Day 388 – Sarajevo, Bosnia, Marathon 108
People are what make this world great. Yes, there are a few anomalies, but on the whole, the human race means well, most of the time. And the people I met this morning were an exceptional bunch.
Wet, cold, slushy, slippery, windy at times – today’s run had all the ingredients of a terrible day, and yet it was fantastic. Early marathon, followed by a quick shower, a change of clothes, some food scoffed down, then a pick-up for CCN live TV, followed by a get-together of lovely runners in a nearby restaurant. Oh, and then I did an hour of gym when I got back. I had energy, which was odd.
A big thanks to Carla, Ambassador Matt from the British Embassy and Ediba for organising such a brilliant day.
After emptying the contents of my clothes bag on the floor, as I always do, I grabbed a few of the warmer items – my @prostatecanceruk top and my legendary @dosportlive jacket. I covered my knees, ankles and hip in anti-inflammatory gel, took my 11 nutritional tablets, downed some water, and then tidied up my hair a bit in the lift mirror, and the day had begun. Although I was still mostly asleep.
As the ping of the lift sounded I reached Reception, where there was a TV crew, and a group of about 10 people in all, ready to brave the weather and run with me. Thank you Matt, Jonny, Jasmin, Almasa, Dzenana and the legend that is Nudzejma. (Plus the others whose names I didn’t write down, sorry.) It was a relay today, sort of. I was running the whole distance, but had various others chipping in and out as we ran. I gave my camera to a great guy from the Embassy, and he leap-frogged us in the car. We had snacks and water whenever we needed it. Water I needed, the slush and rain I didn’t.
Nudzejma has a great story – go to her Instagram and check it out @nudzys
After the run, the TV was, as always, an in-and-out job. Arrive, get mic’d up, sit down and wait for questions – great studio and some good questions. I’m pleased I got to talk more about Prostate Cancer UK and Kev. Hopefully we will get some donations. If you want to donate the link is in my bio, which goes straight to my JustGiving page.
Day 389 – Bosnia to Serbia
In the first 12 months of life on the road I’ve learnt a lot – about myself, about the world, its religions, the wildly diverse cultural differences, the languages, and a big one is people and their attitudes to the planet. The list goes on…
But I’ve also learnt a bit about travelling. Here’s my top 10 tips, habits and observations (well 7, as the rest didn’t quite fit):
Making friends with the concierge is key to hotel happiness. If there isn’t a concierge, then make friends with the top dog as soon as possible. This person can work wonders.
Be friendly. Be that person who initiates a conversation with your fellow human who is sat next to you on a plane or a train or a bus. People are interesting, and you never know who you’ll meet.
Always carry a pen for those silly immigration form things.
The light switch paradox – I’ve learnt in all hotels around the world that there will be one light that doesn’t have a light switch or a light that seemingly illuminates a random patch or wall. When designing the hotel, electricians are instructed to make the act of turning the light off and on from the bed as difficult as possible.
When an aeroplane comes to a stop and neatly parks in its bay, and the little ding noise sounds to indicate you can take your seat belts off, this isn’t an invite to stand to attention and all of a sudden push or shove fellow passengers out of the way. Just wait – you’re only going to have to wait for your bag anyway, so what’s the rush?
Similarly when boarding the plane, why do people insist on forming a long snaking queue? You have a seat allocated and they won’t leave without you. Just wait till everyone’s got on. (Although I appreciate not everyone can take this brilliant advice because we would get ourselves into somewhat of a stalemate.) Oh, and don’t be that person with 100kg of hand luggage.
Pushing your way past others at the security checks may get you to the gate faster, but you will still leave at the same time, and furthermore, you may have that guy you pushed past sitting next to you.
Day 390 – Belgrade, Serbia, Marathon 109
Very sloppy, thick brown mud and a beautiful pristine cream rug. Today I tramped through the British Embassy here in Belgrade. At least they’ll remember me. Sorry Mr Ambassador…
Today was Marathon 109 with my good friend Andy. Once again, he’s ditched his family and work to come and join me for two more marathons – one today, in Serbia, and then another in Montenegro in a couple of days’ time. Today was great for three reasons.
Andy arrived with a package of 56 letters from the brilliant school kids of Victoria Park Primary School in Bristol. First of all, a huge thank you is in order to the staff and teachers who organised this great surprise. So a round of applause for them, please. The letters were a fantastic read, and honestly left me feeling very moved.
We ran another marathon. I was in the mood to reflect today. I always tend to internally moan a little when it’s cold, slushy and like today, muddy, but actually I’m very lucky to be here, and exceptionally privileged to have the opportunity to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK, and to travel the world in the process.
Last, but by no means least, I met another ambassador today at the rather fortified British Embassy. The security was high, but the welcome was fab. Nice to meet you all at mile 4 of the run today. A big thanks to those in the background who keep making these little meetings possible.
I did leave a little more of a mark than I intended. You’ll see from today’s photos that we ran into some mud, literally. Some of that mud is now lodged into the nicely once clean carpet of the Embassy. Sorry.
So another muddy, slushy run complete. Andy and I even had time for a pizza at mile 18. Why not? Shower time now, before supper and bed.
Please keep donating to Prostate Cancer UK by using the link in my biography bit, thingy.
Day 391 – Belgrade, Serbia, rest day
The second-hand Cobra shop, lots of food and the best doughnut of my life.
Today was a day to relax, although this still inevitably resulted in me feeling exhausted by the end of the day.
With my muddy trainers and soggy clothes drying, Andy and I were up and out, early-ish. A big breakfast followed by the hunt for somewhere to base ourselves for the day. We found the Old London Pub. Not very London, but it did have a pool table and cheap booze for Andy; I enjoyed the vast quantities of sugary drinks. Several hours, and 10 games of pool later, we decided to head for food at a local burger place. We noticed that we now stank of smoke, due to the indoor smoking laws that we had long since forgotten about in the UK. We were now smoky and our eyes bloodshot – the pub had been full of smoke. It was worth it, though. Even just for the brilliant and huge map of the world made of bottle caps, stuck down with a special mix of chewing gum and Blu Tack.
After our delicious burgers, we taxied back to the hotel. It’s great to be in a country or two where the taxis are very cheap, even if it does make us lazy. Before we managed to flag down a taxi I spotted a doughnut shop. Small, and with just a couple of seats and a small serving counter, the size of the doughnut made up for the scale of the shop. Brilliantly over-the-top spongy doughnut with huge helpings of everything. Ahh calories, that’s what I need…
Please continue to donate where you can.
The ‘why’ of the journey: to raise £250,000 for Prostate Cancer UK, and to honour my dear friend Kevin Webber. Kev was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer in 2014 and given as little as two years to live. It sucks, big time, but he’s battling on and is still with us today… Sadly, though, along with nearly 12,000 men in the UK every year, he will die from this disease. Let’s get some cash together to spread the word that men need to get themselves checked.
Day 392 – Belgrade, Serbia to Podgorica, Montenegro and Marathon 110
Wake, fly, travel, run, splash, splash, splash, puddles.
A travel and run day today. After an early flight we landed in Podgorica, Montenegro early enough to run on the same day. Today was designed so that if I felt fresh enough, and my foot wasn’t too sore, I could run again tomorrow in Albania. The border is only a stone’s throw away, and so it’s ideal to squeeze in another country.
Breakfast just about hitting our stomach we managed to gather our energy to slowly put our clothes on. Today was wet beyond belief. We left the quirky little hotel made of stones wrapped up with layer upon layer. Not as cold as recent counties, but the rain wasn’t letting up.
The route was pretty boring, at some points single file, and with several soakings from passing cars, trucks and lorries. I’m sure some of them did it on purpose.
By half way our legs were heavy, in the achy sense, and also in the actual sense, after so much water. We ran along main roads just because it was the simplest route. It was hard to breathe for the first few miles, I think probably because the breakfast of chicken wrap and chips was more of a massive lunch, and we’d only eaten it about 20 minutes before starting to run. The breathing got better; the rain didn’t.
By the end of 26.2 miles plus an extra little bit just to make sure, we were both pooped. Andy’s knees were frothing – some air had obviously got under the fabric and started to make a nice messy knee art.
The weather was foul, the route not much better but at least safe-ish, and the bonus was that we can now either rest tomorrow or get another marathon in and tick off another country – fingers crossed. A big thanks to Andy for today – it would have been brutal without you.
A good pasta dinner and a chilled evening complete with ice bags under my legs and we were ready for bed. Just one more task –sort out last-minute hire car for tomorrow. Let’s try and run again tomorrow. Uh oh, I’ll be tired.
Day 393 – Overland drive from Montenegro to Albania, Marathon 111 and then a drive back to Montenegro
Today was the day of the bonus marathon, and back-to-back marathons.
Waking up like I’d had no sleep, hungry, with tired legs and feeling dirty, I staggered to the hotel room door. Andy and I have a good system going where Andy wakes up, comes to my room and we get prepped together, sharing food and water supplies. I mostly open the door half asleep, if not more.
We took delivery of a car at 8 this morning, gathered all of our clothes, stopped for fuel and supplies, and made the beautiful journey through the mountains to the Albanian border. The lake in the valley was bright blue, even with a grey sky.
Only 40 minutes away, I remembered to drive on the right, most of the time, and reached the border without much traffic. The area is quiet, empty and like most places in this part of the world, looks unfinished. Or not even started.
No hassle at the border – we showed our passports and our green card, the document accompanying the car, and boom, we were in Albania.
The sun was doing its best to come out; still, the weather was much improved on yesterday, and a crazy 10 degrees warmer.
We did a quick tour of the surrounding area and sussed out the roads Andy had mapped out last night. We needed pavements or wide verges. All the Google Earth views showed big lorries, so we needed some space to avoid a possible death situation. All was good enough. We dumped the car at the petrol station, which became our base for the day, just past the border. We got weird looks as we changed into our gear in the car.
Double-checking the car was locked, our dry clothes and bags out of site, we ventured into the unknown. Our bodies were tired and resisting. We were pleased, though. This was a bonus country, and massively saves time later in the trip. Not to mention the expense.
Day 394 – Podgorica, Montenegro 🇲🇪 to Ljubljana, Slovenia 🇸🇮
Goodbye Andy, goodbye Montenegro, and hello to another European country.
Today’s flight was pretty scary actually. Take-off was very bumpy – the incredibly strong winds getting on to the plane nearly blew me over. I was surprised they even attempted a take-off.
A big thank you to Andy for all the support over the last week or so. You’ve been great company, and it’s been a very different experience sharing the road with someone. What a treat!
At the airport this morning we reflected on the very easy hire car process we had had yesterday. This was the car we had needed to get over the border to Albania. The lady behind the desk at reception called a number, a different woman came with a car, we paid her €45 (thanks Andy), and then I gave her my outdated driving licence, my passport to jot some notes down, she handed them back, took some photos of the scratches on the car and that was that, the little white Skoda Fabia was ours for 24 hours.
Yesterday was also a day of dogs – I lost track of how many we saw. Mostly behind fences and all chained up, but they barked like they wanted to eat us. Our tactic was always to walk past the dogs – they really don’t enjoy our running, or perhaps it’s just my smell.
Within eight hours of arriving in Albania yesterday we were back out and setting up the laptop in the hotel to watch the rugby last night, and today I’m off to another country. What a whirlwind it’s been these last few days. Thanks, Andy. We are both sore and totally pooped from the intense few days, but triumphant – another one down. Andy heads home and I crack on with another 85 countries to complete the world.
MESSAGE – If you are a man and over 40 years old you should get your prostate checked every year. It’s just a simple blood test. If you don’t, and you have prostate cancer, the chances of it being caught late are higher, and therefore your risk of death is VERY high too. If you think it’s embarrassing or you’re somehow ashamed, please stop. I would rather talk about this and live than ignore it and die, and I’m sure the families of every man in the world affected by it would agree. Please go and get checked. Do it today – why not?
British Endurance Athlete | Motivational Speaker | Adventurer
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