Land Rover Rebuild
My latest project to start is a rebuild of a 1989 Land Rover 110. The initial plan is to ensure it is mechanically sound as an off-road / adventure vehicle, and to custom-build a few add-ons to make it a good base to work from during weekends away. Although funds for the project are limited, the goal is to make it as light as possible before converting it to electric.
When not actually on an adventure, there's a very good chance I am dreaming about or planning the next. During the coming twelve months I will be on expedition in Sweden, and racing 1000-miles on foot along one of the world's most famous sled dog race routes. I look towards those coming adventures and I reflect back upon past successes, contemplating what I should do in future years. More paddling adventures, more Arctic adventures, a journey with Leon McCarron and potentially something in Antarctica are all on the cards.
Writing & Publishing
Writing is a passion I have previously been successful enough to make a living from, and I hope to return to those good times once again. A definite stall to progress occurred due to my doctoral research taking most of my time. Now free from the PhD I am turning my attentions to finishing various drafts on adventure and endurance books, and hope to write a series of short works and some children's books.
I support various causes that I believe are important. If I can help promote a cause, or get hands-on and actually do something useful, that is certainly important to me. If we all strive to help others at least a little bit, the world will become a better place in no time at all. When living in Serbia I volunteered during the refugee crisis to help ensure those fleeing wars were clothed, fed and watered - a project that helped thousands of people every week. I also initiated a project to get heating out to the remote camps during the winter.
In addition to my work in Belgrade, I helped to raise funds and drove supplies to the Calais 'jungle'. I have promoted clean water for Africa and other parts of the world through the Warka Water project. I also promote the importance of keeping our waterways clean and healthy, in conjunction with Active360 and Watertrek, and support causes such as the campaign to prevent hydroelectric dams decimating pristine wilderness areas of the Balkans; Save the Blue Heart of Europe. More recently I have been involved in working with youngsters from underprivileged backgrounds and young offenders, and have teamed-up as support for the Kinsmen Regiment: ex-servicemen undertaking endurance challenges to raise money for homeless veterans.
With many of these, I see myself as a tiny speck of oil that helped a cog on a wheel that made wondrous things happen during a time of great difficulty. It was the smallest part to play, but with so many doing the same and more, it all came together and it all worked. There are these and so many more causes that I believe are important, particularly whatever can be done to help limit illness, poverty, homelessness and environmental damage. Really, I believe there is already suffering enough in this world with the effects of ill-health and loss, and so any initiatives to limit anybody's suffering and help them to become happier and healthier should be embraced. I hope that through my views and actions others might be inspired to do likewise, to the smallest or greatest extent they are comfortable to. In my view, making the world better can be as simple as learning tolerance and support of those who are different and whose struggles we do not understand, or it can be as involved as actively working with organisations around the world to support a cause, or anything in between, including making donations.
Canada C2C Summer Edition 2018
A return to Whitehorse to continue the journey south, picking up the Cassiar Highway and entering a land of bears and wolves. When the skies were clear the scenery was beautiful, but amidst summer forest fires, the air soon thickened with the smell of burning woodland, and visibility was poor. It was an extraordinary experience, and arriving at the finish at the Pacific Ocean, close to the US border, had been a challenge in all sorts of ways I had not expected.
Icelandic Winter 2018
Cycling in Iceland is a daunting undertaking, and especially in winter. It is not particularly cold, with temperatures comparable to those in the UK, but the conditions are brutal. The high winds are legendary, sometimes pushing me off a road, sometimes into it. The winds were strong, rains were heavy, then the snow would come, then more winds. The bike would suffer as water got into mechanisms and froze up, seizing the brakes and the gears. At night the snows would force me off the roads earlier than planned in search of campgrounds. It was an epic experience, but tough throughout.
Big Ben to Black Sea SUP 2017
So far the second best journey I have ever attempted. I left London along the Thames in late May, 2017, and paddled out along the estuary, then hugging the coastline to Folkestone, before paddling across the Channel and into France. I used the canals while I could, switching to bike to get across Germany and join the Danube, from where I continued my journey to the Black Sea. It was a mixed adventure with some cycling, a little hiking, and mostly SUP, and it was epic in proportions. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
Canada C2C Arctic Edition 2017
A journey from the top to bottom of Canada began at the Beaufort Sea, Arctic Ocean, in the hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories. From there I cycled along an ice road cut into the sea until I reached Inuvik, from where I joined the Dempster Highway (featured in Ice Road Truckers), and progressed to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, via Dawson City. Having nursed a damaged bike the whole route without scope for repair, and with the start of my next expedition close at hand, I decided to split the journey into winter (Arctic and sub-Arctic) and summer (temperate zone) halves.
Ultra Trail Gobi Race 2016
The Ultra-Trail Gobi Race is a 250-mile (400-km) race in China's Gobi. The event is organised by the Chinese, and throw at it everything they can to make it an incredible event for the races. In this they succeeded like no other race I have experienced. We plot our own routes between checkpoints and are self-sufficient throughout. The whole event, including race staff, support teams and fellow racers, made this a truly wonderful ultra, and something I was very pleased to be a part of.
Sled Hauling the Yukon Quest 2016
As a fan of The Far North, Canada, Alaska, and solitude and sled-hauling, the 1000-mile journey from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, was the best thing I have ever done. This was a solo endeavour, hauling a sled along the route of the world's toughest sled dog race. During my quest I suffered with some mild frostbite and a few broken ribs, shared the trail with wolves and mountain lions, and finished wanting to do it all again.
Iditarod Trail Invitational 2015
Although a veteran of three finishes in the YAU, at the start line of the ITI I was once again considered a rookie. As such, I was only permitted to race in the 350-mile edition, but that included a mountain pass and some truly challenging conditions. This event was an entirely different animal to the YAU, requiring greater experience and fitness, and reaching the finish was a greater challenge than two of my three Yukon finishes.
My first visit to India was for La Ultra / The High, where I was fortunate to meet many like-minded people from across India. In 2014 I returned to India to spend time with my new friends, before traveling to Assam in the northeast, for a few hundred miles of hiking. This was a hugely rewarding trip, meeting many people who had never before seen a westerner, and a cultural indulgence I will always remember with happiness.
Yukon Arctic Ultra 2013
My third and final YAU in 2013 was in good conditions, used mostly as an excuse to get back into sled-hauling ahead of travels to Point Barrow, Alaska. This was a comfortable finish for me, placing second in the foot category whilst saving something back for my exploits on the sea ice shortly after. But then, every journey into the sub-Arctic is an adventure, and this was no exception.
La Ultra / The High 2012
La Ultra / The High is arguably the toughest footrace in the world. It takes place along mountain passes in the Himalayas, which reach above 5000 metres, with high altitude and low oxygen making racing a formidable challenge. This was my first event with a dedicated support crew, and I was privileged to have the team from Summit Fever Media with me from the start.
Yukon Arctic Ultra 2011
When I finished the YAU in 2009 I did so as a complete rookie, with a mind only set on reaching the end. The challenges of that year were played down due to the conditions being some of the best the race had ever had. With this in mind I felt I owed it to myself to return and see the Yukon in tougher times. With temperatures routinely below -40 Celsius and stretching below -50 C, I was not found wanting in 2011.
TGO Challenge 2010
The Great Outdoors (TGO) challenge is an event that takes participants along their own routes from Scotland's west to east coasts. It is a celebration of the great outdoors, and one of the most pleasant, enriching, and thoroughly enjoyable events I have had the privilege of participating in.
Transalpine Race 2009
The Transalpine race was one of the most spectacular, and definitely the best organised event, I have ever done. Beginning in Germany, the race route took us through Austria, Switzerland and into Italy. The alps were an incredible setting and the weather was extremely kind. Tight cut-offs made it an excellent challenge.
Yukon Arctic Ultra 2009
The Yukon Arctic Ultra was my first cold weather event. I fell in love with the Yukon on that first visit, and returned to the sub-Arctic or Arctic almost every year since. Still, despite many returns, that first experience was the most important. The pristine whiteness, the crystalline snow, and the journey along trails in one of the world's last true wildernesses keeps calling me back.
Jungle Marathon 2008
The Jungle Marathon was one of the most exciting and fun ultra races I ever did. A week spent running through dense jungle, along cut trails, and sleeping in hammocks by rivers was an extraordinary experience for me, and I loved it. This race took place in the Brazilian Amazon, and unfortunately no longer exists, but other races in other jungles are out there.
Marathon des Sables 2007
The Marathon des Sables was my first ultra endurance race. Confidence I might finish came from years travelling in Egypt, and the Egyptian Sahara in particular, coupled with my academic background in exercise physiology. Completing this race and writing a book about my training and experiences was what set me on the path to become a professional adventurer.