Thursday, 22 April 2021

Jack's Tea - New Sponsor

When I was consuming a lot of sugary caffeinated energy drinks during the final days of the run across the USA, it led to huge problems. Specifically, I'm more  than convinced that it contributed to the high levels of stress and anxiety that I was experiencing at the time. I would even go as far as saying that I felt very depressed too. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" as Charles Dickens once wrote.

There were 548 miles to run during the final 14 days of the run across the USA. That was a deficit of 131 miles. In other words, I would have to run an additional 9 miles every day during that final fortnight giving an average of 40 miles per day. That wasn't an easy task given that I had already ran over 2550 miles in 86 days. 

The average distance required to finish on time increased during those final 2 weeks. With a week to go 44 miles was the required daily average to run. With only 3 days to go that figure had crept up to a daily requirement of 50 miles (150 miles to go). I then ran 45 miles on days 98 and 99 which left a whopping 60 miles to do on the 100th and final day of the run across the USA.

As we all know by now, the final day in the USA was extremely succesful with that 60 miles seeing me reach the pier at Coney Island bang on time. In fact, the timing could not have been better as I arrived just in time for the Real Radio breakfast show with Gary and Lisa. 

The run finished live on air and the money poured in to St. Benedict's Hospice and The Children's Foundation. "It couldn't have ended any better" I remember exclaiming on air. That's very true but the anxiety that I'd endured was absolutely horrendous. Yes, running that far was a difficult task, but I'm sure that the massive intake of sugar and caffeine played a huge part in how bad I was feeling. 

Reaching the finish line, together with the unprecedented levels of public support saw all of those bad feelings disappear. It was like a switch had been flicked. A big stress and anxiety relieving switch at that. 

Would I change any of it? Absolutely not. I do, however, realise that I was extremely lucky to get to Coney Island in 1 piece.

I've noticed similar levels of anxiety towards the end of all of the subsequent stages of the run around the world. I'm glad to say that they have been nowhere near what I experienced in the USA. Australia was bad due to the terribly difficult conditions during what was the hottest summer on record. Western Europe was similar but I also suffered from the performance of some of the support team who just weren't up to the task. I always need to caveat that with saying that it doesn't stop me from being any less grateful for their time. Anyone who volunteers to be on the support team is to be thanked when all is said and done. The buck stops with me for taking them on in the first place.

The most recent run from Belgrade to Kiev (what I now refer to as the Eastern European stage) saw a very low level of anxiety. I was running unsupported, of course, and it was probably the best stage I've ran so far from a mental health point of view. 

While running with Chappie was very difficult, especially through the Carpathian mountains in Ukraine, I didn't expect was just how friendly and supportive the people in Serbia, Romania and Ukraine would be. For every hard time, especially in western Ukraine, there were many many good times. The familiar feelings of anxiety as I approached the finish line in Kiev were definitely there. However, they were at a considerably lower level than ever before. It was quite a relief really and I feel indebted to the people of Ukraine for that.  

So, back to the current day where the only stress and anxiety I'm feeling is usually during the 90 minutes I spend watching Newcastle play! There is a link to the rest of this post, I promise.

I'm very pleased and proud to report that The Northumberland Tea Company are my latest sponsor. There'll be no more sugary caffeinated drinks on the menu for me this summer. Instead, I'll be running the 250 mile route around Northumberland fuelled once again by Jack's Tea
Regular readers may remember that I really enjoyed a cup of Northumberland Tea during the run across Europe. Is it any coincidence that I was a day ahead of schedule after 52 days of running? I think not. 

It is almost 5 years to the day that I met Jack Charlton while doing some publicity for the run across Europe. The local TV did a piece on the motorhome to be used as support during that run. The backdrop was the Angel of the North and making Jack and Lady Elsie Robson a cuppa still ranks as one of the most surreal experiences of my life. Incidentally, some of the proceeds from Jack's Tea benefit The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.  

Sadly, it's 9 months since Jack Charlton passed away. I know that he was such a dear friend of Helen and Bill (pictured with me below) from Northumberland Tea. So much so, that they have since renamed their tea in his memory.

There's hardly a day goes by where I don't think about the times that I met Jack. He must be such a big miss to family and friends alike. I hear that Pat, Jack's widow, is doing well and was described as a "remarkable woman" by Helen and Bill this week.

The pictures below were taken when Jack turned up with Helen and Bill to surprise the Support Team after we'd had a preparatory meeting before the run across Europe. The picture that Jack subsequently signed sits in pride of place in my office. It serves as a permanent reminder that such a legendary figure, a World Cup winner no less, took time out to take an interest in my around the world run. I wish my Mam and Dad had still been alive to see that.

Thank you to the very kind and supportive Helen and Bill at Jack's Tea. I wonder how many cups I will get through during the 250 mile run around Northumberland this July? I will be running with their logo on my right sleeve with great pride. 

If you'd like to try Jack's Tea for yourself then you'll find it in a many farm shops in the North East, quite a few local independant retailers and some CO-OPs too. It is also available to order from

It seems only fitting to finish this announcement with two of my favourite pictures of Jack. These were taken in Newcastle Irish Centre after our support team meeting in 2016. The final picture simply shows a man, content with life, enjoying a pint. RIP Jack. I'll do you proud this summer.