Saturday, 26 May 2018

New Run Geordie Run t-shirt SOLD OUT

Over the years, Run Geordie Run t-shirts have raised £32,000 for local charities such as St Benedict's Hospice, The Children's Foundation, The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Useful Vision.

This latest design (once again by Dave at Shenton Creative) commemorates the fifth stage of the run around the world, the so called "Road to Astana" and has raised a brilliant £1800 for St Benedict's Hospice.

The snazzy red technical fabric garment features the 2900 mile route from Belgrade to Astana on the back of the t-shirt as well as the Run Geordie Run Around The World and St Benedict's Hospice logo on the front. 

I'm sure you'll agree that it's another brilliant design and I'd like to say a huge thank you to Dave at Shenton Creative for his efforts. Efforts, by the way, that have helped raise tens of thousands of pounds for charity. 

An absolutely massive thank you goes to my sponsor D-Line who paid for all production costs and sponsor Fresh Freight Group who are looking after the postage and packing. In time honoured Run Geordie Run tradition this means that every penny that the t-shirts have raised has gone directly to St Benedict's Hospice.

Finally, thank you to everyone who has bought a t-shirt. This particular design has now sold out. Your support is hugely appreciated by myself and St Benedict's Hospice.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Goodbye Chappie and a few thank yous

I’ll be saying a temporary farewell to my buggy, Chappie, later today as he begins the long journey to the British Embassy in Belgrade on the back of a lorry. Regular followers will remember that Chappie is the short name for the Chapman Ventilation Around The World Buggy.

Chapman Ventilation, who have backed me over 3 stages of the run around the world so far, very kindly paid for all production costs of Chappie. A huge thank you to them for helping to turn a pipe dream of running the remaining 11,000 miles around the world unsupported into a reality. Chapman Ventilation already do so much for good causes and I'm eternally grateful to them for their continued support. 

I'll be reunited with Chappie in Belgrade on the afternoon of June 1st. I'll be flying out from Newcastle Airport a little earlier at 0600. I'll also be joined by Carlton Fletcher who was on the support team on stages 2 (USA), 3 (Australia) and 4 (Europe) of the run around the world. Carlton is going to help me with the final prep in Belgrade and will be running the first few miles with me on June 4th before heading back to the UK. Thanks to Carlton for his unwavering support of my running.  

Thanks also go to the many people who have sent me messages of support via email or via social media. It's brilliant to know that there continues to be a lot of interest in my running.

I’ve been asked many times recently how I feel about running 2900 miles unsupported from Serbia to Kazakhstan. It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe. It a mixture of excitement, determination and pride. There are no nerves yet and I think it’s really helped that I’ve broken the run down in my mind into so many small sections. I will quite literally be taking it one mile at a time never mind one day at a time.

Thank you to the individuals who have been in touch with offers of help along the route. I've been following up on these and it looks like I'll have a place to stay in Kiev on my rest days and also some school visits to carry out in Ukraine. There are other leads to chase up in Russia and Kazakhstan.

Thanks to Synergy Language Services for translating my leaflet into Russian. This leaflet (and also the English version) was designed by Dave at Shenton Creative and is being printed by Communisis in partnership with PBL Print and Photoline.

The leaflet is going to be my main method of communication on the Road to Astana. The tri-fold pages can be viewed online here and the poster foldout can be viewed here.

I'll leave the final words to Catrina from St Benedict's Hospice who summed up to me last week exactly what they and the wider hospice movement is all about. Please take 60 seconds to watch it.  

Monday, 21 May 2018

Three hundred thousand pound barrier smashed

There are only two weeks to go before stage five of the run around the world gets underway in Belgrade, Serbia. While the final bits of planning and preparation are going well and I must say that the fundraising has exceeded my expectations way beyond what I ever imagined. 

It gives me great pride to report that the overall around the world fund passed through the £300,000 barrier this morning as the final few special edition t-shirts were sold.

It's not only me that should be filled with pride but everyone who has sponsored me over the years and donated to one of my chosen charities. Without the support of friends, colleagues, family and the wider general public none of this would have been possible.

Despite the amazing overall milestone of £300,000 being hit, there is still some way to go to hit my own personal target of £50,000 for the Road to Astana campaign. As per usual, I will be trying my absolute best to hit that target when stage 5 gets underway on June 4th 2018. It won't be possible without the amazing generosity of the general public. It's a generosity that I never have and never will take for granted. 

I should also mention that, as a result of using Virgin Money Giving (as opposed to other equivalent fund raising sites) to fundraise for the recent campaigns approximately £6,500 extra has been passed to the charities.

Finally, thanks so much if you've ever sponsored me. The totals below show where your money has gone. 

Monday, 7 May 2018

22 miles to Brough Park

So it’s the morning after the day before. Yesterday’s 22 miles really serves as a reminder just how tough stage 5 of the Run Around The World is going to be when it gets under way in 28 days time. The task ahead is simple to explain. I’ve got 100 days to run from Belgrade through Serbia, Romania, Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan to Astana. I’ll be running 31 miles per day which will allow me to take 7 rest days during the 100 day period. And of course, I’ll be pulling a fully laden buggy weighing in at 110kg (17.3 stone). 

After yesterday’s 22 mile training run with Chappie (my Buggy) I felt very tired this morning. Really tired in fact. It’s a familiar tiredness that I’ve faced many times before during the 8,991 miles ran around the world so far. I shuddered knowing that I have to run 9 more miles per day over a 100 day period. If ever I needed a reminder as to how tough the task ahead is going to be, then yesterday was it. 

I must admit that it was a nice end to the run yesterday when I found myself at Brough Park to watch the Newcastle Diamonds take on the Ipswich Witches. The racing provided the usual level of excitement. It was great to be interviewed trackside after heat 8. Thanks Roy for asking some great questions.

The hero of the day with a brilliant final heat was captain Ludvig Lindgren who tipped off a great race meeting with a win that saw Newcastle complete a comeback to get a draw. The best part of the day for me was when Ludvig Lindgren took time out after the meeting to come and have a look at Chappie. He asked some great questions about my up and coming run and what life is like living in a buggy. 

I spent a lot of time talking to former Diamond Matěj Kůs (who was my favourite rider when I started attending the speedway 2 years ago). We chatted about the task ahead and he also talked about his recent experiences in Russia and the people that he encountered. To be able to spend some quality time with your heroes is quite amazing really. 

Thanks go to Steve Brock and Roy Clarke for setting things up at Brough Park. Thanks to Bob Beecroft for giving Chappie a lift home in his van. This meant that I didn’t have to run 14 miles home today. It also means that I’ve got time to carry out some important tasks today such as booking some flights. Thanks also go to everyone who put some money in Chappie’s basket yesterday. 

All in all it was a very tough but enjoyable day. Whenever there is money being raised for St. Benedict's Hospice it’s always going to be a great day. The Diamonds fightback and meeting my heroes was the icing on the cake. 

You can see the 22 mile training route that I took below.

Relive 'Bedlington to Brough Park'

Friday, 27 April 2018

A busy week - 38 days to go!

It's been a productive week! We had a brilliant meeting about this year's fundraising ball. I'm as excited as I've ever been for a ball after Donna, Catrina from St Benedict's Hospice and myself met Tom, the manager at The Biscuit Factory. This is the fourth ball that I've organised and I think it will be the most radical and fun one yet. There will be more details on that in the coming weeks. In the meantime, save 13/10/18 in your diary. All I can say is that there will be Russian Vodka and suitcases full of currency involved somewhere on the night! 

I established a really good contact in Belgrade who is helping to source accommodation for Chappie and me for the days just prior to the run starting. Nothing to report on that front as yet but thanks to Vladimir for assistance so far and the kind offer of transport from the airport. 

The process of form filling in for the freight of Chappie has begun. It's not as bad as the visa application process so I mustn't complain. Dave at Shenton Creative​ and staff at Communisis have worked hard on getting my leaflet ready for the printer this week. A huge thank you goes to them for their efforts. 

Thanks to Kerry at Synergy Language Services Ltd​ for offering to translate the leaflet to Russian. I can't overstate just how important it will be to have my leaflet in that language. 

The "Goodbye Run Geordie Run" event in South Shields takes place next Friday. Tickets are still available here. It's a £20 all you can eat curry night at Aneesa's. They are providing the food free of charge so the full ticket price is going to St Benedict's Hospice. Thank you to Asif at the restaurant for this very kind gesture. 

In other news, I've managed to book some accommodation for myself and Chappie in the Romanian city of Satu Mare. I'll be spending my  first rest day there and will be able to get what will probably be my first shower after 279 miles and 9 days of running. That will be my last day in Romania before I enter Ukraine on day 11. The image below is what the first 9 days of running looks like. 

With only 38 days to go until the start of stage 5 of the run around the world there is hardly a day left where I won't be arranging this, organising that or booking the other.

Finally, thanks to everyone who has kindly made a donation to St Benedict's Hospice at The generosity of the general public always has and still is amazing.

Please keep checking this blog over the coming days, weeks and months as posts become more frequent due to the fact that there is so much going on to make the Road To Astana a huge success.

Monday, 23 April 2018

The Man From Russia Says "Da"

Two bits of excellent news to start the week! Firstly, the overall fund for the Run Around The World crept over the £297,000 barrier and £29,000 for the Road To Astana campaign at the weekend. This was thanks to some kind donations and also ticket sales for next week's Goodbye Run Geordie Run event (tickets are still available by the way). 
My own personal target of £50,000 is going to require a lot of luck and generosity to achieve but I'm confident. 

In other massive news, I have just taken delivery of my passport which contains a bright and shiny Russian visa inside it. It has taken a lot of form filling in and head scratching to get it. I must say though, the Russian Tourist Office in London have been extremely helpful. When you're going to be travelling across the Russian Federation pulling a buggy the question of "Where will you be staying" is a very tough one to answer. 

With only 42 days until stage 5 of the run around the world starts, the floodgates can now open and some major tasks need to be completed. Booking of flights, freight and accommodation in Belgrade head the very long to do list. Donna and I will be working our way through that as we have done for the previous stages around the world. I've always said that getting to the start line of this run will be an achievement in itself. After getting charity sign off last year, the visa for Russia was the next obstacle. The final obstacle is figuring out how to get the buggy back to the UK from Astana after the end of the run. Watch this space for more news as preparations hot up.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

9000 miles of support and kindness

On the back of the link to appearing on a couple of days ago, there have been some brilliant messages received from exiled Geordies who live on or near my route through Ukraine and Russia. 

Given how valuable such assistance has proved to be in the past (notably in California, Nevada, The Rocky Mountains, New York, Perth and Sydney) I'll be following up on these offers of help.

I've met some amazingly friendly and helpful Geordie ex-pats during the first 9,000 miles of the run around the world. Some of them have proven to be absolute game changers and all of them have shown me some incredible kindness and support. 

Nick Davison and his family (pictured above) let me hang out at their house during the build up to the run across the USA. I remember eating the most delicious sandwiches! Nick ran the first few miles with me on day 1 from Huntington Beach. Nick also tipped off his friend that I would be running through where he lived in Denver (See below). 

I was only 2 miles into day 41 of the run across the USA when I noticed a car pulled up ahead. Then I noticed the driver with a black and white shirt on. It was Dave and Lesley Greaves (pictured above) who had been driving all day to try and find me. They were on holiday and wanted to hand over 200 US Dollars (£123) sponsorship money from the NUFC Midlands Supporters Club. What a gesture! What generosity! What great timing when I felt quite lonely on the road. 

Nick Davison's friend, John Bulman (pictured with his partner Carrie above) was a police officer that I met in the Rocky Mountains west of Denver. He ran with me for a day and helped make the miles go quicker. If memory serves me correct he was from Keswick originally and was a Carlisle United supporter. I also remember Carrie introducing me to an energy product called Honey Stinger Waffles.

A few days after meeting John, he brought his colleague to meet me (pictured above) as I ran east out of Denver. That's one of my favourite photos of the entire run around the world so far by the way.

Who can ever forget the people pictured above who ran with me for the final 13 miles of the run across the USA. I'd suffered a week of terrible anxiety finding it hard to deal with being so close to the finish line in terms of time but not in distance. 

I'll be forever grateful to the Toon Army NYC branch for the company on those final miles on what turned out to be a 60 mile day. Also present at the bottom right hand corner is Dave from Real Radio. He ran a few miles with me as I reached NYC but had to get a taxi to the finish line as his feet were sore!

Pictured below is Alan and Tim (aka The Exiles) who wrote and recorded a charity song (available on iTunes - search Run Geordie Run). Alan (and his wife) were at the start and end of the run across the USA. Tim made it to the finish in time for a celebratory pint with the rest of the Toon Army NYC branch.

Pictured above are Mel and John from Perth, Australia. John, originally from Cramlington, reached out to me after seeing coverage on Along with Darren (pictured below on the right) they were at the start line of the run across Australia at Cottesloe Beach. 

Darren and John ran the first 13 miles with me and it proved to be a great send off on what was to become the most difficult stage of all those done around the world so far.

Mel and John let me use the facilities of their holiday cottage on day 2 and were present on support team duties from days 8 - 13 of the run across Australia. They both cooked many a fine meal and various snacks throughout their time on the team. They even converted Graham on the support team to meat after decades of being a vegetarian such was the quality of their cooking. 

Pictured below is Helen whose relation initially saw a request for help for accommodation in Perth on Twitter. Helen was kind enough to put me up for a few days before the run across Australia started, helped me shop for supplies and (due to the nature of her job) provided telephone support when I needed it. That phycological support was extended 3 years later during the run across Europe.

Helen has had a patient knack of helping me to gain a sense of perspective and putting me back on the right course on some very difficult and dark days. 

Pictured above is the person who I refer affectionately to as "The man who saved day 63". I'll let Donna's blog post from the day take up the story.

A spectacular start to the morning was soon to be over. Mark was becoming increasingly hassled by the flies and the pain had started again in his feet. Mark sent me a message so say how much he was struggling, I knew that this would be a low end to the morning. 

As I waited for Mark to approach the RV, I started to prepare for water exchange and a snack. Just then I heard the blip of a siren. My heart sunk, I was parked perched on the corner of a farmer's track – was I in trouble? 

I coyly went to the front of the RV to step out and saw a flash of a Newcastle top! This had to be good news! 

I was greeted by a big smile from Andrew, the Zone Commander for New South Wales Fire and Rescue. Andrew had previously been in touch on Facebook as he lives in a town not too far from where Mark would be running. Andrew's Dad was originally from North Shields so the family are big supporters of 'the toon'. This was great! 

In the distance a very dreary Mark was heading towards us, he almost dropped to his knees when he saw the friendly black and white stripes. His pace quickened and he greeted Andrew with a huge bear hug!".

The rest, as they say, is history and Andrew spent the next few days bringing supplies and checking in on us. His job covered a huge area and he passed us quite a few times. 

I genuinely think that I was ready to quit that day. I dread to think what the outcome would have been without our chance meeting with Andrew.

Donna's blog for the day says it all really and concludes with:

"The break with Andrew had cost Mark an hour, it was certainly well worth it as he skipped into the next running stretch for the day.".

I tweeted "Break over. Time to get back out there. I'm in the mood to attack again.". 

Finally, there was Pete Smith (pictured above) who ran the final 10k of the run across Australia with me. The previous 2378 miles from Perth had been physically and mentally torturous. The final 6 miles with Pete were very calm, casual and I remember feeling like I was on a lunchtime training run. It was such a contrast to the previous 81 days of heat, flies, blood, sweat, tears and pain. 

Donna's blog from the day - "I presumed that it was someone who had stopped to check that Mark was ok - a common feature of the last 82 days. How wrong could I be? Just when the glory of the finish line awaited, up pops a Geordie! Pete Smith, a friend of, lives in Sydney and had followed the journey throughout. As luck had it he was in the area with family and kindly offered to join Mark as support for the final stretch.".

As well as the people mentioned above there are the various support team members, the local well wishers, the sponsors and helpers and all of the kind people who support me via social media. Putting all of that together has meant that I have managed to successfully run 9,000 miles across the UK, USA, Australia and Europe. There are so many people to write about and thank when I sit down and think about it.

All of the liaisons with the above people can be traced back to coverage given to my running on There's another set of people to thank for sure!

Of course, I now have Chappie (The Chapman Ventilation Around The World Buggy) pictured above, to support me. I'm looking forward to writing about the next group of people that we'll meet between Belgrade and the southern tip of New Zealand in a few years time.

Every ounce of help offered to me during the remaining 11,000 miles across Serbia, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, China, Japan and New Zealand will be gratefully received. The support and generosity shown is never something that I take for granted. It has and will continue to help me achieve my ambition to go some way to repaying the debt of gratitude that I feel towards local charities.

Raising half a million pounds or more by the time I reach the end of the world is not going to be an easy task.  Running the remaining 11,000 miles isn't going to be easy either and isn't without its fair share of risks. What in life that is worth anything at all comes easy?

This promises to be a continuing fascinating journey and with a lot of help and support I'm confident of suceeding.