Day 381 – Birmingham to Cranborne, UK
Today was once again a day of unpacking, washing, sorting, charging everything, backing stuff up, getting my head around the next three months of travel logistics, and repacking.
Thanks to my mum and dad for continually supporting my journey and for helping the team and myself to get the job done.
I haven’t had much time to do anything else but frantically get ready for a 4am start to country 106 tomorrow. I thought I was flying to Serbia; turns out it’s actually Bulgaria. What do I know…
A special mention to @pandco for sending me a few bits of travel gear to try out.
Here’s a list of some of the items I can’t live without:
Adidas Ultraboost – Pro:Direct Running @prodirectrunning provide me with all my Adidas trainers.
Apple Mac – expensive, but we all know the laptop is the gateway to the world.
Energizer mobile phone – @energizermobile one Energizer smartphone and one basic Energizer smartphone (the old-style phone, but it’s sooo robust, and has a 33-day battery life, perfect for keeping me safe on long runs).
Juice Plus – @juiceplus_uk two tablets containing 20 ground-up veg and 20 ground-up fruit, perfect for all the nutrients I need.
Passport – probably should have been first!
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV – @canonusa the only camera worth taking around the world. The best.
Precision Hydration – @precisionhydration salt tablets – every runner needs salt.
Osprey bag @ospreypacks – brilliant bags, and so easy to pack.
Runderwear @teamrunderwear – any runner should try this underwear! Such a great idea!
Day 382 – UK to Bulgaria, Country 106
This journey is about living for today, taking Kev’s advice and not waiting for tomorrow to do what we love. I love running, I love photography, I love writing ✍ and I love to travel. This journey has it all! By spending my life savings, selling my possessions, leaving home and physically exhausting my mind and body for two solid years I hope we can raise enough awareness to help stop men dying from prostate cancer.
Over the course of my first year of this journey I have spoken to many people about prostate cancer and the WHY of this trip. Kev, as you know, is my inspiration and my energy to do this, but now, hearing that my words are being listened to and men are getting themselves checked, I believe this trip is already having a big positive impact. Thank you, Kev.
Nine people over 12 months have emailed me to say that they have got themselves checked since speaking to me. Six were given the all-clear, and will get checked again next year; three, however, had prostate cancer. Thankfully these were caught early and are being treated. Don’t be one of 11,000 men in the UK to die from prostate cancer. Go and get checked now! The reason these people got checked is because of a conversation… so ignore the stigma and talk about it!
Please pop just £2 in the pot by texting ‘NRTW89 £2’ to 70070 and you will help us reach the £250,000 target for @prostatecanceruk
Today I set off on leg 9 of the journey. Having completed 105 marathons in 105 countries in the past 52 weeks, it’s now time to get my head down and bash out a few more – 91 to be precise. If you want to get involved… you could come and run with me, or maybe give me somewhere to stay, or even just drop me an email and tell me about your encounter with prostate cancer.
My brother took me to the airport at 4am today. I scoffed my face with food in the airport lounge, and then took the four-hour flight to Bulgaria. I am now in a small dorm room in snowy Sofia, warming my toes on an electric heater.
Day 383 – Sofia, Bulgaria, Marathon 106
Step, step, step, step, step, step, and so on.
Today’s marathon was pretty boring, cold, and generally not the most scenic. That said, I actually enjoyed the looped course. I spent too long trying to find a decent route – the footpaths here in the city aren’t great and the mountains are full of snow and too far away. So I found the biggest park near me on a map and attempted to run around it in circles.
Sometimes I get to see all the sights; I think, for Sofia, I saw the worst bits – traffic, frankly rubbish buildings and the occasional tree. It’s great when I know I’m making the most of visiting a city. I arrive a stranger and leave having at least a little understanding of the culture – whether people smile and wave, or maybe if the drivers stop for you. I get a sense of the city and the country most of the time. Sadly, today wasn’t one of those days. You win some, you lose some. Onwards to Turkey tomorrow, and Istanbul. Never been before and so I’m hopeful it’ll offer me a little more than here.
The snow-capped mountains in the distance today were a reminder of all I enjoy about being in the snow and exploring new places.
A big thank you to Prostate Cancer UK for their continued support in my quest. Kev and I exchanged postcards with each other recently. His words were moving. I hope to be able to catch up with him in person at the London marathon in April. Days like today, when I’m feeling tired, had an average run and needed a boost, Kev comes to mind. I must never lose sight of the mission. To do this for Kev and the gang back home. Even with the cold and the boring route, I still enjoyed it. I’m not sure how, but I did. Any other runners have this sometimes?
Day 384 – Sofia, Bulgaria to Istanbul, Turkey
Goodbye Bulgaria and hello to the land of tea, textiles and Turkish delights.
I spent most of this morning working – emails, the book, planning bits and pieces for the upcoming countries, and generally trying not to get too far behind with ‘stuff’. This is now my job and my life, all in one exceptionally fortunate package. In order for my future career in adventure to continue, though, I need to put the hours in. The running bit is my chill time.
I arrived into Istanbul this evening after a short flight. Window seat luxuries meant I slept pretty much all the way. It was one of those flights where you wake up and everyone has already got off the plane. Yes, I’m that tired. This was something like my 174th flight of the expedition.
I have been given three nights in the stunning Hotel Amira. Situated in the heart of the old town, just around the corner from the Blue Mosque and just a walk away from the Grand Bazaar, I have been spoilt. My last accommodation in Bulgaria was so bad, I actually moved hotels. Not to be a diva, but it was freezing, and I needed my beauty sleep.
Thanks to the hotel here. The staff are super-friendly and I’m looking forward to going on an explore tomorrow.
Please donate to Prostate Cancer UK – text ‘NRTW89 £5’ to 70070. Thank you.
Day 385 – Istanbul, Turkey, Marathon 107
I really like Turkey.
Today’s been brilliant, productive and full. Kev would be proud.
Today I ran a marathon, had an amazing dinner with a 14-dish starter, worked for about four hours, and even managed to fit some gym time in. Oh, and I remembered to tidy my smelly clothes and prep for tomorrow. All in all, a day to remember.
Running along the coastline of Istanbul was brilliant – the Sea of Marmara to the south, which squeezes through the gap between Europe and Asia, and then becomes the Black Sea. You can see my full route and speed etc on Strava. All my runs are recorded on two watches and uploaded.
The people are even friendlier than I expected; the city is full, but pleasant and has a gentle feel. The sound of prayer is special. I think I’ll miss it. A local asked me what I thought of Turkey, and if I imagined it as Arabic, Asian or European. I didn’t really have an answer; I just knew it was a place I was looking forward to seeing. The bridge that separates one continent to the next is special.
The run was pretty straightforward – keep the coast on the right, and then turn around and keep the coast on the left. The traffic was busy, but still nothing like I’ve experienced elsewhere in the world. I stopped for some water, but ran with a bag so I could chat to my friends in Dubai over Wi-Fi. They recently ran the Dubai marathon. I ran without music or any audio, but instead used the earphones to shield my ears from the wind and the dirt. This is something I’ve learnt along the way. I now also run with my buff covering my nose and mouth, sometimes as a shield from the small particles getting in my throat. It’s the simple things…
My dinner tonight was at Arcadia Blue, a magnificent restaurant on the 9th floor of a fancy hotel. I had a great view over the city, sitting in Europe, looking at Asia. Not bad for a Friday night travelling on my own. I’ll miss this weird and wonderful life once I’m finished. Just 11 months left.
Thanks for the support, guys. If you would like an invite to the closing party, please comment… I am putting together a guest list now. More details to follow.
Day 386 – Istanbul, Turkey
I spotted Jeremy Corbyn chilling on a bench…
I really enjoyed today. For some reason I couldn’t sleep last night, and so only finally nodded off at 4am. My body clock is all over the place.
I made ‘friends’ with a Turkish rug salesman… our friendship consisted of conversations involving bartering and, well, that was pretty much it. A lovely Turkish family business with great tea. I came away with a token rug at 80% off the original price, so I felt I did okay.
The Grand Bazaar, the mosques and the people were all the focus of today’s afternoon in the city. One thing I’ve noticed of late, especially around the Middle East and this bit of ‘Black Sea’ Europe, is that I feel very safe. Weird, really, I wasn’t expecting to, and as you can imagine, I’m going to have a rude awakening when I arrive in some of the other countries.
This evening I strolled along the road at 9pm with my laptop under my arm to find somewhere for dinner, and to work, of course. I wouldn’t walk down the road with my laptop on display in London, that’s for sure.
Safety and perceived safety is something I’m writing about at the moment for the book. Some crime doesn’t directly correlate to wealth but to situation and political context. I’m learning so much from this journey. And the amount of audio books I’m getting through on my runs, I may one day be well-read. Or not.
I had a brief message from Kev today – he’s still smiling and, of course, prepping for the Marathon des Sables again. The man never ceases to amaze me. Please continue to donate to Prostate Cancer UK – link in my bio!
A reminder to register your interest for my closing party – a long way off, but as of March 2020, we’re having a big get-together, with a talk from me plus the launch of the photography exhibition and books. If you want to come along, comment below if you haven’t already done so in yesterday’s post. Thanks all. It’s now time for bed.
Day 387 – Istanbul, Turkey to Sarajevo, Bosnia
And on to country 108, Bosnia.
It was crisp and cold and I could see my breath as I stepped out of the aircraft. The ice around the luggage trolley was crystal clear against the metal. All the fluorescent jacket-wearing ushers, with faces wrapped up and thick warm gloves on their hands, were busying themselves. Apparently Bosnia is cold now.
I have a busy schedule coming up so today’s 90-minute plane journey was used to get as much stuff done as possible. Over the last year of the journey I’ve slowly learnt little short cuts along the way to save time, and generally make things easier. As you know I love to take photos. Backing them up and storing them somewhere is important, but it takes time to sort them by country and then split them into folders. Even though I was sandwiched in the middle seat on a busy A330 aircraft today I used all the necessary seconds to back stuff up. This may sound trivial, but without using this time, I will miss out on sleeping time. Yes, I could sleep on the plane, but I’d rather be horizontal in a bed. So I’ve slowly adapted my regime to optimise my sleep and time.
Packing and airport scanners – everyone knows (although it’s been surprising how many people don’t know) that when you got to an airport you must go through scanners that detect pretty much everything. You can’t take water (although you can in about 40% of the world’s airports, which seems rather inconsistent), and you must take your laptop, phones, belt, jacket, sometimes shoes (also inconsistent) off when you go through the scanners. So my top tip for travel today is that when you pack your hand luggage, put your belt, phone(s) and all the bits you’d usually put in the tray or pockets in your bag. Hold your laptop and iPad and boom, no hassle. This doesn’t resolve the problem that everyone will be idiots. No offence, all other humans.
A big thank you to Emir for a little tour this afternoon and to the brilliant hotel with a great view.
British Endurance Athlete | Motivational Speaker | Adventurer
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