In May 2017 I'll be heading north to pit myself against a new challenge - my longest unbroken run yet!
'Chasing The Dragon' is a project that I have dreamed up with good friend James Harcombe (who happens to be Welsh) and together we will attempt what has only been achieved once before - a full circumambulation (big challenges need big words!) of Wales.
The 'fastest known time' (or more precisely, 'only known time') for this epic 1,700 km trail run, that utilises the new Wales Coast Path and the long-established Offa's Dyke Path, is 40 days. Our plan is to knock it off in 25 days!
We will be raising funds for mental health charities on both sides of the world - the Mental Health Foundation
in New Zealand and Mind
in the UK
Read more about it here
and follow our preparations & the challenge itself on Facebook
The High Five-O Challenge (2015)
This was the project that took everything to a whole new level! Billed as “the most audacious feat of endurance ever attempted on New Zealand soil”
it took two years to plan, train for and ultimately complete.
To run 50 mountain marathons and climb 50 peaks in just 50 days! Never before attempted anywhere in the world, this was considered totally impossible by many. But if you know you can do it there’s really no challenge is there?
Completed on behalf of the Mental Health Foundation of NZ, with more than 300 support runners signed up to join me for a day or so each. Then add in a support crew of six and a two-person film team and you get an idea of the scale of this nationwide mission.
In all the most important ways the Challenge exceeded its goals. It raised a staggering $510,000 for the charity and was instrumental in helping reduce the stigma around the topic of mental health. Physically, not everything went to plan, with injury, illness and weather forcing the shortening of some days. But 50 peaks were climbed on 50 consecutive days and the equivalent of 40 rough, tough off-road marathons were knocked out.
What It Meant To Me
If ever I needed reminding that ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ this Challenge did it. The obstacles that needed to be overcome, both before and during the 50 days were immense, and the stories that these have spawned will make great speaking material for years to come. But most of all I’m exceptionally proud of the contribution we made to the mental wellbeing of New Zealanders throughout the two-year duration of the project.
The epic tale of the High Five-0 Challenge was written up, as it happened, in a series of daily blogs. You can read those here.
Coast Path Run (2012)
An epic adventure that took me back to land of my birth, born from an idea that came to me while running in the dark on a very cold UK winter’s morning.
To run the 1,014 kms of never-ending ups and downs that make up the UK’s longest national trail, the South West Coast Path, in a record 14 days. The previous record stood at 21 days!
Completed on behalf of the Mental Health Foundation of NZ, with just one other runner and a support crew of two.
It didn’t all go to plan! Injuries forced my co-runner to pull out after 10 days and me to walk 15 hours a day for the final week with excruciatingly painful shin splints. But I made it in a new record time of 16 days 9 hours. More importantly, I raised $22,000 for the charity.
What It Meant To Me
This was by far the toughest battle I’d had to deal with and I was very proud that despite frequent temptation, I never gave up. I learned so much because so much did not go right. It taught me that’s no such thing as ‘win or lose’ only ‘win or learn’.
I recounted the story of Coast Path Run in a series of 8 blogs. You can read those here
7 In 7 Challenge (2010)
A follow-up to the original 7in7 Challenge to see how much further I could push my body and my fundraising capabilities.
To run 370 kms of tough backcountry trails in the Southern Lakes district in just a week. Averaging some 54 kms a day on trails that few hike and even less run!
Completed on behalf of Leukaemia & Blood Cancer NZ. Supported by 120 co-runners, a support crew of four and a photographer.
All physical goals met and $176,000 raised.
What it meant to me
This convinced me that I had a talent for building a community of interest behind my projects and made me more determined than ever to chase Big Hairy Audacious Goals.
7 In 7 Challenge (2009)
This was the one that started it all for me. It was a project that grew from a random wild idea into a life-changing adventure.
To be the first person ever to run New Zealand’s 7 mainland Great Walks back to back in just 7 days. What would take a fit hiker a month to complete – full traverses of the Lake Waikaremoana Circuit, Tongariro Northern Circuit, Abel Tasman Coastal Track and the Heaphy, Routeburn, Milford and Kepler Tracks – I would attempt to do in just a week.
Sponsored by Mizone on behalf of Leukaemia & Blood Cancer NZ. Supported by 17 co-runners, a support crew of two and a cameraman.
A successful completion of the adventure and $85,000 raised.
What it meant to me
This proved to me that I was capable of so much more than I’d ever thought possible before. It gave me the belief to forge a new career pursuing my true passions.