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.

Review: North of the Sun

I have no more excuses left. These two youths have robbed me of them all. The incredibly talented Inge Wegge and Jørn Ranum have created this forty six minute documentary ‘North of the Sun’ of their nine month adventure to an Arctic island by the coast of Northern-Norway. They build a cabin out of trash that has washed up on the shore, they surf, they paraglide, they snowboard, they film and honestly it took my breath away. No more excuses to postpone the adventures twirling around in my mind. If you only have $5/£2.96/€3.60 left in your bank account and the choice is between a microwave meal, a pint of Tennent’s or a night in watching this. Please choose this, it will save your day, perhaps change your life. Absolute magic.

Rent or buy it here.

If you aren’t convinced, watch the trailer below:

Video: Eleutheromania

So this is it.

Four years of university. Four years in Edinburgh. Done.

Years of being broke, of trying to fit in, then trying to stand out. Years of craving to escape Ireland, then crying from homesickness and calling up Mammy on the phone to let me come home. Four years of crappy jobs, of acne, of tears but also four years of making the most brilliant of friends, of dancing, of surfing, of laughing. Four hard but brilliant years. And it all comes down to this. It is decision making time.

Where do I go from here? Here I sit, yearning for freedom, for the life of an adventurer, but been held back by two empty bank accounts,  by the fear of sleeping wild in a tent alone. By the fear of failing and having to start again. The fear of mean people. The fear that the people who keep telling me, that as a girl I must beware of certain things, will be proved right. The fear of rejection. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of always wanting more. But most of all, the fear of taking the easy way out and shoving all those dreams down for the comfortable life, just for now, in the hope that one day I won’t be afraid. The ever elusive one day.

I leave you with my final university assignment, a ten minute documentary entitled; Eleutheromania; which denotes an irresistible desire for freedom. It is far from perfect, poor Alastair Humphreys looks a little blue due to my failure to check the white balance, and the brilliant Em Bell is a bit blurry at times and Jamie Bunchuk is looking at the camera instead of at me (again my fault). But bear with me, I am still learning, I am still raw and unpolished, still finding my way, still tripping up regularly, but I am on the way. Be kind, I know my faults. Just bear with me on this journey, I only promise that it will be worth it.

One day…

Interview with David of the 5000 mile Project

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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.

First warm water surf holiday

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Slotted into a Ryanair window seat like a piece of tetris, burnt back against cheap leather, sunburnt thighs chaffing against my denim jeans, particles of skin peeling off my nose and a cracked collarbone tucked awkwardly beneath my skin. Salt and sand fall from everywhere as I squirm and toss to get comfortable. All are souvenirs of my little adventures over the past week. I am heading home, another item ticked off the bucket list, a surfing holiday to Fuerteventura – one of many more to come.

A longboard accident on Day one meant a bumped head, grazed palms and shoulder, a bruised elbow and hip and a popped collarbone joint, which dealt a devastating blow to my plans to improve my surfing. A slap in the face surely but not an end to the holiday and the good times. Once the sport was wrestled from me (when no amount of painkillers would allow me to push my body up on the board)  I turned to the people to save my holiday.

Phil in his Speedos, pushing Lisa into the pool, Gill overcoming a lifetime of fears and diving into all these new experiences, drunken adventures, random dancing to reggae music, wipe outs, catching a beauty of a wave, shredding, climbing a volcano, the nights three course feasts, the crowds in the line-up like nothing you would see in the waters of Ireland or Scotland, lending a certain appreciation and pride to those of us who embrace cold water surfing and experience the beautiful loneliness of sitting on your board in the cool waters of the Atlantic and waiting for a wave which you will not have to compete for.

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A constant soundtrack pulses to the lifestyle, head out the window of a speeding van, the salty beach hair, the piggy backs, the dance, the 36p cans of beer and bags of ready salted Lays, coca cola with ice, sangria, tapas, outdoor bars, suncream, plasters, the hot Spanish instructor that couldn’t speak a word of English, sitting on the steps of an old stone windmill and watching the sun set, climbing on the surf roof rack on top of a van. The excitement of not really knowing anyone and the joy of getting to know them; the Scottish, the Irish, the German, the Aussie, and the Saudi  Arabian, comparing passports, then passport visas, then stamps. No insurance, no fear, off-roading, wetsuits hanging on a line, board wax, longboarding the roads, scabs, cuts and bruises.

With their help I salvaged what could of been a ruined holiday. It is all about outlook it seems. It helps when you are looking at life through the green tinted aviators perched on your nose. Life is good. No man, life is great.

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Interview with BASE jumper Clair Marie

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1.Do you still hold the record for the youngest female jumper?

I still hold the record of being the youngest female BASE jumper, although now its fun to meet people who are younger than I am who are active jumpers.

2.Do you know what the age of the youngest male is?

I believe the youngest male did a BASE jump or two at the age of 14 but he wasn’t an active jumper and just jumped a few times. It is very rare to see young people in our sport who are actually active jumpers.

3.Do you think the reason that there are not more BASE jumpers is because of the high risk factor involved or because of the inaccessibility of the sport?

I believe there are many factors as to why there aren’t more jumpers in the sport. It is still fairly new and most people still view it as reckless even though it is becoming a little more mainstream. It takes a special kind of person to be willing to jump off objects and have trust in the gear, their ability and yet have the desire and drive to do it as well. I don’t believe inaccessibility is an issue as I believe if someone truly wants to participate then they will do what ever is necessary to become a jumper. This usually includes lots of skydiving as well as finding a mentor. I believe if it was more accessible the number of fatalities would increase as people wouldn’t have the preparation necessary to participate in the sport safely.

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4.Do you compete in BASE competitions or is it just in-house competitions to jump from higher and newer routes?

I think every base jumper has a competitive streak. We all want to be known for something. Although there are a few competitions a year for BASE I don’t participate because they are in an area that doesn’t interest me as much as others.

5.Have you tried wingsuit flying?

I own a wingsuit and do really enjoy flying it, but it isn’t my true passion. I prefer what is called a tracking suit. The way it functions is through inflations similar to a wingsuit but instead of one piece, each limb is free and enclosed in the inflated suit, sort of like an inflatable snow suit. It is much harder to fly and manipulate than a wingsuit because of the freedom of the arms and legs. I feel the skill level required to fly it well is very attractive to me and very challenging as well!

6.Where is the most remote place/country you’ve ever jumped from?

I have jumped in some crazy remote places around the world, but most recently I was jumping in Tonsai, Thailand. Although there is a small village below the cliff with food and bars, there is no direct access to emergency care (In a BASE jumpers mind that is one of the factors when talking about remote locations) The nearest hospital would have been a 20 minute long tail boat ride, a decent carry across a beach and then a 45 minute taxi ride into Krabi. Luckily we do our best to not get hurt!

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7.Who are the other big female names in the sport?

Unfortunately there aren’t many female jumpers who capture the attention of the none jumping world but there are a few. Suz Graham who is a professional skier and is very popular in the world of BASE and then of course Roberto Manchino who is still fairly new to the sport but she made her mark for sure. She brought in sponsors from skydiving as well as gained attention because she is an international model. She is continuing to progress in the sport and do amazing things. Its so nice to see that there are more women in the sport now than there were when I started! It shows that the sport is going in the right direction.

8.How often do you get to jump?

I try to jump as often as I can, weather permitting of course, at this point I get several jumps per month! During the spring-fall I am able to get much more jumps

9.Do you have a local spot?

There are a few local spots which all the jumpers usually meet up at to jump together but most of them  aren’t necessarily legal. Because of that I can’t name them, but there is a cliff about 2hrs away that is spectacular and then Moab Ut which is a popular and legal jumping location is a short 6 hour drive away.

10.Advice for the kids who want to do what you’ve done?

Do as much research as you can, read about it, watch it and start skydiving as soon as you turn 18. I know I started with BASE but I had very rare circumstances which helped me to enter into the sport without skydiving. However learning to skydiving and perfecting your only means that when you do start BASE jumping you will already have a solid understanding about the equipment as well as better skills for landing! I depict a lot of my struggles and successes in my book “Won’t Take No For An Answer” which will be released and available on e-book through my website at the end of this month.

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11.What do you pack for a jumping trip?

It really depends on the trip. Most of the time, in addition to my gear, I pack a helmet, knee/shin guards, medical supply kit that stays in the car or at camp for the most part, parachute packing supplies (steak to hold the gear to the ground, pull up cord to close it and a tarp to pack on). As well as collapsible water bottles, medical tape, sunscreen and gopros :P

12.Any pre-jump rituals?

I don’t have any specific pre-jump rituals, however most men in the sport do and it is a disgusting one. They call it the pre-jump dump haha!

13.Why do you think there is so few women in the sport?

In my experience there aren’t many women who follow an extreme sport path. It is very hard for most women to wrap their mind around what I do and why I do it. There is also a lot of criticism and judgement when women participate in the sport. Luckily that is going down as more are introduced but there is still a common belief that BASE is a man’s sport and women have to be very thick skinned to participate while still maintaining their personality.

14.Have you received criticism been a women and doing this?

In the beginning I received some incredibly harsh criticism especially regarding the way I was introduced to the sport. There was a public online forum that bashed me and my instructor in very harsh and descriptive ways. I had a firm belief that in the beginning people were offended that a 16 year old girl was participating in a sport that made them feel like a bad ass, and because I was an active jumper it showed the sport wasn’t as hard core as they wanted it to seem. I think that ego unfortunately gets in the way of a lot of BASE jumpers personalities and it is really sad.

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15.Why did your first ever jump take place in the middle of the night?

My first jump and many of my jumps after have taken place at night because the objects that we jump aren’t necessarily legal and we could get trespassing charges. Therefore we jump at times where there is a decreased chance of being seen.

16.Do you know how many jumps you have made to date?

I have made around 250 BASE jumps as well as 3,500 skydives. I tried to be diligent about keeping track of my jumps in the beginning but it faded after a while. Those numbers are the last recorded numbers I have in my log books.

17.What are your plans for the rest of the year?

The remainder of this year is filled with trips across the country for BASE and for work. Because I work for myself I have the ability of combining most of my work trips with BASE trips. I plan on going to Moab several times as well as Vegas, Norcal and Socal, as well as attending burning man! Travel is when I feel most at home so I do as much of it as I can!

Follow her journey via her websiteFacebook or YouTube account.


Interview with Adventurer Katie Spotz – the youngest person to row solo across the Atlantic

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1.If you couldn’t raise money for charities when doing these expeditions, would you continue to do them? Basically do you do it for the love of the adventure or is the whole point of it to raise money?

Adventure and supporting water charities are both deep passions of mine and I learned that there was a way to combine both passions. Some of my smaller-scale events have been purely for the love of adventure while I have also launched several campaigns purely to support charities without the adventure component.

 

2.You were the youngest person to row solo across the Atlantic.  What made you come up with that idea and commit to it?

The idea found me when I least expected. I was on a bus in Australia and the person sitting next to me mentioned that his friend had rowed across the Atlantic Ocean. I was so intrigued by the raw and elemental nature of the challenge being so far removed from the known. I had no rowing or boating experience but after completing other endurance challenges is gave me the courage to pursue it.

 

3.How much experience did you have rowing before you did it?

After learning about ocean rowing I joined my college rowing team for about a year and then spent lots of time training on my boat on Lake Erie. I also spent some time in California training on the Pacific Ocean.

 

 

4. Things got tough during the 2,817 mile journey; the cable that allowed you to steer with your foot broke and your GPS tracker caught fire. How did you keep yourself going when things got tough?

I had to taking things one step at a time. If I thought too far in the future I would get overwhelmed but even the biggest challenges in life can be faced one day or one moment at a time.

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5.How did your parents deal with it all when you told them you were going off exploring?

It was tough. They were as supportive as they could be but inevitably would prefer me to be safe at home. They understand that it’s in my nature to explore and have accepted that from time to time I venture off. It means a lot to me to have them part of the adventures. They’ve been there to cheer me on whether it be sending me off on my cycle across America or meeting me in South America to celebrate the Atlantic crossing.

 

6.How did you keep your energy levels up throughout the row?

The sleep deprivation was brutal. I would not be able to sleep more than a couple of hours because of the crashing waves against my boat. Music was one tool I used to pump up my energy as well as consuming a diet that matched the amount of energy I exerted.

 

7.At 19, you embarked on a cross-country cycle. Where is your fear?!

Whenever you do something that challenges you, there is always the risk that you won’t succeed. What has really helped me in finding the courage to embark on these journeys is not being afraid to fail. The only real failure is failing to try.

 

8.How long did it take you to plan the expedition?

My first cross-country expedition was with a charity called the American Lung Association. Most of the logistics were handled by the event organizers so it took me a few months to pull together the fundraising and training.
9.How many miles did you travel?

3,300 miles or about 85 miles per day.

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10.Have you ever encountered any problems as a solo female traveller?

Sometimes there can be unwanted attention directed towards solo female travelers. However the majority of the time people are generally willing to help and are just curious about my travels.

 

11.You are the only person in history to swim the entire length of the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania. Where do you come up with your ideas for these challenges?

After embarking on a cycling and running adventure I knew I wanted to try a long-distance swim. The Allegheny River one of the closest major rivers from my home in Ohio. I heard about Martin Strel who swam many of the worlds longest rivers including the Amazon and wanted to see what river swimming was all about!


12.So you are a swimmer, rower and cyclist. What else can you do?!
Origami and puzzles.


13.Professional adventurer Is this what you had in mind for a career growing up?

My dream job as a kid was to be a bicycle messenger so it’s close enough.
14.What is next for you?
My focus has shifted from adventure to charity work. I am in the process of founding a nonprofit organization called Schools for Water to motivate and inspire schools in the states to help schools all around the world gain access to safe drinking water. Last year we raised more than $100,000 for water projects and to celebrate we broke a world record for the most people carrying water jugs on their heads. I would love to continue to find fun and exciting ways to get people involved in the cause.

Follow Katies journey via her website  or Twitter page: @KatieSpotz

Book Review: The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton & Daniel Coyle

All the press releases, the articles, the tweets, the news bulletins and the radio presenters mumblings. Everyone shouting the news at you, pushing it into your face. Stacks upon stacks of information to process. I couldn’t keep up. I didn’t get it. Who was the bad guy; Armstrong, the UCI, USADA, all pro cyclists, the spectators, who? Can someone just tell me? Tell me who to believe and who to reject?

But that was then, and since then I have read; ‘The Secret Race’. It took me two days. I barely put it down. Now I get it. I get the tweets, the subtle jokes, I get to laugh and nod along. I understand the articles, I know who the professionals are, know who to believe and who to question. Now that this book has provided me with the unedited background. Now that It has provided me with the knowledge of which I was quietly ignorant. And what It has taught me above all, is that I was not there, I will never truly understand and therefore, I cannot judge.

The big secret  is out and I hope it will not be embroidered and stamped as scandal because this is a sad story, a lament about the reality of the world of pro cycling. The one the roaring crowds don’t get to see, the tale that perhaps we always knew but never asked, because if being honest, we never wanted to find out the truth.

Self confessed doper and former procyclist Tyler Hamilton and writer Daniel Coyle join forces to spill the beans on the reality of what a cyclist must face if he wants to get to the top. The Secret Race of needles, EPO, blood bags, and red eggs.  The competition off the bike, the need to be the best at all costs, the bullying, the training and all the lies.

It’s the classic tale; a story of the bad guys versus the good guys, and the ever pressing question of who will prevail?

A hard story to tell but one that needs to be told.

I suggest reading it.

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.