mind that it will be horrible to run. At the time of writing, I have no idea how I will prepare for it. I'll be spending the remaining days of September putting a plan into place. I'll then need to start and execute that plan in October and build it to an unprecedented level (by my standards) throughout the winter, spring and early summer.  

I am setting a fundraising target of £17,108.87 for St Benedict's Hospice. The significance of this seemingly random number will be clearer when details are announced in November. 

So far, only 2 people have been made aware of what Stage X is all about. Their jaws dropped. Their heads shook. Hands covered foreheads in disbelief. When I saw the reactions I knew I was doing the right thing. I'm pleased to report that, despite a rolling of eyes, Donna is fully on board with my plans. "Here we go again" I said!

Next steps are to formulate a training plan, carry out some initial canvassing of commercial sponsors and support team members, finalise the route and to continue having fun exercising.

That's all for now on Stage X of The Run Around The World. Fancy words, ambitious schemes and impossible dreams must become a set of actions that give me the best chance possible of succeeding in 2021. Watch this space and my social media channels over the coming weeks and months for news on Stage X progress.

Monday 31 August 2020

Just doing some exercise

For some reason while talking to various people and writing on social media lately I've been inclined to use the word "exercise" where "training" has previously been my choice. Perhaps this subconscious action has been driven by the fact that I'm currently unsure when it will be safe to resume the run around the world. I've always "trained" for something in the past. Trained for John O'Groats to Lands End, across the USA, across Australia, across Europe and to Kiev (I really must find a catchy name for that section). 

I now find myself in a position to simply do some exercise for no other purpose than to keep fit, lose weight and enjoy it. I don't ever recall being able to say that. Ever. There are currently no endless hours to be spent planning the next run. Researching the route, finding sponsors, planning flights, saving for a period of unemployment, applying for visas and all of the other many logistics to think about is not anything I'm actively doing right now. I will say that I'm missing all of that. I always like to know what the next big run is and the challenge of getting to the start line, never mind running thousands of miles to the finish line, is always something that I've enjoyed. Equally though, I'm enjoying simply exercising right now. For the last few months that's been running, cycling, lifting weights and attending bootcamp sessions. I've enjoyed all of those things but there has been an unexpected benefit from Beach Bootcamp in particular.

I did my first Beach Bootcamp with David Fairlamb 12 years ago and have done hundreds since often with Mark Fleming taking a part of the session. Working away from home and family life have meant that I haven't attended for the last few years. I'm pleased to report that I returned for the first session post lockdown on July 18th. That date is particularly special to me as it was on that day in 2011 that Mark and Dave returned to surprise me during the run across the USA. That's us pictured below just before midnight on Route 36 in the state of Indiana.

Mark and Dave had actually finished their planned tour of duty on the support team a week earlier in Missouri. Who would even come back and rejoin the team at no doubt huge personal expense? Since 2011, there is hardly a day that has passed where I don't ask myself that question. "Who would even do that?". 

During Mark and Dave's first stint along with Steve Harrison on support duty we got through a huge amount of miles and it meant that I had an outside chance of reaching the finish line in New York on time. Despite those efforts, when they joined the tour for a second time, I was still 160 miles behind schedule.

By the time Mark and Dave left the tour for the second time 6 days later the mileage deficit was down to 120 miles. Just like their first stint, the team work was world class. I haven't even mentioned the 35 - 45 Celsius temperatures we were running in. Together we ran 37.5, 36, 37, 40.4, 40.3 and 40 miles during that time. This put me in a really good position but there were still 607 miles to run over the remaining 16 days. 

I've looked back on the stats so many times and it's obvious to me that it was these times in July 2011 when I was given a more than outside chance of making it 3100 miles across the USA in 100 days. That's easy to say now but there were subsequently to be 308 miles to ran in the last week. Without Mark, Dave and Steve I dread to think how many miles would have been left as the closing stages of the run were entered. Put quite simply, I could not have reached Coney Island on day 100. For me personally, that would have been a disaster. Yes, over £100,000 was raised for charity, but I had my heart and mind set on running coast to coast across the USA in 100 days.

Anyway! I digress. It all worked out in the end and 7 weeks ago, on a sunny Saturday morning, I found myself on Longsands, Tynemouth with Mark and Dave taking the Beach Bootcamp session. Nobody realises this but I was absolutely delighted to be back in their company. We have been through so much and exercising with a big smile on my face (mostly) was an absolute thrill. The session was really tight and well ran as per usual. Given my lack of recent physical activity it was very difficult too. 

I'm pleased to report that last weekend's session (pictured below) was a little easier and I can sense progress being made as I make my return to any kind of fitness.

The unexpected benefit that I referred to earlier was the huge mental boost that I felt after Beach Bootcamp finished. I really can't describe just how good I felt come 0945 on Saturday morning. I'm only just starting to realise that "mental health" is actually a thing. Perhaps I'll write a blog on that in the future. 

I consider myself to have good mental health. I've got very few worries in the world and really enjoy life. To come away from Beach Bootcamp with that mental state boosted perhaps gives you some idea of another aspect of doing exercise. Dave's take on the situation is the support and encouragement I get from the other participants particularly when I have ran so many miles on my own. I think he's got a very good point. I also think that I'm transported back to Route 36 in my mind with a set of people who will stop at nothing to help you succeed. It's only now that I realise how precious a thing that is. 

As I reached the finish line in Coney Island in 2011 after 100 days of running 3100 miles I said to my phone camera that "The significance of this run won't sink in with me for quite some time.". How true that was. I could write 100 blogs to describe how significant that run was and still could write more. 

I relive the run across the USA every single day in my mind. I dream about it when I'm asleep and when I stare out of the window comparing the day's clouds to a particular day back in Utah or Kansas or wherever back in 2011. Poor Donna never complains when I talk about it thankfully.

The run across the USA was so beneficial for The Children's Foundation and St. Benedict's Hospice. £105,717.80 was raised thanks to so many generous donations. The value to me, however, is immeasurable. The part it played in the grieving process is now very obvious. 25 years after my Mam and 32 years after my Dad died, I now find myself happy, content, proud and grateful. 

While my foot has been taken off the "around the world run" pedal for now, rest assured that it will continue when it's safe to do so. In the meantime, I'm going to just do some exercise and I'm going to do it with a huge smile on my face. 

This blog started out as a kind of "this is what I've been doing and this is how many press ups I'll be doing this week" kind of post. It meandered to a place I didn't plan on and I just dumped what was in my head and how I feel. Tune in tomorrow to actually find out how many press ups I will be doing! I'll leave you with this short video to enjoy.

Sunday 30 August 2020

This feels different..

There have been many failed attempts to re-discover any kind of interest in, motivation for and will to exercise over recent years. I believe the main problem is that I associate a number of what I would call "negative" things with any kind of physical effort. Firstly, the pain that I've endured while running around the world so far is the most obvious one. Excruciating shin splints during the run from John O'Groats to Lands End. Badly blistered feet towards the end of the run across the USA as well as extreme constant fatigue throughout. That all seemed quite insignificant when you compare it against the run across Australia. The pain in my feet for over 80 days and the permanent damage caused should have been enough for me to give up running completely. Fortunately I didn't and the subsequent runs across Europe and then from Belgrade to Kiev saw a lot less pain and damage taken. 

The long straight never ending road across Australia

Stobbsy just about keeping my feet in a runnable state in Australia

Putting up with physical pain is one thing but the mental battles that I've faced around the world so far have been a far more difficult thing to endure in my opinion. Almost every stage so far has seen extreme anxiety and paranoia as I've neared the respective finish lines. The final week of the run across the USA is where I first experienced this. I really struggled to come to terms with the fact that the finish line at Coney Island, New York was so close in terms of time (7 days) but not in distance (300 miles). There was another factor which was also present in the subsequent 3 stages around the world. For some reason, towards the end of a long running campaign, the desire for it all to be over is overwhelming. It's like a very negative spin on waiting for Christmas Day as a child. I really need to analyse this more in future but I doubt things are ever likely to change. At least I'm fully aware that the closing days of a stage around the world are going to present a huge mental challenge. I think there is a lot more to be talked about on this subject but I'll leave it for another time.

Losing my mind in Europe

The other major mental challenge that I have faced more recently in Europe and to Kiev is homesickness. Being able to do things like watching the TV, cooking dinner and just normal family life is a huge miss when you're away from home for months at a time. Thoughts of such normality when I'm thousands of miles away from loved ones is a tough thing to try and deal with.

Thankfully, I've come to realise that my multi month running stages are very different from normal life. I feel like I'm trapped in my own bubble. Every small issue or challenge is magnified to the extent that it becomes a big problem. Imagine just how big a real problem then seems during these long campaigns. Fortunately, there haven't been too many of those to deal with.

As you can tell, maintaining a sense of perspective is very difficult when you're far from home, extremely tired and having to run 30 - 40 miles per day or even more. A few paragraphs in a blog really doesn't do the physical and mental battle justice. What I will say is that it's no wonder the last thing I have wanted to do in recent years or have done begrudgingly is exercise. You can put a fancy title on things like #runsub17 but carrying out the actions involved is what really matters.

I don't believe that I've had the real will and desire to do anything exercise wise since the run across Australia finished. That was almost 7 years ago!

I should point out that up to this point in my running and fundraising life, I wouldn't change a single thing. Huge life lessons have been learned. Friendships have been forged. So many kind people have been met. I've also been told on numerous occasions that I've inspired others to do good. Most importantly, almost 1/3 million pounds has been raised so far for local good causes. This, of course, includes St. Benedict's Hospice who I still continue to repay a debt of gratitude to, for the care they gave my Mam.

For every mental and physical battle endured, every sacrifice made, every unpaid month off work, every impact on family and friends, there are untold positive aspects to Run Geordie Run. It's 1 step back but 100 forward after each stage of the run around the world is finished and the charity cheque presented. The negatives are but a very small droplet of water in a huge ocean of positivity. Thankfully, I have a very good sense of perspective. It could be argued that Run Geordie Run helps keeps my head above water. It's the positive thing that I've developed following the loss of both of my parents. It has benefited me greatly in terms of being able to cope with grief. In 2020, Run Geordie Run has got me to a great place.

Arriving back in Newcastle after a tough but successful run across Australia

So that's where I was at in June this year and the problem remained about wanting to simply exercise again. Rewind, to days after the last big run in 2018 when I met with personal trainer (and my best man) David Fairlamb who knew all about my struggles finding the motivation to train. He said that I now needed to "reinvent myself". I've pondered over those words ever since and I'm only just beginning to understand what he meant. 

If I'm to find enjoyment in exercise again and a basic desire to actually want to do it, then I need to think and act very differently while retaining all of the core values that have worked so well for me in the past.

It's a difficult thing to explain currently but since July I have very much tried to set aside all that has gone before and get "back to basics". I've tried to bring to the foreground all of those enjoyable aspects of health and fitness (where, what, when and with who) over the last 2 months. For once, I don't have a grand plan. Given this years events, I certainly don't know when the next stage of the run around the world will be able to take place. All I can do right now is concentrate on enjoying my training again and finding the desire and consistency needed. 

Dave and me at Newcastle Airport

I'll talk more about specifics in the coming weeks. In the meantime, after many failed or half hearted attempts over recent years to exercise, this latest attempt feels different. Has the re-invention of Run Geordie Run begun? It's certainly too soon to tell. There are a lot of positive signs though. Watch this space.

Thursday 21 May 2020

Thank you

I was a little late in going for a short quick run today so I found myself running through Nedderton Village at 8pm. For five minutes prior to reaching the outskirts of the village, I could hear a piano. Just as I reached the village, “I Have A Dream” was being played. I really wasn’t prepared for just how emotional that was combined with the residents and myself clapping for carers. I laughed when one lady joked “This is all for you”. 

Like so many people right now, I’m very grateful for all of the NHS staff, carers, teachers and key workers. I’m no stranger to gratitude of course. Being grateful for things is how I was brought up. It was ingrained in me from as long as I’m able to remember. 

Run Geordie Run only exists because of gratitude. Specifically, to repay the debt of gratitude to St. Benedict’s Hospice is the primary purpose of what I do. 

On Saturday it will 10 years since I broke my ankle and relied on the NHS to fix it. They did a tremendous job and, of course, I was able to run 3100 miles across the USA 11 months later. I will always be grateful for that. 

As I passed back through Nedderton Village tonight, the lady playing the piano was packing up. I thanked her for playing and shouted “Same time next week?”. I was very pleased when she said “Yes”. I know what I’ll be doing next week at 8pm. 

With all of the emotions and thoughts going through my mind about the hard, difficult and dangerous work being selflessly carried out by so many people I started to run out of Nedderton with real purpose. So much so that, for the first time in 18 months, I ran a sub 10 minute mile! That last mile felt like a pure sprint and I punched the air when I saw 09:57 on my watch. It’s another milestone on my long journey back to fitness. Sub 10 minute miles now need to become the norm. Continued healthy eating and weight loss are key to this which is a challenge that I've relished over the last 7 months. 

Everything is heading in the right direction. There’s plenty to be happy about and to be very grateful for. As another Thursday passes, I’m feeling as grateful as ever to the staff in the NHS and all of the different types of key workers keeping the country ticking over. THANK YOU!

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Fund milestone

With only a few more amounts to come in from kind people who have promised to donate on pay day, the fund for St. Benedict's Hospice is looking really good in respect of last week’s #stayathomeultraduathlon. I'm very pleased, proud and most of all grateful to announce that so far £2130 has been raised for that event. Thank you once again to everyone who donated via

Last week's event also saw some key fundraising milestones reached and in other ways almost reached.

Firstly, the overall charity fund is now less than £300 away from a third of a million pounds. Specifically, the total amount raised is currently £332,711.13.

That is an amount that reflects some quite extraordinary generosity from a great many people. ! St Benedict's Hospice now has the biggest share of that overall fundraising effort with £138,171.15 raised to date.

Of course, previous amounts and charities that I've raised funds for are £137,178.19 for The Children's Foundation, £48,911.42 for The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, £8200.37 for Useful Vision and £250 for North of England Children's Cancer Research (my first ever fundraising attempt).  

Take it as read that I won’t be resting until that overall figure has smashed through half a million pounds and I have made it across the remaining 10,000 miles around the world.

My ultimate aim is, of that half a million pounds, to raise over £300,000 for St Benedict's Hospice. It will only ever be a small way of showing how grateful I am to St Benedict's Hospice for the care that they gave my Mam during her final weeks. I know that she and my Dad would have been very proud of my efforts and your amazing generosity and kindness.

Given the current state of global affairs, who knows when the 6th and next stage of the run around the world will be able to get underway. The 2100 mile route from Kiev, Ukraine across Russia to Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan is scheduled to get underway in 2021. I suspect that it may actually be 2022.

If a delay does happen, then the prospect of an earlier, shorter 500 mile coast to coast stage across Iceland will become a possibility (More info here).

A stage across Iceland would totally fit in with the overall world route. It would be a 14 day event in the middle of winter. A whole new set of challenges would need to be overcome after the many sweltering hot campaigns of the past.

Thanks again for the support shown last week. It was a very late decision to run and cycle 600 miles without any training. Thankfully, it paid off and a good time was had by all!

Monday 20 April 2020

The funds keep coming for The Stay At Home Ultra duathlon.

Any feelings of exhaustion that I should have right now are being pegged back by huge feelings of relief and gratitude. I’m relieved that this terribly difficult 9 day event is over. What on earth was I thinking? Why did I have to do run, bike, run? Why not just run then bike? Why did I think it was a good idea to do this as well as my day job? Why did I think I’d be able to cycle a personal best of 60 miles in a day, then beat that over the following days with 70, 100 and 120 miles. Why did I not realise the pain my backside would be in? Don’t even mention the chafing! Thank goodness for paracetamol and bloody mindedness. Swollen feet, sore back and legs. Dehydrated. Life on hold. 

Regrets? Absolutely not. 

All of this pales into insignificance when I remind myself about all of the sacrifice and hardship being seen by the key workers in the country. Particularly those in the NHS and social care. Then I remind myself about the supermarket workers, the refuse collectors, the NHS volunteers, those in the food supply chain, infrastructure, utilities, armed forces, government etc etc. It is having this sense of perspective that got me through this challenge. It’s the same thing that got me 3100 miles across the USA, 2834 miles across Australia, 2633 miles across Europe and all of the other runs around the world so far. 

A little bit of “temporary effort” is the least I can do for the real heroes at St. Benedict's Hospice and also the patients, like my Mam was once, that they care for. 

I’ll rehydrate today, my feet will be back to normal later this week. I’m not sure when my backside will recover mind! The amazing care given at St. Benedict’s Hospice will continue for those terminally ill people who so desperately need it. Every minute of every day of every month of every year care is given by the brilliant staff at the Hospice. 

Thank you to everyone who has sponsored me so far for this challenge. At the time of writing, £1913 has been donated to St. Benedict's Hospice. 

If you’d like to help smash the £2000 barrier for the Hospice then please visit

Any amount would be hugely appreciated and put to amazing use by St. Benedict’s Hospice. Thanks, stay safe and at home.

Sunday 19 April 2020

The Stay At Home Ultra Duathlon latest from Day 9

Day 8 came to an end at just after 9pm with a strong finish.

Day 9 took a little longer to get up and started, the initial aim was 7am however it was more like 9am after a cold shower to wake me up and get me back out on the drive. The first 6 miles of the run were done in 70 minutes. I didn't feel as tired as yesterday at that stage but as I wasn't as fast this morning by comparison.

The first half marathon of the day took 02:33:19 - I found a little bit of speed towards the end. Not much though. I had a short lunch break to refuel before getting back on the bike to start the 120 miles.

I've tried to keep the pace consistent, I explained a little more on my tactics for this below.

At the time of writing this piece (just after 7pm, and typed by Donna as I'm still cycling!), I've done 70 miles on the bike and have another 3 and a bit hours I reckon until I finish this final leg of cycling. There is still of course the small matter of a half marathon run to complete the challenge. This should see me through to approx. 1am - I've made the neighbours aware and have promised to be quiet! 

Big thanks to my neighbours of course, they've waved, smiled, stopped for a quick chat and donated (both money to the charity and cake!). They've certainly helped to make a massive difference over the course of the last 9 days. 

Huge thanks also to those who have continued to send good luck messages, they really do help. The donations have continued to roll in with a total of £1685 raised so far. An incredible amount and I know just how much St Benedict's Hospice appreciate the generosity. 

Full update to follow tomorrow...

Saturday 18 April 2020

The Stay At Home Ultra Duathlon latest from Day 8

I've spent the last few days literally doing the day job, running, cycling sleeping and doing it all over again. I'll get the blog up to date when I can (probably after the final day tomorrow). In the meantime,  I'm very pleased to announce that the current total raised for St Benedict's Hospice is £1359. £859 has been donated on my Virgin Money Giving page and there has been a £500 donation direct to the Hospice.

I'm writing this on a very quick break at the 42 mile point of the bike ride which was reached in 2 hours and 45 minutes. There's still 58 miles to go today on the bike as well as 9 miles of running left.

Thank you to everyone who has sponsored this Stay At Home Ultra Duathlon in aid of St Benedict's Hospice. 

If you'd like to kindly sponsor me and donate some much needed funds to St Benedict's Hospice then please visit

Wednesday 15 April 2020

The Stay At Home Ultra Duathlon (Day 5)

I spent a bit of time making some adjustments to my bike before day 5 of the Stay At Home Ultra Duathlon got underway. I wanted to bring the seat closer to the handlebars so I could get a comfortable crouch position when I needed it. I'm sure that there's a technical term for this stuff! Anyway, it was time well spent and I start running just before 5pm.

The aim on day 5 was to run 5 miles, cycle 50 miles then finish up with a final 5 mile run.

Despite having a bit of a headache, I felt really strong at the start of the run. There was a real spring in my step as this clip from the Run Geordie Run Facebook page shows.

The first running segment of 5 miles was finished in 00:51:11 thanks to the best pace that I've found this week. That run burned almost 700 calories and I was very hungry when I got on the bike.

I demolished a couple of bananas and an oat bar during the first few miles on the bike. I managed to keep to a pace of 18mph for the first 20 or so miles. I stopped briefly to eat the leftover pizza from last night and was soon on my way again.

The sun set shortly after 8 pm and I was left pedalling in total darkness. Here are some random thoughts from that time.

The final 15 miles on the bike were spent in the company of other cyclists. I managed to pull in front of one cyclist, they would over take, I would overtake back and so on. I managed to keep this up almost to the end and I noticed my speed was consistently around 23mph. I was very warm at the end and was dripping in sweat. Those final few miles flew by though and I finished the 50 miles in 03:07:33.

I burned 2600 calories on the bike ride but I had bags of energy left going into the final running session of day 5. 

I felt really strong until the last mile. I was pleased to get finished in 00:55:12. The video below is my final lap with my immediate thoughts/random ramblings.

I felt I could have ran for much longer at the pace that I did tonight if I needed to. It was one of those nights where everything went right. I've seen this type of thing happen early on in my big trans-continental runs. I remember day four of the run across the USA been unexpectedly quick. Another day when everything went right. That was also the day of the drugs bust. I'll save that one for another time.

Back to today and once again my mobility after the challenge had finished was really good. The pain in my backside was nowhere near as bad either. Perhaps the seat adjustment had something to do with that.

Finally for today, I'm very pleased to repot that the amount raised for St Benedict's Hospice over the last 24 hours has almost doubled. Thank you to everyone who made a donation today. An amazing £305 has been added to the total which now stands at £630. It all adds up to some absolutely fantastic generosity which has been shown from all over the world including Spain, California, New York as week as here in the UK!

If you would like to sponsor this challenge then please visit

Tuesday 14 April 2020

The Stay At Home Ultra Duathlon (Day 4)

I'll start by saying a huge thank you to everyone who sponsored me today in aid of St Benedict's Hospice. £155 was added to the total today which stands at a brilliant £325.

I didn't start day the first running leg until 18:30 as I had an online talk and Q&A with some Spanish students at an English language school in La Gomera. That's one of the islands in the Canaries. It was an hour well spent talking about my journey around the world so far. There were some really good questions at the end too.

Back to the Stay At Home Ultra Duathlon and I’m definitely getting quicker on the bike and the pizza Donna ordered from local restaurant La Torre really helped. We heard recently that they had been delivering free pizza to local NHS, supermarket staff and other key workers. It felt only right to pay that kindness back and give them some business. Donna ordered 4 Pizzas and some sides! I had a decent selection on my plate at around the 15 mile point. They were absolutely delicious. More like an Italian restaurant pizza than a takeaway pizza which suited me fine. There was enough pizza left for tomorrow's stint on the bike!

The first hour on the bike was a 15 mph average. I managed to keep up nearer 18 mph after the pizza!

I'm pleased to report that the running is getting quicker too. It was 00:44:41 for the first four miles and 00:45:10 for the final four. 

It was very cold towards the end on the bike. My top half was ok with a base layer, mid layer, hoodie and coat. My legs were quite cold as the night got darker. 

I spoke to my son Jack, who I’ve not seen for 4 weeks due to the current lockdown, during the closing few miles of running and that really helped. 

The most noticeable improvement after 4 days is in my mobility once I've finished. I didn’t have to crawl upstairs to the bath as I have done on previous nights!

The late start today at 18:30 definitely made it more difficult with the later cycling miles and running being done in cold conditions. Hopefully, I’ll have a 2 hour head start tomorrow where a 5 mile run, a 50 mile bike ride and a 5 mile run is the plan. My aim is to try and run at 00:10:30 pace and cycle between 15 and 18mph. So that will be 01:40:00 of running and about 03:20:00 of cycling. 

I should be finished around about 21:30 tomorrow night. That will give a total of 150 miles on the bike and 30 miles of running in 5 days. That leaves 350 bike and 70 running miles left over the remaining 4 days. It’s a huge workload and one that I haven’t trained for. In fact, I’ve only walked to the CO-OP three times in the last month. Hopefully, you think all of this effort is worthy of a donation to St. Benedict’s Hospice. If so, please visit Thanks in advance.

Monday 13 April 2020

The Stay At Home Ultra Duathlon (Day 3)

I felt quite tired and sore at the start of day 3 of the Stay At Home Ultra Duathlon. A sluggish first 3 miles was done in 00:38:25. That's an average pace of 00:12:46 per mile. If I don't find a quicker pace than that by the weekend then I'm going to be in trouble when it comes to running up to a half marathon (twice) on Sunday.

I was 10 miles in to the bike session after that slow but solid first 3 mile running segment. I started to  notice neighbours who I’ve never waved at or smiled at in 2 and a bit years of living here suddenly waving and smiling. It was a simple gesture from afar but made a huge difference to my speed on the bike. I immediately thought of this scene from one of my favourite movies. Please humour me on this one!

I finished the 30 mile bike ride at 7pm. It took me 02:08:27 to cycle that distance. Again, if I don't find some more speed on the bike then I'll be in for 2 very long days at the weekend. I felt pretty good when I got off the bike. There's definitely more speed to be had if I can get my mind and body working together better.

The final 3 mile run got underway just after 7pm and was finished in 00:37:37. It was slightly quicker  than the first run of the day.

Thank you to everyone who made a donation today. The current total for St Benedict's Hospice stands at £170. I originally hoped to raise £100 so that amount is fantastic.

Thank you also to the kind person who donated whose wife is a nurse. I found out that she went off on another night shift as I was finishing my 2nd running segment. Their household has an elderly resident in it who has temporarily had to move out to another family member’s house to reduce the risk of infection. The rest of the family are keeping their distance, within the same household, from the nurse (also a mother), and washing their hands regularly and thoroughly. I think she has 3 more night shifts this week. Thank you to that nurse, and all of her colleagues in the NHS, for carrying out their duties despite putting themselves and their families in harms way.

The Stay At Home Ultra Duathlon (Day 2)

Day two of the Stay At Home Ultra Duathlon got underway just after 5pm. The aim today was to run 2 miles, cycle 20 miles and finish up with another 2 miles. 

After yesterday's GPS watch shenanigans, I'd measured and calculated that to run 1 mile wold require 64.4 L shaped laps of my drive. Given that a lap was taking anywhere between 17 and 25 seconds, I found it quite easy to keep track in my mind. It just needs a constant "one, one, one ..... two, two, two" and so on and so forth.

I think I must have ran over 2 miles on each of yesterday's running segments. Lesson learned!

A huge thank you goes to the small amount of passing neighbours who were taking their daily exercise and waved as they walked past. That was hugely appreciated and really put a spring in my step.

I finished the first running segment of 2 miles in 00:22:57 burning 389 calories. That's an average of 00:11:29 per mile. I didn't find the constant 5 left turns and 1 right turn a problem at all. The whole thing felt very comfortable. I think always having the finish line in sight is a huge mental plus. Also, this kind of event still feels like a bit of a novelty so there's plenty of positives to keep you going. 

I quickly changed into my cycling shoes and jumped on the Watt bike. After a bit of research earlier in the day, I chose a flat(ish) course around virtual London. 

This cycling segment was far easier than yesterday. I think I passed through the 10 mile point in about 35 minutes. That's almost 25 minutes quicker than yesterday's ride in virtual Yorkshire!

I found the remaining 10 miles to be a bit of a chore. The virtual ride in London took me down into the subway and when I climbed out the other side I had to really stick in up the 14% gradient. I wasn't expecting that!

As I was nearing the end, my neighbours, Kelly and Jordan, walked past in the distance for their daily exercise. They had just kindly made a donation to St. Benedict's Hospice via my Virgin Money Giving page. I shouted over that I thought I'd need to be on the bike for 7 or so hours on the final day given my current pace. "Get some boxsets to watch" Kelly shouted back. That's a tremendous idea! 
I finished my virtual cycle around London in 01:16:32, climbing 407 ft and burning 820 calories in the process. 

If I manage to keep to today's average cycling speed of 15.7 mph then the required time on the bike towards the end of the week is looking like 4.5 hours on Friday, 6.5 hours on Saturday and 7.75 hours on Sunday! Oh dear!

Back to day two and the final running segment was only slightly slower than the first one. I received notifications on my Apple Watch for some donations as I was running. That really helped. 

During the final few laps I had a thought for all of the front line workers in the NHS and all of those other people who are keeping the country ticking over. Delivery drivers, Post Office and Royal Mail staff, bin people, teachers, scientists, government workers, farmers and supermarket workers sprung to mind immediately. I bet there are many others too which I didn't think of.

The second running segment of two miles finished just after half past seven in 00:23:23 with 323 calories burned. 

If I can maintain or improve on that pace for the rest of the week I should have a good chance of finishing the final day in around about 13 hours. It'll be tough to do 2 half marathons and a 120 mile bike ride in the middle. Looks like a very early start will be needed with strategically calculated refuelling breaks (and a few box sets on the bike). 

While not using GPS to keep track of my miles today, I did have it switched on. The output from my Garmin made a little more sense than yesterday's from the Apple Watch. Only just though! It looks like I jumped over the fence into next door's garden at one point!

Thank you to Dave and Lesley Greaves, Jack Houghton, Kelly and Jordan Graham, Paul Anderson and Ben Killingworth for very kind donations to St. Benedict's Hospice today. At the time of writing, £140 has been raised.

If you would like to sponsor me for this Stay at Home Ultra Dualthon challenge then please visit