The Freedom Of Movement – #RunE1Trail Training & The Love Of Moving

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Yesterday, the day before, today and all other days I’ve found myself reaching a point were I just want to explore.  Today I ran.  Today I climbed.  Today I stood still while the world moved around me.

A chirping chafinch.  A roaring waterfall.  A swirling pool.  A fallen tree.  An enexpected wave.  The pulsing of my heart.  The movement of air within my lungs.  The syncopations of breath, pulse and step.  The quietening of the internal dialogue.  The return to self.  The finding of peace.  A smile that morphs into a grin that morphs into uncontrollable laughter.  

I move because it is an expression of myself.  There is no pose, no vanity and no pretense.  It is just my body responding to the terrain around it.
The peace lingers, but I know it’ll become an itch.  The itch will become a gnawing and the gnawing a scream bursting to get out until it has had its full of moving.  

In truth I’m an addict and I am addicted to the feeling of flowing through the landscape and finding new ground to place my feet, rest my head and fill my senses. 



The Dark Side OF Adventure Planning – Part 2 – Logistics Of Running The E1

This is going to be one of the biggest time consumers of the whole trip, if not the biggest time consumer of the trip.  I have to get myself to the start, get myself back from the end, setup a schedule for the route so people can have an idea of where I’ll be, when I’ll get there and what sort of distances I’ll be covering.  Then there’s finding addresses along the length of Europe so I can post equipment along the route and collect as needed.

In essence I’m trying to predict or put in place lots of systems and events that ultimately lead to specific points in space and time, and doing all this while become an meteorologist and trying to predict and plan to changing weather conditions.

The time of the trip is done to partly coincide with the first time I managed to run for more than a minute, almost exactly 4 years ago.  It also gives me a time where flying to Norway is slightly cheaper.  But there is one issue…

At some point I will have to be up high and have to deal with potentially impassable conditions, whether that is in the Swiss Alps, Apennines or the higher sections of Norway.

I’ve chosen the what I think is the lesser of the evils.  Starting in Summer in Norway.  The idea of running in sub-zero conditions, snow and with little to no sunlight wasn’t something I wanted to even experiment with, so I’ll now have to contend with whatever conditions the Swiss Alps throw at me at around 2000m.

This bit is important.  The logitstics of something this long are going to be intimately linked with the weather.  There is absolutely no getting away from the fact that as I run down Norway, I will be losing between 30-15 minutes of sunlight, as I reach the latter parts of Sweden and then Denmark, I will be running through mild but wet conditions as Autumn begins to take hold and then there’s the Swiss Alps…

The E1 runs along a pass through the alps that at it’s highest will be in that border line section where I could have no snow, some snow or enough snow to make the whole rejoin liable to avalanche!

Some conditions, are passable with a control of the risks.  Others will stop me dead.  This is where I’m going to have to find some form of employment and wait for the ideal conditions (or more to the point, passable conditions).

The change in seasons on something this long are also going to play a big part in what is needed, which is going to be the most fun part of the ‘Dark Side of Adventure Planning’.  Get it wrong to not have the equipment where and when you need it is likely to be a barrier to the constant forward progress, but I’m going to enjoy working closely with Alpkit to get this side absolutely nailed down.

So what is the point of all this?

Simply put, you will always have a few things to workout:

  • A general schedule of places you are going to pass through and possibly dates or even times you will pass through them.
  • Knowledge of whether certain sections are passable (i.e the need for ferries, knowledge of tide times, average weather conditions etc).
  • Drop locations that will reduce the need to cary equipment and food for later stages.
  • Location of food and water (water is less of an issue with the use of water filters).


What else do people consider when dealing with the logistics of adventure planning?

The Dark Side Of Adventure Planning Part 1 – Budgeting

My idea of an adventure is to grab some things and then just go get on with it.  Deal with problems as they arise and generally find the best ways to make progress, even if that progress is minuscule on the grand scale of things.  I know its how I learn best and how I gain the most from the trip out.

Planning the running of E1 is a huge undertaking in terms of logistics, budgeting, working out the finer detail of the route, organising potential support along the way and at the same time getting the adventure in front of potential sponsors and media outlets (including the social media side of things).

I’m lucky, in that I have people who have taken an interest in making the trip a success and provide advice and pick at things that are being set up, said or done.  Admittedly, they tend to frustrate me because they force me to deal with things I’d rather leave well alone, but this is why they are good to have in the background, occasionally (or constantly depending on the issue) chipping away at ideas and jobs that need to be addressed.

One of these is the budget for this trip…

This is even more important or relevant, if you plan to crowd fund in anyway (or at least I think it is) but how the hell do you budget for something like this?!

Each trip is going to be unique and have it’s own criteria to be met, but I did find this page that had some useful nuggets.  Personally I’ve had to bite the bullet and set up a spreadsheet that shows me worse case scenario with the budget and then work backwards to reduce the costs down.  I’m already planning on travelling as minimally as possible, carrying nothing more than what I need and relying on what I come across as much as I can.

My current budgeting has me at a massive deficit, but this was the same during the summer run.  I started with a massive £2K deficit and managed to return with £500 left?!  It was the little things like the support of Tailwind UK and BackPackingLight that helped with this dint, as well as looking after my kit so I didn’t need to replace anything.

So, instead of me waffling about the budgeting and how I hate spreadsheets here’s the link to get anyone wanting to budget a big trip

Desk to Dirtbag

The Meaning Of Pursuing The Void & An Answer To “Why Do You Run?”

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Sometimes I drink too much coffee and when it’s combined with random questions, like “What do you want to get out of this?” words just seem to pop on screen before I realise what os being said.  This is one of those conversations and oddly it led to what the hell I mean by ‘Pursuing the void’…

Regardless of what I say or pretend I think, we all end up seeking that peaceful void that comes from doing what we were designed to do. I have no way of describing the feeling of moving freely over what ever the terrain throws at you, or the incredible depth of the head space you end up in when you can get in the flow. It’s just incredible. I never intentionally decided to do this sort of nonsense, but decisions have led me, one step at a time, to this place that I find myself in. The simplest goal is to inspire, to engage with others and use their engagement to drive the perpetual challenge machine. I don’t get a buzz from the media coverage, but I get a huge boost from the random person who emails me and thanks me for getting them out and adventuring. Actually, buzz is the wrong word. I actually don’t feel I deserve such an accolade, but it just adds to my resolve to have less, do more and be more.

I’m still not sure what ‘be more’ is… I thought teaching was being more but turns out its turning the cogs of someone else’s miss guided machinations. That’s were the name of my blog comes from… Pursuing the void isn’t some claptrap fancy speak. It relates directly to the question of what is this ‘being more’ By seeking out this void (AKA a lack of understanding) I’m trying to fill it but each time I do, the void changes. A question is answered and leads to a new question.

In answer to the original question of “what do you want to get out of this?” I’ll be honest.  I plan on giving any money left from the Crowdfunding (including sponsors) to the three charities and I am only using what I need, travelling as light and living as minimally as I can.  Would I refuse offer of work related to the run?  The answer to that is no I won’t, but the main goal is to raise £50,000 during the run for the three charities and to show that ordinary people can do extraordinary things once they remove the safety net and begin to question what is possible a bit more often.

Encouraging A Change In Mentality – #GetOutside & Seek #Adventure

I’ve been telling people that I have quit my job.

I haven’t hidden it or announced it underhandedly, nor have I shouted it from the roof tops.  I simply said “I have quit and will finish teaching this year”

The adults all look at me with a mixture of shock and that look your mum give you when you are about to do something that is going to lead to some kind of hurt.

The students didn’t process the information in the same way.  At first it was all self centred ponderings.

“What’s going to happen to us?”

“You’re leaving us so we have someone else as a tutor for our last year?”

“Who will we have as a tutor?”

I expected this.  It is in their nature to preserve their comfortable and stable existence.

3 days on, the questions are changing.

“Why are you leaving Sir?  What’s the real reason?”

“What will you do if you aren’t a teacher?”

“What’s going to happen when you finish your run?”

“What will you do for money?”

“Where will you live?”

There’s a change in their questions and thinking.  They are accepting that my words over the last few months and years aren’t just motivational claptrap.  They’re starting to think about their lives and they seem to be putting things into perspective.

“I dont even walk to the shop and it’s only round the corner” A student remarks.

“Surely you can see why that’s wrong?”

“No.  Everyone does the same.”

“Do they?  What about people who have to walk miles to get to school because they have not cars?  Those people that have to walk miles just to get clean water only to have to carry it back? ”

He just looked back at me.  Silent but something was going on behind his eyes.

“I need to get out more.” he replied.

Later, the same student began to ask about why I bother with such stupid trips.  I dug out the photos of the recent BG Leg 3.  He looked at them and before I started to speak…

“Oh my god!  That’s mental!  Couldn’t you have died?”

The only answer I had was

“Yes.  We could have all at points died, but we didn’t.  We are incredible machines and one of the secrets it managing our fears.  I dont remember being frightened whilst we were climbing the steep ice sheets and clinging on to rocks while we waited for Simon to carve the ice steps.  We laughed and kept the mood light, enjoying the environment we were in and staying focused on doing what needed to be done so the risks were controlled.  We all knew how to manage ourselves and our fears.  One of the guys that ran with me is really scared of heights.”

I point out Ode in one of the photos and the video clip of our ice traversing just below Scafell.

“Does he look like he’s frightened?”

“No.  How is he doing that if he’s scared of heights?”

“He just knows how to stay in control.  He’s focusing on getting what needs to get done, not on what could happen if he does something wrong.  That’s what I keep banging on about.  You should be learning how to do things you may not like doing and taking on challenges, ready to fail at them.  You learn by failing.  You fail, you work out why you failed and then you go at it again.  I failed at completing that route, but I know why.  I knew why before I even got to half way round.  We even started to plan the next one and workout how to make it successful before we’d even finished.  That’s what you should all be doing.  What you learn may not be useful in your future, but being able to problem solve and cope with the stress of a challenge is.”

I can only hope that with my current path, and the students awareness of my path and challenge, they start to think more about what they are doing and learning.  That they start to push themselves that little bit more, get themselves outside more and they start to buildup all those things that hamper their progress.

It takes bold steps sometimes to catalyse change in others.