Just a Little Run Around Britain – the first 100 days
On July 24th, his 100th day on the road after being cheered off from our base in Findhorn, on a chilly, grey Easter Sunday, Simon Clark crossed the border between Scotland and England. 1,500 miles, 3 pairs of shoes, countless pairs of socks, and even a change of rucksack later, he is now in Cumbria, skirting the western edges of the Lake District, bound for Whitehaven, Barrow-in-Furness and Lancaster.
Simon is running an astounding 5,000 miles anticlockwise around mainland Britain’s crinkly coast to celebrate Ecologia’s 20th Anniversary and raise at least £10,000 to support our work to enable disadvantaged youngsters around the world to realise their potential. His aim is to follow the sea’s edge along the coast, to test his own limits, his own edge.
Well, Simon has certainly been tested! Running against gale force winds in unseasonably cold weather, the first few weeks were about finding a rhythm and battling the sheer aloneness of spending nights wrapped in just a bivvy bag, sheltering in the corners of graveyards, mountain bothies, abandoned buildings, campsite laundry rooms – anywhere that seemed to offer an ounce of shelter.
I lie awake for what seems ages, at my most vulnerable … listening to the rain beat-and-bounce on the bivvy, feeling as secure as it’s going to be, in the graveyard. A push and up and out, only to discover a rain-sodden top end of sleeping bag as I complacently didn’t zip up the bivvy, believing it wouldn’t rain. Lesson learnt. April 15th
By early summer, coming down the west coast in warmer weather, the views were magnificent – but the midgies and boggy ground caused their own problems, putting an end to Simon’s second pair of running shoes fairly rapidly!
I have been wearing road running shoes with cushioned soles and vulnerable uppers. They have lasted 750 miles but initiated in the bogs of Cape Wrath, the sides have split and my feet are falling out. July 1st
The worst part was when Simon’s ankles began to cause such pain that at one point he wasn’t even sure if he could continue. A change of rucksack, to rebalance the weight of the bare necessities he must also carry, suddenly made all the difference, allowing Simon to start enjoying the run once again.
…the new rucksack has changed everything, running posture much more upright; I have rediscovered zest for running which I had lost [through feeling] so demoralised with the scrunched pain. June 28th
In the midst of all the difficulties though, are moments of joy, precious unexpected meetings, with the landscape, its wildlife (highland coos, lambs, chattering seals, even a friendly deer), fellow modern day pilgrims – in addition to all the friends-well-met, who have freely shared their time and local knowledge, given food, encouragement and donations, and opened their doors to Simon. Arriving at his destination after 10pm one night:
I call in at a caravan site and find the bar still open, but the food finished. I’m starving, and Christine steps up for me – fish and chips, pints of water and ginger beer, nuts and chocolate bars – on the house. She gives me a duvet cover for the night and I pull away from the bright lights of the ferry terminals to camp down on the grassy path … It’s been a satisfying 27-mile day. A shimmering Stranraer is lit up and calling in the distance at the far, south end of a very deep Loch Ryan. July 11th
To celebrate Simon’s extraordinary efforts we have put together a collection of some of the best photos from the first 100 days of his run to create a Flickr montage of his journey so far. We hope you will enjoy it. Don’t forget that you can also can track Simon’s progress on our live map, browse our media archive, and get his latest updates by following his entertaining blog and video clips on Facebook at ‘remembersimon’.
Apart from the physical and mental challenges Simon has set himself, he has also pledged to raise £10,000 – £2 per mile – to enable us to continue our work to empower children who have experienced tremendous challenges of their own to create a better future. When times are tough, these children inspire Simon to keep going – children like Samuel and Joseph, who were locked up in their house by their father after their mother passed away due to AIDS and they were found to be HIV positive. By the time they were rescued they were so malnourished that doctors said they had only a few days to live. Since our Kenyan partners at IPI opened their doors to the boys, however, things have changed immeasurably for the better. Samuel and Joseph’s health has improved, they are able to access ARV therapy, and thanks to good nutrition, regular attendance and their own hard work, they are always among the top 5 in their class.
To help us continue our efforts to give a future back to children like Samuel and Joseph, please
It is the children at our projects, including two he has become a god parent to, that Simon is dedicating his run to. Here he describes his feelings as he crossed the River Sark, which forms the western section of the border between Scotland and England:
I cross the river at 12.30 and head for Carlisle … I’ve made it, I feel triumphant, magnificent, reckless and sad and dedicate the moment to my two Ecologia godsons, Vanya in Russia and Patrick in Kenya, as we are all people holding hands across international borders. God bless us all. Sunday, 24th July
We leave you with a little bit of fun – a video of Simon running and filming in tandem with his friend Simon Maclaren, who accompanied him by bike for a few days along the Galloway coast.
Happy running Simon and thank you!