Archive for March, 2014

Sanity in Iran!

Friday, March 28th, 2014

As mentioned before Pakistan was not run due to increasing violence especially in the south of the country. So I finished running India on St Patrick’s Day at the Pakistani border. To cut a very long story short I decided to run Iran and Turkey with my backpack. I flew to Iran for the restart. I was advised very strongly not to restart the run too close to the Iran Pakistan border, so I decided on a city  called Kerman as it was on a similar latitude to where I finished running India. Many thanks to Ali an economics lecturer in Coventry, UK. He was returning to Iran for the Iranian new year, 1393 it will be. Ali got my Iran internet sim sorted also helped me get the correct rate for my euro cash in the airport money exchange as opposed to the bank. Due to the international sanctions on Iran atm machines do not do foreign transactions. Recently sanctions have been eased as Iran has started to cut back on its nuclear program by diluting its uranium. There is no way to make foreign transactions in Iran other than cash or or very rare occasions a carpet vendor may have a foreign account. It is not even possible to book a backpackers hostel on hostels.com So for my 300 euro I was given two huge wads of 50,000 Iranian rial notes. The two wads were a thick as a brick, no kidding. This was a very strange transaction as I didn’t even get a receipt. I was more interested in getting a picture taken of my 12 million plus brick of rials. 40,000 to the euro, Iranians call 10 rials a Toman. I then tried to get a flight to Kerman and Ali even went back through the security check for the airline office was on the other side. No luck as they were booked out. Ali’s bus went from a different station to mine but we shared a taxi to mine, then he sorted my bus ticket before taking another taxi to his station. He could have easily missed a bus and have a long wait for the next, such is the calibre of the man, thanks Ali, a genuine man and I think of all the Indian ” how may I help you ” shallow offers. As one man on the bus said to me.. Iranians from the cities are high class. Writing this a week later I would say yes and in all the towns and villages too, beautiful people. I had only a one hour wait for that bus which took about 13 hours including meal breaks for the 920km run to Bagheyn. At this town I was told to get off the bus and I understood it was Kerman, It was a small town and not a big city and what the people were trying to tell me was I needed to change bus and there was no bus that night. So I had a cup of tea for it was also lashing rain and slept that night under a leaky gazebo in the local park. I figured I may as well start Iran from here, Kerman is about 15km away and a hassle to get to,  besides s gap is a gap and I could have started from Mashad, 100km shorter In the morning I had only run 200 metres when I stopped to take a photo of a signpost ‘ Tehran 920km ‘ when some garage workers asked me in for tea, it was a chilly morning so I accepted. The roads are wonderful, 4 lane divided highway with about 100m between the east and west bound roads. Very good signposting in Farsi and English with a u-turn every kilometre, just like in Thailand. No need to watch your back non a divided highway as in India as the police are out in high numbers enforcing road rules. They even tried to get me off the road as they clearly didn’t know what to make of me. I resisted a passport check pleading it was too difficult to get out of my inside pocket and they let me run on for the price of a photo. Just as I was going he asked me if I had a gun, dont know what that was about! I was told to run on the right side of the road with the traffic to my back, but felt safe as the drivers are civilised here and there is also a wonderful two metre shoulder to run on. I struggled for my 37km that first day in Iran and slept in a concrete culvert with a gravel base under the road. Next day a decent 46 to the west side of Rafsanjan. A closed shop opened that morning so I could buy food and milk for my breakfast and only ten minutes further down the road a lovely family of nine invited me to join them for breakfast picnic. So I was enjoying my lovely road, no dorks or honking and then I heard a voice from within asking… ” What’s that Tony? ” What I don’t hear anything! ” Yes that’s what I mean! ” :) Ah so peaceful running through the Iranian desert even if the road is very busy, it could be like Patagonia in Argentina. I am struck by the similarly to Argentina, so much is similar, not only the landscape but people also carry around thermos flasks to fill up water from steaming hot burcos at every shop or restaurant for free, just like the Argentines filled up for their mate. Ah yes no shot glasses or tea rations here as in India, I am loving Iran already. That night I got to the are side of Rafsanjan, stopped for a burger and when I went to pay was told it was on the house. A man also told me there was an economy hotel about 2 km away but the directions seemed a bit complicated. By luck I stumbled upon it, called Alamos. I needn’t tell you I was shocked by the US $27 basic room posted on the wall. Iran seems to be very expensive for hotels but most other things are pretty cheap. The reception was huge with about 6 sofas I asked if he would accept $10 for a sofa sleep! He said he couldn’t and as I was on the far side of the city I planned to go another couple kilometers and rough it in the desert. I went into a shop to buy water and the hotel manager followed me inside telling me I guess he took pity on me and gave me a nice room for my ten dollars offer breakfast included! A Marathon day followed by a 40km day, I am struggling to get into my stride. One day three lots of people stopped to give me huge bags of oranges, nuts,bread and of course water. I was refusing one man as I had so much and he just continued stuffing oranges and courgets down my hi-viz vest. I was glad of this extra food next day because after I ran through the pretty town of Anar there was nothing for almost 50km, I got caught by surprise as there was usually two places to feed per day. As always the magnificent Iranians helped me out :) That night I slept in a very warm mosque and next day aided by the free alarm call! I got off to an early start and managed to thump out 62km finishing 10km before Bahadoran. I was delighted by this run as the previous day I felt like a slapper trying to run in high heels. For my reward I slept behind sand dunes in the desert. The heat is dry, and not too uncomfortable. I needn’t tell you when I ran into Bahadoran next morning I had a huge breakfast and loaded extra supplies for the road. I can carry three half litre bottles of water under my hi-viz vest held in by my pack straps and if I need to can stick another in my pack and a litre and a half in one or both hands. As mentioned a long time ago my wrists are very sore from 41 months of carrying water bottles or pushing Nirvana.. Then today a 51 with another 60 plus at my mercy. A cop car pulled up for as the Americans would say a welfare check. I was low on water and 14km to the next town so asked him for some but he hadn’t any. A dew.minutes later a man stopped to buy nuts from a rare roadside vendor gave me 2 and a half litres and a bag of nuts. The Iranians like their nuts,oranges and thankfully their tea! A few minutes later I run by the same cop car again as he is doing speed checks. He hands me a large bottle of water and a fruit drink. I am embarrassed as now I have too much ,too much to run with. Literally across the road  I am surprised  to see an unexpected truck stop restaurant for there was no signage on the highway. I stop for dinner, I really had eyes for a sleeping place at an adjoining mosque. Price for this some persistent gawkers, I didn’t think this happened in Iran! March 28th 41,837km have been run in 955 days.. I feel like a running machine again , all be it with a weary pair of legs. Next week the thousand marathon of this global run beckons. I am now thinking of ripping through Iran and Turkey.

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Photos from India

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Moulding the cow turd

    This particular day I used my gps and ran on some backroads. A pleasant change from a busy highway but you can never be sure about road conditions! I reckon I saved about a half week in India using my gps to find more direct routes than some of the meandering highways. Despite what I have said on the blog about smart phones and gps devices, I am now a believer! I just don’t know how I would have gotten through India and plan for the future with it’s lack of internet cafes.







A close shave in the Punjab!



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The Iran and Turkish plan

Thursday, March 20th, 2014


At The Indian/Pakistani Suremanqi border post. I celebrated St, Patrick's Day by running India, 2,888km.

Hi Again,

I have been busy these last few days trying to get set up for the next leg of the run. 

That will be from Kerman, if all goes well for my last bit of route checking around the Eastern Iranian city and I can get there over the booked out Iranian New Year holiday season. You may well remember I mentioned that Iran will start from Mashad. Well I got thinking that Kerman is a better ‘ match up ‘ almost perfect on the map from where I finished running India at the Sulemanqi Border post right on the Pakistan border.

Press > HERE To see this segment.

The Taj Mahal

Also by restarting in Kerman I am eliminating Afghanistan from being skipped as you can see it will now be more or less just Pakistan which will not be run for security reasons.

The big news now is that I have decided I want to run Iran and Turkey with just my backpack. This will probably be the most difficult backpack section of the run, at least the Iranian part will be due to wide open, almost desert areas. So I decided at huge expense to move Nirvana, my cart on ahead to Istanbul. I probably should have just posted her home at this stage but at the same time I hope to get some relaxing months in in Europe and it will be a nice change to do a bit of camping.

I have sometimes pushed supplies and camping gear through remote or cold areas.  I had her stored in the Irish embassy in new Delhi.

In Istanbul another new running friend called Caner will mind her till I run into the Bosporus city in June. I got this idea on my last day in India and put out a call for contacts and these lads answered, thanks lads!

I decided to fly to Istanbul and deliver her personally and got hammered by a late change to the flight and crazy excess baggage charges. Tonight, Thursday I am Istanbul. I arrived via Doha, Quator this evening and hope to get a flight to Teheran tomorrow night.

Doha was an interesting place, even if I was only there for a few hours. On the descent the city seemed to be all lakes, marinas in the middle of a desert with man made roads criss-crossing the lakes, very picturesque, Haven’t seen anything pretty in a few months now!

No transit visa required we were just corralled by bus into a transit terminal. A lot of rich looking sheikhs with snow white robes, but they were travelling in economy with their burka clad women.

And an expensive place too for a coffee or tea was US$5 and a club sandwich $7

As I said I will make my way to Kerman and start running from there towards Istanbul.

Remove Sulemanqi from the above Google map link and that will be my actual run route, 3,800km.

The Taj Mahal

Tonight I was picked up at the airport by another runner called Ercan, We had a delicious dinner in the plush Timeless gourmet bar. Ah! Yes beef at last, real food for the already small Indian portions got even smaller as I ran closer to the west of the country, gone was rice off the menu, thank God for chapatis! And yes real tea, Turkish chai, no shot glasses of tea here!

With Ercan on my left and the staff of the Timeless gourmet bar in Istanbul during my logistical flying visit.

Thanks to the Irish embassy staff for their help in New Delhi and especially to Damien from Dublin who brought me back to his place to chill out and have a TEAriffic time drinking all his Lyons teabags. He is married to Louise also from Dublin and they have a lovely two year old daughter Eliana. Then he got up at 4am to see me off at the taxi – that is after making a return journey to the embassy to pick up my gear.

The flight here was very stressful as I didn’t make the flight I was booked onto as Air India screwed up. And the one I eventually got at 9am with all that money paid out I only made with minutes to spare.

Having a late start after sleeping in a Dhaba on a ' charpoy ' rope bed as mentioned many times in the blog. No charge, you just are expected to eat, No problem :)


Also thanks to Manish who helped me out in his village a few days ago when I had an audience outside a Sikh temple with about 40 locals before sleeping there that night. He speaks very good English as he worked in Australia for five years. Next morning they gave me a turban which I ran withfor two days right to the Pakistani border.

I had a very pleasant time in this small village. Manish is 2 places to my left wearing the striped tracksuit pants.


So that’s the plan, I am very excited by this segment, then it will be Europe as we all keep on saying. It was nice arriving in the airport today, All those shapely beautiful blondes! haven’t seen any these past couple of months.

And yes, civil people not running you over on the road or street. I love the Turks, and the Iranians too. Am away from all that filth and dirt back in civilization and as a friend said to me in a private email. ‘ Yes Tony India is the ultimate head-trip!` There were times there when I wondered if I was going mad!!

Now for some Turkish Delight before I Ran!

Cow and buffalo dung patties as mentioned in earlier blog. This house is built from it as you can see.




Pigs eating from a rubbish pile in the middle of yet another Indian village


A truck tyre repair. Just a rubber patch studded in with studs.

Friday night I stayed in the home of Baris Aksahin a triathlete. A very interesting man as he was born in Turkey but moved to England when he was six years old where he lived for for 35 years. He has a very strong English accent working for a change in the Turkish political system. He returned to Turkey 8 years ago to discover his Turkish roots.

He set up a political party that is the first in the world…a “Leaderless” party called the Gezi Party (www.gezipartisi.org.tr) Where the party assembly makes all the decisions and the media only sees the party representative that is chosen by the party assembly to speak on their behalf.  They do not focus on the political differences, but instead uniting people along core values of Individual Freedom, True Democracy, Universal Human Rights, Justice for All and Independence.  To bring all people of all ideologies to the table under one roof and working to find common sense solutions to today’s problems.  Their motto is: Gezi Party is a new beginning…a grassroots movement for change, by the people for the people. :)

With Baris and Ercan having a long, long delicious Turkish brunch.

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The caste system in India

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

Many thanks to my great friend Greg Havely for some vital help at this crucial stage as I  prepare for my transit to Iran. I am hampered in my preparations by the Iranian New Year celebrations starting on 19th and lasting a week!

Also thanks to Greg for his research on this article as no travel blog on India would be complete without a reference to the so called caste system. The Caste system in India today

There is much to be said about the caste system in India (now declared illegal), but for this entry suffice it to say that it is (was) a system of social stratification.  Historically it separated various endogamous hereditary groups called “Jatis”—Today, the usage of Jatis and caste are somewhat synonymous.

The “Jatis”  are separated into 4 categories called “varnas” which are ranked in hierarchical order (originally, the system wasn’t to have a hierarchy based on occupation or birth but purely on personality; this has been skewed somehow over time), which determines the behavior of one member of society over another.
The levels are as follows:
Brahmana (now more commonly spelled Brahmin): Consist of those engaged in scriptural education and teaching, essential for the continuation of knowledge.
Kshatriya: Take on all forms of public service, including administration, maintenance of law and order, and defense.
Vaishya: Engage in commercial activity as businessmen.
Shudra: Work as semi-skilled and unskilled laborers.
The most common problem with this system was there was no ability to move between castes, i.e for lower castes to rise to a higher level caste–thus restricting economic progress amongst the populace.

Mahatma Ghandi added a fifth class to the system—that being called Harijan or “Children of God”.  These are the so called “untouchables”—the very lowest rung on the class ladder.

Rooted in religion and based on a division of labor, the caste system, among other things, dictates the type of occupations a person can pursue and the social interactions that she may have. Castes are an aspect of Hindu religion. Other religions in India do not follow this system.
Castes still rarely intermarry and are definitely not changeable. In urban India, though, people of all castes meet socially or for business. Discriminating against anyone because of their caste for things like club memberships and so on is against the law.

Today if you asked a person who lives in the city what caste means to them, you would get a very different response than that of a person who lives in a village. It can be argued that in India’s emerging middle class, consisting of about 50-75 million people, many would say that there is no longer such a thing as caste. However, it soon becomes evident that though in many respects caste is diminishing, in many others it is still an important part of Indian society. In the villages especially, caste dictates marriage, rituals concerning birth and death as well as occupation which all in turn have a large role in economic status. In this way the impact is tremendous although subtle and varied.

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India from Bihar State to Uttar Pradesh

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

I continue to enjoy my run through Iran enjoying the countries wonderful modern facilities, mentality, food and proper tea :)

It’s a month since I ran out of India and just like Indonesia it has left me traumatized. Here is a blog I wrote about 6 weeks ago and for one reason or another never got around to posting it. I have more on India, am sure I could write a book on it!
I continued my run through Bihar state being harassed by day on the roads and also at my rest breaks. I found a plastic handle which looks like a batton  so I run with this in my hand now waving the bicycles and small motor bikes they ride here, mostly 100 or 125cc out of my way. Sometimes I laugh at some of the guys as they  ride these bikes with their shades  thinking they are so cool or even a Tom Cruise in Top Gun. Indonesians ride the same way.
In India a pedestrian is the lowest of low for a hierarchy definitely exists here. The bigger the vehicle he more self importance these stupid drivers place upon themselves.
Sometimes a bicycle comes speeding down the shoulder as in a sprint finish in the tour de France and the motor bikes too expect me to jump out of the way, Sorry folks my Van Helen days are over… No more JUMP! Many of these guys got a whack of my batton  when they got too close… Well guys what do you expect :)
They are not only surprised that I don’t jump they are also surprised when they get a whack from my batton
It’s like a different country when I get off the road at then end of the day and talk to the people.
This particular day I though I was running by a temple when in fact it was a regular house which the people were decorating up for an important Hindu festival. I had stopped to ask if I could sleep there and when I realised my mistake the family told me I was welcome. They prepared an evening meal and fixed me a bed under a mosquito net. I slept very well.
Next night I was also stuck and came to what seemed like a club for there were a lot of young people singing and dancing to what sounded like hip hop music to me but I was told it was in fact Hindu religious music! 50km that day.
Another day I was so weary I stopped for a 15 minute meditation break in the corner of a dhaba.. Facing the wall right u to the sink. The owner was a gentleman who upon seeing me stressed just left me and talked in very gentle tones calling me sir.  It had been a particularly tough day mentally as people kept swarming around me like Australian
bush flies. At least in the Outback I had a fly net! I now am very particular about entering conversations after all I am not on a social as I remind many people, I am on a mission. I find it best in India in my situation to remain aloof. The best advice I can give anyone ever considering running across this country is to run fast or better still run very fast!
One gawker on a bike hit a dead cow on the road for it was dark. Luckily he got up OK just a bit shaken, I slowed down the oncoming traffic as best as I could, such a request is akin to swearing at these guys. The motorcyclist rode off a big dazed.
Another night spent in a dhaba. Left my mobile to be charged up in backroom they had a power connection in. Was wondering why the family were up at 3am laughing. In the morning I found my mobile messed up, airplane mode on, a full page of APS missing and Facebook which I rarely use was right up there on the front screen.
Another 47km took me to the Uttar Pradesh state line. U.P perhaps one of Indias  most peaceful states as a newspaper reports the state had ‘ Only 150 riots last year! ‘

Today I tried the don’t speak Hindi, don’t  speak English.. I am from Spain, followed by a blast of Spanish and an ” I’m from Barcelona, Now please leave me alona! And it worked.
A month later as I type this out on my phone a man who was looking over my shoulder asked me if I am from Barcelona! They say that in India there is always someone around and if you think you are alone that you just don’t see them!
I am running on route 28 now. Today I saw a camel.
I have a bad cold with running nose and an infection also a heavy cough so stopped at a pharmacy and picked up a bottle of Cortex cough syrup and a six day supply of antibiotics called Almox 500. An email to my pharmacist friend Greg and he tells me they should have given me a ten day course, so i got some more. Such things can be got over the counter without a prescription in the developing world. This all worked a treat and right enough ten days later I am as right as rain.


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Why Indians love ‘ taking the piss! ‘

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

This is the first of two updates on India. Will finish my blog on India when time permits.

Only in India—-India’s Hindu nationalist movement is working on creating a new soft drink to rival Coca-Cola and Pepsi. The main ingredient? Cow urine.
Om Prakash, the head of the department, said the drink – called “gau jal”, or “cow water” – in Sanskrit was undergoing laboratory tests and would be launched “very soon, maybe by the end of this year”.  “Don’t worry, it won’t smell like urine and will be tasty too, it won’t be like carbonated drinks and would be devoid of any toxins.” Stating that several colas are harmful to the extent that they can be substituted for pesticides, he asserted that their soft drink with cow urine will not only be natural but cost-effective too. “In addition to this, it will prove and justify the high stature accorded to a cow in Indian culture.”—

That was 2009——-and yes—it is now available all over India.   In fact, “urine therapy” or the drinking of ones own urine, and/or cow’s urine has been in practice for some time—A growing cult of Hindu worshippers in India claim that drinking fresh cow urine will help cure them of all diseases – including cancer. “Only two things are pure in this universe, in this world. One is the water from the Holy Ganges river and the other is urine from mother holy cow,” Ramesh Gupta, a Hindu priest, said. The Hindu believers regard the cow as a holy animal and say her urine has divine healing properties, and that cow’s urine is a “divine gift from God”.

Now, there are even more items available in India containing cow’s urine, —eye drops, medicines for stomach ailments, toothpaste, bathing soaps, herbal powdered medicine, among other things, —There seems to be a lot of demand for these products and they have good sales.’  In fact, the current Prime Minister of India advocates the soda.  He is not the only Prime Minister to drink urine—In 1978, Prime Minister Morarji Desai, a longtime practitioner of “urine therapy”,  (although he drank his own urine and lived a very long life) espoused  the benefits of drinking urine. Desai stated that drinking urine was the perfect medical solution for the millions of Indians who cannot afford medical treatment. Interesting as it may seem, as Home Minister, Desai outlawed any portrayals of indecency (which included “kissing” scenes) in films and theatrical productions.  So what would I rather see—people drinking urine, or kissing????

Pleas read my next entry on India.

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Bihar State – A Hell On Earth.

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Warning….. Not to be read before eating! :(



Over another Indian state line to Bihar and it seems they are happy enough with their state, thank goodness one Indian state in five. I am not happy though as  Bihar is perhaps the poorest place I have ever been to. Very much underdeveloped, perhaps one of the poorest in all of India, perhaps a bit like sub-Saharan Africa.

Why do I write this blog… Perhaps in the  hope that Indians may read this and be ashamed of what the world is reading about their country and react in a positive manner by asking their government to get the preverbial finger out and start fixing their country. One expat woman only this morning said to me that despite the problems India still is able to operate.

I wonder how a country of 1,2 billion cannot have proper services or infrastructure what with the huge tax intake there must be but later it was explained to me that only 3% of Indians pay any tax. It is a belief that the poor are not liable for taxation. I remember that in Latin America there was a way of taxing the trashy businesses and those on the breadline.

No I am not talking about taking the needy but I have read that 20% of the Indian workforce works in Government jobs, so surely they must pay a considerable amount towards the exchequer.

From state line to state line from West  Bengal to Utar Pradesh the roads in Bihar are literally lined in shit,  buffalo and  cow. As disgusting as this is its also very sad.
Women, always women with their bare hands collect and mold the dung into patties or sods to be used for fuel. They moisten it by pouring water over  it, shape it and stack it to dry out before stacking it in huge heaps in their fields or along the roadside. I do not see any sales of it, I cant imagine a rickshaw driver allowing a heap of this stuff into his precious overloaded three-wheeler in which passengers are hanging out the side and even on the roof. I understand it’s a community fuel effort for the villages.

The men have the easy jobs working in the dhabas or driving like lunatics down the highways.
Cows and Buffalo’s eat hay and grass outside houses, almost up as far as their door ways. Then they do their business all over their gardens and as I have said right up to the houses where the children play. It is then duly collected for stacking.
I am told there is a shortage of wood for the large population as the north of India is so congested where most of he population is located. So dung is a natural recyclable fuel source. Because of this shortage people don’t bother to boil water to purify it as in Indonesia and other Asian countries.

I wondered many times if India could possibly be even more primitive than even Myanmar. I think so. I not it’s not a test of modernity but even in Myanmar tissues are provided when eating, usually in the form of a toilet roll in a specially designed holder for restaurants. In eastern India they give you pieces of paper cut from a newspaper, each piece the size of a paper back page. Then they stopped giving them out, and remember everyone eats with their hands, they say it tastes better, I don’t know about that and I don’t want to sound like a pampered tourist but I can’t do this. Sometimes when I ask for a spoon they have to search, occasionally they laugh and on one occasion there was a commentary going on about me eating my meal with a spoon as yet another crowd looked on! Toothpicks are rare, I have asked and been given a match. They don’t even have the ramshackle toilet, or hole in the floor anymore, just a large field, makes things a little easier to recycle I guess!
When I asked an American NGO if the women washed their hands I was told not to think of these things in India!
There was so much of it on the shoulder of the road that I had to run out on the road! And yes just like road dust gathers on my feet and running pants, so too did this stuff :(

One day there was so much of it on the black tarmac, about 50/50 I thought of it as a roulette table. Ladies and gents, I thought, Take your pick brown or black, throw your dice. So I threw a coin, Let’s just say I didn’t retrieve it!
The women made huge bales of it like Irish turf stacking it in the fields, on the crash barriers or at the side of their houses.
I have read that in parts of India and Pakistan these sods can power generators. The dung doesn’t stink or attract flies and even houses are constructed from it just like mud houses.

One day when the road was particularly very bad, heavy traffic and narrow I noticed a trail parallel to the road so I started running on it. I ran on and on through these bales. I passed shocked women, one screamed and another picked up a big stick. I ran till I got as far as I could till the bales blocked the trail before reverting back onto the road.

Turd piles

Many Indian people don’t seem to care about modesty, several times a day I see people squatting down for a number two right at the side of the road in full view and they mix it with all the cow and buffalo stuff. One man then ran over his pants still down to a puddle and splashed his bottom from the rain water! People don’t seem to bother looking for a hedge they just pee and crap in full view. Even when traveling in a vehicle they don’t seem to bother shielding themselves from the public, they just pull it all out!

I tell you I have seen more male genitalia on the highways of India than a lifetime in the changing rooms and showers of gymnasiums, football clubs and running clubs!
Yes Bihar state was such a filthy place I was genuinely worried of picking up some kind of airborne infection. All this and the roadside litter and huge rubbish dumps at the entrance to every village,town and city.

One day I was running and saw four dogs attacking a lamb which was tied to a second terrified lamb by a short rope. They had ripped the poor animals throat and no doubt would have started on the second afterwards. I rushed from the road and chased away the dogs. Soon a crowd of Indians gathered and did what Indians do best…. Just stand and stare. I searched for my razor blade to cut the rope to free the second lamb while the attacked one died in front of my eyes.. I will always remember the sad terrified look in its eyes.
Next night I slept in a dhaba/ restaurant and watched a dog chance a mouse having let it slip out of his mouth four times. Funny I did not have the same sympathy for the mouse as I was glad it was rid from my sleeping area. There is hardly a place I stop for refreshments where I do not see mice.
I ran on through this horrible state of Bihar through filthy villages with pigs wallowing in the muck and mounds of plastic bottles. Cows wander the crowded roads and drivers honk and honk their vehicles with the most annoying sirens, often long and loud tunes or the sound of an emergency vehicle, which I would have thought to be illegal, but this is India, like most of the developing world, very little law is enforced.

Hindu Indians believe in life after death, I wonder what sins people committed in a past life to deserve this Hell on earth. The more I travel the more I appreciate how lucky I was to be born in Ireland, all it’s problems and all. I remember when I worked in construction back there I had many Romanian friends working with me. They told me about the real hardships in life in Romania and laughed at the pampered Irish that even in an economic meltdown Ireland was a Heaven and earth to them.

A thought occurred to me, perhaps a controversial one.. Leaving health hazards aside… Why should we in the west care if these people insist on thrashing their villages.. They are dirt blind it seems.. Should a priority be made by their local governments to spend their small funds on a clean up when people could use that same money for food? Even if it the roadsides are cleaned up you know what’s going to happen to dispose all the tyres, plastic bags and bottles.. They are going to be burnt and I remember what that was like in Indonesia.
My point is this… Is it better for the environment if trash rubbish garbage call it what you like is just left there… After all these people don’t care and how many western eyes will never set sight on their mess. I remember when I ran through Singapore, in a few hours!! The sight of the rubbish and weed burn off which was drifting over from Sumatra, Indonesia to Singapore. Singapore, just to be neighborly  puts up with a small amount of this pollution but recently it was so bad they lodged an official complaint to the Indonesian government.
Many people are poor but few are time poor and can clean up outside their houses and villages if they wish.. Clearly nothing is ever taught about this in schools.
The further west I run in India the less English seems to be understood much to my surprise. I am told the less populated south of India is more affluent.
On I ran towards Delhi clocking up my 40,000th kilometer of the run. I continued sleeping in the dhabas for often there was no other possibility. I can not remember even one pretty vista since leaving the mountains of Manipur over 1,500km ago. This route across India is without doubt the first ugly country I have ever visited in my life, always some eyesore in the foreground or background ruining what could be a pretty sight. I am sure if I was to take the time and explore many of the small towns and villages that the interiors of many old forts and buildings would have some dazzling architecture, but I don’t stop to explore for I am just a highway man.

I wonder will the Taj Mahal over1,000km away be the next and only pretty sight in all of my north Indian route. I wonder how far from the Taj will the crap all begin again.

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Thanks to ON Running Shoes!

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Many thanks to my new shoe sponsor On Running for supplying me with great shoes for my run across India. Some more great ON shoes called Cloud Surfer are on the way to Iran

These shoes are incredible!

Please check out their website

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Short Break.

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

As mentioned in last blog comments I am now in Delhi. I left my passport into the Iranian embassy and will pick up my Iranian visa on Tuesday afternoon. I expect  to visit Agra  and the Taj Majal afterwards. I will then return to my route in Aligarh to run the last 530km in India.

Tonight I am staying in a really nice,clean and comfortable hotel called the Crown Hotel. I had a very nice dinner downstairs. Thanks to Ed Bateman for sponsoring this, very much appreciated as I enter the home straight of my global run. 41,016km  for 937 road days.

So 40 months have been run and only 8 to go. As strange as this may seem my 48 hour experience is of great help to me now! I know very well from my days of competition the feeling of pushing through that never-ending second night. Yes soon the sun will be up,   its 2am so to speak – I can smell the finish. :) By the way I was planning to run right through the Crimean peninsula from Russia to the Ukraine where all that trouble is now.

I have as mentioned recently decided to run from Iran to Turkey and into Bulgaria and Europe.  Please see comments on last blog for details.

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About Tony

I have always considered myself to be an average runner. In school, I was even bullied for I was a sports wimp. Through hard work, dedication, perseverance, self-belief and a strong mind I succeeded in not only running around the world but breaking four ultra running world records during my competitive career. Having previously cycled around the world I didn't start running until I was almost 30. Then I had a dream of running around the world. For many reasons, I waited for over 20 years. One reason was to establish my pedigree as an endurance athlete. I started and finished my world run as the current World Record-Holder for 48 Hours Indoor Track 426 kilometres (265 miles), a record I have held since 2007. I also broke and still hold the World Record for 48 hours on a Treadmill 405 kilometres (251 miles) in 2008. When I retired from competition, more pleasing than any of my world, European or Irish records I had the respect of my fellow athletes from all over the world - in my opinion, sports greatest reward - an achievement I am most proud of. Then I finally put myself out to pasture, to live my ultimate dream to run around the world! This blog was written on the road while I struggled to find places to sleep and to recover from running an average of 43.3 kilometres or 27 miles per day for 1,165 road days. There were many nights I typed this blog on a smart phone, so fatigued my eyes closed. Many journalists and endurance athletes have referred to my world run as the most difficult endurance challenge ever attempted. During my expedition I rarely had any support vehicles, running mostly with a backpack. In the more desolate areas I pushed my gear, food and water in a cart which I called Nirvana, then I sent her on ahead to run with my backpack once again over altitudes of almost 5,000 metres in the Andes. I stayed in remote villages where many people had never seen a white person before. I literally met the most wonderful people of this world in their own backyard and share many of those amazing experiences in this blog. My run around the world took 4 years. There were no short cuts, I ran every single metre on the road while seeking out the most comprehensive route across 41 countries, 5 continents, I used 50 pair of running shoes and my final footstep of the run was exactly 50,000 kilometres, (almost 31,000 miles) I eventually finished this tongue in cheek named world jog where I started, at the finish line of my city marathon. I started my global run with the Dublin Marathon on October 25th 2010 and finished with the Dublin Marathon on October 27th 2014 at 3 05pm! Thank you for your support, I hope you can share my unique way of seeing the world, the ultimate endurance challenge! Read more...


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