Just a Little Run Around Britain – 200 days and still going!
As 2016 whirls to its close, and we prepare to celebrate Christmas with friends and family, our thoughts are with Simon as he marks almost 9 months on his ‘little’ 5,000 mile run around the coast of mainland Britain. How is he coping with the colder weather and shorter days? Is he still camping out in his bivvi at night? Where will he be spending Christmas?
On March 27th, Simon set off from Ecologia’s base in Moray. Self-funded from his work as an architectural designer, so that every penny he raises can go to our work with disadvantaged children and young people around the world, he works on his laptop for part of the day and occasionally takes a break from his route to check on his buildings, always returning to the exact point where he left off.
Despite these other demands on his time, he started at a blistering pace, charging up the northeast coast of Scotland to John O’Groats, round its wild northern tip, Cape Wrath, down the very wiggly West Coast and across three borders (five if you count Cornwall), into England and then Wales, with its pioneering coastal path, before crossing back into England and onto the South West Coast Path, to reach Land’s End in late November.
Here are just a few jaw-dropping stats from his run:
But it’s not all about the numbers. We wanted to know more about what it is like to run day after day, often without knowing where you will end up that night, so we caught up with Simon to find out.
Ecologia: What’s your basic daily routine now? Do you usually run first thing?
Simon: There’s no standard pattern, never has been. It depends where I stay. If I camp then I’m usually off at sunrise (8am this morning) looking for breakfast (found at 2pm today). I usually sit in a cafe for 2-3 hours or so if there is one. In Scotland I ran a lot in the evening; now I tend to stop between 6-7pm.
If I stay with people I often don’t leave until 10-11am because of chatting.
Ecologia: As you are running without a support team, you are limited in what you can carry. You’ve managed to minimise the total weight of your rucksack to about 11kg by forgoing a tent. In case anyone out there is dreaming of doing their own coastal run, what exactly is left in your rucksack?
Simon: It’s changed with the colder weather, but currently I wear 2 shirts (one woollen), underpants, running tights, socks, and shoes. Then in my rucksack I carry:
Ecologia: Since you started your run, you’ve had to cope with very differing terrains, from the peaty bogginess of Scotland’s West coast to the steep ascents and descents of England’s South West Coast Path. What’s been your favourite terrain to run on so far?
Simon: Whilst I love dangerous paths, big ups and downs, and edgy cliffs, I quite like the ease of a field. Cliff top open fields with expansive views all around and undulating, in and out (jiggardy!) coasts are probably my favourite. Our land is partitioned into endless, massive fields, and built up areas, and the coastal edge is one of the great wildernesses left.
Ecologia: What are you learning from this experience?
Simon: British people are very charitable, and doing something courageous and outside of their normal activity range for charity brings out people’s most generous natures. It’s humbling to be invited into complete stranger’s homes and being told to help myself to anything in the kitchen, or to have waiting staff donate their tips because they are inspired to help in whatever way they can.
On the other hand, I’ve also noticed how when you put people between walls, under shelter, and warm them up, their worlds become more complex than when outside, as we create endless rules and courtesies about how to behave with one another. If we spend more time outside with nature and the elements, life gets simpler.
Lastly, I’ve discovered that our coast path is a national gem and the ocean is the best friend to have – humbling, majestic. I am in awe of its power and vastness, while the horizon space stimulates space inside, relief, and joy.
Ecologia: What do you miss most about your old life, and what do you think you will miss about being on the road?
Simon: I miss the intimacy of friends, which is born of time together. I miss human touch and warmth, brilliant breakfasts… and mattresses! If I ever become re-domesticated, I will miss meeting new people all the time and staying with some; being and feeling special and noticed; and I will miss the constant change of landscape.
Ecologia: How will you spend Christmas and do you have any message for people who are following you?
Simon: I’m going to take a break for a few days to spend it with my brother (who has flown over from Perth, Australia) and my sister in East Anglia. Then I’ll return to the point where I left off and keep on running! As for those who are following, 1,000 Thank Yous for being interested enough to follow and engage, it provides the backdrop for me to keep going. And, go and sit with the sea for a while and dream. If it’s cold, sit in your sleeping bag!
Your support and encouragement helps Simon to keep going. If you would like to donate in lieu of a Christmas gift or card, please click on the button below:
A huge thank you to Simon for taking on this challenge on behalf of the children and youngsters at our projects. They and our partners, as well as all of us here at Ecologia wish him (and you) a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!