Tag Archive for Monthly Mentor

Monthly Mentor: November – Charles Malet

Charlie at the end of the Gloucestershire Way

Charlie at the end of the Gloucestershire Way

This month we meet Charles who is so well travelled, without it actually being his job, that if he was an Empire, three quarters of the world map would be pink.

He is currently a master brewer at The Force Brewery in Cirencester, producing four premium quality ales, which are spreading far and wide, such is their attraction.

In a former life Charles started competing at a young age in swimming and both track and field events, being successful on the national circuit with the javelin. He has always been naturally fit, which is why when he joined the Army the basic exertions came easily to him, meaning that he had to diversify into extra curricular activities to really push the boundaries. These included rugby, cross country, orienteering, endurance events and triathlons. He has also completed a solo bicycle ride from John O’Groats to Land’s End in seven and a half days, River Thames from Lechlade to London in a slalom kayak in three days, Three Peaks Challenge (UK) in nineteen hours (self-driving…..) and has reached the summit of Thabana Ntleyana, Lesotho (11,424ft) from Sani Pass and back in six hours.

After a long period of rehabilitation for injuries sustained whilst in Afghanistan, Charles, remarkably returned to endurance events, competing in a triathlon in the East Riding of Yorkshire. This particular event will always stick in the memory as he had to borrow a bike from the organiser for the third leg, who had understood the unavoidable problems Charles was facing with his own racing bike. As Charles approached the change over he was handed a mountain bike with half flat wheels and a plastic baby seat fixed to the cross bar! The lead that he had built was eaten away with every rotation of the pedals.

Not sure the Brownlee brothers would think this was suitable

Not sure the Brownlee brothers would think this was suitable

Most recently Charles has ran 94 miles in just over 28 hours completing the Gloucestershire Way from the start in Chepstow, along a very ambiguously maintained path, to the finish line of the beautiful wrought iron gates of Tewkesbury Abbey.

The ups and downs of the Gloucestershire Way

The ups and downs of the Gloucestershire Way

Whilst there are others that have done 100 miles in 24 hours, there are very few that have done that distance up and down the topography of the Costwolds, including May Hill (974 ft), areas of the route which were completely overgrown or almost impassable without a machete; with a lot of the route being infested with nettles, which we will all agree are tiresome at the best of times, let alone for hours on end. Charles sustained serious foot injuries and blisters yet retained a smile all the way round.

The route

The route

There is a great post exercise report posted HERE. He did this with two friends in support of a charity called Alabaré who help homeless ex-Servicemen get prepared for unsupported reintegration into society and the workplace.

Charles might not be a serial endurance athlete, but the determination, stoicism and modesty that is engrained in his fantastic personality, makes the events he has completed all the more impressive. He is also one of the wisest people I know and therefore to get sensible advice from him about training and competition, especially after recovering from injury, should be shared with the masses.

Last months Mentor (Katie L’Herpiniere) made a comment that following events she has participated in she is no longer too afraid to try anything in business or sport. How do you get past the natural hurdles of anticipation, denial and your mind not wanting to start, let alone continue?

I’m not sure that it would count as a considered strategy, but I have always found that making a decision to commit to something is irreversible; a sort of magnified version of buying a non-refundable ticket. This means that any sort of wobble in the build up to an event is not possible, because your mind is prepared for all that lies ahead and you know you cannot get out of it! This is helped by trying to look beyond the event or the challenge itself and imagining what it will be like to have done it. There has got to be something drawing you to the horizon and, if you know the event itself will be painful, the focus must be on its completion.

When you think back to competing, whether in the pool, track, field or triathlon, is it the pursuit of beating others that drives you or is the competition purely against yourself.

A mixture. Winning a race in a time that you know you could beat is frustrating. Chariots of Fire delivers the final word on this one (and so much else, of course). A livid Abrahams is telling his whimpering belle, Sybil, that he doesn’t run to take beatings, and articulates this with the outburst, “If I can’t win, I won’t run”. Quick as a whip, Sybil retorts, “If you don’t run, you can’t win”. Primarily, I will always compete with myself, but the presence of others enables me to take this further.

How do you motivate yourself to improve the areas of your fitness (or your weakest event) and how do you manage the development of those weaknesses without having a detrimental effect on other areas.

I have always found that the key motivator with fitness is the knowledge and belief that it makes things easier. Knowing that doing something over and over again makes you better at it is enough for me but an essential part of this is to be able to chart one’s progress. Taking note of where you start, and how you develop, is critical. Perversely, perhaps, I actually find it really interesting – especially if you can be vaguely scientific about it and work out how other factors such as diet, sleep and intervals play a part. In terms of maintaining fitness in all the areas required, I find it best to work on an area of weakness gradually, rather than devoting all one’s time to it. This is likely to ensure that you won’t fall away in the areas that you are already strong.

What are the best five tips you would give someone wanting to organise their own endurance event like running The Gloucestershire Way?

1. Whether or not it has been done before, check the practical feasibility of it very thoroughly. Think about what could go wrong and how you would be able to deal with it. Will you need support and who will provide it and how? Do you need any sorts of permission or are there agencies that must be notified? What will the ground and the conditions be like when the event comes – presumably you are planning it at a different time of year?

2. When considering what it is you want to do, make sure that you set an extremely clear goal. This makes planning much easier, as well as training. The main purpose of this is to keep yourself mentally focussed and active when the challenge is underway. Once you are tired and degraded, it is harder to remember why you are doing what you are doing but if you have a clearly defined end point, you will mitigate against other dispiriting factors. Aside from designing an event just because it seems like hard work, try to build a sense of enjoyment into it. This will turn it into something to look forward to and to enthuse about.

3. In the likelihood that the event or challenge is to be longer than any training period, take great care not to underestimate the requirement for sustenance and hydration. If you feel hungry or thirsty, it is already too late to do anything about it in the immediate term and you will suffer during the lag. Bear in mind that you will get cold very quickly when you stop, almost regardless of the weather, so take kit that will keep you warm and dry.

4. Do not become over-reliant on technology. Batteries run out and screens get smashed. There is no substitute for knowing exactly where you are on the ground and on a map. I would add listening to music here, which a lot of people do when they train. If you are on the go for a long time, it may not be practical to do this during your own event so it is worth getting used to listening to what is going on around you. After all, this makes you much more aware of your surroundings which, in turn, helps you to appreciate where you are. If you can do this, you have a much greater chance of enjoying yourself and this may even make you go faster!

5. Establish how you respond to training and, from that, work out what you think you need to do to realise your challenge. Be a little wary of training programmes written by other people as there is no guarantee that they will suit you. The risk of injury from over-training is greater than that from slightly under training. An endurance event, specifically, will require reserves and you will be able to tap into these even if you do not think that you are as well prepared as you had hoped. If you read the Gloucestershire Way text, you will see that I lost a lot of body weight despite eating a lot whilst en route.

Day 118
Miles today: 3.00
Miles completed: 354
Miles to go: 741

Monthly Mentor: October – Katie-Jane L’herpiniere

This month I am redressing the gender balance, and some. Katie-Jane (Katie) is living proof that ordinary people can do extraordinary things “we just need to be bold enough to begin.”

In a former life Katie worked hard to build a career as a successful model, working for M&S and Alexander McQueen among many others, and also in successful Hollywood films. Katie then met her now husband, Tarka, who convinced her to push boundaries in different fields and challenged her to take on a major expedition. Hard work and dedication were not alien to Katie as she is an accomplished horse rider and competed successfully in Eventing; but a 6 month trek of the Great Wall of China, the most complete journey ever undertaken, was something new altogether.

From the acceptance of this new chapter, Katie had to commit to endurance training, putting on 3 stone and converting herself mentally to ensure she was ready for every element.

Katie on the Great Walk of China

Katie on the Great Walk of China


An award-winning film about the expedition ‘The Great Walk of China’ reveals how Katie faced blizzards, temperatures of -35C, frost bite, starvation, exhaustion and dehydration. During the trek, Katie went to hospital twice and lost an inch in height from the weight of her backpack, therefore staying motivated and focused on her goals was vital. The expedition itself was from West to East along the entire length of the Great Wall, some of which had only recently been discovered; through the Gobi Desert over the Qiling Mountain range. In all she completed 4300km (3,000 miles) in 167 days, equivalent of 102 marathons.

A gentle climb

A gentle climb

Not satisfied with that, Katie then embarked on the Rivers of Ice expedition to complete a full unsupported and unassisted crossing of the world´s third largest ice cap in Southern Patagonia. Unfortunately the full crossing was unsuccessful due to worse than normal conditions and the failure of the tent in a particularly bad storm. However, her determination was tested further as she had to survive an extra five days in a makeshift shelter before being able leave the ice cap. Their effort was the longest crossing of the Southern Patagonian Ice by a

British team and hers was the longest ever crossing by a woman.

The journey on the ice cap

The journey on the ice cap

Since then Katie has cycled 8000km through Africa for the charity Re-Cycle, worked on an environmental project at the North Pole, created new business in luxury pet products and competes in cycle events through the French Alps.

Mad dogs and English people

Mad dogs and English people

Not one to rest on her laurels, Katie has recently signed up for the Transcontinental bike race. The event is a daring and thoroughly modern take on how bike racing used to be back in the ‘heroic’ era, by putting the lost virtues of adventure and self­reliance (carrying everything they need) back at the heart of a bike race. The 4000km race is longer than the Tour de France and is non­stop. With the winner of last year’s race finishing in an impressive eight days, it is set to be a gruelling challenge.

It starts on the famed cobblestone farm tracks of Belgium, with check points (in order) at the summit of Mont Ventoux. Strada dell’Assietta (on the French­Italian border), Vukovar on remote Balkan roads of Cro and with the final checkpoint, before the finish in Istanbul, on Montenegro’s Mount Lovcen.

The training for this event will see Katie take on a number of cycle sportives throughout the early part of next summer, including ‘La Marmotte’, one of the oldest, most famous and challenging

sportives in Europe. With three HC climbs (totalling 5,180 meters) over its 174km route, it will be a massive challenge in its own right.

Katie’s is a fascinating story of determination, drive and self discovery. She demonstrates that anyone can (and everyone should) embrace change, leave their comfort zones and push boundaries to survive tough times and achieve what seems impossible. This doesn’t mean that we should all pitch our tents five meters away from a snow covered praecipes and have to dig ourselves out of that tent every 6 hours for fear of suffocation, but there are boundaries to push in every walk of life, which will give us all a certain sense of gratification and achievement. The best thing about talking to Katie is her passion for awaking potential in others.

When you are 150 days into the Great Wall your feet are blistered, toe nails bruised, you are still weak from previous dehydration, your pack cutting the circulation off to your hands; it is -35 degrees outside an you have to take the tent down, what is it that motivates you to get out of your sleeping bag?We are all motivated by different factors, none of them are right or wrong, but understanding
what factors affect ‘you’ is the key.

I am ‘extrinsically’ motivated, in other words it matters to me what people think of me. I subconsciously don’t want to look the fool or look like a failure. I use this to my advantage by telling as many people as possible about my expeditions before I start, via blogs, press and videos, by getting sponsors involved and by raising funds for worthy charities. This means that when I am at breaking­point, months into a trip, hungry, frostbitten and crying my eyes out, I find my motivation in not wanting to let my sponsors and supporters down. I think of all the people who we are raising money for and wanting to succeed for them, as well as wanting to prove the cynics wrong (as they sit on their sofas longing for us to fail).

In such a male dominated sector, is there an advantage or disadvantage of being a woman?
There is both. The disadvantage are all physical. As a woman I will never be as fast or as strong,
therefore carrying heavy packs or pulling heavy sleds will always have a greater physical impact on me. Even simple things like needing a wee in a snowstorm with temperatures as low as ­40C is just physically harder… remove your harness, undo salopettes and various other layers before exposing yourself and getting a frostbitten bum.

But, there are also a few advantages. We think differently, we don’t have a need to be macho. If there is an easier more comfortable way of doing something then we will choose it (and then the men are quick to copy the idea). We will protect and look after ourselves better, if we have a little injury we sort it instantly as opposed to suffering on until it then becomes a big issue. We also tend to be a little more cautious, so when a life threatening decision needs to be made we often air on the side of caution (rather than the gung ho approach), which often keeps us alive.

Given the success in your previous careers, is there any aspect that you regrettably sacrificed to follow this path, which arguably was not your dream.
Absolutely not! The only thing I gave up was a wage, but in the past 9 years I feel I have experienced more than a lifetime of adventures, memories and achievements, that equate to no amount of money. I am thankful that my husband opened my eyes to the big wide world and that he made me see what all of us as human beings are capable of, physically and mentally, so that now going forward, in both business and sport, I am at least not too afraid to try.

Given that you were cajoled into expeditions, the adversity you have faced, the physical stresses that you have put on your body and hours you have had to spend training, is there one tip you would give someone to get them off the sofa and into some crampons?

Well I don’t know about ‘into some crampons’…as they are annoying little contraptions, but to get off the sofa and to do something out of your comfort zone…

My tip would be… the importance of understanding ‘that the feeling of achievement and success is directly proportional to effort put in!’ Whether it is in work or sport, to get a real sense of achievement / self belief, and to know you have truly succeeded, then there has to have been blood, sweat and tears. Climbing the last few steps at the end of the Great Wall of China felt monumental, but if I hadn’t have walked 4500km to get to them, and instead chosen to fly, bus or driven there, then they would have felt as average as any other set of stone steps! If it’s too easy then it’s not worth doing.


Katie is the Founder of Hugo and Hennie, luxury pet products.

Dark Side of the Moon

This morning the moon was in fine form. It was your classic waning crescent that would be in a children’s story book, hopefully with a night cap on. I was amazed by the site of the stars that accompanied it. Considering I live in a town and the permatan orange glow that never leaves the night sky often sterilises the beauty of the stars. I then started thinking about the Pink Floyd album The Dark Side of the Moon and its 40th anniversary last year. I am in no way a hard-core fan of the band but appreciate the importance of the part they have played in music.

One of the group was being interviewed to promote the new album that they will be releasing (the last one that they will do). He was asked about previous members and they discussed at length one member, presumably Roger Waters, and the burden he had as the predominant driving force throughout the mid-1970s.

The point to this is that the interviewee said something that I liked, about people’s perceptions of others burdens (in this case creative ones). He said: “We can think that people are not pulling their own weight, when actually, theirs is a different weight to pull”.

It is a considered approach to why people behave or react differently than others, which I think could be used a lot more in day to day life.

Talking about weight to pull, I lugged this old carcass round at 0530hrs this morning, the same route as last night and did it in 29 minutes. I couldn’t get going – probably because I was half asleep still. But had to get the run in this morning as we have our friends from the continent for dinner this evening and need to interview the Monthly Mentor, Katie. By the way, if she says she won’t do it then you have to put up with an interview from Gene, three doors down, who would love to tell you about her cats and the restriction that her lumbago places on her ability to run. Not the fact that she is 93 and is never out of her wellington boots.

Day 77
Miles today: 3.00
Miles completed: 244.39
Miles to go: 865

Eurostar – 16th October

Current affairs and the inevitable sale of anything worthwhile in the armoury of UK plc, reminded me that since childhood I have had two nick names in my family. Andre Fat Pavarotti Patel and Channel Tunnel nose. The former is slightly convoluted and rather less obvious than the latter. Why have I got nostrils that I can fit my thumbs up? My initial thoughts would be that it is a development in my DNA that should allow an increase of air intake to my lungs and therefore give me greater endurance and stamina? But the good Lord giveth in that regard and then taketh away, as he has attached those nostrils onto a head that alone weighs in excess of 100kgs – although I have not tried the water displacement test. But not everyone is this fortunate.

Individuality is a brilliant thing isn’t it? The excitement of meeting new people on the aeroplane abroad, and then the feeling of relief when you have finally lost them in the Vatican after they have followed you for 3 days. How dull would it be if you knew that wherever you went the people were going to be the same? I am not talking about customer service these days, in which there is no individuality or improvisation, just a script that is recited verbatim. People need to restart thinking for themselves or there will be a shortage of Friday night philosophers, in the years to come. Maybe that could be my new feature. I have 4 cans of premium strength lager and express my views on things that I think are important. The unnecessary name changes of various brands of confectionary, to support the US market. Why people follow modern day wrestling? The pros and cons of pronouncing Shrewsbury, ‘Shrewsbury’. And other important things. Anyway, onwards.

Till then

Day 76
Miles today: 3.00
Miles completed: 241.39
Miles to go: 868

Monday 13th October 2014

At dawn on Friday, 13 October 1307 (a date sometimes spuriously linked with the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition) King Philip IV ordered scores of French Templars to be simultaneously arrested. This marked the end of the trust in the Knights Templar who, as you know, were very wealthy and influential.
The 13th October was also Baroness Margaret Thatcher’s birthday (before she passed away). I am not in anyway connecting the work that the Knights Templar did with that of the conservative Government in the 19080s, although arguably there are quite a few similarities.

Thinking about Baroness Thatcher reminds me of when General Pinochet visited the UK in 1998 and was hosted by the former Prime Minister, not far from here at Wentworth. On a televised meeting she thanked the Chilean dictator for his help during the Falklands conflict. The next day, one of the tabloid newspapers ran with the headline “Far right wing dictator meets Pinochet.”

It made me chuckle then and still does now. I love how in six words light can be shed on how ridiculous people and their actions are. If only they took some heed. Maybe I should write an open letter (which seems to be fashionable) to someone, somewhere and expose them to the same outbursts that you lot get.

Till then.

P.S. get ready for the next instalment of the Monthly Mentor. This month is the beautiful Katie L’herpiniere – although she doesn’t know it yet.

Oh and by the way I did 3 miles in 25.06 this evening. But it took me 7 mins to get across the road and get the phone out of its protective case. It says showers; more like monsoons.

Day 73
Miles today: 3.23
Miles completed: 232.10
Miles to go: 877

Greetings from…

Month 2 route

Month 2 route

Month two has slipped by in a relative blur and another 94 odd miles have passed without too much trouble (I can say that now they have gone). The last 30 days have enabled me to meander down the country lanes of the Hambleden Valley in Oxon, where our last visit ended.

I fight up hills of the Chilterns to visit the villages of Fawley, Turville, Frieth and Fingest. I visit the set of The Vicar of Dibley and chuckle lightly at the comedic ‘gems’ such as “No, no, no, no, no, no ….yes!”

I have to double back on myself slightly and head North out of the valley through Ibstone and join the M40 at Stokenchurch. This is where the run gets slightly tricky / dangerous with 10 ton Lorries passing within inches, hoovering me up in their wake. The benefit of this of course is that is strengthens my core trying to stay up right.

Thankfully I branch left onto the A40 and arch over the top of the University town of Oxford and into the unashamedly beautiful and timeless countryside of the Cotswolds. It is without question one of the finest looking counties available to earthlings. Villages consisting of clotted cream crust coloured buildings nestled together like penguins, beaming you back to Lark Rise to Candleford and associated odd West Country accents. There are some ferocious hills here. Leckhampton, near Cheltenham, is an old haunt from days gone by. Peering suggestively over its half moon glasses at the race course, the hill places its bets on the world famous Gold Cup National Hunt race.

I stop off at the school I went to nearby and have stirring memories and echoing cheers of hard fought victories, the Gloucestershire County Cricket Festival, which shares a boundary rope with the massacre of the school in the final scenes of the film IF.

Dodging the imaginary rounds raining down from the roof of the dining hall, I run to the Agricultural College at Cirencester, which in itself seems to be a school of slightly older children who have managed to hold on to power after a mutiny. A long and successful Alumnus continue to support this institution, one being the Prince of Wales, who lives down the road. No time to pop in and visit though. I have a date with beer.

I run from the College to the small industrial estate nestled in amongst the town. It houses one of my favourite places of ingenuity and endeavour. The Force Brewery was set up by Charles Malet, a local boy, of whom I hope you will hear more about in the Monthly Mentor series (although I haven’t asked him yet!). I have fantastically priced, delicious pint of Yankee Zulu, Thunderball and Chasing Leather, alongside a packet of Scampi Fires, and settle down for a nights kip on the bags of barley, like a solider in the Napoleonic wars. I would really recommend anyone near by to pop in there and pick up one of the many take away opportunities. You will be serenaded by the pipe and drums of a long since amalgamated regiment and given the warmest welcome you could want.
I am having such a nice time I wonder if there is any point in moving on next month. We will see.

Day 60
Miles today: 3.00
Miles completed: 190.94
Miles to go: 916

The first brew from Force Brewery.

The first brew from Force Brewery.

What a difference a day makes.

The altered Mexican song, which became ‘What a diff’rence a day makes’ was sung by Dinah Washington. I never knew that Dinah Washington died at the age of 39 and that during that unfairly short life she was married seven times. It was hard enough to convince one woman to marry me let alone duping seven.

The title says it all. I used to have near on sleepless nights, as a student, over £20 gas bills. Yet the day after, having fallen a sleep for a typical 14 hour period, I would feel more positive about the situation and realise that I would have to sell my body to make ends meet. Having seen me you would realise that there were no ‘takers’.

Anyway, having thought that I was on the road to greatness by reducing my times and actually feeling my legs drive throughout the distance, I start todays run with tight knee caps and lethargic quads. Is this lack of prep, the 13 hours days that I am doing (boo hoo – my heart bleeds) in turn making me lethargic, or just being lazy? I think the latter. I need to up my game as I feel that I am stagnating.

It will dovetail nicely actually with the change in weather. I will plan a few running circuits on playing fields or around parks, that will include ‘sprints’, running and recovery jogging. Not sure how or when I will start but it is food for thought. Where does that saying come from? Hang on I will search for it. Nah, nothing definitive as to its origins. Soz. Maybe I will do a week on sayings – yes! In the sporting arena.

Till then.

Day 55
Miles today: 3.01
Miles completed: 173.79
Miles to go: 931

I have made it!

Small things and all that. I have noticed that my tag ‘Monthly Mentor’ (see yesterday’s blog) has made the little section to the right hand side of the home page. I am in between Maximuscle and Neil Cowburn. What a delightful sandwich. It is still very small, maybe font 10, but over time I am hoping it will grow like a sun flower in the Italian hills, to become a beacon of hope and joy for all that read it…so read it. Please. For me. For yourself. For anyone.

Day 54
Miles today: 3.06
Miles completed: 170.78
Miles to go: 934

Monthly Mentor: September – Jonesy

Jonesy after the MDS enjoyng a snack, and no doubt feelilng those bleeding feet.

Jonesy after the MDS enjoyng a snack, and no doubt feelilng those bleeding feet.

This month we are introduced to Andrew Noyons (Jonesy) who is not your a-typical athlete. He is more comfortable in flowery shirts and corduroy than in figure hugging lycra and is so understated that he does challenges without telling anyone.

Jonsey served in the Army and obviously developed his mind-set to undertake endurance events during his training, as he has only started them since. He has a natural level of fitness that belies his love of Guinness, allowing him to pick up training as and when. He, like many others, has to find time to do any training amongst his busy work schedule in the City; made slightly trickier for his current challenge, a solo swim across the channel. There are not many places that you can undertake simulated practice in London. The Ruislip Lido doesn’t really cut it.

In the recent past, since 2010, he has achieved success in the Westminster to Devizes Canoe Race, New York, Zurich and London marathons, Tough Mudder, Marathon des Sables and the Arch to Arc.

The latter, which I was not familiar with, starts with an 87 mile run from London’s Marble Arch to the Dover coast, then the athletes must swim across the English Channel to the French coast, and finally finish with a 181 mile bike from Calais to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. For this challenge, the clock starts at Marble Arch and stops at Arc de Triomphe Jonsey didn’t mention his time, but it would not surprise me if it was up there.

When someone is quite so modestly blasé about challenges like these and is not good at self promotion, it is difficult to coax answers to questions. So whilst it might not give you an in depth look into the mind of an endurance athlete it certainly gives me encouragement to quit whining and yapping on at people and just get on and enjoy it for what it is. What has always struck me about Jonsey, is that regardless of how tired he is, however hard he has worked and will have to work in the future he always has a smile and a quip that will dissolve any fatigue and spur you on, through example and admiration.

1. Of all the challenges you have undertaken what was the darkest moment and how did you overcome it?
The hardest one I did was Devizes to Westminster race … a 125mile non-stop canoe race and the longest in the world. We did it in 24hrs and the cold was by far the biggest problem. Chill blains and blistered hands etc.

What got me through it was a stereo I attached to the deck of the boat, blasting the residents and bystanders of Henley with Boys to Men. They pretended not to enjoy it, but they did really.

2. What is your motivation to succeed and where do you source your inspiration? That is a difficult one. I don’t know really.

3. What is the one piece of advice/tip you would give a new runner? Get some comfy tunes and Boys to Men on the sound system.

Day 53
Miles today: 3.00
Miles completed: 167.72
Miles to go: 937


Me ready for a night out in the North East.

Me ready for a night out in the North East.

As the sun recedes earlier, cutting short the day; and the evenings become more part of our lives, there is definitely a chill in the air. I love all seasons equally as they bring something different (although in London it seems to be continuously grey and tepid). As they say ‘a change is as good as a rest’.

But out of the four, for me autumn is really special. It comes from my love of woodlands. There is nothing quite like a crisp autumnal morning in a woodland. The warm sun shining through the ever decreasing canopy, creating fantastic shards of light and colour onto a deep carpet of brittle leaves. Being nice and warm on a walk that will inevitably end in a local pub, by the fire. Brilliant.

How lovely the thought is. The reality of course for me is I will be getting wet and cold as this quarter develops. Cars immersing me in drain water as the pass through the blocked man holes. My bare legs reminiscent of a purple map of the East Anglian mud flats. All the while my nose will be running, adding yet more moisture to the T-shirt I have been unable to dry the entire week; which makes me shiver every time I slap it on.

I guess I will learn to adapt to it. Either that or I will grow a moustache, wear a yellow high vis long sleeved top and some blue (with red trim), Ron Hill running trousers, complete with elasticated foot straps. It is a good look if you are ex-military, and almost compulsory for the Sergeant’s Mess, because at the moment I look like Alan Partridge. Ill equipped…for anything.

Till then.

Day 52
Miles today: 3.00 (The lady in my ear said 3 miles the app said 2.98 = annoying. Happy with 25.11mins though. James Ellis, if you are reading this, please can I borrow your watch. I am fed up with the inaccuracy).
Miles completed: 164.72
Miles to go: 940