Review: Born to Run

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This is a book that I will henceforth carry with me forever more, stuffed in the side pocket of my backpack. It will be worn and creased, the spine having long gave way, the pages all dog leafed marking the spots where I pause and re-pause. It will stay in my backpack as I roam, as I run, as I explore the world. It will be my pocketbook manual for all things running, all things journalism, and all things life.

A beautiful tale by Christopher McDougall about a culture and a way of life. At its most basic, it is a history of ultrarunning, the toughest of endurance sports. It is about barefoot running, that feeling of power beneath your feet. It is about the Tarahumara  people who have long excelled in the art of long distance running. At its deepest it is about camaraderie, friendship, and freedom. It is an ode to a sport that is accessible to all.

It started slow, and proved difficult to get into at first. I got distracted by life but one day, about a quarter of the way through the book, it caught me and took hold. Within two days I finished it and wanted more. That day I went for the longest run I have done in a while, no complaints, no faffing about, I just ran. I corrected my posture, I smiled and the difference it made was astonishing. I ran harder, I ran faster and for once when I smiled at passerby’s, they smiled back at me.

The book is intense and memorising, you can hear the pulsing of life through its pages, hear the feet padding the dusty earth beneath, the panting of their breath, their heart in their ears, feel the beads of sweat forming , the tightening and relaxing muscles and a smile will inch its way slowly across your face.

The secret to happiness lies within its very pages.

mile project

Interview with David of the 5000 mile Project

David and Katharine are 13months into running the length of South America. 5000miles through rainforest and mountains to raise both money and awareness for the environment. I got in contact with Dave when he emerged from the rainforest for a brief spell to hear about their amazing story so far.

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1.You ran to raise awareness and get people passionate about nature again, do you think it has been working?

Ha, that’s a tough one to start with! I think it depends on what level. Locally, when we stop at a school midway through our running day it is a fantastic opportunity to inspire – it’s easy! We are there with people, we are enthusing about the natural world around us, we have images and video and feathers we find by the road to identify and the feedback is immediate, people are psyched! From afar, who knows?!

People are used to sporting events been used to raise money for cancer or other human-related causes, not wildlife. The publics reaction can depend on class and country, but generally speaking most people are resistant to anything that they see as an attack on their current way of life – it’s the human condition. We are saying, “look out the window, the natural world is utterly amazing”, people are hearing, “these guys are greenies trying to make it more difficult for me to have a big car!”

Also, depending on the media,  feedback isn’t immediate, in fact with some forms of media e.g. radio, you never receive it! So its hard to tell.

2.What do people need to do to help?

It’s easy, have an affair with nature! People of any physical condition can do it – go out, be in the real world, be amazed by the complex natural systems that support human life, ask questions, investigate, learn that we are part of nature, not above it! We are passionate that so long as people know more about the natural world’s secrets, there is a chance that we can reverse the damage we are currently inflicting on out planets life support systems.

To help people find tangible actions that suit their lifestyle, we’ve set up a campaign with ‘DoNation’ which anyone can join and help do cool things for the planet. We’re also raising money for Birdlife and Armonia and Conservatcion Patagonica.

3.What running experience did you have before this?

We are both keen recreational runners, no more than that, with the odd longer competition under our belt. Kath has ran the 45 mile ‘4 INNS’ race several times. I have enjoyed the Scottish Islands Peaks Race, and Northumberlands Castles and Islands, both sailing/running events, but mainly we run for the fun of being outside in all weather.  Nothing better for de-stressing!

4.How are your feet withstanding this?

Really good, I haven’t had a single blister! We have a nice combination of shoes for running with the trailer and running free, plus we go barefoot about 10% of the miles now – its great for training your running style and hardening the feet a little.

5.What distance do you cover on average per day?

Our average running day is now 23miles. We used to find 20 was enough, given the 80kg trailer we run with, and given the fact an injury could end our dream, but now we can smell the finish we are looking to take a few more risks to squeeze a little more out!

6.How do you keep your mind focused and your spirits high after so long on the road?

It’s better not to consider the overall distance remaining – just deal with each shift as it comes, each half hour, each mile, each step if it’s a really tough climb! Each step makes a difference, and we have taken close to 10,000,000. It´s a nice metaphor for the steps people are taking to protect the planet too, 1 in 7bn is daunting, but there is no silver bullet, each small, seemingly insignificant step is making a difference!

7.Any stories of good deeds or amazing people you’ve met along the way?

Many! We are alone a lot, but never far from human kindness. One thing I would say is that the place in which we received the most charity by the roadside; food, drinks, shelter, banter, is Bolivia. What is interesting is that Bolivia is the poorest country in South America!

8.What advantage have the barefoot shoes given you?

They are great. The idea is always to run as naturally as possible at all times. On certain road conditions (or with the trailer!) you simply can not do it with bare feet. The gravel makes you wince or you have road debris, or the asphalt is so hot it sticks to your skin. We slip on the barefoot shoes and we are back on, running lightly with a quick cadence. We change our shoes a lot!

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9.Have you came up with an effective way to treat blisters yet?

Yes! Our INOV-8 race socks have basically all but eliminated them. We are not paid-up athletes so are not obliged to say this, but they work. They are single skin socks and with our INOV-8 and VIVOBAREFOOT. I  have not had a problem in over 5000miles of running in rain, wind, and snow. Barefoot running probably helps too as it hardens your feet.

10.How have you seen your fitness change?

I have no idea when these calves arrived, but they did! We have improved greatly fitness wise, but still there is never an easy 23-mile day running whilst pulling a heavy trailer, sandwiched between other longer running days!

11.How much food and water do you carry on you?

Good question, it varies wildly. We carry the minimum possible whilst making sure we never go hungry. In the more populated areas that could be 2 days worth, maybe 3kg. On the wild stretches (we have carried food for 21 days)probably 100kg! We eat local food and do not use bizarre packet foods which are expensive and unavailable, and seem to me to just taste of stock cubes.

Water, again depends on the territory. We drink a lot, usually 10L each per day, so that’s 20kg water per day on the trailer when we are in dry areas. Good to remember that dehydration is a major cause of running injuries so not to be messed with. In Chile and here in the rainforest we can carry very little as it always available. In Argentina water was the limiting factor, and at times we carried over 30 litres. We use a LifeSaverSystems water filter to pump and clean wild water where it feels like we need to, but this does take valuable running time (and calories!).

12.You have been running for over twelve months, when is the expected date of completion?

20th October 2013, not a day later!

Courtesy of Miky Dubrowsky of www.mediamza.com

Courtesy of Miky Dubrowsky of http://www.mediamza.com

14. What is the coolest animal you’ve seen on route?

I love Guanacos, it´s like a sexy version of a camel with long eyelashes! Best bird moment? An Amazona Parrot landed on Katharine´s shoulder a few days ago whilst we were running past the rainforest. Sounds silly, but we asked it what it was called and it said “Laura”. It’s true! Mind you, it said Laura to everything, whilst nibbling Katharine’s ear.

15. What are you using to navigate?

Garmin Forerunner 310XT GPS watch plus google satellite images. Each charge lasts us two days now, and we can charge it with the PowerMonkey solar panel easily in an hour. It’s very good, but I wouldn´t swim with it on as the seals are going, we are really using our equipment!

16.What are you finding the toughest to cope with?

Living by the roadside – it´s sort of a mix between local celebrity and being a tramp! We try to hide as best we can when we are not running but it can be really tough, not having somewhere to call home.

17.How are you getting on with each other after so long in each others pockets?

Can you imagine it?!  We are friends as well as husband and wife, and running partners, but at times we flare up!Sometimes the whole of South America wouldn’t be big enough, and we yell in the wind! Naah, like all relationships we tend to focus our angst on the ones  closest (especially given there is nobody else who speaks your language within 5000miles!), especially when hungry and tired, but we are normally too tired to remember what the thing was all about! What normally happens is some wildlife moment or other gets in the way of our mood, and we end up saying ¨wow, what the hell was that?!¨.

18. What’s the best piece of gear you have brought?

INOV-8 wrags! It is a little piece of fabric that we cannot live without! They protect us from the sun, wind, dust, rubs in a myriad of places best left undisclosed!!

Follow the pairs journey on their website, twitter or facebook page.

Baruntse

Interview with Mountaineer Ed Farrelly

Ed is a 20-year old mountaineer who has climbed some of the biggest peaks in the world, while still managing to pass his exams at university. What can I say, some of us just walk in the light. ;)

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1.You say you are an Adventure traveller, what does that entail?

My adventure travelling has been focused mainly around mountaineering. Mountaineering expeditions have taken me well off the beaten track to far flung corners of the earth and have normally involved weird and wonderful modes of transport along the way.

2.How did you get your first sponsorship deal?

It came about after I became the youngest person to climb Baruntse (7129m), Nepal, aged 18. It’s when people realised I was serious about the whole thing, although I must say on the whole I am strongly against the idea of climbing mountains for records!

3.You are only twenty years old, do you study on the side or are you a full time mountaineer?

I study full time at the University of York and fit mountaineering into my holidays of which I have plenty! Most of my recent expeditions have fitted around summer holidays, which is the wrong season for a lot of popular high altitude areas. Weirdly it’s perfect for me because I prefer to be climbing off the tourist trail hence my last expedition to Kyrgyzstan.

4.What does your mother think of your lifestyle?

I think she’s happy that I’m happy, although she does sometimes get anxious before I leave on expedition- that’s to be expected I guess.

5.How did you afford to travel and climb and buy the gear before you got sponsored?

Before I was sponsored I did most of my mountaineering in the UK and only a few trips to the Alps so I kept the cost down. Also during my teens rather than head off to Zante or Ibiza I spent my cash on climbing gear and trips- I guess it’s where your priorities are.

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6.Have you climbed solo before or do you mostly go in teams?

I have never been on a mountaineering expedition solo, it’s a totally different challenge to that faced when you’re part of a team. It’s a lot more of a mental game and also far more dangerous. That said I do have my eye on going back to Khan Tengri (7010m- Kyrgyzstan) and attempting it solo but only when I feel ready!

7.Is  fear ever an issue for you?

I often get nerves before a climbing day begins. I think that’s healthy though because it means you realise what you’re doing is serious and not to be taken lightly. I don’t think I’d want to climb with someone who never got anxious, that smells of recklessness.

8. What is the longest you have been out on an expedition?

A couple of months- it wasn’t a mountaineering expedition rather a car race from London to Mongolia followed by the Trans-Siberian railway and then backpacking around Scandinavia. It was awesome!

9.Do you ever feel like you are missing out on the ‘traditional’ student life?

Not really, I fit my expeditions into the holidays and whilst I’m at uni I live pretty much as a student- I drink too much, smoke and don’t do enough exercise. It’s only when I’m in the final few months leading up to an expedition that I really kick into gear.

10.What is it that keeps you going  back to the mountains?

That moment when you unzip the tent look up and think blimey, what an honour it is to be able to here trying to climb that thing.

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11. Can you describe the feeling of frostbite for those of us who haven’t had the pleasure?

It’s pretty nasty; there is an intense throbbing as the blood tries to push its way back into the dying tissue. You know that if you could feel a lot of what’s going on in the infected tissue it would be agony but you just can’t- that’s the craziest thing about it.

12. How did you get so confident at public speaking?

I have no idea, I don’t think I am confident to be honest! Like anything it becomes easier with practise, it also helps when you have something to talk about and feel confident that people want to hear what you have to say.

13.Favourite place to climb?

Kyrgyzstan hands down. The unsupported nature of the expeditions, the sheer remoteness and beauty of the place stand it apart from anywhere else I’ve been.

14. Most important piece of equipment?

Probably sunglasses, they pretty much never leave my head and without which would make me snow blind very quickly. Underestimated in the mountaineers gear arsenal.

15.Plans for the next few years on and off the mountains?

Multi-discipline driving expedition from London to Cape Town, I will be climbing/mountaineering and paragliding/skiing/rafting along the way- It is going to be an epic challenge!

Solo expedition to Khan Tengri (7010m, Kyrgyzstan)

Para-alpinist expedition to Ama Dablam (6812m, Nepal)

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16. What are the most impressive mountains you have climbed?

I guess I would have to say Khan Tengri (7010m, Kyrgzystan) despite the fact I didn’t summit. The mountain is very technical and the expedition was unsupported. Also Baruntse (7129m) was pretty tough considering my age and relative lack of experience.

17. What brand do you think offers the best quality mountaineering gear?

Hmmm It’s hard to say, it depends what you’re after because everything has a price and usually there is a correlation between the two i.e. the more expensive, the better quality.

18. What does the UK have to offer the mountaineering folk worldwide?

Absolutely loads, Scotland has some of the harshest weather and toughest winter mountaineering in the world. Also a lot of the stuff here is cheap, accessible and beginner friendly. People in general become to worked up about heading off to the Alps when actually they could be better served here.

Follow Ed on Twitter: @edfarrelly or via his website.

LEE

The Winter Racer – Lee Peyton

I sat in Starbucks waiting for Lee Peyton to arrive. I was nervous, who was I but a little girl carrying a Dictaphone that I didn’t know how to use, and pages of questions to ask the endurance racer. What gave me the right to probe him for information, what did he get out of this, his name mentioned on a little blog on the internet? He didn’t even get a free coffee because he beat me to the chase.

It may not of been worth his while to meet me, but he was kind and after a small amount of persistence on my part, he agreed. But I got something out of it, I got to hear his story and now you get to too.

It’s not just his modesty that strikes you when you meet him, it’s his raw and ill disguised ambition. It’s what he has the ability to do on a whim. He organised and ran the Sally Challenge, Epic 2012, Outer Hebrides Sub 60, Arrowhead 135, the national three peaks challenge three time, The Drambuie Pursuit, the Yukon Arctic Ultra, and several marathons.

What Epic 2012 entailed was a 430 mile mixed bike, run and kayak the length of Scotland.  Broken down, the mileage consists of a 140 mile cycle, running the West Highland Way, climbing Ben Nevis and paddling the Great Glen from Fort William to Inverness, and a final cycle to John O Groat’s.

The money raised went to Yorkhill Children’s Foundation.The orthopaedic department which deals with cases of limb lengthening and straightening, reconstructive surgery for congenital disabilities, cerebral palsy related conditions and trauma. He did it with two friend’s; Garry Mackay and Greg McEwan.  McEwan hadn’t kayaked before and when asked, Peyton said of himself and Mackay; “We still can’t roll but we can self rescue.”

My impressions: he endures despite injury, he’s walked through the night, he’s hallucinated seeing chickens with sunglasses, the grim reaper, animal prints the size of dinner plates. He lifts weights, he lugs tyres along Gullane beach and all he wants is for people to get outside. Where’s good to train in Scotland I asked; “Anywhere, just get out! A lot of the time it’s just getting out the front door. That’s the hardest part.”

His career in the fire service means he gets annual leave, which in turn allows him to race. It was the fire service that prompted his entry into endurance events. “The fire service culture promotes you to do charity work, so in 2002 – 2003, we ran the Glasgow 10km in firekit and breathing apparatus sets, which combined is the weight of like 20 kilos. Then we did the three peaks challenge in under 24hrs.”

Peyton is a cold weather racer because he says it narrow’s the field as he’s not a runner; “I’m a plodder I can just finish the races, I’m not moving quickly. I did the Yukon race two years ago, where the weather went down to minus forty two, so you have got all these super endurance athletes but if they can’t manage the extremes then it’s no good.” Let the facts speak for themselves; out of the 56 competitors who started the Arrowhead 135 on foot in February 2012 only 28 finished.

He doesn’t talk about fear, only frustration; “Because of the extreme cold the pulk attachment shattered, it was a hard plastic and when I grabbed it with my hand it took heat from my hand. It was cramping, I needed to go stand by the fire and sort it out but to me that is a waste of race time. We were about a mile further on from the checkpoint and I looked at Garry and said I’m in the shitter here, It’s probably the most honest I’ve ever been.  I tried to put a heat pack in my glove, I bit my finger and felt nothing. It’s a bit shit, a bit scary. It all comes down to how well you manage yourself, if you don’t sort the logistics out or forget a glove well then that’s you gone.”

Up next on Peyton’s list is a 150km race in northern Finland in February. One which has never been completed before by someone on foot. “They clear the trails with snowmobiles but by the time the competitors get there, enough snow has fallen to cover them up again.” He is using the Original Mountain Marathon and Glenogle 33 to train for it; “It’s that adrenaline fuelled event that gets you focused again, Like life in the fire brigade, the day to day checks, go to a school, talk to the kids maybe go to an old folks home, do some training, do paperwork and computer work but then you get those peaks where you go to a fire, a traffic collision or a technical rescue, it’s so adrenaline fuelled.”

There’s no mention of possible failure; just excitement and advice;”You can always do that 10 percent more, but it’s your head that has to get you through.” Again, his frustration shines through his words. I attempt to complement all his achievements but he shields it away. “It’s all quite controlled though, because they are races. It’s no different from running the Edinburgh marathon, it’s just a different level but if you’ve trained and you are used to working in those conditions, then it’s just a race. I want to do something a bit wilder without the safety net. Everest was going to be a retirement thing and I’m doing Kilimanjaro next year for kids charity.”

Everyone give’s out about the tendency of writers/journalists for building up someone too much, for making them out to be better than they are. That annoys me because maybe, just maybe they are better than they or you think they are, and I’ve met Lee Peyton and I think he is accomplishing feats that are incredible, so he hasn’t climbed Everest, yet…. but for a seemingly ordinary man with a cool but traditional job, that he manages to do cold weather endurance events and create challenges to raise money for charity on the side. To me, that’s pretty impressive.

Follow Lee on Twitter @leepeyton or via his website Breaking Strain.

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Interview with @seanogle

Ogle quit his job as a financial analyst and published his bucket list which he began to live by. He quickly realized just how attainable his dream lifestyle was and now while self supporting himself, he is truly living the dream.

1.What skills do you need to be successful in real life?

Frankly, I think these days in order to be successful in “real life” you need to have skills that will allow you to be successful on the internet – since so much of our real life is consumed by it.

However, copywriting is essential.  You have to be able to sell yourself, ideas, and services in one form or another if you want to be successful – at least that’s been the case in my experience.

 

2.What is Location 180?

Location 180 is my primary blog/brand.  It began in May of 2009 because I wanted my life to make a 180 degree turn in the direction it was heading.

 

3. What is Location Rebel?

Location Rebel is my flagship course and community.  It’s where I’ve helped dozens of people over the last year quit their jobs, and build businesses that they can run from anywhere on earth.

 

4.Was fear ever a factor in starting off your new life? If so how did you get over it?

It took me 18 months to work up the nerve to talk to my boss about making a change.  I got over it by realizing if I don’t do it now, I never will.  I had the negative economy on my side in that regard.  Had I waited until the economy was more stable and certain, it would have just made it that much harder to leave due to the increased comfort.

 

5.Do you still have bad days nowadays?

Of course, we all do! However, on my bad days I have the luxury of saying, “ I’m not going to work today” or being able to go golf or do something else fun that will generally turn my day around.

 

6.Are you still in contact with the people you worked with in your old job, what do they think of all this?

I haven’t spoken with my old employer basically since I left.  There were some really hard feelings surrounding the whole situation. At some point I’d love to buy them all beer and bury the hatchet.

 

7. “And while sure, this is great for today, there is a very fine line between being free and being the lazy ass who sits on their couch all day watching reruns of Saved by the Bell.  That is my biggest fear at the moment.  My life is in my hands now. If I don’t go out and make things happen, they won’t, simple as that.”

Love this but how do you make sure this doesn’t happen?

Every single day I remind myself how lucky I am.  I take nothing for granted, and I know if I slack off, it can go away in an instant.

It’s constant awareness that helps make sure that doesn’t happen.

8.How much planning did you have to do before you departed for Thailand?

Very little, ha.  I got a plane ticket, and that was about it.  It was an adventure, and I was along for the ride. I thought I’d be in Bangkok for a while – and less than 48 hours after arriving I was down in the islands where I’d spend the next month.

Planning is great, but sometimes you have to be willing to just go wherever the story leads you.

 

9.How did you compile your bucket list?

I sat down and thought about everything I’ve always wanted to do, but either never made time for, didn’t think I had the money for, or that I’d be disappointed not to experience at some point.

It’s actually an ongoing thing.  I have about 50 things to add to it, and some to take off as well.

The most important thing however, is not doing it all at once.  Write down a few things when you’re inspired, and then come back when you get inspired again – don’t force it.

 

10.Which task do you think will be the hardest to complete?

I’m pretty sure that flying on Virgin Galactic will be next to impossible – however, I’m going to try my hardest!

 

11.What’s the minimum solo travellers can live on per day?

It’s totally dependent on your level of comfort, as well as where you are.  A solo traveller in Bangkok can survive on much less than say someone in Barcelona.  However when I was in Thailand (and Bali as well), my monthly expenses all in were under $1k a month.

 

12.Whats your motto?

Live a life worth writing about.

 

13.Is there a common theme arising in your most popular posts aka what do people most want to know about?

People seem very intrigued anything related to starting a small business on the side.  It’s one of those things that so many people say they want to do, but few actually know where to get started.  So if I can give them a good, solid starting point, it helps them out tremendously.

 

14.Whats next?

I’m taking the next two months to completely revamp Location Rebel and update everything about it.  Then after new years it’s probably off on another adventure.

15.Whats your passion?

I don’t think I have a passion specifically.  I have a lot of interests, but I don’t know that there’s one thing that I can look at and say “that’s the one.”  However, helping people achieve their lifestyle goals is definitely up there.  The more I do that, and the more success I have with it, the more I realize how much I enjoy it.

 

16. Why do you want to help others achieve their goals?

Because there were people out there who helped me achieve mine, and I want to give back.  I also know how much more there is to life than what most people are experiencing, and for those that want to see what else is out there, I recognize I’m in a good place to help.

 

17.”What’s your craft? Are focused on the craft or are you getting lost in the form? What’s the best story you’ve got right now? Are you happy with that?”

Great advice….How often do you ask yourselves these questions?

Often, here’s my general thoughts on that:

The form is always evolving.  You have to focus on the craft.  The craft I’m working on honing is that of storytelling – in whatever form that takes.  It could be on a sales page, or with someone I’ve just met at a bar.  It could be via a blog post, or on a webinar.  The form is fluid, but if I master the craft of story telling, not only will I be successful, but I’ll help others be successful as well.

So I’m often asking is what I’m doing right now helping me to hone my skills of my craft.

 

18.How did you become so confident in your ability?

Lots of practice, and failure.  When you can fail, and you pick yourself back up and learn from it, you gain a form of confidence that can only be achieved via the failure. Not everything I’ve done has worked, but I know that if I keep persevering good things will happen – and I have to be confident in that, otherwise things go downhill quickly.

 

19. Do you think everyone can lead this type of lifestyle, or is it necessary for most to live the more traditional life in order to sustain the few who live as you do?

I think anyone can, but not everyone.  Most people are hard-wired to enjoy their traditional life and the security that comes with that.

It takes a large reframe and mindset shift to get the point where you think about seriously living out this lifestyle.  Anyone can do it, but most won’t.

Follow Sean on Twitter @seanogle

Longboard

Longboarding in Ireland

Published in OutDare Adventures on 1 Oct 2012.

A stretch of tarmac, a summers breeze, and a longboard – that is all you need for an evening of bliss. You yearn for an adrenaline rush, but you are restrained by a tight leash;  the dreaded word that consumes your thoughts and haunts your dreams; money. You are broke.

I’ll share with you a little secret. There are kicks to be found outside of the pricey niche of skydiving, BASE jumping, snowboarding lessons, etc. The growing sport of longboarding is accessible wherever you may be. It just requires practise and a pair of balls.

The longboard was created to mimic the motions of surfing and snowboarding, now it stands on its own, as a sport in its own right. But why just pave down your own road when you could be racing all over the world.

America and Australasia seem to be leading the charge when it comes to surfing the roads. When I went searching I discovered a bustling hub of festivals and races dotted around the globe, all dedicated to this niche sport.

The following are just a few races to try out around America and Canada, plenty more lie just a google search away:

As for the rest of the world we’ve got some options:

For more events around the world click here.

When I purchased my first longboard, I took it down to the tennis courts behind my old school to practise, hiding it from prying eyes because people in my little town in the south east of Ireland did not understand what this board was. I began to think this was going to be one lonely sport as I carved the pavements on my own with just my Ipod tucked in my ear for company. But now my eyes have opened and I see the world out there, the people that are traversing across their home lands via their boards to join together and unite with this epic booming community of longboarders.

You want to try longboarding in Ireland? Be warned; its hilly, the weather is crap and the community of riders is small. However, if you catch her on a good day, it can be spectacular.  You can roll through the streets of Dublin city; dodging cars, cobbles and people or you can dapple in the extreme and push out to rural Ireland (aka nearly every other county outside of Dublin) thereby taking on the country lanes, the cattle and the wildlife.

If your curiosity has been piqued then you’ll need to know that the Dublin Longboard Crew are at the forefront of the rise and they are waiting to welcome you to our home.

Interview with Mountain Guide and Mountaineering Instructor James Thacker:

1.What age were you when you started climbing mountains?

I first started walking with my parents when we moved to Derbyshire in my early teens.  We spent most weekends exploring the moors of the Peak District and later climbing on the grit-stone edges.  My parents despite being active weren’t walkers so we started together really, learning to navigate and look after ourselves on the hill.

-What was the first mountain you climbed?

Most likely Kinder Scout in Derbyshire, but the ones I most vividly remember are Tryfan in North Wales and Ben Nevis in the Highlands.  Tryfan was particularly exciting as it involved a lengthy scramble up the north ridge and I had never experienced anything like that before.  Ben Nevis I also remember as we turned back from fairly close to the summit in bad weather, we were worried about the large cliffs of the north face in bad visibility.  Turning round was a good learning experience an something that might be essential on any mountain.

Mont Blanc du Tacul

2.What are the most impressive mountains you have climbed?

Argh, hit me with a difficult question there.  This is a tricky, I guess for me I like the variety so it’s nice to climb summits in Derbyshire, remote Scottish Munros and peaks in the European Alps.  The ‘Steeple’ in the Lemon Mountains of East Greenland stands out as one of my best achievements, it’s fairly low and technically relatively easy by modern standards but is very remote.  I climbed this route in 2000 on an expedition to Greenland with some friends, all in their 20’s at the time, making a number of first ascents including the Steeple which had been attempted previously by Chris Bonington.  22 hours after starting we were back at our skis having climbed a fantastic icy couloir line aided by the “midnight sun” of the Arctic Circle.  Some seven or eight years later I went on to climb the North Face of the Eiger in Switzerland with Nick Wallis, a route with a considerable reputation and standing out as a definite high point for me.  Firstly, because of the route and secondly getting to share it with Nick – we had a great time and everything went well which was great as we had bumped into each other in Chamonix randomly.  It just felt right!

3.Any good stories of danger to share with us?

By choosing to visit the mountains we all expose ourselves to greater risk that is always present.  Certainly for me part of the appeal of climbing is trying to minimise this risk as much as possible.  Being adequately prepared, checking the weather and avalanche forecasts, choosing the right route and partner are all really important.  But inevitably some things are out of your control, or sometimes you just overstep the mark.  Getting avalanched in Greenland, was a massive learning experience, nearly getting hit by a collapsing ice fall in France meant I learned a bit more…

4.Why did you go into mountain guiding?

I always wanted to be a fighter pilot to be honest!  Having got as far as doing my aircrew selection for the Royal Air Force, I realised that the shortest contract I could sign up for was eighteen years and I was eighteen at the time.  To start such a career at the time just seemed inconceivable so I chose to go to University to study Geology instead.  Going to University in Sheffield I inevitably met some really keen climbers and decided pretty soon that I wanted to climb professionally.  As a teenager I had been on a climbing course at my local outdoor centre, the course being run by a British Mountain Guide – this was a really positive experience and the first time that I realised that there were people out there who could take you to amazing places or reach elusive summits.  

5.Whats next on the list to climb?

Today I am checking the weather forecast to see if I can climb Mont Blanc over the weekend.  I then have a week with a friend and regular client Martin, we are yet to decide on exactly where to go – but we could go anywhere and thats the beauty in guiding with a person you know well.  Later in the year I am off to Ama Dablam in Nepal.

6.What needs to be done to save our mountains of the world from problems such as litter, etc.?

As individuals I think we just need to be a low impact as possible when visiting the mountains.  That might mean taking your litter home or making sure that you employ local porters and kit them out properly at the other end of the scale.  The danger is that people fail to even give it some thought.

Abseiling on Creag Meagaidh

7.How many times a week do you get out yourself on the climbs or are you mostly a man of the office now?

I am better at climbing mountains than sending emails, so I am usually out working whether it be in Derbyshire, Scotland or here in the Alps.

8. What are the most popular climbs your company offers?

Most of my work is done at fairly low ratios (i.e. one or two people) and is pretty flexible in it’s nature.  As a result I get to go to lots of different places and do different things.  Of course some climbs, summits or itineraries are more popular than others so I often find myself on Ben Nevis winter climbing, on Mont Blanc or in the Swiss Valais for example.  This year I have already got some requests to go Ice Climbing in Norway, rock climbing in the Lofoten Islands and mountaineering in Nepal…

9.Is there a particular big or difficult climb that you really want to do in your lifetime?

I have always wanted to climb the six classic North Faces of the Alps: The Eiger, Matterhorn, Grandes Jorasses, Cima Grande de Laverado, Petite Dru and Piz Badile.  I have done four of the six so the remaining two i.e. Colton/MacIntyre on the Grandes Jorasses and the Schmidt Route on the Matterhorn.  The Colton/MacIntyre was climbed in 1976 by British alpinists Nick Colton and Alex MacIntyre and remains a classic and highly saught after prize today.  By chance I bumped into Nick Colton the other day and was dying to ask him (again) about the story of the first ascent.

10. What do you bring with you on a long climb?

On a big route, quite simply as little as possible.  The lightest equipment is the stuff you left behind.  On big alpine routes there are a few things that always go with me, the first is some abseil tat (i.e. cord) and a knife incase I need to retreat.  The second is a MacDonalds straw – sometimes these can be really useful for collecting melting snow which saves on the amount of gas you might need to carry.

11.What brand do you think offers the best quality mountaineering gear?

Well I have been supported by Haglöfs and Edelrid for a while now, both of whom make very good clothing and equipment which I would now find difficult to be without.  The reality now is that the mountaineering market is so competitive that bad equipment or brands just don’t flourish or even survive.  The result is that we have so much good gear available now to make our lives easier (or more comfortable) on the mountain.  I’m glad to have been a small part of that by providing product feedback for Haglöfs and Edelrid.

12.What does the UK have to offer the mountaineering folk worldwide?

The UK has a great mountaineering pedigree.  We are used to putting up with bad weather and making the most of it, and sometimes just toughing it out a bit with a slow and stready approach.  That results in British alpinists having a really good expedition record in the greater ranges but also an ability to miss the telephriques in the alps and get benighted!  The British Mountaineering Council run a popular Winter Climbing International Meet in Scotland every two years and climbers from around the world are always amazed at the Scottish weather and the climbing.

13.Its a pricey sport; how long did it take you to build up equipment stocks when you first started?

It can be expensive, but so are golf clubs, paragliders etc!  One of the best things about climbing is that you can participate at different levels.  I started out bouldering and soloing on Derbyshire outcrops with a chalk bag and a pair of rockshoes (now probably available for £120) max.  Other kit can then be built up as you go along, and or be split with a climbing partner.

14.Did you ever have any accidents while out on a climb?

No yet! But I did badly break my leg skiing.  

15. What is the average age group of your clients?

I have worked with everybody from 12 years – 65+ and age isn’t a barrier to climbing really if it’s your thing.  Most clients are 35-50 I would guess.

Mont Blanc de Cheilon

16. Is fear still a factor for you after so many years experience?

Fear, yes definitely.  Ultimately, fear is what keeps us safe.  I think you become better at managing it and deciding whether it is rational or irrational and then getting on with the task in hand.

Check out Jame’s website and Twitter @jamesthacker.

Interview with Matthew from Inertia Interrupted

Name: Matthew K. Sharp
Age: 31
Occupation: Unemployed, Previously Professional Services Consultant
Location: South East Asia headed to Eastern Europe, Originally from USA.


1. Your motto is; “Creating awareness by revealing our ignorance. One adventure at a time. “What do you do in order to live by that?

We work to share our story on Facebook, Twitter, and through our website and blog as well as speaking with new friends we meet along the way. By sharing our story with friends, family, and acquaintances we embody this message.
2.You have travelled for 305 days, and more than 100K miles visiting 40 cities in 8 countries on 2 continents. Was that the original plan?

The original plan was 3 months, then 6 months, then 1 year. In the end we will have been away for ~15 months. Early on we acknowledged that the journey is the destination. So we picked a few key locations and let the rest develop along the way. Many factors have changed the overall route as the months have passed. Just before we left we documented the plan as follows: “For the
next 12+ months we’ll travel through India, Nepal, China, SE Asia, Australia, New Zealand and S America.”

 

3.How did you plan your route?

We started by creating a family and travel mission statement which we have refined over time. Once that was complete we picked destinations that were culturally interesting and reasonably safe to visit. We then crafted a selection of activities from trekking, scuba, yoga teacher training, volunteering, and language courses etc. To be sure we stimulated targeted personal growth relative to our values.
4.What means of transport did you take to get to the various destinations?

We have taken planes, trains, buses, taxis, rickshaws, tuk-tuks, motorbikes, motorboats, and cruise liners as well as bicycles, elephants, and walking to arrive at various destinations.
5.Why did you decide to embark on this adventure?
In my article on Career Break Secrets I talk about this.

Here’s basically what I said…

STEP 1: UNHAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT – STAMP YOUR FEET!
From the article “Happiness is Love — and $75K” we saw that after analysing more than 450,000 GHWBI responses from 2008 and 2009, Dr. Deaton and Dr. Kahneman found that happiness is actually the result of the fulfilment of two abstract psychological states — emotional well-being and life evaluation. When I started, from a Life Evaluation perspective, at work I had “accomplished the goals I had set, was financially secure, and emotionally fulfilled.” I was living a fast paced corporate life. I was getting results: an excellence award, a promotion, a bonus… I was a Hilton Diamond member, Hertz #1 Gold, Emerald Club, United Premier, and Southwest A-list. On the road more than 80% of the year, my stress levels were through the roof, I hadn’t seen a personal friend in months, and my marriage was strained to say the least. In all my success at work, I was lonely. I was unhappy. And no wonder…” Emotional happiness is primarily social,” says Dr. Kahneman. “The very best thing that can happen to people is to spend time with other people they like. That is when they are happiest, and so, without question, this is a major story. We find loneliness is a terrible thing. So is extreme poverty. But loneliness, regardless of how rich you are, is a very bad thing.”

STEP 2: EXAMINE THE BENEFITS

For more than a decade I dreamed about traveling. While this conviction that we needed to travel was strong… I had no idea why. Sure, other people unequivocally stated that their career break was the right decision for them. And I knew first hand from my Study Abroad experience that travel was good for my soul… but my life partner wasn’t convinced, and without her I probably wouldn’t be here today. Everything that I read on sabbaticals indicates that the benefits far outweigh any sacrifices made to realize these sacred times of fulfillment. For example, as this Career Break Secrets article explains, through measurement we know the effects of a sabbatical on a person’s health and well-being. Specifically, career breaker’s long term stress decreases, life satisfaction increases, and
they tend to burn-out less when they return. Businessweek reported in 2007, “Just as small breaks improve concentration,
long breaks replenish job performance. Vacation deprivation increases mistakes and resentment at co-workers… The impact that taking a vacation has on one’s mental health is profound,” said Francine Lederer, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles told ABC News. “Most people have better life perspective and are more motivated to achieve their goals after a vacation, even if it is a 24-hour time-out.” Still other inspiring figures present their stories in TED forums and on YouTube which gave me even more desire to hit the road:

• Stefan Sagmeister: The power of time off
• Radical Sabbatical: Scott Jordan

In the end, research shows that a career break would inherently reduce stress, boost creativity, amplify life satisfaction, increase productivity, and properly prioritize well-being. So even before I crafted a convincing personal argument
advocating a career break, I knew my premise was strong and the effort was worth it.

6.What have you learned from it?

Our Duyên page is dedicated to honoring the people we were destined to meet during our travels, and serves to remind us of the lessons we learned from each experience… Duyên is a Sino-Vietnamese word, derived from the Han character for “fate.” In this context, Duyên means “predestined affinity.”
7.What’s in store for your next trip?

Currently floating a few ideas from:

• 7 month ashram stay in Mumbai India
• Teach english in South America
• Website development in China
• Cycling through out Africa and climbing Kilimanjaro

 

8.You’ve contributed to 8 non-profit organizations, why do you think it is important to give even when you are on your own budget adventure?

We have found that giving is an excellent way to connect to the local people, and help in preserving the culture, and environment.

 

9.Where is the best place you have been to so far? Why so?
This question is always difficult. It depends on what is meant by “best”. Some places are the most charming, scenic, have delicious foods, warm people, etc. Truly every place has its unique lessons, and has a special feel that makes it a favourite for its own reasons.

 

10. There is an extreme element to your adventures…..trekked to 5550 m (18,208 ft.) of altitude, diving to 75 ft. below sea level…..what does this add to the experience?

This “extreme element” brings a physical challenge and sense of accomplishment, in addition to exposure to the natural beauty available in such settings.
11. On your travels you had to acquire 7 visas. Was that a frustrating process?

VISAs are definitely a source of frustration. We applied for Chinese VISAs in Mumbai, India and Russian VISAs in Beijing. Often the embassies don’t state on their website all requirements for application, the office hours are quite limited, and the lines are quite long. Using a VISA service company can simplify the process, but often comes at an excessive cost!

 

12. How did you formulate the following plan?

October 2011 – SCUBA in Roatan, Honduras
November 2011 – Trek to Mt. Everest Basecamp in Nepal
December 2011 – Volunteer for one (1) month in Hanoi, Vietnam
January 2012 – Tour of Vietnam from Hanoi to Saigon
February 2012 – Tour India from New Delhi to Trivandrum
March 2012 – Tour Cambodia & Laos
April 2012 – Intensive Language Study in Beijing, China
May 2012 – Intensive Language Study in Beijing, China
June 2012 – Intensive Language Study in Beijing, China
July 2012 – SCUBA in Phuket, Thailand
August 2012 – Yoga Teacher Training Certification in Chiang Mai, Thailand
September 2012 – Eastern Europe Tour (Russia, Hungary, Ukraine, Romania,
Bulgaria, Turkey)
October 2012 – Western Europe / Egypt & Jordan
November 2012 – Pilgrimage across Northern Spain
December 2012 – Cruise from Barcelona, Spain to Sao Paulo, Brazil

The plan is mostly a function of limited budget & time, combined with activities chosen according to personal values.
13.You have a Duyên (􃐊) page to document words of wisdom of various people…do you go back and read this often?

I do try to keep these lessons in mind; however, it seems each time I review the page I find benefit in the review.
14. The culinary aspect of your blog is really original! Is food a passion of yours?

One of our favorite aspects of travel is definitely food! We are thrilled to share these authentic dishes, and plan to make them when we get back home!

 

Interview with Adventurer Dave Cornthwaite

1.Do you have any regrets on the path your life took?

What an opener! I don’t think you can do anything that will result in true regret without being aware of it at the time you made the decision, so if you chose to have regret you chose to live with it. I’m pretty happy with where I am, that’s the main thing.

2.What do you think your best and worst qualities are?
I’m a positive chap and I enjoy spreading the smiles around. Worst qualities? I probably enjoy my life so much that when I talk about how it’s possible it could come across as a bit of preaching. And I’m genetically geared to test the boundaries of everything, everything! I’d imagine that could become annoying sometimes!

3.When it comes to Adventures , do you have a line that you won’t cross (certain things you won’t try)?
I won’t do anything that would have a high chance of fatality. I adventure to live, not to die.

4.Is there a reason why so many of your adventures are based in America lately?
There is. I have a career plan geared around making a living from the stories my journeys generate, either through books or speaking, or perhaps film too. My first two adventures were in Australia, the last few have been in or touched the USA, after my Missouri swim I’ll move on to somewhere else having established relationships, sponsors and a speaking reputation in the States.

5. Did you learn anything in university that has proved useful to you now?
If I did, I can’t remember it!

6.Does it all get a whole lot easier after the first expedition?
It does. And then after the 2nd, and the 3rd. It’s never easy, there’s always a battle, but if you stick to your guns the accumulated experience, contacts, relationships and ability naturally makes the whole process a bit slicker. It’s rewarding for me now looking back at how difficult it was to put my first couple of projects together, that it has become easier is testament to the power of looking after relationships and honouring the promises I made back then.

7.Did you not ever get scared  sleeping in a tent alone in the middle of nowhere?
There was a night on the Mississippi when a racoon really had it in for me and was imitating a very angry bear, but no, I love being in the middle of nowhere by myself, liberating.

8.Rank your exhibitions from easiest to hardest. 1-been the easiest to complete, 10 – been the most difficult.
Wow, cool question, never done this before:
1 – Sail Mexico to Hawaii
2 – SUP Lake Geneva
3 – SUP Bath2London
4 – SUP Wolf River
5 – Kayak Murray River
6 – Tandem Vancouver to Vegas
7 – Skateboard John O’Groats to Lands End
8 – SUP Mississippi River
9 – Skateboard Australia
10 – Bikecar Memphis to Miami

9.Are you losing your accent the more you travel or is it getting stronger?
I’m not sure I ever had an accent. I’m super fickle with my voice, now and then I’ll break into an Aussie twang if I’m feeling tired. Basically, I just accidentally copy everyone I speak to. Wuite embarrasing.

10. What stays the same in your backpack for all your expeditions?
MacBook Pro. Powergorilla. Passport.

11.Do you ever get recognised/ approached in the street (like a celebrity). What’s that like?
Very, very rarely. When I was doing the BoardFree project I had a very recognisable skateboard, but people would come up and say ‘there’s a guy skating across Australia on one of those.’ I was just like, ‘really? How cool!’

12.How long did it take to plan your first ever expedition?
13 months, between stepping onto a skateboard for the first time and setting off on John O’Groats to Lands End. It didn’t need to take that long, but I was planning for Australia during that time as well and at the beginning it can take a bit of time to get your head around crossing over into a non-comfort zone.

-On average how long does it take you to plan one now?
About 3-6 weeks.

13.How important are the sponsors to the success of an expedition?
Massively. I’ve never had anyone write me a big cheque to do a journey so I rely on new and old sponsors to support me with gear, which is always the most costly part of an exped. Without their support I’d be paddling, skating and swimming naked, which wouldn’t be fair on anyone. Big lesson here though: look after your sponsors, always!

14. What time do you go to bed at and what time do you get up at?
I sleep around 1am and am up between 7 and 8 each morning when I’m out of expedition. During a journey I live with the sun.

15.How do you come up with your ideas for expeditions?
They tend to just appear. I won’t do a journey for the sake of exposure or ticking another item off my list, I need to feel it. These things just fit into place.

16.How important is social media in your line  of work?
Most important part of it. I’m in love with the creative storytelling side of adventure. New things happen everyday so there’s unlimited material, and with so many mediums and ways to share these stories I’m in heaven.

17.Have you ever had to deal with uncomfortable/potentially dangerous situations?
Yes. But I’m careful, I prepare well and am relatively cautious so I don’t stare death in the face everyday (unless I’m riding a Bikecar across America)

18. How do you personally, market yourself to a potential sponsor and the outside world?
I’m just me. It’s important to be honest and open, and human. Some people think these endurance events are only achievable if you’re a true athlete but I’m not, I just love life, appreciate keeping fit and I just happen to have a stubborn streak that takes over when my body is angry with me. We’re all unique so if we be ourselves instead of worrying about what people think of us then we have a unique brand, if we want.

19.How are the book sales going?
Well, thanks!

20.What’s next on the cards after the Missouri swim?
I’m tired! I’ve done four expeditions in the last 13 months, so after the Missouri I’m going to take 6 months off and write a few books. Stories bursting to come out.

21.Do you ever get tired of repeating yourself/ answering the same questions for all the different media interviews?
Nope, if this is as bad as it gets then I’m perfectly happy!

22.Is there a downside to your lifestyle?
It depends how you look at it. It’s taken about 5 years to get to the point where I stop dreaming about all the things we think we’re supposed to have, like a house and a car and a bunch of stuff and a big TV. For me I need to do what I love and I can’t do that by living your average, stable lifestyle with a steady job and income. I’d be miserable doing that, I was! I need to be on the move, so compromise everything I grew up thinking I needed. For a few years there that was unsettling, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

23.Do you ever doubt yourself?
Rarely. I’m still a little self conscious sometimes, as a hark back to a fairly unhappy time at school, but I know who I am and what I’m capable of and nothing will stop me giving life a damn good crack.

24. How do you keep the spirits high during an expedition?
I think everything is ridiculous. I’m ridiculous. The way we choose to live is ridiculous. My line of work is utterly ridiculous. It keeps me laughing.

Bikecar Expedition:

1.Any funny stories from the bikecar expedition?
The day after I got hit by a speeding car I was pedalling into 35mph headwinds and then all of a sudden my seat fell off. It just fell off, and I was on it. It was an office chair that had been bolted onto the Bikecar chassis. I replaced it was a $12 beach chair from Walgreens. Check out the video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdp30_12vUg

2.What was swimming with the Manatees like?
I loved it. Gorgeous, friendly, huggy creatures. Imagine crossing a mermaid with an elephant then snorkelling with it. Glorious.

3.How many kms/miles did you cover a day?
On average 45.5 miles. Shortest day 17.2miles. Longest 59.2 miles. On a Bikecar weighing in at a ¼ tonne.

4.Where did you sleep every night?
I camped most nights in my hammock. Now and then I was taken in by a friendly stranger.

5.How long did it take your legs to adjust? (considering you didn’t do much training for it)
I didn’t do ANY training for it, I’d been sat on a sailboat for three weeks beforehand and hadn’t pedalled anything for a year leading up to the journey. The first days were tough over the hills of Mississippi and Alabama, but after 5 or 6 days I was nice and conditioned, just in time for Florida, one of the flattest places in the world!

6.What did you do to keep things interesting while en route?
I didn’t really need to try hard. This is America. I love it. If they weren’t trying to run me over I was biking through cities that are effectively theme parks. Shopping miles have giant sharks with their mouths as the doorway. You can rent golf buggies to drive next door. Their cars are bigger than our houses. It was always interesting!

7.Did you learn anything new about America or Americans?
I despaired everyday at the driving. It was hard to take. 700 roadside memorials in 1000 miles tells the story. Heartbreaking, bad, lethal habits.

8.Did you become a self taught bike mechanic?
Ha. I make no secret of the fact that I’m mechanically retarded. Unbelievably in 2400 miles on a tandem and a Bikecar, I’ve not had a puncture, only one chain has fallen off, and the hardest thing I’ve had to do was affix a beach chair to the Bikecar with a couple of bolts. I think they’re called bolts, at least…

9.What did you eat day to day and where did you get it from?
The beauty of travelling 1000 miles on a Bikecar that weighs more than twenty bicycles is that whatever you eat you’ll burn off. I snacked incessantly, feasted on Bugers and Waffle House breakfasts and gas station hotdogs. Problem with endurance pedalling is that while there’s no shortage of places to buy food, it’s usually greasy, unhealthy and comes with slight risk of disease.

10.Did you get to meet many new people?
Oh my goodness, yes! I didn’t pass a person without them questioning the contraption I seemed to be having fun on. Hundreds of new friends, I love travelling!

11.Tell me about getting hit by the car?
4 hours out of Memphis at the start of the journey, I was pedalling with my friend Rod Wellington, the Canadian Adventurer. My friend Dale decided to shadow us in his van for the day because Memphis traffic is notorious. We’d covered about 18.5 miles when there was this almightly screeching of brakes and tyres. Sounded like someone mourning death. I held the wheel tight, braced myself and expected an impact, which came. I would have thought our support van was struck from behind which them subsequently hit us, but actually the woman driving had missed the van and trailer, texting is silly when driving, swerved, lost control, hit the van on the side, spun and hit the Bikecar and my seat when going backwards. We were bounced down a verge and into a corn field. So lucky, so so lucky.

12. What’s the longest you went without a shower?
5 days. Rank.

 

SUP Wolf River Descent

  1. Spill the beans on that….
    On my way down the Mississippi River last year I met an amazing crew of people in Memphis. This April some of them decided to descend the Wolf River, which runs 105 miles through swamp and back-country before dropping into the Mississippi River in Memphis. Nobody have ever gone the full length in one go, certainly not by Stand Up Paddleboard, mainly because of the swamps and copious amounts of lethal snakes.

It was just a cool challenge. It was an obstacle course. Trees across the river every few metres, beaver dams, cypress knees, snakes everywhere. Good people. Camping on the banks. Loved it. Check the video out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUoseDa9NuI

 

Missouri Swim

1. How do you plot distance and direction while swimming in a river?
Direction is easy, you just go downstream. There are river charts for most navigable waterways which indicates distances, I’ll be swimming pretty much dead on 1000 miles from Chamberlain, South Dakota to St Louis, Missouri.

2.Who is a part of your team?
I wanted to make some noise with this one so opened up applications to anyone who wanted an adventure. I got a great crew of 6 down from over 50 applicants. Everyone has a role to play, whether it’s social media or blogging, organising camp, fundraising, photographing, filming, physio, medic.

3.Are there any potential consequences of swimming in a river that polluted?
Illness, death, the usual. I’ll make sure I’ve covered, all jabs done etc. Main lesson is don’t swallow the water!

4.What training have you done?
Not much swimming, to be fair, I don’t have time! It’s a busy business organising an expedition but I’m about to head to Cornwall for 9 days of training in the sea, and as with all expeditions I’ll take it nice and easy at the beginning until I’m properly conditioned.

5.When do you depart?
The swim begins on 10th August and should run for 50 days.

6.Any plans for stops along the way?
We’ll stop at every town en route and organise clean-ups and fundraising parties.

7.How good a swimmer are you?
I do a fine doggy paddle.

8.How are you going to video this one?
As with all of my trips, there will be GoPros and a nice raw feeling representing the expedition through YouTube episodes.

9.Target finish time?
1st October.

10. What wetsuit do you have?
An Orca 3.8, the same suit worn by Martin Strel on the Amazon and David Walliams down the Thames. In fact, I’ll have four suits, decreasing in size as I lose weight down the river!

11. Are you excited?
Like never before.

Follow the trip via @DaveCorn and www.facebook.com/expedition1000

 

The Traditional Life

I currently sit at a crossroads. Sitting as opposed to standing because I have a pretty big decision to make. One which requires a seat. You have all been there. Two options at my feet. To follow the road my parents and countless others took before me;  university, job, house, marriage, kids or the latter, to forge my own way with no plan except to get out and explore the world, figuring out the direction as I go. But something which I cannot pinpoint has stopped me choosing thus far. However, If I continue to ignore this feeling that is pushing me to claw my way out of my comfort zone I fear I will never be happy knowing that I folded?

I cannot fairly place one person on a podium when the audience is filled with similarly achieved individuals. But in my life, one guy stood on his own and changed the path that I was hurtling down. You may have already heard of him, his name is Dave Cornthwaite. He gave me the option of a crossroads, the one which I now sit. Usually people don’t stop to think about the line they are following, they just go with it. I have stopped and I am questioning it. At first I wrote about incredible people like Dave to fill a void- so as I could phase out the fact that I am not out there doing these things myself  but from here on in I will walk or run or kayak the path I have been preaching my whole life.

Sailer, Kayaker, Skateboarder, Stand up Paddleboarder, bikecar cyclist, sleeps 6 hours a night Adventurer extraordinare Dave Cornthwaite set me free with the lines; “It’s taken about 5 years to get to the point where I stop dreaming about all the things we think we’re supposed to have like a house and a car and a bunch of stuff and a big TV. For me I need to do what I love and I can’t do that by living your average, stable lifestyle with a steady job and income. I’d be miserable doing that, I was! I need to be on the move, so compromise everything I grew up thinking I needed. For a few years there that was unsettling, but I wouldn’t change a thing.”

For the next generation of Adventurers climbing up the ranks aiming to build on what past explorers have achieved. Those who want to beat their records and explore what they have not yet discovered. This is the How to Guide built around what Dave Cornthwaite has taught me:

  • The first is a welcome fact; it all becomes a whole lot easier after the first expedition -“It’s never easy, there’s always a battle but if you stick to your guns the accumulated experience, contacts, relationships and ability naturally makes the whole process a bit slicker.”The first ever expeditions he went on (Longboard Australia) took 13 months to plan. Rather reassuringly it now takes Dave about 3-6 weeks to whip one up.
  • His essential items to pack –  MacBook Pro, Powergorilla and Passport.
  • A note on sponsors; they play a huge role –  “I’ve never had anyone write me a big cheque to do a journey so I rely on new and old sponsors to support me with gear, which is always the most costly part of an expedition. Without their support I’d be paddling, skating and swimming naked, which wouldn’t be fair on anyone. Big lesson here though: look after your sponsors, always!”
  • Social media is the most important part of it – “I’m in love with the creative storytelling side of adventure. New things happen every day so there’s unlimited material, and with so many mediums and ways to share these stories I’m in heaven.”
  • You will need to market yourself to a potential sponsor and the outside world –  “I’m just me. It’s important to be honest and open, and human. Some people think these endurance events are only achievable if you’re a true athlete but I’m not, I just love life, appreciate keeping fit and I just happen to have a stubborn streak that takes over when my body is angry with me. We’re all unique so if we be ourselves instead of worrying about what people think of us then we have a unique brand, if we want.”

Everything stated above form’s the backbone of an expedition but the real pull lies in the raw tales of his conquests.

Dave recently travelled via bikecar from Memphis to Miami. He covered on average 45.5 miles per day on a vehicle that weighed more than twenty bikes, slept on his hammock by night, swam with Manatees, got knocked off the road by an oncoming vehicle, ate fried food, didn’t shower for 5 days at one stage, ate more fried food and met hundreds of new people with their own stories to tell.

In the days just before the bikecar expedition, Dave descended the Wolf River in Memphis on a Stand Up Paddleboard. The river runs 105 miles through swamp and back-country before dropping into the Mississippi River in Memphis.” Nobody have ever gone the full length in one because of the swamps and copious amounts of lethal snakes .It was just a cool challenge. It was an obstacle course. Trees across the river every few metres, beaver dams, cypress knees, snakes everywhere. Good people. Camping on the banks. Loved it.”

And now, come August 10th he will pull on his Orca 3.8 wetsuit and swim 1000miles of the Missouri River from Chamberlain, South Dakota to St Louis, Missouri. The crew of 6 will voyage for 50 days. Dave himself has, as always practically zero training done, referring to his swimming abilities as; “a fine doggy paddle”

Final question Dave; are you excited? His response; “Like never before.”

Me = Sold.

Decision made.

 

Follow the trip via @DaveCorn and www.facebook.com/expedition1000

Follow @orlaomuiri