Qualifying for Boston

Running Boston often appears on many marathon runners radars, it had appeared on mine. I did however think a qualifier was a long way off, perhaps 5 years down the line. That was until I had breakfast with a friend of mine.

We were chatting about marathons and I flippantly said yeah cant run Boston this year as its the same day as Manchester. “No it isn’t Simon, its the day after”. Wait so if I ran Manchester quick enough I could get on a plane and run Boston? Then jump on another plane and run London?

After realising it was possible there was only one thing left to do, find a qualifier. It turned out there was one, and only one qualifier left in the UK. Therefore, I had one shot, the only snag, I hadn’t trained since returning injured from the USA.

I turned up to Birchington-on-sea barely fit enough to run a half and had to run a Boston qualifier. It turned out to be one of the toughest races in recent memory. The course itself was a simple out and back repeat, with an aid station back at the start. The first half went reasonably well, then my lack of training shone through, my body just wasnt conditioned to run a marathon, it had been two months of little training while I healed.

read more

An international half

Over the past few months I have been training primarily with a friend, she is relatively new to running and is yet to compete heavily. So when the topic of her running her first half marathon came up I thought it might be fun to run it in the snow. That idea was quickly quashed as it turns out it is incredibly expensive to run a snow race – who knew!

A little searching around and we found another half in Terassa, a town an hours train journey from Barcelona. Neither of us could speak spanish but thanks to Google translate and a spanish speaking friend we managed to enter the race. A quick check of the race entrants we noticed we were the only brits, time to represent our country!

It wouldn’t just be a case of turning up and running, we first needed to collect our race numbers and timing chips from Terrassa the day before the race. After 8 modes of transport we finally arrived to collect our numbers and timing chips. This is the first time we noticed there may be a slight language barrier, while a high proportion of people in Barcelona can speak spanish, heading to the smaller towns reduces this considerably. To the point no one at the number collection spoke english, we managed to collect our number, chip, sack and present, we did however, lack any pins to attach our numbers.A prepared runner may have brought their own safety pins, but neither Rachel or I were particulary prepared.

read more

Dream to Reality

A few years ago I began to think of a few adventures I would love to embark on. I came up with three: The Pilgrimage, The Return and The Dream. Late last month I was fortunate enough for The Pilgramage to become a reality.

The basic premise of The Pilgrimage was to pay homage to RunKeeper and visit a city close to my heart – NYC. The dream was to run from the HQ of RunKeeper in Boston, to NYC then compete in the NYC marathon. The idea to visit the RunKeeper HQ was to thank them for where I am today. Their app enabled me to believe running solo was possible, the reason NYC? I spent a bit of time there, while I could still see. Therefore, the city remains close to my heart.

The adventure was made possible by a few select companies, namely Twitter, PayPal and AirBnB, Little did I know that partnering with AirBnB would elevate the adventure so greatly.

read more

Guide running

For first time guide runners the thought of guiding someone who cannot see can be scary. Essentially guide running is not difficult, you just have to do what you would normally do while running, be aware of your surroundings. The only difference is you have to account for being at least as wide as yourself and the person you are guiding.

This means any obstacles you would normally avoid, be it a post, tree branch, another runner, all need to be avoided, by taking into account your fellow runner. Of note, is that your fellow runner may be slightly taller than you, so watch out for branches that you may normally avoid!

The other key element is communication, note when you are going to move to avoid an obstacles, and highlight serious dips or raises in the running path. Kerbs and tree roots have to be avoided, this is something that is best worked out ahead of time. For example, do you count down 3, 2, 1, dip, or just say dip! I have found in the past for myself, my guide saying “next step” is enough to forewarn me of a drop in a kerb or a tree root.

read more


After borrowing a GoPro camera from a friend and a suitable harness from another, I headed out today to film my classic running route. I was filming the route to add some additional content to an interview I gave a few weeks ago. It was an interesting run as it saw the return to running outside.

Since the birth of my second son I haven’t ran outside, this is mainly due to time constraints. In order to run outside my wife has to drop me off. With another child in the house this was proving difficult, so I had decided to conduct most of my running indoors. The result being a little over 7 months since I ran my traditional route. So there was a nagging question in my mind, could I still run the route? Had it changed? How many things would I run into? – The answers, yes, yes and none.

In order to demonstrate the first time I stepped out onto the dual carriageway I began my run at the closed road. This seemed incredibly apt, for a return to running outdoors. I would begin at the very same spot it did a few years ago. The closed road is simple, you just have to keep one foot on the line and run. It is far easier to only keep your outside foot on the line, this is because if you run central to the lines its difficult to read both feet on opposite lines. Often you can become confused and drift far more than you do with one line to follow. So I quickly breezed up and down the road and returned to the dual carriageway.

read more

Hardmoors Osmotherly Half Trail Race Report

When I first entertained the thought of running at the ultra distance, I told myself I would only ever run on the road. There is one problem with this however, as not many ultras are run on the road – they are predominantly trail-based events. I avoided the idea of running on trails for as long as I could. But the longer you dream of ultras the idea of running trails comes to the forefront. I decided to bite the bullet and enter a trail race, the SDW50 – a 50 mile run across the South Downs Way.

So I could get used to running trails I decided to enter a half trail marathon – the Osmotherly half trail marathon. After speaking to the race director he assured me the trail could be easily run by a blind runner. Encouraged by this, I linked up with a guide runner from down south and we had arranged to run this race together. I have never run a true trail event, and Braddan had never acted as a guide runner, so this was going to be a true challenge for both of us.

read more

Want to buy a book? Buy this one!

Visiting the Buxton Adventure Film Festival last month I was inspired by one of the speakers: Rosie Swale Pope. Her story of running around the world was incredible, her delivery and energy was invigorating and I left believing I could achieve anything!

So when I returned home I decided to buy her book on Kindle. I did intend on buying a copy at the actual event but did wonder what I would do with a physical copy. I had decided to avoid reading the book until I had finished Thinking Fast and Slow by Kahneman. Something that was important to my extended essay for my degree. But procrastination got the better of me and I decided to start reading it during my Starbuck visits. This also coincided with my attempt to reach gold status at Starbucks so I read the book quite quickly!

The book is titled A Little Run Around The World. The book is simply breathtaking. It took Rosie 5 years to run around the world and the book tells a wonderful story of the people and animals she met along the way. It would have been so easy to be drawn into writing a book about the stats of running such an epic distance of over 20,000 miles. But it is far from that, its a story driven by experience of people and the countries she visits.

read more

A great day out!

I arrived at the Buxton Adventure Film Festival shortly before Heather Dawe was due to speak. I snook into the theatre a little early (its amazing where a guide dog can get you!) and found a seat. I sat down a few seats away from Jez Bragg and was introduced to him.

Jez was at the event talking about his 3,054km run of the Te Araroa trail covering the entirety of New Zealand including multiple water crossings. After a quick chat and swapping our list of events for the following year it was time for the first talk.

Heather Dawe was talking about her amazing running and cycling career. She has achieved some wonderful things and returned from adversity after suffering what sounded like a terrible accident while riding her bike. A car hit her at 50mph and she was thrown over the car. Her talk was captivating and covered everything from running to painting! After the talk there was a little Q&A.

read more

It keeps on changing

I often get asked how I mentally prepare myself to run my outdoor route.  I always answer with the same thing “I just assume the route stays constant and their won’t be any obstacles”.  However that assertion doesn’t reflect reality.  The route has been different recently due to two variable speed and the time of year.

I rarely enter races to obtain a specific time, I am usually happy to finish.  So running quick is not something I usually concentrate on.  But there is a local 5k in my hometown that I decided I would run.   But not just run, run in a competitive time [competitive for me anyway].  So I have been doing some shorted runs outdoors at an increased pace.  This has made navigating a lot harder.  I don’t get a very good read underfoot at speed, so I struggle to correctly locate myself on the pavement, it also means obstacles appear much quicker than they usually do.  An obstacle that usually takes 1 minute to reach now takes a lot less than that.  So Ihave to be a lot more vigilant and try and read the pavement quicker.  Because I don’t have much practice at this it has led to me running into a few things.

read more

Filming for Carphone Warehouse

Around november last year a researcher got in touch with me to talk about how I use my smartphone. It turned out there were looking for individuals to feature in micro documentary commercials for Carphone Warehouse. Because I rarely say no to an opportunity I agreed to do it. Rather strangely in the same week another reseracher also got in touch asking if I would be interesed in a commercial for SKINS.

After a couple months of speaking to SKINS it fell through. I am still not to sure why, I don’t know if the campaign was cancelled or they went with someone else. However as the SKINS commercial fell through Carphone Warehouse got back in touch. I was still very interested in doing the commercial as my smartphone really has enabled me to do great things. In total it took around 6 months from initial talks to actual filming.

So where do these opportunities come from?

read more