A paper trail as long as my run

Completing runs like this requires the collection of a lot of evidence. Each day I log the start and finish of my route, and try to collect at least one signature from a witness who has seen me arriving/leaving/passing through on foot.

There are receipts from almost every purchase to be stored and filed, each one date and time-stamped, to prove I was where I said I was on each day. A paper trail as long as my run!

There’s also the satellite tracker that needs to be kept charged, giving my exact location and speed every 20 minutes for the whole world to see.

To complete the run as fast as possible I need to log every meter covered each day. The overall distance is so huge that failing to do so would cost me extra weeks, if not months. The first few weeks of the run I lost several miles due to this. I logged my route and my tracker logged my whereabouts every 20 minutes, but I didn’t track miles with my GPS watch as the battery life is too poor. It was only once I reached the Netherlands that I finally discovered it could be used whilst in charging mode.

It turns out I was losing about 1km a day. You see, there’s a difference between distance run and distance covered, which you only see accurately when measuring with GPS.

Running from town A to town B which happen to be 50km apart doesn’t mean you’ve run just 50km getting there. This is especially true when following cycle paths alongside the road, as these often swap from one side of the road to the other, they also try to avoid crossing junctions at the widest part, and instead take you 10-20 metres into a quieter road, then cross the same distance again back to the busier road.

Then there are shops, garages, cafes and toilet breaks. Often you’re running on one side of the road and spot a garage with facilities you need on the other side, you may cut straight across the traffic and add 40-50 metres, or you might have to use a string of zebra crossings to reach it safely a couple of hundred metres later.

Even the obligatory dash into the bushes when nature calls requires an average of a 10 metre trip, for modesty’s sake!

Ten here, 15 there, it all seems like such small change compared to 50,000 metres that its almost nit-picking. Does it really matter if you’ve lost a few metres? Well yes, over approximately 600 days it makes a very big difference!

Now I’m logging all my miles very accurately, and soon I’ll have the equipment to begin loading these onto Garmin Connect and they will be available for all to see via Google maps on the website.

I’ve included a picture of a typical crossing alongside a cycle/footpath as you can see its approximately a 7-8 metre diversion each side of the crossing.

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