Make Your World Bigger in 2016 #mywbpledge

Great post about the Discovery Channels #MYWBPledge campaign that is reaching an end. Go get your pledge tweeted before the end of the week and you may win £5000 to make that pledge come true.

I was already on the road to running the E1 solo, and so everything I’m doing this way is linked with it. Last year was distance, this year the focus is technical terrain and ascent, and linking each of my challenges together so one feeds into the next.

So, what will your pledge be?

That Paul Coxon's Blog

‘And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.’ – Kurt Vonnegut Jr

Those of you who follow me on Twitter (You don’t? Seriously? Why not? Find me here: @ThatPaulCoxon) will know I have been talking about Discovery Channel’s Make Your World Bigger pledges (#mywbpledge) for 2016 quite a bit over the last month.

This is the second year for the Discovery campaign, having already inspired lots of people in 2015 to get outside and out of their comfort zones to do something incredible, something they would not normally do and something that they have always wanted to do. In short, people made their world’s bigger and, in 2016, the pledges are back, better than ever…

Here’s what Discovery Channel has to say about the campaign:

At Discovery we think there’s always more to know, explore…

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Thoughts Before Doing Something Stupid – #BGR #GetOutside #PushYourLimits

I watched the dot on the screen move from peak to peak, wandering what the conditions were like underfoot and overhead.  I wandered what would be going through the runner’s head, who in this case was Ricky Lightfoot, an absolute machine of a runner.  The my thoughts turned inwards.

The last days leading up to a challenge seem to be a mixture of thoughts.

“What have I done!  How the hell are you going to get this done in the time you’re supposed to?”

“In sandals?!  No Chance!!”

“Don’t think about the clock that’s ticking.  Just get round”

“How the hell am I going to get round?”

“Need to get some more training in these last few days, and get plenty of sleep”

“No point in training now!  Shouldn’t have broken those ribs or got near frost bite traipsing around in waist deep snow for hours”

“Is that my calf feeling a bit tight?  Is my glute feeling a bit odd?  My knee feels odd”

“There is no way that I’m gonna make it round!?!?!”

“In sandals?!  No Chance!!”

So it starts with negativity and doubt.  Analysing the past few months of running and how the running felt.  The recovery of non-running relating injuries.  Conversations with others about levels of fitness and how to manage the challenge of running for 24 hours or more over some of the toughest terrain in the UK.  How to manage the nutrition.  What to eat, what not to eat, when to eat, how much to eat.  Pacing and pacing strategy.  The most interesting thing is the gap between peoples perception of my fitness and my own perception of my fitness, but always an annoying doubt.

“In sandals?!  No Chance!!”

I have to nail the climbs and get the downhills done as quick as I can.  Use whatever I can for recovery and make sure I’m running within myself, paying attention to what my muscles and body are telling me.

What if I get distracted and end up injured?  What if I fall behind early on by being unfit?  What if one of the support team have to drop out last minute?  What chance do I actually have of completing this thing and what will the failure cost me?

“In sandals?!  No Chance!!”

That seems to be all I need to refocus.  That defiance that drives us all if we let it.  That dark place isn’t a silent pit of dispair, but is a cacophony of voices shouting out challenges.

“In sandals?!  No Chance!!”

Thanks for your words.  They are ammunition when I most need it.  I had the same ammunition during the Summer, the words of an experienced barefoot runner saying that beyond a shadow of a doubt, running long distances barefoot was impossible.  The battle is against the words and not the person.  Many will be thinking the same and part of my brain joins in with the chorus of “No Chance!!” but it wouldn’t be worth pursuing.

Here’s to the external and internal thoughts of “In sandals?!  No Chance!!” 😀


The Fine Line Between Tough & Stupid

The winter Bob Graham attempt looms on the horizon, the damaged to my ribs is slowly repairing, training is taking what ever form I can get it in and I’m back to running, so being in the Lakes to help with the Askham Trail Race seemed like the perfect opportunity to get leg 1 done.

The night before, there was a reasonable amount of snow, meaning most of the higher ground had a delightful layer of powder, and the ascent up Skiddaw, although tough and shin deep in parts, was fun.


Then we began to desend from Skiddaw and towards Great Calva.  The snow just got deeper and deeper.  The pace downhill slowed to a crawl as we trudged through knee deep snow and then the pace dropped even further.

The snow was close to waist deep and I was starting to lose the will to live.

I am planning on completing the winter BG in sandals, so on Sunday I was armed with my sandals, some thermal socks and some Luna Tabu, which when moving at a good pace are adequate, but when the pace drops as it did, my feet began to freeze.  2 hours in and even snails were moving faster than we were.  My feet were cold.  My feet were beyond cold.  They had started to develop that tell tale ice block feeling that’s the sign that tell you if you don’t get them warm you’re going to get frost bite.

I have been in that situation before and my feet were an absolute mess after.  That and the fact that the day was slowly disappearing as we effectively waded through a snow quagmire, we decided to ditch the route, found the straightest line to the Cumbrian way, which we could see was well trodden, and get ourselves back to Keswick.  A quick pause at the YHA, I removed the Tabu socks (that were now solid ice) and quickly put on some Injinji socks.  Now, I don’t normally run with socks and sandals and in snow, its a bad idea.  My feet soon gathered more snow than most of the trail we were following, gathering as balls of ice under my toes and the arch of my feet.  Eventually, they had to go!  As soon as they were gone and we ran down the main path from Skiddaw, the feet started to thaw out a bit, but unfortunately I think it was a little bit too late.

I also found a spot in my comfort zone I hadn’t yet poked around in.  The place were no matter what I do, I can’t move fast enough to stay warm and instead of seeing the distance shorten, I feel like I’m just treading water.  I caught myself turning that sinking feeling in on myself and the future Bob Graham Round attempt and as I did, I could feel the confidence slowly drain away.  Then the sinking feeling was put aside as the problem solving brain reengaged.  I tend to not look at maps whilst out running or exploring, but I study them before and make as many links between sections as I can.  It’s my way of always having a rough idea of how to get out if I need to, so there was no need to stop, get the map out and try and work out the solution to this snowy problem.  The solutions were pre-formulated and it was just a case of selecting the right one.  I think Rob had probably come to the same solution, and the decision to head back via the Cumbrian Way was easy to make.

Defeated by the conditions, but not destroyed.

Two days on, the sensation is slowly returning to the toes on my left foot…

‘There is a thin line between tough and stupid’

I got dangerously close to that line, and now I’m going to have to take stock.  Continuing the Bob Graham Round in those conditions is going to be on the stupid side of that line and not having some form of back up footwear would fall even further on the stupid side of that line.

To top it off, in the pub after the run, Billy Bland’s sister happened to be working and she effectively gave me a stern but polite telling off, adding more fuel to the ‘you just came very close to being stupid!’

So, if you are planning on going up any peaks, mountains or even walk in the snow make sure that you are prepared for the worse and you know the warning signs of hypothermia and frostbite.  You’re responsible for your own safety, but at the same time this responsibility spills across to anyone you happen to be with.

You are never too tough to become stupid!


What are your 2016 challenges? – #GetOutside #Adventure Thoughts & Plans @OrdnanceSurvey


IMG_0543On Christmas eve my grandmother said “You’ve achieved so much and you seem to just want more.  Why?”

It was a good question!  I actually thought I knew why but I couldn’t get the words out in a coherent and understandable way.  I’ve spent lots of time after completing the summer adventure thinking about the next challenge, and at the moment, with my current situation (in that I need a job and have a job that isn’t particularly flexible with time off) any of the challenges I’ve pencilled are either too expensive or will take too long to complete.  On top of this, I’d like to see more of the places I love this year, so the adventure ideas like the Iceland Mid-Atlantic Ridge run have been placed on the virtual adventure shelf for now, ready to be picked up once I manage to make changes to the way I live.  But I still had this problem of not really knowing what to do to make 2016 better than 2015?  Others have said it but…   “How do yo stop that?”

Then, completely by chance whilst waiting for a friend in Keswick, I stumbled on a set of the Wainwright books and remembered an old idea of doing all the Wainwright walks back to back (a challenge that was completed by Steve Birkinshaw in just 7 days!!). I remember following his progress and being a bit astonished that someone could run 320 miles, with 118,000ft of ascent in such a short time, and wandering what it would take to get fit enough to do it myself.  That’s around the same amount of up and down as my entire run in the summer!

It’s clear to me that this year’s challenges aren’t going to focus on long distances (I know this is going to be a question of viewpoint since 320 miles isn’t exactly a short distance), and I’d like to have more time on hills o my weakness becomes a strength.  I’m curious what this body of mine is capable of, so I’m going to use the winter and spring months to find out.  Which leads nicely onto the There 3 mini-adventures I’m planning on completing (with one or two secret little challenges thrown in that I’ll announce later in the year) in 2016.

Here they are:

  • Winter Bob Graham Round in support of #Cumbriafloodappeal – Jan 29/30th –
  • Barefoot Bob Graham Round – June – Lets find out if it’s possible?
  • The Wainwright’s Barefoot and Unsupported – July/August – A leisurely paced run/walk with a tent that I hope lots of people will join me on different sections


Other adventure ideas are on the virtual adventure shelf, for a time when I can afford to just get up and go adventure, and that is were my other focus lies.  It’ time to lay the foundations for change, have less, do more and be more creative.

So, what challenges have you set yourself for 2016 and who did you decide on what they should be?