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Saturday, 13 December 2014

#3 Helsinki Marathon - Aug 15th 2015

After some good advice from running guru Mike Shepherd, I've gone and booked another one for 2015.  I'll be ticking Finland off the list by doing Helsinki!

Never been to Finland before and this is a great excuse to go!  Was very easy to enter the race and the course looks very pretty, running over bridges and through parks Helsinki Marathon Route 2015

The average temperture over there in August is around 17C which makes it pretty manageable and it will mean that besides a week off for Glastonbury and a few days after I do Prague (May 3rd) I will be training for pretty much 10 months of the year!

Makes sense on reflection to try and get this challenge done a bit quicker so will be doing 3 next year and hopefully 4 or 5 in 2016 when I should find it easier to get to and maintain my fitness.  Who knows maybe I can try and get them all done before I hit 40! (2022)

Again I'll be getting in touch with Invest In ME to see if we can get some attention whilst we're over in Finland, if you'd like to sponsor me (your donation covers all 28 that I'll be doing) then do visit my Justgiving page

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

November Update

November has certainly been a month of two halves for my training.

I went to down to see some friends back in Cornwall and went for a fantastic run on the Saturday morning in West Looe.  Was about 7am and the sun was up with nobody around, just another reason I love running so much, you do pick up some incredible views.

The view from West Looe

Then I woke up the following day with a really bad pain in my ankle which made it really difficult to walk.  It felt like my foot was on fire and although I couldn't see any obvious swelling there was definitely no way I could run on it.  I made an appointment to see a podiatrist and had google-diagnosed myself with what seemed consistent with Peroneal Tendonitis and most people I talked to suggested I might be laid up for 4-6 weeks.

Peroneal Tendonitis is an over-use injury that can be pretty frustrating as its hard to track down what aspect of your training is doing the damage to avoid it happening again.  Also in some cases it could lead to your tendon snapping and surgery being the only solution -this would seriously impact my plan to run 28 marathons!

In any case with a lot of ice treatment and bus trips to work and back I felt better mid-month and started easing back into training.  I decided to buy a GPS running watch and after some great advice from fellow runners I went for the Garmin 220 -check out the reviews/how it works here: Garmin 220 explained

Here it is then, all £175 of it!

It's pretty cool, bleeps when my pace slows down, records personal bests, split times and then syncs it to my pc where I can keep track of the training, distances etc etc.  

As I mentioned on a previous post I have now signed up for Dublin next year as well!  Not quite as nervous about that one, it's an English-speaking race which makes it easier re the logisitcs on the day and I've been to the city before.  Really like Dublin, it should be a really picturesque race and the thought of a well earned pint of Guinness in Temple Bar afterwards will get me through it.  It looks like up to 12000 can enter and it wasn't ballotted which was good as I knew I was definitely in from the start.

Definite bonus is the prospect of having good mate Ben Scott running the race with me, really great to see a familiar face and to share in our training journey even though I expect him to leave me behind at some point early on!

Comrade Ben Scott looking unusually normal

In other news, Invest In ME (my chosen charity - contacted me to say that Runners World and Men's Runner have both been in touch looking to do a feature on my challenge.  More great exposure for the charity and I'm looking forward to talking to them over the next few weeks.

Had a relatively quick 4 miler up in York on the final weekend of the month which was really good fun, if not totally freezing!  Ran along the city's medieval walls and then down the riverfront for a little bit in my new Czech Republic shirt which was its first outing of many before the big day.  York is a fantastic city to visit, especially The Shambles area where I had some great mulled cider and some top Yokshire Pudding filled roasts -a good run and a load of walking definitely needed.

York city walls, treacherous but with amazing views of York Minster

A quick note of thanks too to some very excellent people for sponsoring me so early on in the challenge.  First up thanks to Sally Burch, the legend that is Paul Kayes and to some family folk; Lindy & Howard Springett (who've always been super-sponsors of all my crazy challenges).  If you'd like to drop some coins in the pot for ME research here's the link again: Just Giving.

I'm due to be meeting a real inspiration this Sunday to compare notes over marathon training; Mike Shepherd.  Mike is doing the North Pole Marathon in April for the same charity which has definitely inspired my challenge.  Way too hard for me that one.  Check out his event; -hoping to get some top tips from him re training schedule, diet etc and hopefully can help him raise more sponsorship by looking at Twitter and increasing work on the socials.

Quick note to say for any runners following this blog, I've added a section on the right hand menu listing some pretty good tunes to listen to when running -pretty eclectic, sorry, no X-Factor nonsense.

Catch up next month, when I hope to have survived party season and picked up some miles in Fuerteventura and erm, Haywards Heath! - have great Xmases everyone!

November Stats:

Miles covered: 38
Cross trainer & weights: 7 hrs
Injuries: 1 
Run over near misses: 2

Saturday, 15 November 2014

#4 Dublin Marathon - Oct 26th - 2015!

I've booked another one for 2015 and it's going to be Dublin in October!

There's a few reasons why I've gone for this one next including the fact that its going to be cheap to get there and it falls at the end of October (26th) which means I can have a month off training (around the time I'm at Glastonbury Fest) after Prague (May) and then start up afresh with enough time to get ready again.

Dublin looks like a really friendly race and having been there a couple of times before I know that it will get great support from the locals.  I haven't done much research so far on the course but I've read some good reviews and it looks like it should be well-organised and great craic (Dublin race reviews).

It was pretty easy to enter online and not too expensive (70 EUR) and I hope to be joined by my good mate and Portadown resident Ben Scott who has caught the running bug too (more on him to follow!) Would be great to run a with a familiar face, not sure how long he'll want to stay with me at the back though!

Once again this one will be for Invest In ME ( who are entirely run by volunteers aimed to raise awareness and funds for ME sufferers.  They're doing an amazing job at the moment and funding research that is breaking exciting new ground to find a treatment for the illness.  I'll be setting up a Justgiving account for this event towards the end of next summer.

For now it's all focus on getting ready for January's training, good to get two booked in for 2015 though and looking forward to picking the two for the following year (Luxembourg and Greece my current favourites for that!)


Saturday, 25 October 2014

October Update

So I'm training for my training as it stands and starting to get into a good rhythm.

Down to 12 stone which is a good start and I think my optimum weight is going to be somewhere between 11-11.5 stone for when training starts in mid-late January.

Here are my new trainers bought from Easy Runner in Bristol (

Asics (my usual running brand of choice), £85 proper comfy.

They're really great at Easy Runner as they can record you running on a treadmill ('gait analysis') and play it back to see what sort of trainers will work best.  Fortunately, despite the issue with my knee, it seems like I've got no real problems with my running technique, phew!

I'm now up to just over 4 miles per run, three times a week.  Two nights of the week are dedicated to weights and cross-trainer work to try and get myself in shape to lengthen the running distance soon.

I'm trying to run on Sunday afternoons at the moment rather than just in the dark on weekday evenings to try to replicate race conditions.  Also its just much nicer running when there's people about!

Doing some background reading tonight I found some interesting info about the 28 marathons that I'm attempting!

Below are the races, next year's dates and how many entrants they had last time out.

Austria 12th April  9000
Belgium 4th Oct  1279
Bulgaria 12th Oct  174
Croatia 12th Oct  448
Cyprus 8th Mar  500
Czech Rep 3rd May  9000
Denmark 24th May  10000
Estonia 13th Sept  1800
Finland 15th Aug  3865
France 12th April  40000
Germany 27th Sept  22000
Greece 9th Nov  8499
Hungary 11th Oct  4400
Ireland 27th Oct  12000
Italy 22nd Mar  15000
Latvia 17th May  1300
Lithuania 13th Sept  752
Luxembourg 30th May  8000
Malta 22nd Feb  508
Netherlands 19th Oct  12000
Poland 26th April  6675
Portugal 11th Oct  1000
Romania 5th Oct  705
Slovakia 29th Mar  739
Slovenia 27th Oct  1100
Spain 26th Apr  11000
Sweden 30th May  12000
UK Done! 35000

Some of the lower attended races look pretty scary (except Malta), can't say I'm looking forward to Bulgaria or Romania to be honest.  Read some reviews and a few of the lower races don't tend to give out water or have any toilets!  Also its really hard to find where to register/get your race number the day before, eek! Luxembourg is a night marathon and looks kind of fun though.

Next update in November when I will have upped the training and hopefully done a decent run on my hols in Cornwall and York!

With Prague booked in for May I'm now starting to think about booking one for next October, makes sense whilst I'm feeling up for it and keen to keep up the training/complete lifestyle overhaul. Eenie meanie......

Cheers for your support, drop a few quid into my Justgiving on the right hand side if you feel generous.  Invest In ME is an incredible charity which is entirely run by volunteers, they're really on the cusp of a breakthrough with the illness and anything you can spare would be massively appreciated.

Thanks for reading


Sunday, 14 September 2014

Pre-training runs and mini-update

Am running 4 times a week at the moment as I'm trying to get in shape ready to start training in January.  This is combined with cross-trainer and weights 6 nights a week and a pretty Spartan low fat diet and more challengingly, a serious reduction in rum and cider!

Going well so far, not been further than 4 miles yet but am feeling healthier and building up stamina pretty well.

My favourite route at the moment heads right alongside the river in Bristol passing SS Great Britain and then heading back through Southville.

4m Sept route

Need to get some proper running shoes and some other stuff so off to Easy Runner in Bristol and will get them to analyse my running 'style' this week.

A couple of random thoughts re Prague next May.

1. I'm going to get the Czech M.E. Association involved somehow to raise awareness as I now will with all of the countries I run in.

2. Prague Marathon has a notoriously large number of cobbled streets so I'll need to find somewhere in Bristol to train and incorporate this.

3. Now set up my Justgiving page (on right hand menu), won't be asking anyone for any money for a little while though!

More soon....

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

#2 Prague Marathon - May 3rd - 2015!

I feel a bit ill, have just bought my entry and flights for the Prague Marathon next May!

Training will start in January but for now am still continuing to lose some weight in preparation by doing weights, cross-trainer and hurtling about South Bristol.

The course looks very picturesque and its the 7th fastest route in the world.  It does have a lot of cobbles so will need to find somewhere to train locally with similar terrain (near to Bristol, any tips welcome).  Also really well equipped with refreshment stops, massages, nice expo and pasta party the day before etc.

Prague Marathon Review - Runners World

Will be heading out on the Friday and endeavouring not to drink any of the local brew before race day 9am on the Sunday.

Always wanted to go to Prague, never quite imagined it would be to run a marathon though!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The Good News!

The good news is that I've already done London!!  UK -tick!

OK it was a while ago (2001) when I was young, handsome and a running machine bounding around the lanes of North Cornwall but it does count!

Don't believe me?  Here's the proof!  London Apr 2001

The (basic) idea!

To successfully complete a marathon in every country within the EU before I die!

Currently that's 28 Marathons, most likely 1 or 2 per year for the foreseeable.  Kind of hoping there's not too many more nations joining the union anytime soon, I will be watching with interest!

The countries in question;

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Rep, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, UK


Few reasons really:

  • I really like running
  • I like getting medals
  • I'm slightly masochistic
  • I want to be remembered for being more than just the guy who used to drink a lot of cider
  • I'm the most stubborn person I know and once I've decided to do this I won't be backing out

What's involved:

Really 'only' 3 months of training once a year which will most likely consist of 3-4 nights a week of about an hour's running then a big run on the weekend (10-20 miles)

Am not looking to beat times or break records, I've got a partially torn right cruciate so I need to be careful as my lovely NHS physio did advise no more long distance running.  I do however want to look back in my (hopefully) old age and see how I conquered Europe like the Roman Empire.


Yep of course.  For now I'm selecting Invest In ME ( which is a cause close to my heart and one I've helped out before (, will set up the JustGiving page nearer the time of the next race.

When I say 'for now' this is because if I'm going to be running for the next 25 years then I would imagine my choice might change depending upon what happens to me over this time.  Also I would hope and expect that ME will be a curable illness by the time I am done with this challenge.