Generosity abounds in the Netherlands and Germany

This week I ran out of the Netherlands and into Germany, heading east and then north east towards Scandinavia.

The heat has been tough as there were some very humid days, to the point where it was still 22 degrees at 10:30pm. They’re the kind of temperatures that turn your one man tent into a human powered sauna! After running all day in 28-30 degrees, you sit down to relax and recover, however the sweat literally drips of your body – sticky and stinky certainly, but relaxing, no!

The tent inner has to remain zipped due to the ever increasing number of mosquitoes who love to dine on me, and their friends the midges who are harder to spot when they manage to sneak into the tent.

Well, that’s enough going on about what’s been tough this week, there’s been plenty of highs too. I’ve had lots of help from strangers this week. It’s very encouraging and great for morale when people go out of their way to help you for no reason other than wanting to see you succeed in your challenge.

I had a helping hand from a farmer in the Netherlands whose dog attempted to chase me when it was late dusk, very nearly dark. He stopped the dog’s onslaught and I asked if I could camp on his lawn at the entrance to his farm. He didn’t speak a word of English but with the help of his wife, I found I had a safe place to camp for the night, and a cold beer to drink before bed, overlooking a full moon from their patio, on what was quite possibly the most quiet/still night I’ve ever known.

Iwan I met on my last day in the Netherlands, he kindly took a video of me running after helping with directions. The cycle path next to the main road had diverted into the village, I assumed it’d appear again as I exited the village further along but wasn’t sure, and it was only an hour or so till dark, so I needed a helping hand and Iwan was there in my moment of need. A half hour later, having run a few kms up the road, Iwan appeared, this time with a SLR camera in hand – he wanted to take some decent photos instead of those on his phone!

Germany, so far, has been the greenest country I’ve seen, there are trees everywhere -it’s beautiful. Yesterday, passing through Lastrup, I stopped at Hotel Knipper for a coffee. On finishing I went to pay and they refused my cash, telling me to save my money for camping/hotel! Thanking them before leaving, I was outside checking my map for the directions out of town when they asked if I would stay for some dinner. A fantastic pasta dish was served up and again compliments of the house, they just wanted to help me along!

OK, 16 miles down today and there’s still 18 to go so I’ll wrap it up here!

In Bruges

I’m writing this blog in a cafe in Bruges, Belgium. Today, I’m taking advantage of Wi-Fi access in order to update blogs, check the route ahead and to try and configure a few things which I need for the rest of the trip.  I’m trying to improve the map of my run so I can share more detailed logs of my runs with daily mileage, and also adding the JustGiving link to my website so that people can start to donate.

Belgium is very cycle/pedestrian friendly on the roads, but it is much tougher than France to find food and shops at all, or to find them open! Yesterday I ran over 20 miles to find a shop that was open, and as for getting rid of food/water, there are literally no public toilets. I ran 33+ miles and saw one toilet when I arrived in Bruges – that was a relieving sight!

As a long distance runner, water consumption is of vital importance. To run in August heat, you need to be able to drink 8 litres of water a day, which means that you can end up spending a lot of time trying to find suitable toilet stops. In built up areas, this is quite stressful! In fact, I sometimes feel as if running is one of the easiest parts of the whole adventure. Finding food, water, internet access, bathrooms and discreet places to camp, oh and finding your way – these all take up so much time that often out of an hour I’m only running 45mins and that’s without resting! So 8 hours of running often takes 10 hours to actually realise!

I’m running stronger now though and looking forward to counting the countries, instead of the counties!

I’m incredibly grateful to all my sponsors, in particular Future Capital Partners, who have afforded me the ability to try this amazing challenge. I have been slow to update my blog, and I haven’t reached social media as often as I would like, something a sponsor could really object to, but FCP have been very supportive and nothing but encouraging which makes a difference when facing such a large scale challenge.

Thank you for reading and showing your support on this blog, Facebook, Twitter etc.

Starting out

Apologies for not having written anything since I left – going from normal life to life on the road takes some major adjustments!

Thankfully I’m now getting into more of a rhythm and am within range of my target distance most days. Initially, I had a number of teething problems with my trailer, which slowed my progress a little, but my confidence is growing again, if somewhat slowly.

First off, I just wish to give a very heartfelt thank you to everyone who showed up to wave me off and show their support in the blustery rain two weeks ago. It was very emotional for me to realise the start of a dream, and even more so saying goodbye to so many wonderful people.

The first week was difficult. Poor visibility and the narrowness of the roads meant that I had to drag my trailer over a grass verge in the mist, and this meant that I was only managing about 1.5 miles an hour. This was frustrating to say the least.

Taking a day off in Poole, I remapped the route to follow cycle routes marked out by Sustrans, (a charity which aims to encourage people to walk/cycle rather than using cars). This meant taking a much more wiggly route to Dover but that was actually my favourite day of running since I set off with friends out of Haytor Rocks! Following the cycle route also meant I could focus on things.

Engineering sponsors RB engineering have been fantastic, twice coming out on the road to meet me and make adjustments to kit. The trailer is now having a major overhaul to become a three-wheeler to push rather than pull. Pushing is much easier than balancing the two wheel trailer but it’s also great choosing which side of the road to run on and to balance out the load of the camber on my body. My hours per day to make the miles has gone down from 9.5-11 hours to 8-9 hours – it’s just much more efficient to push than pull.

I would also like to thank my main sponsor, Future Capital Partners, who have been nothing but patient and supportive of me from long before I set out two weeks ago.

I will now try to update this blog much more often, and running shorter days this will be much more manageable.

Thank you for reading and showing your support on this blog, Facebook, Twitter etc.

A “Meer” 50 kilometres

Three weeks into the run now, back in the Netherlands for the third and final time  before pushing into Germany next week.

Running diagonally towards Denmark and Scandinavia I’ve been crossing the Belgium and Netherlands border on a daily basis, often not sure which country I’m in until I say thank you to someone and realise I’m not receiving a strange look for my silly pronunciation alone, but rather its the wrong phrase all together!

Its going well overall, the clearly marked cycle lanes next to all the roads out here makes running a breeze, compared to running on the UK main roads, it’s incredibly safe and means you can pretty much switch off from the traffic, a much welcomed relief.

Im feeling stronger, finding it easier to make my target miles most days, and finally managing to sleep in my tent, stealth/wild camping (camping without permission and leaving before being discovered in the morning) takes some getting used to, and by its very nature is fairly scary, but realistically you get a feeling for where to camp after a while and the worse you can expect is to be disturbed by a dog walker, or an less than pleased/confused farmer in the morning. Camping near urban areas especially at the weekend is a bit more risky.

Today I’m sorting out my electronics, and data bundle issues, my PowerTraveller solar panels and batteries work great but being in a rush and never being one for reading the instructions, I’d left important parts of the cable system in the box in the Uk meaning I could only ever charge 1 USB device at a time, not useful when every device is USB powered by design.

So charging my phone for mapping has taken nearly all my juice each day, powering a data connection on the second phone and ipad hasn’t been possible most days.

Now I have the correct cable systems I can look forward to using the PowerTraveller tools to their full potential, giving me more than enough power to update my blog regularly and finally listen to some music while running, 500 miles of running with nothing to listen to but your own thoughts is a lot tougher than listening to a few good albums each day!

Ran through a little village named Meer the other day, it had the 50km speed limit sign next to the village sign.

A great coincidence as I’d started to realise that most days I see the 50km sign several times a day, on my mission to run 50km each day!  Running 50km a day is no “Meer” feat so I grabbed a photo!