Deck the Halls and Think of Simon…

Deck the Halls and Think of Simon…

Just a Little Run Around Britain – 200 days and still going!

Help Simon Achieve £20,000!

As 2016 whirls to its close, and we prepare to celebrate Christmas with friends and family, our thoughts are with Simon as he marks almost 9 months on his ‘little’ 5,000 mile run around the coast of mainland Britain. How is he coping with the colder weather and shorter days? Is he still camping out in his bivvi at night? Where will he be spending Christmas?

Simon at work

 

On March 27th, Simon set off from Ecologia’s base in Moray. Self-funded from his work as an architectural designer, so that every penny he raises can go to our work with disadvantaged children and young people around the world, he works on his laptop for part of the day and occasionally takes a break from his route to check on his buildings, always returning to the exact point where he left off.

 

Simon at John o Groats
Simon at John o’ Groats

Despite these other demands on his time, he started at a blistering pace, charging up the northeast coast of Scotland to John O’Groats, round its wild northern tip, Cape Wrath, down the very wiggly West Coast and across three borders (five if you count Cornwall), into England and then Wales, with its pioneering coastal path, before crossing back into England and onto the South West Coast Path, to reach Land’s End in late November.

Here are just a few jaw-dropping stats from his run:

(Note: stats are true as of Dec 14th)

Simon's shoes after 881 miles
Simon’s shoes after 881 miles
  • Total distance covered: 3,180 miles
  • Shoes worn through, until they literally fell apart: 4 pairs (on 5th pair now)
  • Days on the road: 210 (excluding 45 days taken to attend to business)
  • Days off: 35 (resting but mainly café working)
  • Nights spent camping or in bothies, barns, etc.: 83 (no tent, just sleeping bag and bivvi bag)
  • Nights spent with friends/friends of friends: 46
  • Nights spent with new friends, found serendipitously on the day they were needed: 28
  • Nights spent in paid for accommodation: 53 (mainly in Scotland early on, including 3 nights paid for by friends.)
  • Expenses on the road (excluding start up costs): accommodation (50 nights) – £1,419; food – £4,030; computer and phone technology to enable live map etc. – £1,091; kit, including two new rucksacks and 4 pairs of shoes – £893 (N.B. All of these costs have been covered by Simon, so that every penny that you donate can go to support our work.)
  • People spoken to: over 1,200
  • Gates and kissing gates opened and closed: over 1,300

For more stats and facts from the run, including some odder titbits such as the number of bridges crossed and bullocks talked to (760 and 300, since you ask), please visit Simon’s stats and facts page.

But it’s not all about the numbers. We wanted to know more about what it is like to run day after day, often without knowing where you will end up that night, so we caught up with Simon to find out.

Curious cows in Mevagissey
Curious cows in Mevagissey

Ecologia: What’s your basic daily routine now? Do you usually run first thing?
Simon: There’s no standard pattern, never has been. It depends where I stay. If I camp then I’m usually off at sunrise (8am this morning) looking for breakfast (found at 2pm today). I usually sit in a cafe for 2-3 hours or so if there is one. In Scotland I ran a lot in the evening; now I tend to stop between 6-7pm.

If I stay with people I often don’t leave until 10-11am because of chatting.

Ecologia: As you are running without a support team, you are limited in what you can carry. You’ve managed to minimise the total weight of your rucksack to about 11kg by forgoing a tent. In case anyone out there is dreaming of doing their own coastal run, what exactly is left in your rucksack?
Simon: It’s changed with the colder weather, but currently I wear 2 shirts (one woollen), underpants, running tights, socks, and shoes. Then in my rucksack I carry:

Kit list for coastal runners

Simons stuffed backpack
Simon’s stuffed backpack
  • 2 spare pairs of socks
  • 1 pair underpants
  • swimming trunks
  • waterproof trousers and jacket
  • hikers trousers (wore shorts in summer – now sent home)
  • sleeping bag (winter/summer)
  • bivvi bag
  • waterproof running gaiters
  • laptop computer, charging lead and adaptor, clean spray, cloth
Camping in a field at Veryan
Simon’s kit
  • iphone, charging lead & ear lead
  • toothbrush, small toothpaste, razor, tiny toothbrushes (no soap)
  • paper for notes, pen
  • gloves
  • toilet roll pieces nicked from everywhere
  • head torch
  • lemsip (used once)
  • 2 water bottles (2 x 750ml)
  • usually carry 2-3 energy bars
  • ultra light towel
Highland Cow in Cornwall
A Highland Cow along the coastal path

Ecologia: Since you started your run, you’ve had to cope with very differing terrains, from the peaty bogginess of Scotland’s West coast to the steep ascents and descents of England’s South West Coast Path. What’s been your favourite terrain to run on so far?
Simon: Whilst I love dangerous paths, big ups and downs, and edgy cliffs, I quite like the ease of a field. Cliff top open fields with expansive views all around and undulating, in and out (jiggardy!) coasts are probably my favourite. Our land is partitioned into endless, massive fields, and built up areas, and the coastal edge is one of the great wildernesses left.

Linda at Porthkerry Caravan Park
Simon with Linda at Porthkerry Caravan Park

Ecologia: What are you learning from this experience?
Simon: British people are very charitable, and doing something courageous and outside of their normal activity range for charity brings out people’s most generous natures. It’s humbling to be invited into complete stranger’s homes and being told to help myself to anything in the kitchen, or to have waiting staff donate their tips because they are inspired to help in whatever way they can.

On the other hand, I’ve also noticed how when you put people between walls, under shelter, and warm them up, their worlds become more complex than when outside, as we create endless rules and courtesies about how to behave with one another. If we spend more time outside with nature and the elements, life gets simpler.

The coastal path in Cornwall
The coastal path in Cornwall

 

Lastly, I’ve discovered that our coast path is a national gem and the ocean is the best friend to have – humbling, majestic. I am in awe of its power and vastness, while the horizon space stimulates space inside, relief, and joy.

 

 

Simon at Black Head in Cornwall

Ecologia: What do you miss most about your old life, and what do you think you will miss about being on the road?
Simon: I miss the intimacy of friends, which is born of time together. I miss human touch and warmth, brilliant breakfasts… and mattresses! If I ever become re-domesticated, I will miss meeting new people all the time and staying with some; being and feeling special and noticed; and I will miss the constant change of landscape.

Ecologia: How will you spend Christmas and do you have any message for people who are following you?

Waves crashing at Portmellon
Waves crashing at Portmellon, along the coastal path

 

Simon: I’m going to take a break for a few days to spend it with my brother (who has flown over from Perth, Australia) and my sister in East Anglia. Then I’ll return to the point where I left off and keep on running! As for those who are following, 1,000 Thank Yous for being interested enough to follow and engage, it provides the backdrop for me to keep going. And, go and sit with the sea for a while and dream. If it’s cold, sit in your sleeping bag!

 

Your support and encouragement helps Simon to keep going. If you would like to donate in lieu of a Christmas gift or card, please click on the button below:

I WISH SIMON A MERRY CHRISTMAS

Simon with Jake Tyler, courageous cross-Britain walker
Simon with Jake Tyler, courageous cross-Britain walker

 

A huge thank you to Simon for taking on this challenge on behalf of the children and youngsters at our projects. They and our partners, as well as all of us here at Ecologia wish him (and you) a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

 

 

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susie Kemp

Susie has 30+ experience as a creative copywriter, editor, and proofreader, starting out as a 20-year-old copywriter in the Mad Men world of early 1990s advertising in South Africa. Ever since, she’s had a love affair with creative conceptualisation, thinking outside of the box, writing to a deadline, and being thrown in the deep end!

She took an MSc in Publishing at Edinburgh Napier University as a mature student, in 2015, and continues to keep herself busy working as a copy-editor, proofreader and copywriter in book publishing, corporate communications, and publishing project management.

Apart from her love of working with independent authors, Susie has a fondness for working in the third sector and likes to use her corporate communications and marketing experience to support projects close to her heart. She has lived and worked in the Findhorn area for 25 years, and has been involved in a number of third sector projects and organisations, and family businesses.

Working at Ecologia Youth Trust helps Susie to live in integrity with her values of supporting the next generation to be the best that they can be, and she sees it as a way to give back to Mama Africa, the beloved continent on which she was born.

Ellen Shaw

Ellen joined the Ecologia team in June 2018 as Marketing and Communications Manager. Ellen has lived in Scotland for 6 years and has worked for non-profit and charitable organisations across varied fields. She currently shares her passion for helping young people through Ecologia Youth Trust and she works as a dancer and dance teacher in her spare time.

Robyn Cooper

Robyn is the Associate Director of International Projects, having previously worked within the team as a Project Development and Marketing Officer from April 2019 until May 2021. As Associate Director, Robyn is co-leading the International side of Ecologia with Founder and Director, Liza Hollingshead, bringing a new energy into Ecologia as they look towards the future of the charity.

Liza Hollingshead

Liza is the founder of Ecologia and Director of International Projects. She was born and educated in South Africa and worked there as a high school teacher. She moved to live in the Findhorn Community in 1974. She started Ecologia in 1995 after being introduced to Dmitry Morozov, the founder of Kitezh Children’s Community in Russia, and was inspired to support the community in its mission to rescue orphaned children from institutions and give them homes, families and education in a supportive environment.

This led to projects supporting disadvantaged youth and children in South East Asia and in East Africa. TRead more about Liza’s story here.