Day 417 – Brunei 🇧🇳, Marathon 118
35°C in the shade, and 5 litres of water.
From horizontal to vertical was a challenge this morning. The sun was rising slowly and the temperature with it. It may have been 35°C in the shade, but I wasn’t in the blooming shade. I waited for a while in the lobby reception just after 6am for a couple of people who were due to run with me today. Sadly they didn’t show up; this happens sometimes, which is cool, but it did mean I then needed to download a map, find some cash, and generally prepare for a run in a new city where I had no idea of where to go.
I spent the morning running along by the coast and the river. It seemed the easy option – 2 miles down, 2 miles up.
The sun wasn’t much trouble for a while, but the humidity was, and then the sun popped its hot head above the horizon. As it came up, my tongue quickly turned white. If you’re a runner you’ll know just how easy it is to become super-dehydrated and not know about it. I am generally pretty good with this, but in this heat, it’s practically unavoidable.
I think of the weeks that have passed where I have been begging for sun. The cold and grey months of Eastern Europe are behind me, and I certainly don’t miss the slush and the snow, but boy, I could do with some clouds at least. There was a gentle breeze for a few hours, but other than that it was me vs the sun. Even the locals were talking about how hot it was today. And that’s saying something.
In the first few hours of the run I said hello to nearly everyone I passed. The city is quiet, but there were a few walkers and runners around. I was even high-fived by a guy I passed over and over again as we both did out-and-back laps of the waterfront. I befriended a few guys in a local shop, paid for about 5 litres of water in small bottles upfront, and left them in the cooler. Every time I passed the shop, I’d pop in, grab a bottle and carry on. They were friendly, and so kind. Great people.
I finished the run, eventually.
Day 418 – Brunei 🇧🇳 to the Philippines 🇵🇭
Bye bye Brunei 🇧🇳, you’ve been bloody hot. Here comes Manila, and I suspect equally as hot – country number 119, 77 marathons and 77 countries to go. Aaagghh, it feels like time is running out. I guess I won’t be saying that when I’m in Central Africa and scared for my life. Or maybe I will in a different way. I hope not.
We have got to raise the donations folks. Thanks to those who have supported so far, but please spread the word and donate where you can. We have a long way to go to hit our target of £250,000 for Prostate Cancer UK. The link is in my biography.
The biggest problem I have come across with prostate cancer is that men don’t get themselves checked regularly or even at all. If you’re over 40 years old, go and see your GP. They can offer you a PSA test. If you think you’re better off not knowing, or you feel a bit embarrassed, remember the reality is, if you don’t get tested and you do have prostate cancer, it’s likely to kill you if you catch it late. If you get checked every year, the chances of catching it early increase. YOU LIVE. Need I say more?
So what is the PSA test? It’s a blood test that measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in your blood. PSA is a protein produced by normal cells in the prostate and also by prostate cancer cells. It’s normal to have a small amount of PSA in your blood, and the amount rises as you get older and your prostate gets bigger. A raised PSA level may suggest you have a problem with your prostate (not necessarily cancer). You can have a PSA test at your GP surgery, although you’ll need to discuss it with your GP first. At some GP surgeries you can discuss the test with a practice nurse, and they can do a test if you decide you want one.
Day 419 – Manila, Philippines 🇵🇭, Marathon 119
The smells of a 26.2-mile run in Manila.
I want to take you through every mile of my run today focusing on one sense, smell. A bit weird, you may think, but actually the sights, sounds and smells of each city and country are so special, each of them ignites a different memory or feeling.
Mile 1 – Sun cream on my skin
Mile 2 – General Asia outdoors
Mile 3 – Morning wood fires in the street
Mile 4 – Rubbish ready for collection
Mile 5 – Gas of some sort from a shop
Mile 6 – Dog poo
Mile 7 – The ocean
Mile 8 – Exhaust fumes
Mile 9 – Car clutch smells
Mile 10 – Food vendor, chicken, I think
Mile 11 – Polluted air as I stop at traffic lights
Mile 12 – A homeless couple I stopped to speak to
Mile 13 – Shoe polish from a marching Navy
Mile 14 – A family of cats, mostly urine
Mile 15 – Blackcurrant Gatorade
Mile 16 – Floatplane engine
Mile 17 – Fish from fishermen
Mile 18 – Rain on tarmac
Mile 19 – Fresh linen being transported to a hotel
Mile 20 – I farted; I eat a lot of protein
Mile 21 – Street seller
Mile 22 – Seaweed
Mile 23 – Mucky water
Mile 24 – Fresh grass cuttings
Mile 25 – Moped engine
Mile 26 – My body odour
And the point 2 – Probably more fart.
A wonderful run along the coast, past Rizal Park and down to watch the floatplane take off and moor up. A couple were working out at the cultural centre about half way along my out-and-back 2-mile loop. We exchanged details. They were friendly. I laughed at the sign of the culture centre – it was the most boring sign I’ve ever seen. Concrete, and that was about it. It rained, the sun came out, and the clouds stayed overhead for most of the run. It was humid, but not too hot.
I’m now in bed after showering. I need to rest now. Please donate using the link in my biography.
Day 420 – Manila, Philippines 🇵🇭 to Tokyo, Japan 🇯🇵
Extreme tiredness and bad sleeping patterns do weird things to the mind. Today was the first day I felt awake and myself, although another travel day and another set of new sights, smells and feelings.
I landed in Tokyo a little after 7.30pm. It was dark, but the neon signs lit my path as I found my way through the maze of underground tunnels covered with Japanese writing. As always when arriving in a new alien land my first step is to find my accommodation, which was just around the corner from the famous Shibuya Crossing.
An hour on the train from the airport I’d accidentally bought a 1st class ticket. Still much cheaper than I expected, and the carriage was empty. Huge leather recliners were my home for 80 minutes or so. My eyes heavy, the carriage rocked me to sleep to the tune of that swooshing noise as the train hurtled along the tracks.
Apparently the busiest intersection in the world, the Shibuya Crossing is like a living thing. It’s clean, manned with traffic police and at peak times it can handle 3,000 commuters in a single 11-second crossing. My luggage by my side, I couldn’t help but stop and watch. I think everyone does this when they see it for the first time.
It was coldish in comparison to the last few weeks. It’s not 35°C anymore, that’s for sure – about 10, maybe 15 tops. I wrapped up. Tonight I’m staying in the Millennials pod hostel, right in the heart of the student district of Shibuya.
The small pods offer only a bed. And I mean only a bed. The key to my ‘room’ was an iPod. Picture this… a double queen bed in a box with one end a fabric shutter. Not only a key, the iPod can turn my pod’s lights on and off, tilt my bed into a sofa, and even set an alarm so the bed moves to wake me up. The toilets are also pretty fun – there are more buttons in the bathroom than in my entire house.
It’s late. More on this tomorrow. As they say in Japanese, おやすみなさい (goodnight, pronounced, Oyasuminasai).
Day 421 – Tokyo, Japan 🇯🇵, Marathon 120
The world marathon majors were on my list to complete this year as part of my expedition – six of the biggest marathon events in the world. Despite not actually needing to run them to accomplish my goal of running a marathon in every country in the world, it felt like a good fit, and why not? But between me, the team and the organisers, we managed to mess up my place for Boston last year (which meant I dodged a very stormy bullet), and this was incredibly disappointing. I discovered that this has now happened again. No official marathon place for me here in Tokyo, even with last-minute confusion and begging. Not to worry, it’s another reason to come back to Japan.
On reflection I think I enjoyed today more than I would have had it been the official race. With advice from my friend Rich, I ran around the city, and then found the Imperial Palace Park. This place was crawling with runners, and it was actually holding four different running events. The 2.5-mile loop had thousands of runners circling over and over again. With a slight incline one side and a gentle fall away a quarter of a mile the other, it made for a perfect loop. I got chatting to locals, expats and other foreigners – the running community once again thriving. If you’re not a runner, you really are missing out on a great group of slightly strange but loveable people.
So today, no official marathon, but a marathon nonetheless – 42.195km complete, and the time flew by. It wasn’t hot, which meant my legs opened up and I put in a few fast laps. I sweated less, which meant I drank less, which meant I stopped less to find water. In Manila I drank about 5 litres; today I drank 1 litre. What 25 degrees difference can do… Beautiful blue sky, a gentle breeze, and with runners flying past me, today was a good run. Not what I had expected when looking ahead to Tokyo, but I made the best of it.
Day 422 – Tokyo, Japan 🇯🇵, small alleyways and big lights
One of the most interesting cities in the world and a place I’d never been to – I decided to stay a little longer.
Today was a day of photography, exploration and open-mouthed awe. This wonderful intricate city of history, bright lights, culture, cherry blossom and a whole load of people should certainly be on everyone’s bucket list. My preconceived ideas of Tokyo were positive and more or less as I expected – except the uniqueness of the city’s feel is far greater. It’s orderly and polite. It’s calm and hectic all at the same time, and it’s happy. That’s it – even with the suit-wearing, by the book, neatness, the city is happy and playful. And joyful.
A very good friend of mine once lived here. That friend has another friend, and his name is Rich. Rich still lives here – one of those guys everyone gets on with, placid, friendly and a gent. Thanks Rich, and thanks Dani. We spent the day today exploring, taking some photos, eating and generally getting lost in a city that nobody can know completely.
It’s marathon day for the official racers. And it seems I missed the bad weather a second time. The weather today wasn’t pleasant. I saw a few staggering legs wandering around, all of which were soaked through to the skin.
The first Tokyo Marathon was held on 18 February 2007. However, years prior to 2007, the Tokyo Marathon actually consisted of two marathons – the Tokyo International Marathon, which took place on even years, and the Tokyo–New York Friendship International Marathon, which took place on odd years.
Have you donated yet? This expedition is to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK. Please donate using the link in my bio. Pretty please. Thank you.
Day 423 – Tokyo, Japan 🇯🇵, the bullet train
Bullet train, ninjas, cherry blossom, and a stunning oriental castle.
A deep and rapid roar in the distance, followed by the fast whipping noise of the wind and rain passing over the nose and around the body, the tracks below rattling tightly. The cambered rails are a sign of the speed and precision. The beautiful clean, crisp, white train with large portal windows came and went in a blink of an eye. There was something so elegant about such a fast and deliberate machine. Fascinating.
My morning started at 5.50am when my body woke me up… some admin, shower, and tidying and then to Hamamatsuchō Station 🚉; from there on to Tokyo Station and then all aboard the never-late bullet train to Odawara. I waited on the platform once the train had left. It was rainy, but I wanted to witness the speed. I watched them over and over again. Brilliant things.
Today was about two things – ride the bullet train – done ✅ – and get out of the city. Where though? The weather was a bit crappy ☔️ and wet 🌧, so I took a quick 40-minute journey to Odawara and back again.
Odawara Castle (小田原城 Odawara-jō) is a great building. I fear I haven’t even touched the surface of Japanese culture, architecture, or anything really, but even so, I love it.
Tomorrow I travel to Hong Kong 🇭🇰
British Endurance Athlete | Motivational Speaker | Adventurer
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