Can you start off by telling us what prompted you to give up your desk job?
I knew I was in that career for all the wrong reasons. I was at the gym too much, I drank too much and I escaped by doing mini adventures in my time off. In 2013, I signed up to a 240km race through Vietnam but it was cancelled, so I just went alone. At the end of that, I remember feeling a huge sense of fulfilment – something I didn't get from my job back in London. I knew I had enough money to start my first adventure and to fund it to about half way. That’s when I set out.
Endurance is obviously key to doing what you do now, but have you always been a good runner?
At school a teacher literally kicked me up the arse and told me to run. I did and I was pretty good. I did my first marathon in 2004 and loved it, but I am a better adventurer than runner. This year I’ve climbed Aconcagua – the highest mountain in southern hemisphere – wilderness hiked across Utah, run across Iceland (the long way round) and cycled across Australia. Endurance just comes from an attitude of never stopping even if you’re in loads of pain. Preparation and training is key. You would think the more races you do, the easier the fitness would get, but that’s rubbish. The more you do, the more you realise how important it is.
What do you pack for your travels?
Each trip is very different, but I always pack sleeping kit, cooking gear, food and hydration, keeping everything as compact and lightweight as possible. I eat a lot of porridge and fuel with coffee, nuts and Snickers. I eat tortillas and peanut butter for lunch, and a dehydrated Firepot meal for dinner. I can’t carry food for 30 days though, so a large part is eating what I can find.
And what do you wear?
I work with Gore Wear so have access to the best running, cycling and hiking kit available. I always choose top-quality stuff that fits perfectly and then carry as little as possible. For most trips I pack two pairs of shorts, two pairs of boxers, two t-shirts, two pairs of socks, a fleece, a waterproof jacket and trousers – and that is it!
How do you plan the route?
Most of my adventures are completely solo, which means I generally turn up and find the way as I go. I like to keep planning to an absolute minimum. I choose a destination and decide how I am going to travel (hike, bike or run). I then do some research about potential risks, obstacles and challenges. I have a rough route that I plan on Google Maps, but the rest is a leap into the unknown.
Tell us more about some of those obstacles…
Wow, there have been a few. Running 200km with a sprained ankle was definitely a painful obstacle. The solitude too can be hard. That said, I’ve been really lucky with permits and border controls. Nearly all my trips have been within the limitations of a UK passport, which is definitely the best passport to have. Actually, my next adventure is the first one I’ve got to find a fix for – my visa expires before my expected departure, but I'll find a way.
What about bad weather?
Weather is one of the greatest unknowns on any adventure. You’ve just got to make sure you have the right kit for any potential scenario. On Aconcagua, there was potential for 140km/h winds; in Mongolia the temperature dipped to -23ºC. On my next adventure, the temperature could rise to 35ºC – with torrential rain. You just have to trust you’ll react appropriately.