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Wednesday, 31 July 2019

May/June/July Update

Happy Summer everyone!  It's been really hot here in the UK and I've been back training after a few weeks off following Riga Marathon.

I'm still battling with some weird Achilles issues in both legs but general fitness is returning so hopefully I can manage my way through it and nothing snaps before I take a month off in November.  After an hour of running it feels like the achilles tendon is warmed up and I get full range of movement, which I guess makes sense, meaning that I actually seem to improve the longer I run for.

As I type, I've got 2 months to go until my toughest ever period of running.  3 marathons in the space of 5 weeks!  Budapest (29.09), Bucharest (13.10) and Porto (03.11) are coming up, hopefully I'll survive!

Lovely little city


Riga (no.22 of 28) was a tough race for me, the toughest one yet.  I had real pain in both legs, a groin strain and the pleasure of running in yet another 28C race.  Our Air B'N'B host winced when he told me it was going to be the hottest day of the year and he wasn't wrong!

Still, I enjoyed what I could of the race and got it done.  It was very well supported, a nice varied route with a lot of little nice touches.  Full race report here.


Ron Davis Biomarker

Real hope for patients came from the genius that is Ron Davis back in May.  Ron and his team have developed a blood test that precisely identifies chronic fatigue syndrome.

"Now, Davis; Rahim Esfandyarpour, PhD, a former Stanford research associate; and their colleagues have devised a blood-based test that successfully identified participants in a study with chronic fatigue syndrome. The test, which is still in a pilot phase, is based on how a person’s immune cells respond to stress. With blood samples from 40 people — 20 with chronic fatigue syndrome and 20 without — the test yielded precise results, accurately flagging all chronic fatigue syndrome patients and none of the healthy individuals. 

The man I believe is most likely to cure M.E.

The diagnostic platform could even help identify possible drugs to treat chronic fatigue syndrome. By exposing the participants’ blood samples to drug candidates and rerunning the diagnostic test, the scientists could potentially see whether the drug improved the immune cells’ response. Already, the team is using the platform to screen for potential drugs they hope can help people with chronic fatigue syndrome down the line"

Full article: click here

Whilst not a cure, it can be used to further understand the illness and silence any doubters that the M.E isn't a very real debillitating physical disease.

Marathon Trailer

When I ran in Copenhagen last year I met Alexander Weng Petersen whose partner struggles with M.E.  He very kindly offered to interview me and follow my race so he could put together a trailer explaining my challenge to help drive in sponsorship.

I'm so happy with it, he did an amazing job!  Check it out for yourself....

Millions Missing Bristol

I went along to support the event in Bristol on College Green this year which was excellently well organised full of emotional speeches from ME patients and families with a few superb musical performances too.

It was great to meet so many lovely people and chat in the sunshine as well as talk to passers-by about M.E and the devastating effect it has and the purpose of the protest.

Invest In ME Conference

I couldn't make it this year to the conference which was a shame but I heard it was the biggest one yet with even more representatives from different countries around the world.

There in spirit!

Invest In ME have posted the talks on youtube this year, if you're planning a binge-watch please consider dropping them a donation to say thanks.

IIME Conference #14 Videos

Natalie Price ME Video

I was really affected by the story of Natalie Price and her battle with M.E.  Natalie was a keen runner but is now bed-bound with extreme tiredness, fatigue, headaches and sensitivity.

Please have a look at her story below and accompanying video through this link. I really hope she recovers and my thoughts are with her and her family.  I'll be running for her in Budapest.

Bristol TV

I forwarded my trailer to my local TV station and they put it on 4 times an hour for 24 hours which was really kind of them!

I didn't get chance to see it on TV and I'm told it was cut down a little but really appreciate them picking it up.  Maybe it changed 1 person's view of M.E?  If it did, I'll take that.

Truro Half Marathon (Sunday 15th September)

I've never run a race in my home county believe it or not.  We'd booked a long weekend down in Cornwall to see friends and introduce Lucy to our favourite beaches and this race seemed to fit where we're staying and the training plan.

Looking forward to running in Kernow!

It's one of the toughest road half's in the UK due to it's elevation which will make it great training.  I won't be going for a PB on this one, just to enjoy it and do a steady sub 2hrs.  I've reached out to some local M.E groups and hope to raise some awareness down there nearer the time.

Meeting Peter Douben

Lucy photo-bombing as ever

I've chatted to fellow Invest In ME runner Peter Douben for a little while over email and it was great to meet him and his friend Peter (who suffers from M.E) when they came to Bristol for the weekend.

Peter is doing really well with his running and hopes to add Berlin Marathon to his list so it was good to swap tips and chat to (the other) Peter about his experience with M.E.

WUCB Donation

Gunther, Els and the kind folks at Wake-Up Call Beweging have supported me since I ran Brussels Marathon in 2016.  They sent me a fantastic donation of 725Euros as they scale back their operations to look after their health (both suffer from M.E).

A couple of my favourite Belgians

Really grateful to them and I'm keen to congratulate them on all their hard work in Belgium to raise awareness and push for change to attitudes and healthcare.

Plans for the next 3 months

I've got a massive month of running coming in August, probably my biggest yet (over 155 miles) to get ready for the next 3 marathons.  It's all going to be hot and heavy so hopefully it'll pay off when it comes to those lovely cool Autumn tempts out there in Eastern Europe.

As well as Truro Half, I'm planning a 20 mile run on the Brighton coastline when I visit family which I'm looking forward to.  If you're around on Sunday August 25th at 7-10am then come throw some water at me!

Off to the seaside

I've got 2 Portugal M.E interviews ready to publish and have been given the opportunity of a feature in a major online sports website.  I'm desperately trying to track down Hungarian and Romanian patients who would like to tell me their story.  I hope someone comes forward and we can get a community going or at least highlighting the need for better healthcare.


Harbour and trails, Bristol Summer running is awesome

I'll be doing loads more running around Bristol over the next few weeks and mixing it up with some swimming at my local pool.  I'm pretty new to it, I get out of breath after a few lengths and get routinely over-taken by people twice my age but I'm going to stick to it and hopefully it'll help recovery and cardio.

2020 Races

After Porto in November, I'll only have 3 races left plus London which I really want to do again (as mentioned in previous blog).  As usual it's a logistical nightmare but I'm close to confirming races for the final stretch of the challenge.

The problem - I'd love to do Berlin but there is a ballot to enter which is oversubscribed and extremely unlikely to get through.  I wouldn't hear back until late November to hear whether I'd be successful.  If it's a 'no' from Berlin, then my back-up race (Hamburg in April) could be too expensive to get to as flights will have been out for a while. So a decision on Germany needs to be made pretty soon.  Munich was an option but it's likely to clash with Zagreb which is an essential immovable race for next year. If I choose Hamburg then I get to run with EU Marathon Completer and local Tim Teege who has become a good mate and it would be cool to hang out and see the city (my last trip there was on a boozy stag-do!).

Should I take my wellies?

Also proving tricky is Italy.  Rome looks like it will be cancelled again like this year due to the local council not granting them a licence (make of that what you will).  So options are Milan (Apr), Turin (Oct), Venice (Nov), Verona (Nov) or Florence (Nov).  Venice Marathon was flooded last year and whilst the videos of runners pretty much knee-deep in the sea were quite amusing, I'm not sure I fancy that much.  Milan and Turin will be too near to Hamburg.  Verona and Florence look likely to be the main choices.

Still with me?  Yep sorry, it is a bit of a saga isn't it.  Will confirm all soon.

Running and Positivity

I touched on mental health last time, just got a couple of other bits to say on the matter -this time from a slightly more positive (I hope) perspective.

I've been questioning my mental strength a lot this year and perhaps forgotten how I used to cope with big mileage, long runs and tough hot races.  I'd lost my way a bit through all the injuries of the last few months and withdrawn myself from running groups and conversations about running as I no longer identified myself as a runner.  Not being able to run had left me feeling flat, demotivated and frustrated but by writing up a big plan for the next 3 races, I feel like I'm climbing out of the pit.

The comeback has started!

So I've gone back to basics to fight off the negativity and demons that get into my head on the long runs.  Here's some mental tricks that I've used in the past and will be dusting off again (don't laugh!):
  • Intensity - I've been too passive on runs.  I'm going to enjoy the fact I can run. I'm going to air-drum and sing more. I'm not bothered who can see or hear it haha.
  • I run better when it becomes a war - I like to run angry to keep adrenaline up.  I think about stuff that annoys me and channel it like I'm fighting an end of computer game boss (like Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII).
  • I'm lucky to run and represent millions who want to but can't.
  • On a long straight road I never look at the horizon - eyes down, one step at a time, I'm making progress.  Never look up a hill, follow the white lines and get it done.
  • Get an hour into the run and breathing will sort itself and it'll get much easier.
  • Run your own run, don't chase people.
  • I'll never run my last step again - I'm one step nearer towards the finish.
  • It's OK to feel pain and discomfort - But it's not going to stop me, I'm a slow train that can't be stopped by anything getting on the line.
  • 26 miles is just 13 miles and back - bite the elephant one piece at a time.
  • You'll miss the challenge immensely when it's all over. Enjoy it.
  • I'm short and round, but 'stubborn bastard' is my superpower.
  • Running in 30C now will mean running at 20C in Autumn will feel easy.
  • I can do something that not many people can if I work hard.
  • Ignore the demon in your brain that wants you to stop and walk. You're in control.
  • Walking to a tune by a dead musician is desecrating their memory and can't be allowed.
  • Uploading the run to Garmin is going to feel heroic later.
  • It'll be over soon and you can get a shower and a pint.

                       Sweaty death-stare                                                 It's a long road, don't look too far ahead

Thanks for reading and following.  I'm hoping I'll be ready for the mayhem that's going to follow but all the nice messages and donations keep me going and give many of my friends hope of a cure.

If you'd like to sponsor me you can do below! 

Total Sponsorship Raised: £18070
Social Media Followers: 2368
Miles Covered: 156
Average Temp: 23C
Lessons Learned: It's possible to come back and even run through injury if managed properly.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Feb/Mar/April Update

Heading up to 4 years since my first marathon on the challenge!  It's been a testing 3 months in my world.  I've completed 2 more races; Cyprus and Slovakia and a few weeks away from my 3rd marathon in 8 weeks over in Latvia.

I've had two colds, tonsilitis, tendonitis and a really scary flight.  It's been the hardest section of the challenge so far, trying to get enough sleep with a small noisy baby to train and an increase in responsibility at work.  But pleased to say that so far I'm just about holding it all together and with just 7 races left I'm starting to think more about what to do when I'm done.

6 months old!

Unfortunately I wasn't able to find anyone with M.E to interview in Cyprus so raising awareness there wasn't really possible.  It was a bit surprising given how many english speakers there are there but I know from my trip to Greece that there aren't many/any communities there for people with the illness and it's almost unilaterally ignored by doctors and government.  I did meet someone with M.E immediately after the race who saw my flag and we had a quick chat, she was very kind enough to sponsor me.

Cyprus Marathon (no.20)

One day I'll win a race for real, maybe.

I went into this one feeling like I'd trained pretty well but unfortunately as I tapered training I picked up a cold which meant that it was a very hot snotty run.  I've always been surprised by how much a common cold can affect running. It's not just feeling light-headed and difficult to get a good breathing rhythm, it seems to make quads heavy and has a big affect on increasing heart rate.

In the end I got it done, full report here

Geordie Mark, great guy and impressive mara list for one so young.

I really enjoyed meeting fellow european marathon collector Mark Openshaw before and after the race.  He was on his 20th country too and it was great to swap stories on the races we'd completed and had lined up. I know that Mark really values running as a tool for positive mental health which I share too (more on this later).

ME in Slovakia

Michal from Bratislava

Ahead of my trip to Bratislava I interviewed Michal who has M.E.  I also met him for a drink after the marathon and he told me about the work that he was doing to try and raise the profile of M.E there.  Click here to read more.

Bratislava Marathon (no.21)

Tough but an improvement on Cyprus.

Coming into this one I had real problems with achilles tendonitis, it was a little painful to walk so I had to make sure I had enough painkillers for race day.  My friend Mike was good enough to come with me as he had in Sofia in October when Cat was too pregnant to fly.  On this occasion it was a bit too expensive to fly Lucy and Cat out with me for just one night so it was great to have some company.

Always there with a beer at the end, top friend.

We had a good tour of Bratislava, heading to the Expo, Old Town and Castle with some time to have a cheeky beer in the sun.  Race day was almost perfect conditions for the first half then warming up, click here for race report.


My first real run-in with Brexit occured in February when I was ordered to surrender my website as it ends with '.eu'.  Hopefully I've figured out a way around it without losing the domain.  I guess it's a sign of things to come as we get closer to leaving.  I have definitely noticed that it's been harder to get publicity through the marathon races and papers this last year or so.  I can't help but feel that as I'm from the UK, there's a bit of anymosity there, I can't really blame them.  The arrogance of how the UK government has treated the process would have me struggling to respect anyone wanting a favour too.  When I interact with new people in Europe I can definitely feel an uneasiness coming from them when they realise I'm British.   I'm certainly glad to have run so many races before the Brexit debacle that's for sure.


As I type I'm currently unable to run through injury.  It's fair to say I've led a bit of a charmed life when it comes to injury, I've not been able to run maybe 3 or 4 times in 4 and a bit years so I can't complain too much.  But two races in a 6 week period with another one around the corner is taking it's toll.  I've got problems with both calves again, hopefully I can sort with another massage as I can't get beyond a mile without the pain stopping me from continuing.  On top of that I've got a groin strain and lower back which is uncomfortable rather than run preventing.

Weird calves

Martin, my massage guy took one look at my trainers and reckons they've been the problem.  He literally folded them in half and looked at me with a grin on his face.  They've only lasted 150 miles as opposed to the usual 300-400 but two long continuous runs (4-4.5 hrs) where your running form deteroriates the longer the run goes on, are enough to wreck them nicely.  If you can bend the shoe in half then there's no support at all and it leaves your calves is exposed to strains.  Needless to say I've immediately gone out and bought some but the damage is done for now.  So I'm having a complete break from running until race day.  I know I'll lose fitness in this time but Riga will be about completing it not a tilt for PB so I feel like the pressure is off on this one.  Maybe by running slower I might even enjoy it who knows!  I'll loosely aim for 4.5 hrs and then focus on re-building for the 3 autumn races where I usually do my best running.

Mental Battles

I'm keen to talk about mental health for the first time on this challenge.  A lot of people have asked me if I'm feeling mentally fatigued with the challenge.  I guess this is because I've been posting a bit less on social media (mainly down to time limitations with work and baby) and also I'm guessing they're wondering how I stay motivated after all this time.  The truth is that I'm not fatigued, I think at the moment I'm just a bit down on how some of the races have gone and the lack of improvement I've been showing.  Outside of being an elite runner I think it's chemically impossible not to feel happy about finishing a marathon.  But for 18 out of 21 races I've come away with regret as to how I've run even though I know I've trained pretty well.

I'm relatively happy with some of the press/media awareness I've managed to get for M.E and everyone I've met in each country has been fantastic.  I have to still be pushing to hit a time in a race or I struggle to get motivated to train.  Everything so far has been to consistently get finished in under 4 hours but I've found this increasingly tough since 2017.  I'm not sure I can put it down to age, I routinely get passed by runners 20 years older than me.  It must be the training schedule for the most part but I think also the mental strength required.

I feel like I've lost the ability to run through pain, fatigue and dig deep.  I don't know why.  I'm still determined and dedicated but something has changed.  Could be that it isn't life or death for me anymore, I've got parental responsibilities and maybe I have more perspective.  Or it could be that I'm just not as mentally strong.  I think marathon races are a dangerous hobby for people like me.  When a 4 hour pacer passes you with a few miles to go you feel like giving up and walking off the course.  The feeling of failure and 'wasted' effort of training is a real killer both in the race and on the plane home.  Running is good for mental health if you can reconcile some reasonable expectations with yourself.  If you think too much about what you 'ought' to be capable of I can't think of a more destructive hobby for you to take part in.

I need to re-wire my brain and reset some parameters.  On the start line of a race I often feel like a striker too afraid to miss a penalty than being excited at the opportunity to score.  I think I've become so self-critical of my training and race running that I'm in a difficult mental cycle to break.  The only thing that seems to help is meeting people in each country before the race and reading messages from supporters, it reminds me that it's not about times (I'm the only one who will be bothered), it's about trying to help people.

Well done to all of those who have completed marathons over the last few weeks for Invest In ME including my buddy Ben Scott, Jimmy Alexander and Steve Martin.

Thanks once again for sticking with me.  I'm looking forward to taking part in Millions Missing in Bristol next weekend and trying to do you all proud in Riga on the 19th.

If you'd like to sponsor me you can do below! 

Total Sponsorship Raised: £16272
Social Media Followers: 2324
Miles Covered: 254
Average Temp: 12C
Lessons Learned: Completing marathons are still impressive.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Nov/Dec/Jan Update

Wow, what a 3 months it's been in my little world.  After finishing 2018's 5 marathons (Malta, Vienna, Copenhagen, Tallinn and Sofia), we were delighted to welcome a new member to the team, baby Lucy Rose Harley!


Cat did an incredible job in just 3 hours of labour.  We had a few days in hospital before bringing her home.  We've now got her passport ready and she'll be coming to 4 of the 6 international races this year!

Autumn Marathons 2019

After much research, debate and frantic calculations I've picked and entered 3 more races for 2019.

Ambitious, crazy, expensive.

3 marathons in 5 weeks!

I'll be travelling to Hungary for the first time to run in Budapest with Cat and Lucy, followed by Romania with fellow M.E marathon addict Ben Scott.  Cat and Lucy will then come out with me to Portugal for Porto Marathon in early November!

The Beginning Of The End

This leaves me with (unbelievably) just 4 to go; Germany, Italy and Croatia followed by a repeat of UK.  I'm repeating London as it feels the only proper way to round off the challenge and gain maximum press exposure for Invest In ME and their biomedical research projects.

UK not gone yet ;-)

Well aware that we could be out of the EU by then but still hoping that there will be interest and that I can blag my way into the race, avoiding the dreaded ballot system.  Ending out in Croatia just doesn't feel right and whether I decide to hang up my trainers for good or move on to more running challenges, it does feel exciting to run on home soil to finish it all off.

London 2001!

As I've mentioned before, when I was 18 I ran the London Marathon.  This would be my first ever marathon and also my last until the age of 31.  I remember running before college every other morning in the dark past the graveyard between Rumford and Penrose in North Cornwall and the long runs to Porthcothan and beyond.  All with a cassette walkman in my pocket and bottles of water stashed in hedges.


Never again said 18 year old Harley

Back then I ran for the Air Ambulance and appealed for some help with costs (trainers, coach fair to London etc) with no luck.  Not much has changed there!  I found a cutting from the local paper amongst some old school reports....

Lean, mean, same haircut.

4 Years Of Running

January 2019 marked 4 years since I started this challenge and could once again run further than the end of my street.  I've now run over 4000 miles for Invest In ME raising £15000 in the process and remain as determined as ever to make some sort of difference to the perception and treatment of ME.  To say it's been an incredible experience so far is a massive understatement, so many great memories, friends made, pain barriers hit etc.  When I came up with this crazy idea I really wasn't sure I'd get this far.

18 EU marathons in 4 years (all pretty hot!)

I'm not sure that I'm improving significantly with each race.  A lot depends on temperature, training and diet but I am pleased to say that after 126 miles of training in January (compared to an injury hit 67 last January) I appear to be in pretty good shape.  I've got 9 races left (counting London) and £11K to raise to hit target, I'll also aim to beat that elusive 3 hrs 55 mins of Vilnius, Lithuania in Sept 2017.

Gloucester Half Press

After the Gloucestershite ME/CFS Friendship Group heard about my upcoming Half Marathon race in Quedgeley I got talking to Rachel Ephgrave about her experiences with M.E.  She kindly agreed to tell me her story and I added a section about my challenge which was published by Gloucestershire Live website.

No winter gear for me!

Link to the article:  Gloucestershire Live

Gloucs Half Race

On Sunday 20th January I ran my fastest ever Half Marathon in Gloucestershire (4 mins faster than soggy Bridgwater in 2017) at 1hr 40 mins.  It was a chilly, dry day on a flat course and I started a bit quick and just kept going!  I was convinced I would blow up as I usually do towards the end but I felt good and pushed hard even with a quick stop to say hi to Donna, an ME sufferer who kindly gave me a big bag of jelly babies at mile 1!

Race dedicated to my new Gloucs mates

I really enjoyed the race and despite it's poor organisation at the start, it was marshalled well and came with a decent medal and hot showers.  Chantelle and Donna cheered me home alongside Cat and sleepy Lucy and I was invited to the Gloucestershire ME/CFS Friendship Group anniversary meal which was really great.

Donna and Chantelle braving the cold to see me finish

The race helped me raise over £600 for Invest In ME and I made some more new friends.  I'll definitely be looking to book a couple more half marathons for 2019, perhaps looking towards South Wales and maybe North Devon where I can hopefully connect with more M.E groups and help raise awareness.

In the pub with new mates and the littlun

M.E Debate in the Houses Of Parliament

On Thursday 24th January 2019 over 40 MPs from across the political divide sat in the House of Commons to debate a motion on ME with 27 making impassioned contributions on behalf of their constituents.
Together they unanimously passed this motion:
“That this House calls on the Government to provide increased funding for biomedical research into the diagnosis and treatment of ME, supports the suspension of Graded Exercise Therapy and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy as means of treatment, supports updated training of GPs and medical professionals to ensure they are equipped with clear guidance on diagnosis of ME and appropriate management advice to reflect international consensus on best practice, and is concerned about the current trends of subjecting ME families to unjustified child protection procedures”.
The debate was encouraging to see and despite the Minister's poor responses it clearly shows a shift in perception of the illness and the final death knell of the disastrous PACE trial.

Amongst many excellent contributions was this passionate speech by Stephen Pound MP:

Passion from Pound, lets hope there's funding and actual change on the way.

Cool Runnings

It is pretty cold out there this winter so far that's fair to say, but you won't hear me complaining.  I've run for 4-5 hours in 31C at Vienna Marathon, 33C at Luxembourg and over 25C in Malta, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Gdansk.  Wherever I go hot weather just appears from nowhere.  I'm thinking warm thoughts and getting my head down!

Next challenge, EU bobsleigh?

My hands take a mile to warm up but after that I'm totally fine, cold weather gives you a fight when you're running and I revel in that.  There's nothing more amusing than a mummified wrapped up runner looking at you in bemusement as you saunter past in t-shirt and shorts in -3C.  I'm not even warming up if I'm honest, never have really apart from some hip stretches ahead of a marathon race.  I just feel like a prima donna doing it, if I start steady then the first 6 miles or so are my warm up, I never feel like I've settled into the run before the first hour is up.

Suspension bridge has gone on hols.

There's ice under-foot at the moment over in Bristol, it could present a problem but I'm lucky to have a mate with a treadmill/dreadmill so if needs must I'll be over at his on the conveyor belt. I've got 6 races this year, if I get one under 20C then I'll be amazed, so for now, the colder it is here the better for me.  I've upped the training to 4 times per week having ran for 9 consecutive days over the Christmas break, I think I'm starting to feel the benefits and my VO2 max is improving gradually.  Hopefully it'll all pay off come March 17th.

Goals For The Next 3 Months

  • ME in Slovakia interview published.
  • Find a Latvian ME patient to interview.
  • 3 x sub 4-hour marathon finishes (Cyprus, Slovakia and Latvia).
  • No significant injuries.
  • Up to £17000 raised for Invest In ME.
  • More press coverage for ME awareness (UK and abroad).
  • Take part/support ME Awareness/Millions Missing on May 12th.

Thanks for your support and for reading.


If you'd like to sponsor me you can do below! 

Total Sponsorship Raised: £15070
Social Media Followers: 2258
Miles Covered: 275
Average Temp: 8C
Lessons Learned: I can run 4 times a week without injury!

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Aug/Sept/Oct Update

It's been 3 months since my last quarterly update and I've chalked up another 2 marathons and a half marathon along with another £1400 to help Invest In ME with their biomedical research projects.

Sturminster Newton Half

Way back in August I completed a half marathon in North Dorset.  It was a warm day on a mostly flat course which was good Summer training for Tallinn Marathon.

Hot half out in Dorset

I got round in a decent time and although there weren't any medals or t-shirt, it was good to get a little press and more race experience.

Blackmore Vale Press

I worked with my friend Helen Buckland-Luck from Yeovil on an interview piece for a local paper who published a half-page article on M.E and my challenge.

Back in print

The paper gets a wide readership across Somerset and Dorset and they were very happy to support our cause.

JustGiving Twitter

A bit out of the blue, I was tagged into this twitter message which went out to their 122,000 followers!

11 in a month?  Behave!

Thanks to whoever engineered this!

Tallinn Marathon Instagram

I couldn't quite get a spot on their website or Facebook as they had contractual obligations with other charities but Tallinn Marathon were very good and popped the below onto their Instagram.

That flag again

This went out to their 2160 followers and had 70 likes.

Kelly Holmes Twitter

For the second time on the challenge I got a comment from Dame Kelly Holmes!

Kelly's a true inspiration.

Klara Wilson

Ahead of the trip to Tallinn I had some sad news that Klara Wilson had passed away after a short battle with cancer.  Klara had M.E for a long time, she was a great supporter of my challenge and helped me raise awareness for patients in her native Czech Republic when I ran there in 2015.

Klara's sister Marketa, mother, husband and family in Prague.

Prague was my first race of the challenge and I'll always remember meeting Klara's family the day before the race where hearing about her struggle and the situation there really re-inforced my decision to try to help.

Tallinn Marathon

After a really good Summer training plan and smashing through new 5K, 10K, Half marathon, 20m and 22m PB's I arrived in Estonia looking to beat last year's PB in Vilnius (3.55)

Great medal, great race and loved the Estonia football shirt too!

The weather was warm but cloudy and I enjoyed the variety on the course.  I couldn't quite get to PB on this one having gone off too quick again and hitting a big wall at 18 miles.  Nevertheless it was a really good trip and a fabulous little city.  You can read about it further here.


So pretty big news!  In October I announced that Cat and I will be expecting a baby daughter at the end of the month.

I'll aim (money permitting) to bring her with us on the remaining marathon trips.  Hopefully I'll still be able to get out and get the training runs done though I expect it's going to be a big challenge finding the energy on limited sleep but hopefully will work out. 

The major change to the marathons is the additional cost of checking bags and our extra passenger which will push the trips up another £200 each marathon. We'll need to be getting her a passport ASAP as I have flights to book for Latvia and the other 3 after that before the seats get too expensive.  I'll also potentially need to stay abroad for a day longer on each trip so there's costs and considerations there too.  Out of 9 remaining I'm sure there'll be at least one where the baby will be too ill to fly so we're going to have to roll with the punches a fair bit.

Anyway, will do my best to keep to the schedule and get the challenge done!  Fair to say there'll be some pics to show in my next update!

Karina Hansen

I've been following Karina's story since 2014 when I got involved with fundraising for M.E research.  Some background below:

Karina Hansen is a young woman living in Denmark who was was diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) as a teenager in 2008. She was cared for by her parents in their home using treatment that she chose. After attempting graded exercise and becoming worse, Karina and her parents chose to follow the advice of an ME expert. However, a psychiatrist that had become involved in her case chose to disagree with Karina’s own decision.
At the age of 24, Karina was forcibly removed from her home in Feb. 2013 by a team of police officers, social workers, and medical professionals. She was taken to Hammel Neurocenter and placed under the treatment of Nils Balle Christensen and Per Fink as a de facto psychiatric patient. Her family were not permitted to visit her. After three-and-a-half years of forced institutionalized, Karina finally came home in October of 2016 much worse than when she was taken from her home. 

In early October news came out that she was no longer under state guardianship.  Whilst this is undoubtedly good news, it's a scary thought that there could be many others across Denmark and other parts of Europe who could face the same fate that we're not aware of.


Mid October and I managed to run my fastest marathon of the year out in Bulgaria!  On their 4 lap city centre course, I got round without any real problems thanks to Mike Ward for being an able substitute for Cat who was too pregnant to fly out this time.

Another one done!  Not sure what the lady to my right is doing; the race is over!

For full race report and pics you can click here!

Cochrane Review

It was great to see last week that Cochrane (a leading scientific journal) has decided to temporarily remove the PACE trial recommendations for CBT and GET treatment of ME patients.  Unfortunately a heavily biased and poorly researched article from Reuters delivered the news and gives unfounded opinion that scientists have been subject to harassment over the trial rather than them actually read the criticism outlined on the disastrous trial.

But this is a victory for the scientists, academics and patients who have worked hard to show how flawed the trial has been and how dangerous it's legacy of recommended treatments continue to be.

You can read more here.

2019 Plans

Now I've finished my running season for 2019, I'll be taking a couple of weeks off and then getting back to it ready for Cyprus in March.


Beyond that I've chosen to try to complete 6 races next year.  I want to take advantage of infants (0-2 for most airlines) flying for a discounted rate and Cat's maternity leave.  Also with 3 races at either end of the year, with at least a fortnight break between races it should be possible.

I wanted to try for Berlin but unfortunately it appears to be the same day as Budapest, which I need to do as if it reverts to the 2nd week of October in 2020 then I could have find myself having to be there and in Zagreb on the same day! 

Hopefully Brexit won't hurt my challenge too hard and the planes will be allowed to land!

Thanks for your support and for reading.


If you'd like to sponsor me you can do so below! or text 'IIME82' and £1, £3, £5 to 70070

Total Sponsorship Raised: £14430
Social Media Followers: 2209
Miles Covered: 223
Average Temp: 22C
Lessons Learned: Run more! Plenty of PB's just not the marathon one sadly.