Day 106 – London, UK, Marathon 37 – Yippee!
My first and biggest thank you goes to Hydraquip for sponsoring today’s marathon. These guys noticed I was appealing for sponsorship and have officially sponsored the UK leg – a big high five to the Bristol-based guys and girls.
Oh boy, today was mad – TV, radio, sunshine, thousands of random fans shouting my name, and I actually managed to run without any pain in my Achilles. Apparently ignoring an injury is the best way to fix it. (This is not good advice.) Thanks to BBC Sport for my little snippet of TV to promote the expedition.
At the start of the race I saw an elderly Asian man sitting cross-legged with his hands in his lap and his head facing directly up towards the sun. This may have looked strange to some people, but I just saw a brilliantly chilled guy enjoying the awesomeness of the London Marathon. He was getting in the zone for a brilliant day running in the sun – what more can we ask for in life?
I ran my quickest marathon of this year. Still pretty slow for me in full training, but I enjoyed it – six stops along the way, two for interviews, two to help a couple of collapsed tired and exhausted runners, and twice for hugs from family. My brother even came to watch for the first time ever.
Due to the increasing awareness of the trip, it was great to have my name shouted at me thousands of times as I ran through the streets of London. There is no other marathon like the London Marathon. Top marks to the organisers and to everyone who got to the start line. Many people today have reached a big lifetime goal! Me too!
The highlight of the day was seeing Kev. Yep, THE Kev. The entire reason this trip is happening was cheering me on at mile 13. Thank you mate. Tomorrow I sleep!
Day 107 – London and Bristol, UK, final rest day seeing sponsors and Kev
I’m now on the train returning to Bristol for one last night at home before I get back on the road to face my next set of marathons. Me and my little bag will be fully packed by the end of the evening and ready to jet off to country number 38, Morocco.
My living room looks a shaken snow globe – kit and accessories everywhere. Although I have lots of stuff to take with me, it’s still very little compared to the usual holiday bag. Everything is stripped down to virtually nothing. This is the problem with just travelling with hand luggage – 80% of the bag is electronics, like a drone, big Canon SLRs (EOS 5D Mark IV), cables and chargers, an iPad and laptop, and the necessary bits and pieces to capture every day in photo, video and in writing. I’m actually getting excited. Here’s to chapter two. Bring on another three months of hills, temperature changes, confiscated items, new friends and lots and lots of sweaty African miles. I’ll return to the UK again for three nights in about 80 days time to swap my passport and to go and get the necessary, in person, fingerprints done for my Nigeria visa.
This is now my third continent of the trip, having completed North and South America in the first 102 days, which included all the Caribbean islands, all of Central America, plus the tiny islands dotted around everywhere in between. Oh, and also a little detour to tick off North Korea before things get too risky over there. Just in case…
I woke up today feeling sleepy and needing another 12 hours in bed. No rest time though! Up and out, nice and early. Interviews with 107 Meridian FM and ITV this morning, then on to see Prostate Cancer UK, and then the legendary KEVLAA (the entire reason this trip is happening). We caught up over a late lunch. Kev, it was great to see you! When you read this, I hope you give each and every one of your family a big hug from me. If anyone ever asks me why, why do this trip, the reason is Kev! To stop men like Kev dying from prostate cancer. Hence why, with your help, we’re raising £250,000 for Prostate Cancer UK. Please support where you can.
Day 108 – Phase 3 of 13, interviews and last-minute packing
A marathon in every country in the world for @prostatecanceruk
Here we go again. Bring on phase 3 and continent number 3. The 38th country and the 38th marathon this year is upon me. I leave for Morocco in just under eight hours time. An early 2am alarm to get to Heathrow.
Today was spent catching up on all the stuff I’ve been putting off – charging my camera, drone, GoPro, iPad and laptop was the easy bit, although it used every socket in the house. Picking which gear to bring with me and which to leave behind is always tough. The 75-litre orange Osprey bag is a new addition and a chance to carry the same stuff, but not have a full bag. Backpacking treat. Tomorrow launches phase 3 of 13 of the now 687-day expedition. We initially set the time scale of 550 days, which has now been extended to account for multiple flight delays and cancellations, potential injuries, and generally more time to meet people in the later phases of the trip. These changes won’t take affect until August 2019. Full details are on the website. If you fancy coming to join me, just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m soon to take my first steps in Africa since the Marathon des Sables a few years ago, where I met the legendary Kev. The biggest continent consisting of 54 counties, this wonderfully, vast, dusty world will be my home for the foreseeable future. I’m nervous, excited and already exhausted. Being home in the UK for a few days was always going to be a mad rush to see friends, visit sponsors and cram as much media in as possible. Just earlier today ITV featured my progress, I was stopped by BBC Sport on Tower Bridge during the London Marathon and a handful of radio stations before and after. Oh, and not to mention the day with Bratton Fleming Community Primary School. I’ve loved every minute of it, although it’s far from a rest. If you can afford to donate, please do. Just £5 will help. Text NRTW89 £5 to 70070 please.
My last supper (before African food) was cooked by my mum – I stopped by home tonight for a goodbye, and a cheeky lift to the airport.
Day 109 – Heathrow, UK to Casablanca, Morocco and a lost bag
Today was an early start. I left the house at 2am and made my way via a stopover in Madrid to Morocco. This, by the way, required me to run to the gate with only 25 minutes’ connection time. It was then on to Morocco and a big whoop of excitement. A big thanks to my little brother and dad for the early morning lift. Cheers guys.
This is where the whooping and excitement dissipated for all of us. My brother and dad were stuck with a broken-down car at Heathrow. As for me, I made it to Morocco, but my bag didn’t. The luggage belt ground to a halt, the shutters crashed down on the outer opening to the belt, and I was left staring at an empty carousel with just a few dodgy looking staff hanging around smoking some pretty funky cigars in the corner. After pacing around in the luggage hall from belt 10 at one end to belt 1 at the other, there was still no sign of the bag. Day one of the bag’s outing into Africa, and I’d lost it. Doh! It was obvious where it was – with little to no connection time between flights in Madrid, it was probably dumped in a corner back in Spain. Meanwhile, here, in the dusty luggage hall on the west coast of Morocco, getting my point across to the rather uninterested staff of the airport was frustrating. Although I don’t speak Arabic, I could tell exactly what this guy was saying to me: “I don’t care, silly westerner”. This particularly unhelpful man gestured to me without raising his head from his Gameboy. Yes, that’s right, a Gameboy. His fingers were frantically tapping away, head bowed down, eyes fixed; he was clearly at a critical stage of Super Mario. I almost became interested before I remembered this guy might be my only hope of finding my bag.
To cut a long story short, still no bag. With help from my team, we believe that the bag is actually still in Spain and will be sent on tomorrow morning. I just have to take the one-hour return journey back to the airport to pick it up.
Day 110 – Casablanca, Morocco – What’s in my bag that travels with me around the world? Let’s find out!
I’m pleased to say I have now been reunited with my lost bag after many hilarious directions from airport staff. I had upwards of five completely contradicting conversations about how to get to the lost bag section of the airport. I was chuckling to myself as I pin-balled from one information point to the next. I eventually reached the right grotty corner of the airport where there were some lovely completely unhelpful staff. Thanks guys! It took me an hour to get out of the airport, due to the over-enthusiastic ‘padder downers’. Very friendly. Handsy is an understatement. A nice ride on the train for another hour and finally all my bags, plus a sleepy me, were ready to chill before a morning’s run!
I’ve had quite a few questions about what I take with me on such an intense full-on trip. Now I have my bag back, let’s have a rummage through so I can tell you exactly what I carry with me:
* Runderwear merino boxers
* Arch max running belt
* Osprey 75-litre anti-gravity rucksack
* MacBook Pro 13”
* Exped 50-litre dry sack
* Rehband compression socks
* DJI Mavic Pro Drone
* Drone controller
* Do Sport Live expedition sponsor top
* Juice Plus tablets
* Suunto socks
* Sundog sunglasses
* Ciele casual hat/cap
* New Balance running hat/cap
* Listerine mouthwash
* Nivea sun cream
* Tiger mini leg roller
* Red Bull emergency drink
* Lifeventure cable combination lock
* Do Sport Live expedition sponsor vest
* Athletic Tea Co green tea bags
* Canon SLR 5D Mark IV
* Canon 24-105 wide-angle lens
* Rode shoe mic
* Peruvian money and cards pouch
* Pulsin natural brownie bars
* RAVPower battery pack
* Skyroam Solis Wi-Fi box
* Ray-Ban sunglasses for looking less scruffy
* Cable bag with USBs and chargers
* Outdoor Doite bum bag
* iPad Mini for Lightroom editing
* Passport 49 pages with visas
* Yellow Fever Certificate
* Beats Solo3 wireless headphones
Day 111 – Casablanca, Morocco, Marathon 38
The last time I ran in Morocco I broke my ankle! This country has specific significance for me, not just for the broken bone, but because this was where I met the legendary Kev, and, of course, the main reason this trip is happening. In case you missed the backstory – Kev and I were both running the Marathon des Sables in the Sahara desert near the Moroccan-Algerian border. Kev dropped the bombshell that he had terminal prostate cancer. I learnt more about him and the cancer, and I realised something needed to be done. Two years of planning later, and here I am! A world record attempt in the name of @prostatecanceruk Check out the website for more details. You can also read just how I finished that race on crutches after hobbling for hours. Not a pretty sight, but I am a little more friendly with pain these days.
Today’s run didn’t involve broken bones, thankfully, but it was certainly more painful than usual. I count myself incredibly lucky for so many reasons. Health, happiness, family… etc. I could write a book on how aware I’ve become of how lucky I am. That said, my feet and tooth were battling it out in an auction style attempt to overcome the other.
Annoyingly, when I left the UK after the London Marathon, I picked up my third pair of trainers and headed to Morocco. I didn’t check they were the right size. I ran today in a size 10 rather than 11. So you can imagine how uncomfortable that was. On top of this I believe I have an infected gum or tooth. Toothache is not the kind of pain I can ignore easily.
Thankfully I had a nice cool breeze, quiet roads and the coast to run along the route, and the people here were friendly and supportive, even if they did look at me with suspicion (mixed with respect).
I now have a couple of days to rest. I think I’ll spend some time popping blisters and trying not to prod my swollen mouth.
Day 112 – Casablanca, Morocco, rest day
A traditional Moroccan meal of… Margarita pizza with anchovies… 300 emails and some painkillers.
Before I tell you about my day, just a big shout out to this guy (see photo) for wearing a top that says ‘adventure’… plus drinking something that makes you shut one eye. Must be good stuff.
Today’s update is short, mostly because I’ve either been asleep or working my way through emails. The big news today, however, is that I have caved in and taken painkillers for the first time on this trip. I wanted to go for as long as possible without any pain relief so I could keep an eye on my body in real terms – I didn’t want any drugs to hide a potential injury. As always in this wonderful life of ours, it’s the things you don’t see coming that hit you in the face, and my face really does feel like someone has done exactly that. My toothache reached a pain rating of at least 7.5/10. Some salt water, painkillers and sleep was on the menu.
This afternoon I managed to take the time to read some truly lovely emails from you all. If you haven’t dropped me an email but would like to send your support, please do. It helps! email@example.com. Thanks guys and girls.
A tasty pizza for dinner went down very well while avoiding the right side of my mouth at all times. I’m not eating enough because of the tooth. This needs to heal ‘cos I’m missing out on gorging on chocolate. (Probably the cause of the bad tooth…)
British Endurance Athlete | Motivational Speaker | Adventurer
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