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THE GENESIS OF THIS WORLD RUN

Almost one year now since I started running the Dublin marathon. Thankfully I am still running, perhaps it’s about time I gave an  ’overview ‘of how the idea to run around the world developed.
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In Tapachula, Mexico I shipped Nirvana my trusty jogging stroller and companion for almost a year  off to Buenos Aries, Argentina. I was a bit sad to see her go as we have been through many an adventure together, but this run has to change, to be modified by the ongoing challenges I face on the road.
Having travelled this road in 2002 on a 10 week backpacking trip I remembered bad roads, tight bends, the overgrown hedges growing out onto the road making it very unsafe for me to run towards the traffic. I also remembered that in much of Guatemala there is little or no hard shoulder.  I remembered the crazy drivers, especially in Guatemala, with its bad roads and how they would move out and overtake often straying into the opposing hard shoulder, right up behind where I am now running.
If I’m honest I will also say that now I am worried about my security should I push her through Central America, through some of the poorest and most dangerous countries in the world, at least thats what I have been conditioned to believe by many a traveller that never got to know the area properly.
 Perhaps that fear was exaggerated, who knows. I remember on my world bicycle trip in 1978-79 when I cycled through Afghanistan and Pakistan how well those poor people looked after me, even though they had almost nothing.
It was probably in Pakistan that the genesis, the seed of this run entered my subconsciousness.  I specifically remembered saying to people that even on a bicycle  I felt I was traveling too fast and wouldn’t it be lovely to slow it down and walk with my bike across even just one country. I considered  walking across Pakistan, but didn’t, I just cycled on. Then I became an extreme runner so walking was out! It had to be a run.
Now I look back 22 years, before I ever heard of any journey runner, before jogging strollers which could cart my baggage were even on the market.
And then when they did come on the market and any time a decent one like the Chariot stroller passed me in the street my head would do a compleete u-turn. I laughed once as I was in the company of my girlfriend at the time and she said smiling…
” What you looking at Tony, Do you want a baby? “
” No I just want the stroller without the baby! ” I thought.
That’s probably why my relationships never worked out. I feel I was put on this planet to run around the world and that’s what I will do, even if it takes my very last breath.
As I run through the Americas I often reflect on how I got this idea to run around the world. I remember so vividly writing… ” Today I felt so strong, I felt I could run around the world! ”  into my training diary after I I returned from an endorphin-filled long run in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.
There was no template for this sort of thing!
The very next day I thought it was a great idea. It never left my waking mind for more than a few hours in over 20 years.
I considered how I could logistically run with a pack, how I would dry my clothes and even before I heard about bivy light-weight tents I was cutting up my tent, discarding the poles and pegs. I experimented using the strongest fishing line I could find to tie my modified, smaller, lighter tent to trees. I planned to use rocks I would find on the road to peg the tent, of sorts down!
Let’s just say I would never win a design or stitching award.
As you can see I really want to go give the ’ purists ‘ way a shot and run some of the run this way. There will be many problems re: water and services but I have at least 3 back-up plans I can call on.
It is now or never and besides Central America is serviced well with many buses which I can commute on whizzing all over the place as this is the only form of transport to many people that cannot afford their own vehicle.
I have to emphatically emphasis here that when I mention buses it is as a commute option before and at the end of my run as I make my way to the previous days finish or return to a lodging after my days run. I am committed as strong as ever, even after one year to running every single meter of this world run.
So with Nirvana sent off to John Boyle in Argentina, my laptop which is just a bit too heavy to carry and other non-essentials sent back to Ireland what did I discover?
I discovered it was not going to be as easy as I expected. I wonder sometimes if my eternal optimism will someday be the death of me!
I discovered that even when a town is only 30-40km down the road that a commute plus a wait can sometimes be up to 2 hours.
There are often small towns which are off my route which the buses use as terminals or a hub, so a change of bus and another wait plus a slow ride as we plod on stopping every couple of minutes in old, slow discarded American school buses. I discovered  that when I arrive in an strange area, and even country, and due to the unavailability of maps I have to be pretty sharp at orientating myself, not only on routes but timetables. Many Central American bus drivers are racist and do not stop for this lone gringo at the side of the road. When I tell the next driver they just laugh.
This may be controversial statement to make, but as you will read in my blog when I eventually catch up on it, these forever-stopping buses have failed to stop on numerous occasions for me .
Three times in a 6 week period I have missed my last bus. Once I just ran the 10km back which was not counted in the total, once I phond a friend and once, well I just paid for another hotel as it was late and I was about 25km away.On many other occasions I have had to get locals to stop a bus for me.
Clearly without a support crew and vehicle bus commuting is not an ongoing way to run around the world, perhaps occasionally. It’s so time-consuming. I have had to finish running earlier than I wanted, just in case.
So why all this talk about buses? Well despite my reduced baggage weight including sawn off toothbrush and even comb I found it difficult to run with a backpack and a bottle bag around my waist. It will probably take a bit of getting used to but for now  it’s problematic. On the plus side, when I was running with just a light day pack and returning to my hotel the running was always a joy. Another downside to the commute method was that I was committing myself to return to a hotel or wherever I left my bag and loosing out on any invitations that may arise on the road.
I knew I had to reduce my baggage weight even more. A spare pair of running shoes is a luxury I can now ill-afford to carry. I will just have to buy them on the road and risk imitations and injury as a result, or mail them on ahead. 
So what was I doing in Central America 9 years ago on that backpacking trip?
I was living in Colorado at the time and spent a week travelling on these very buses down to a town called David, Panama right on the Costa Rica border. I planned to run from there right through Central America all the way to the Mexican border. I planned to do this 3,000km plus run in about 2 and a half months as a trial run for this world run. I called the trial run the ‘ Reconnaissance Run. ‘
I never made it to the start line. I think it was Nicaragua, where I am now as I write this. I got out of the bus at the wrong place I intended and ended up staying there that night.  I want to say Ciudad Neillly. I went to a restaurant for dinner that night. On my way back to my hotel I tripped and fell into one of those open drains they have everywhere here. I really don’t know how the blind and disabled survive here. In just about every town, village or city now I have my head firmly down looking for these horrendous almost pedestrian landmines. I never step where I can’t see, so bad things are with huge manhole covers missing from even big town streets.
 If I am honest there was also a little alcohol on board that night! I ended up with plantar fasciitis which resulted in my return to live in Ireland. Plantar fasciitis in one of the biggest fears of any runner. Typically it takes 6 months to recover from this injury. The first two weeks the pain was excruciating as I put foot to ground. It is still my big fear. Every morning I put my foot to ground and thank my blessings I am still in good shape.
This is one of the reasons I don’t drink alcohol now, the other is for security reasons. Imagine having a beer and then a second and then looking for a place to pitch a tent around the back of some cantina?
I don’t believe the ‘ special occasions ‘ drinking works. It has to be ‘ all or nothing. ‘ In fact I don’t believe any serious athlete should drink alcohol, there is plenty of time to indulge when you are retired. If you are serious about your sport I believe you need to give 100%, no less. It is 5 years now since I gave it up, not that I was ever a heavy drinker but within 10 weeks of giving it up I broke the world 48 hour indoor record in the Czech Republic.
This world run now has to be, and is the most important thing in my life.
The one thing I have learned in the last month or so is the commute doesn’t work. It would be so good to go from ‘ door to door, ‘ In other words, where I finish running with my pack and without a commute to just continue running on the next day.
The only regret I have  of this whole expedition is the domain name  I chose for the run. I wanted to be a bit more inclusive with the ordinary ‘ Sunday runner, ‘ that’s why I called it the world jog. Now I feel that perhaps this has back-fired and I have not been taken seriously by the media or sponsors.
Lets see how the dream develops over the next few months as the first anniversary of the run looms on Tuesday.

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4 Responses to “THE GENESIS OF THIS WORLD RUN”

  1. theworldjog Says:

    Below is part of an email from a supporter. I have never bothered about this myself , others don’t know about it but please feel free to check it out for yourself… Technology is amazing!
    ” I’m happy to see you are making good progress – I can see the type of territory you are going thru with google maps and the street finder . It is amazing to be able to see actual photos of your road and I can get an idea of the surface and the margin .”

  2. Andrés Montero Flores Says:

    Tony;

    The alrrededor Proesa you are running the World, I tell you honestly, the only, the first in all history, unprecedented.

    Assume that you are the first human to do something similar, if even he did Jamel Balhi like you, you’re overcoming all TU

    These through Central America, the narrowest part of the continent, here in Mexico we say “things break at the thinnest”

    Already at the door of Central America and the climate against, what you’re doing is almost miraculous

    RICE only that you take it easy, take your dream and continue to clear your vision.

    Receive a big hug, may God bless your steps in your achievement.

    our Recognition

    Andrés Montero & Familia
    Nayarit, México.
    Tony;

    La Proésa que estás ejecutando alrrededor del Mundo, te Digo honestamente, es la única, la Primera en toda la Historia, sin precedentes.

    Asume que TU ERES el Primer Humano en realizar algo semejante, si siquiera Jamel Balhi lo hizo igual que tu, TU lo estás superando todo¡¡

    Estas pasando por Centroamérica, la parte más angosta del Continente, aquí en México decimos que “Las Cosas se Rompen por lo más Delgado”

    Ya estás en la puerta de Centroamérica y con un clima en contra, Lo que TU estas haciendo es casi Milagroso¡¡

    Solo decéo que te tomes con calma, tomes claro tu Sueño y continúes tu visión.

    Recibe un fuerte abrazo, Que Dios Bendiga tus pasos en tu proéza.

    Nuestro Reconocimiento.

    Andrés Montero & Familia
    Nayarit, México.

  3. theworldjog Says:

    Gracias por los comentarios de su especie y el apoyo, como siempre, Andrés! Yo nunca haría ningún reclamo falso, pero esta carrera es diferente a todas las otras carreras que han tenido lugar en el pasado. Solo para aclarar Jamel Balhi sólo corrió dos continentes y un medio. Tenga cuidado y buena suerte con tu carrera propia! tony

    Thank You for your kind comments and support as always Andres! I would never make any false claims but this run is different to all other runs that have taken place in the past. Just to clarify Jamel Balhi ONLY ran 2 and a half continents. Take care and good luck with your own running! Tony

  4. Serena Says:

    Hey Tony,
    If that is the only regret you should have over the coming years well then the Irish Runner or any such media who doubted you will certainly have their eyes opened by the enormity of what you have and have yet to achieve on this world run. Keep on running. another very insightful read,

    Serena

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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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