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2011 WEEK 11

n o i t i d e EXp 1000 pic e ’s e t i a w h t n r Dave Co ing r u t n e v d a r o f new plans


Welcome TO WEEK 11



WHEN an adventure comes to an end there’s often uncertainty about when the next one might come along. Opportunities for adventure come out of the blue but for the most part we have to actively seek or plan for them. In Dave Cornthwaite’s case that’s exactly what he’s doing right now as he starts Expedition 1000. This is a five-year commitment to 25 adventures all one thousand miles in length. This is adventuring at it’s best but it also shows with imagination and planning you can complete an exciting journey even on a skateboard. This week the OMM announced this year’s mountain marathon will take place ‘somewhere in Scotland’ and entries are now being accepted. Alex Ledger and Al Humphrey’s account of last year’s event gives us a taste of what it’s like to enter. Will you fancy having a go after reading their experience? Finally, the expression “There’s more to life than shoes” is being embraced and championed to a whole new level by two women who firmly believe there are ways to get more out of living. As well as writing a book where they’ve interviewed some of the most inspirational women to garner their secrets of success, they’ve also set up an online community for other like-minded women who believe in spending their time doing more than just buying handbags and drinking wine. It’s one of those books that will change the way we approach things.



THE OMM What’s it like to run the most famous mountain race in the world? By Alex Ledger


Y kit was completely soaked. My legs had seized up. My tent was leaking and to top it off I had run out of Jelly Babies. To say I was unhappy would be an understatement. This was my introduction to the Original Mountain Marathon (OMM). The OMM is the first, most famous and largest mountain marathon in the world and has been held every year since 1968. Suffice to say, I had never even heard of it until my friend Al Humphreys, an accomplished explorer, posted on Facebook that he needed a partner for a two day event on Dartmoor. As a keen runner and sub 3:15 marathon runner I fancied my chances and put my name down. To my surprise Al accepted my offer and within a few days we were duly registered as Team 169 in the ‘A’ category, the second hardest class which covered 80kms in an expected total time of 11 hours over two days. With less than two months to prepare I launched myself into a tough training schedule. I was fortunate enough to be in north east Spain running a paramotoring school. The local area, situated in the foothills of the Pyrenees, is an ideal training ground with plenty of hills, mountains and streams. Every week I noticed an improvement in my performance and it was not long before I was filling my rucksack with weights to increase my endurance. In the last week leading up to the race I managed to rack up a total of 70 miles, the most I have ever done during training for any event. I flew to the UK in the best shape of my life but still dubious about whether I had done enough.


My one piece of advice to anyone interested in doing the OMM is to do it with someone who has some previous experience; I was lucky enough to have Al. He proved to be an excellent partner, not only because he provided the majority of the specialist equipment but also because he knew what to expect. The night before the start we managed reduced our packs to their bare minimum and at 8am the following day we arrived at Okehampton Barracks on the northern edge of Dartmoor ready to do battle. I must admit that both Al and I had a bit of ‘pack envy’ when we arrived at the start gate. Ours looked and felt like military bergens compared to other competitors who had the lightest and smallest packs on the market. At 8:56am we set off on the first leg of our 45km route. Our pre-race strategy was to walk the hill sections, conserving energy, and then run the down the hills and flat sections. It quickly became apparent that Al was a considerably faster walker than me. He then casually mentioned his recent ‘stroll’ across Iceland and a few years before that India. It was going to be a challenge just keeping up with the man. My intensive training soon came into it’s own. For the first three hours we were basked in glorious sunshine and, ever the optimist, I had my sunglasses on. These were packed away at midday as Dartmoor’s infamous microclimate imposed itself and the rain clouds appeared. Up until now the going had been relatively fine, the terrain had been easy to cross and we had found our check-points without too much difficulty. I would even go as far to say it had been enjoyable, but this was soon to change.

RIGHT Alex and Al at

the start line of the OMM

RIGHT Alex shows the

expanse of Dartmoor FAR RIGHT Worn out

after day one but this cup of tea was the best Alex has ever tasted


RUN & HIKE The weather now presented a different challenge, not only physically but also psychologically. The driving rain made visual navigation a lot harder and we had to rely more and more upon our compass and map reading skills. After six hours on the go with only a short 10 minute break for a pork pie, we were both starting to feel it; the rain had become horizontal and the terrain had turned into what Al described as like ‘walking on babies heads’. For two hours we persevered through these miserable conditions in search for the elusive check-point, the only comfort being we were not alone. Lots of other teams going through the same ordeal. This was definitely the low point of the day and we were both extremely frustrated with our painfully slow pace. Our perseverance paid off and after ‘checking in’ we were able to get onto a good trail and pick up the pace again. This was an enormous moral boost and somehow I found another gear. In previous races I have always found something left in the tank for the finish, on this occasion I knew it was not far off and in my obsessive desire to reach it I probably over did it a bit. We completed the first day in 8 hours 37 minutes and promptly collapsed into our hastily assembled tent to enjoy one the best cups of tea and rehydrated spaghetti bolognese I have ever had. That night the weather deteriorated further, the wind and rain lashed it down. I barely slept, not only because of the weather, but also due to the pain I was now feeling in my entire body. Al on the other hand was snoring away in blissful ignorance to my discomfort, thus adding to my pitiful situation. As the day dawned, with yet more wind and rain, I was not a happy camper. Day 2 was a 35km route back to Okehampton and we set off half an hour earlier than the day before. The first three hours were the toughest of the race for me; I was wet, cold, stiff and miserable. My legs just did not want to function and our pace was so slow that we kept on being overtaken, which further compounded my misery. The weather was disgusting. By the half-way stage we had slipped dangerously off the pace and for the first time I started to think we would


not make the cut off time. However, just like the day before, we managed to push through the worst of it and made it to a gravel track. This was a godsend as it allowed us to run properly for the first time. The running increased our core temperature, our spirits and gave us the determination to crack on, so much so that by the next check point we had regained some time. It’s amazing the psychological effect something so simple can have. In the last hour Al and I managed to overtake some of the teams who had passed us at the beginning of the day,

i barely slept, “ not only because

of the weather, but also due to the pain i was feeling in my entire body

spurring us on even more. The final hurdle for us to cross was a three metre wide, fast flowing, swollen river. The only option was to launch ourselves into the water before scrambling up the bank on the other side. We were almost completely submerged but we could smell the finish line. As we descended from the last checkpoint on the top of High Wilhays Tor, the highest point on the moor, we dropped out of Dartmoor’s miserable microclimate and were greeted by glorious sunshine. Less than a mile away was Okehampton Barracks with a beautiful tarmac road leading the way to the finish line. The past two days of pain, misery and frustration were forgotten and the only thing I could think about was crossing that line in the shortest possible time. We flew down the hill, over taking a few stragglers, to finish in a time of seven hours 41 minutes. Out of 89 teams which started the A category we came a respectable 58th in a total time of 16 hours 18 minutes. I was so happy. The OMM had turned out to be a lot harder, both physically and mentally, than I had ever envisaged, which made completing it all the more satisfying. Entries for this years OMM are now being accepted online at www.omm

RIGHT Al and Alex

manage a smile at the end of an exhausting OMM





LEFT Dave has spent two

weeks learning how to paraglide in preparation for next year’s 1000 mile journey by air over Nepal

ANY of us would be content with completing one big adventure in our lives but Dave Cornthwaite wants to do 25 of them. Each one of these 25 will be a thousand miles in length. Oh and he won’t be using motorised transport for any of them either. Dave’s already completed two of the 25 adventures – the first was a 3621-mile skateboard across Australia in 2006 and the second a 1540-mile kayak along the Murray River. But it’s his announcement of Expedition 1000 – reflecting the thousand miles he’ll do in each trip – which is an unprecedented commitment to adventuring. In doing so, Dave is ensuring that the next five years of his life have complete focus. “It’s crazily ambitious,” he says. “But the reaction to it has been highly positive and I can break it down into achievable tasks.” Completing five adventures a year should see him reach his goal and Dave says the beauty of planning multiple trips is that you prevent the uncertainty over where the next adventure is coming from. “After the river kayak I guess I lost focus,” he admits. “But with Expedition 1000 instead of being a wandering vagrant, I really feel like I’ve got a plan.” Coming up with 23 different methods of how to travel 1000 miles has been fun in itself so far. “People have said why didn’t you just choose 10, you idiot,” Dave says laughing. “But 25 is a lovely round number and at the end of it the 25,000 miles is equal to once around the world at the Equator.” A further cool aspect about Expedition 1000, is that Dave is asking people to come up with ideas for how he should travel. An overwhelming majority has suggested he completes 1000 miles by pogo stick. His response? “There’s a fine line between doing something and doing something idiotic,” he jokes. “I have to pick ways which will be successful so I don’t think I’ll be doing a pogo stick, a Space Hopper or a Swan pedalo! Keep the suggestions coming though.” Dave is considering most forms of transport and an unexpected outcome of Expedition 1000 so far is that he is bringing attention to some never-before-seen forms of transport. These forms include a Freecross, an Aquaskipper, a Champiot (a four wheeled cart that also works on water), a Kickbike, a StringBike (uses string instead of a chain) and Chariot Skates (uses big bike wheels on each foot). Dave says one of the most fun things he’s ridden so far is the Freecross. “It’s genius,” he says. “It’s basically a cross trainer from a gym but with wheels. It’s really good for the whole body and it feels like slalom skiing when you ride it. It’s fast and you can lean right over on it.” The next expedition in the list has been finalised and in April he will start a Tandem Bicycle ride from Vancouver to Vegas starting in April with colleague Sebastian Terry. Flying straight in to Vegas seemed too easy, so Dave and Seb booked flights to Vancouver, Canada, with the intention of riding 1350 miles in two weeks, reaching Las Vegas just in time for their talk. “The thing is we’ve never ridden a tandem,” Dave casually mentions. “We’ll need to cover 100 miles a day so it will be real jeopardy to see if we make it on time. We’ll write the talk and film as we go along.” Later on this year he plans a Stand Up Paddleboard along the Mississippi River. In 2012 he’ll then jump on the FreeCross to ride 1000 miles in Europe before then doing another 1000 miles in a Velomobile. The plan then is to finish off 2012 by



RIGHT Fancy riding this ‘Freecross’ for 1000 miles?

cycling 1000 miles in North America. In 2013 he’ll paraglide 1000 miles across the Himalayas. Paragliding is another sport he’s had no experience in but Dave is just back from learning how to fly with SkySchool in Nepal and said it was one of the most thrilling things he’s ever done. He’s already made excellent video diaries showing how he’s learnt and progressed. Other adventures include riding 1000 miles by horseback in Mongolia and skiing to the South Pole. These plans are nowhere set in stone but it shows how Dave is thinking ahead. In some cases an adventure planned for 2016 will need extra training squeezed in around his other adventures. But an expedition like this cannot happen without support and Dave is now looking for volunteers who want to lend a hand. He’s even put a request out for unsigned bands to have their music used on some of the adventure videos he’ll be making. “I’ve now got 12 great people on board helping me out and I’m walking on air,” he says. “I’ve got over the stubborn youthful phase and realised that I can’t do all of the organising alone. If there is anyone out there looking to develop their skills then I’d love to hear from them.” Dave is also very clear about where the money he raises goes. All of his expedition costs are funded by sponsors (and by himself ) and every penny he raises for charity goes to charity. By doing Expedition 1000 he hopes to raise a million pounds for the AV Foundation and CoppaFeel. The AV foundation works in East African schools and communities developing water system infrastructure to ensure the availability of electricity and safe, potable water for all. CoppaFeel is a charity with the goal of reducing the incidence of late detection or misdiagnosed breast cancer. Anyone can choose the cause they’d prefer to donate to. Some people have likened Expedition 1000 to a bucket list and although Dave takes slight umbrage at the term bucket list (because it implies you’re going to die) he does agree with the concept adding, “If you actually sit down and make a list of the things you want to achieve, it certainly does make you more aware of exactly what it is you want to do with your life.” And there’s no doubt that Dave’s life is certainly going to be full of adventure for the next five years. “Thank God I’m single,” he jokes. “There’s absolutely no period of rest for this. It’s going to be full on.” BELOW RIGHT Any time

of year, in any weather and Dave will be adventuring to hit the magic number of 25 one-thousand mile adventures


25 is a “ lovely round number; that equates to 25,ooo miles, the distance of once round the equator

HONDA CROSSRUNNER Honda crosses categories with this new naked-slash-adventure motorcycle

TAKING what they know about naked bikes and adventure bikes, Honda has come up with the Crossrunner which has a striking wide-barred, upright riding position. The company is responding to riders who have asked for a sporty machine that looks adventurous. Unlike sports tourer bikes which tend to use an in-line four cylinder engine and adventure motorcycles which tend to use a twin cylinder powerplant, the Crossrunner has an 800cc V4 engine. Despite that high-looking riding position and the raised tank, Honda says it has put the bike through 120 sessions in the wind tunnel to perfect it’s shape and ensure it delivers ‘unwavering stability’. They also say that it’s been designed to maximise pillion comfort and based on the photos here, it looks like they’ve come up with a pretty comfy seat. One aspect of the adventure bike which has transferred across nicely into this is a massive 21.5 litre fuel tank. What hasn’t made it across from the adventure bikes is a low weight though; the Crossrunner weighs in at 240kg. As way of comparison, BMW’s F800GS, another 800cc engine machine, is 185 kg. In a video interview the Crossrunner’s Design Project Leader, Teofilo Plaza, says that the bike is aimed at people who like fun and versatility. “The looks had to be dynamic but not too aggressive. We don’t want the bike to intimidate,” he said. “It’s the first bike to crossover between a naked bike and the style and values of an adventure bike,” he adds. Expect to see the Crossrunner on sale later this year.







OU know those girls who seem to spend their life shopping for shoes? That’s all they do with their time. I call them ‘Rose’ girls. Now there’s nothing wrong with drinking Rose, but there seem to be far too many women whose only interests are rose wine, handbags and shoes. So thank heavens for Nadia Finer and Emily Nash who have released this new book and website to show how to get more out of life. Nadia started out as the world’s worst trainee accountant and got through jobs as fast as new shoes and Emily used to work in TV but really wanted to pursue a writing career. They wanted to change their own lives and knew plenty of other women who did too, but felt there was nowhere for them to go to get the inspiration, motivation and support they needed. So, one night in the pub, More to Life than Shoes was born. Nadia and Emily started off by finding the country’s coolest women (from neuroscientists to novelists, biologists to builders and entrepreneurs to engineers). They then pushed them for advice to find out exactly how these women had made their dreams come true. They discovered that there are thousands of women out there right now doing amazing things and that there’s a way of living and tackling the world that can produce results. The pair interviewed women such as: Martha Lane Fox, founder lastminute. com; Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark; Radio 1 DJ Annie Nightingale; pottery designer Emma Bridgewater; Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of Kids Company; young inventor Emily Cummins; novelist Hilary Mantel; Director of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti; the UK’S first female fighter jet pilot Jo Salter; Baroness Susan Greenfield; Kanya King, founder of the MOBO Awards; Baroness Betty Boothroyd and more. They even got my super-crush Sarah Beeny to comment on the book, who

said, “‘Great inspiration from those who have hurdled their way to success.” As well as the book, Nadia and Emily have set up an online community where women can share experiences and stories and offer each other advice. There are now MTLTS groups all across the country. “More to Life than Shoes is a call to action to women everywhere to find their spark, crank up their confidence and blaze a trail out of the doom and gloom to success, “ says Nadia. “Now is the perfect time for women to take control in their careers, despite the recession, redundancy threats, pay gaps and rising childcare costs,” Emily adds. Direct some of that shoe fund to the book and an online membership and see where it could take you. Published by Hay House £8.99

BELOW Look out for this

book cover - it might just change your life


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