Back in October 2017, my wife, daughter and I set off on an around the world adventure. We packed up our house, quit our jobs and headed off to New Zealand for a very loosely planned 14 months of travelling with just what we could carry for company. What brought this about was a need for change, we both loved our jobs but wanted to see the world, and with our daughter being just 1 at the time we felt it was the ideal opportunity.
Our first stop was Singapore, and our first experience of the Asia heat and humidity! It takes a little getting used to! In Singapore I did my 50th parkrun and it was the hottest run I have ever done in my life, it started at 7am and I was also struggling with jetlag at the time, but I was happy to break 20 minutes and thrilled to complete my first overseas parkrun.
I had pre planned a few events for New Zealand before our trip started during October and November. One of which was the Auckland Marathon, I know I wasn’t in shape to achieve a PB. So just took it as a long training run to see the sights of Auckland. It made me appreciate how well supported large UK marathons are but was happy to achieve sub 3hr20.
The second event was Tarawera 50km Ultra Marathon, wow. . . this was incredible. It was in Rotorura which is renowned for its geothermal activity. The race began with a traditional Maori Haka next to world famous Pohutu geyser, we then headed of on a trail run through dense rainforest, over 7000 feet of elevation and finished off at the banks of hot water lake which was the perfect place to catch my breath with a beer and soak. I would recommend this race to anyone you see a side of New Zealand you can’t see from the usual tourist trails.
At the start of the adventure I really found it hard to get the balance between travelling, parenting, being a husband and my desire to get out running to see New Zealand every day. A good compromise was to try and do as many parkrun events in New Zealand in the 3 months we were their (ended up doing 9 different locations and managed to get my first 1st place). Luckily, I have a super understanding wife who allows me to go out and run much more than some other partners would (thank you).
Through November and December, I lost a bit of my mojo though, travelling full time was hard work and the constant change of location was making parenting hard work. Over the new year I decided to set my self a challenge of running 5k a day for the year. I felt 20ish min a day was realistic to fit into our travel plans.
After New Zealand we headed to Australia where I managed to squeeze in 2 parkrun events and plenty of other runs. The slowing down of our travelling helped all round. We were getting used to life on the road by now and getting the miles in was becoming easier (all be it mainly midday runs whilst our daughter slept). Not ideal in 30+ temperatures.
Next, we planned to travel across south east Asia, a month in each country (Indonesia, Thailand, Lao, Cambodia and Vietnam). Throughout Asia, was like being back to square one. It was such a culture shock and so far away from the countries I had ever run in. From having to worry about massive holes in paths, to barking dogs chasing me down lanes and the fact it was rainy season. Trying to dry soaking wet running clothes in a guesthouse room is not easy! By now though, I had my mojo well and truly back and I was upping the miles and what started as at least 5k a day had ended up looking to average over 5 miles a day for the year (still doing minimum 5k a day though).
In Chiang Mai (Thailand), which is such an exciting and culturally diverse city (as well as being one of the most polluted) I entered my first Asia race. What was advertised as a 10k race ended up being 12.5km race due to unknown reasons, but I finished in 5th place and 1st in my age group. Brilliant I thought, until I saw the big cow trophy I was to be awarded and thinking about how I will fit that in our rucksack!! Luckily to soften the blow of another running item in our luggage I was also awarded a cuddly cow that my daughter loves – we’ve nick named him Chiang!
We are currently in Vietnam. Training here is a little difficult – the roads are unlike anything I have ever experienced, and you really need your wits about you when crossing roads as there are motorbikes everywhere. Running early morning around some of the smaller parks has helped.
Next up we are heading to Malaysia for about 3 months. First stop Kuala Lumpur, which will be my first parkrun since January in Australia. Kuala Lumpur is Asia’s newest parkrun and it should be a good gauge for my training and by fluke our accommodation is just a 2 min walk from the start line, so I even get a lie in.
For a true challenge I have entered the South East Asia master’s Championships in Penang where I will race in the 5k, 10k track races and the Half Marathon. My training will take a bit more focus and I have written myself a 20-week training plan to try and break 1hr 20min for the Half Marathon. Wildly optimistic but something to aim for.
Since the start of our travels our daughter has gone from baby to toddler, she loves meeting new people (she gets a lot of attention with her blonde hair), boat trips and jumping into water (including muddy puddles). She loves running around and I can’t wait to take her to junior parkrun on a Sunday morning when we return to the UK.
I feel as a family we have grown closer and been fortunate enough to have the opportunities not many people get. Whilst our daughter won’t remember to much I am sure this year will help shape her going forward as well as provide the motivation for her to have the get up and go to explore the world and take opportunities when they arise. If not, we have thousands of photos which will remind her when she gets older….
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