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Running Round the World…

Winter Ballbuster Duathlon

A while ago I spoke at an event alongside Ultramarathon runner Kevin Carr. In March he is setting of in an attempt to break two world records. Here’s what he emailed to tell me about this mad venture…

1) Fastest unsupported run around the world
2) Fastest run around the world

Guinness world records stipulate that this entails running at least 18,000 miles around the globe in a continuous direction with at least two points being antipodal.

In practice the route is likely to be nearer 19,000 miles.

I plan on completing the run inside of 18 months – that’ll be over 120 days faster than anyone has ever ran around the world, the idea already scares the hell out of me, but that’s why it’s such an exciting prospect and 7 months out it’s already keeping me awake at night, imagining both the highs and lows I know I’mll encounter on a challenge of this scale.

You can’t run with much more than 7kg on your back, event after years of training with weighted packs and weight vests, I found running with 11-13kg across the UK excruciating, just 6 weeks running off-road from Lands End to John O’Groats with a backpack ruined me.

It took 11 months to get over the ordeal until I could face running again! That was a combination of a heavy pack but mainly lack of food. I lost a stone of muscle in the last 8 days alone!

I promised myself I’md not voluntarily make my running so stressful again. I lost all enthusiasm for my main passion in life, that leaves you feeling very empty; I don’t want to feel that way about running/adventures again. Basically I learnt that you do NEED FOOD to run, and water helps too.

To complete this run I need to be self sufficient for vast stretches of the Australian outback, where I’mll go days/over a week without seeing anyone/town to resupply either food or most importantly water.

I’mm designing a rickshaw/trailer purpose built for the task that allows me to carry up to 100% of bodyweight while running – yes running. This’ll only be necessary for a few days at a time, when leaving a town/water supply and knowing I have hundreds of miles to the next refuel.

The trailer will give me a range of 230miles completely self sufficient, it also doubles as my tent/shelter. Totals weight of the trailer + payload will range from 23kg-60kg, hopefully staying under 30kg for 80% of the run.

Why am I doing this? Because I think I can. I don’t know I can, no one could and that’s the beauty of this dream.

For a long time now, I’mve looked at the marathon distance as a training run – something I never question I can complete. It’s the same for 50+miles etc.

I already ran the toughest unsupported run across the UK in 2009, I loved the feeling at the beginning of that challenge – toeing the line and not knowing the outcome, you can prepare all you like and get in the best shape of your life but adventures of these scales can’t be guaranteed.

It makes it much tougher once the clock gets involved. ‘Just making it’ is tough enough – having to do it in a set number of days is a different story.
I’mm not that openly competitive, I’mve only ever entered one race – the Exmoor coastal marathon (placed 3rd).

However I do want to push myself as hard/far as possible – I remember looking at the record in 2007 (it’d been set in 2005 by Jesper Olsen) and thinking, those daily averages weren’t huge.

I remember thinking barring injury, it’d be possible to break the record by at least 100 days.

I’mm at the stage now where mentally I feel ready to attempt this run. It is most definitely mental strength that will be the deciding factor.

Follow the journey here.

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  1. Best of luck Kevin.

    I can’t imagine running around the world. It makes cycling seem unambitious.

    Tony Mangan left Dublin in 2010, and has almost run the length of the Americas. He might be able to give some advice on unsupported running. see

  2. “You can’t run with much more than 7kg on your back … I found running with 11-13kg across the UK excruciating, just 6 weeks running off-road from Lands End to John O’Groats with a backpack ruined me”

    Excruciating after just 6 weeks running off-road with a 12kg pack? This Kevin fella sounds like a bit of a wimp to me.

    Good luck sir!

  3. 35 miles a day? Except with rest days and injured days it’s >35 miles a day. Pretty intense. How many days won’t you run at all? Hope you’ll have some time to stop and enjoy too.

    I vaguely recall that someone did a fastest cycle round the world and heavily promoted it, leading to a bunch of others taking it on and breaking the record straight away. So maybe keep quiet about this? 🙂

    Good luck.

    PS I wonder if you’ll end up getting the trailer sent ahead for certain stretches.

    • Fearghal – thanks for the link and the pm on my fb page – I understand that Tony is on a rest at the moment – so might be a good time for me to get in touch next week. His Treadmill records are crazy!

      As for cycling seeming unambitios that’s crazy talk – it’s up to you/your background/current fitness levels etc to decide what is a challenge/adventure for yourself, considering most peoples exercise plan consists of sitting on and off the sofa cpl times a day cycling round the world is incredible!

      Also It depends on your pace. You may be willing to focus on intensity/going as fast as possible but at what cost? I’m willing to make that trade for my attemt but I realise it’ll mean being in a near constant state of pain – it’d be much more fun/enjoyable to walk it in 4 years than run it in 1.5 yrs but that’s not what fuels me – the sense of accomlishment after copled with seeing how hard I can push are my biggest motivators.

      For instance a guy from Harrogate/yorkshire just cycled it averaging 200miles a day for 94 days. i’m guessing he was in agony for most of that effort? He made it, bt it was a pure test of endurance/grit. Alastairs multi-year ride which was nearly 3 times the distance, was most definitely also a test of endurance but mch higer proportion of adventure as well.

  4. Hi Tim – I felt like a bit of a wimp for several months following that run! Had no electrolytes for last 200+miles and only 1,200 calories a day available, even though was using around 8-9000. Scotland the weight was dropping fast. The heaviest was during 3 heat waves 2 in england and one in southern scotland – I was drinking 10+litres a day and constantly dehydrated. In northern scotland I didnt contend with heatwaves and also could trst the burns/streams were clean/fresh enough to drink from. England meant carrying a lot of water/weight.

  5. Hi Jamie – total mileage is not a great measure of intensity.

    true 30+miles a day is intense.

    But the pace of those miles is what could hurt more.

    For instance If i ran 18miles in sub 2 hrs (roughly 3 hr marathon pace – so not lighning fast).

    That would ‘hurt’ me more than 30 miles in 5 hours.

    A good analogy is car engines.

    Imagine a 1 litre engine going uphill at 60-70miles an hour, the engine would be screaming/rev counter well into the red. Sure the car is capable but for how long, and at what fuel cost?

    The car would start to overheat (unless it ran ot of fuel first – but if fuel wasnt an issue – the effrot couldn’t be sustained).

    Now imagine the same engined car on the sme hill going just 45miles an hour. Here the rev’s will be mid-high, the oil/engine tempearature would hardly shift, and you cold still here your favorite tunes over the engine.

    Withe an equal amount of fuel – driving at the second speed we’d cover a mch higher mileage,and with much less damage/wear and tear to the engine.

    It’s not TOO different for humans.

    Keeping in the low range of or aerobic engines – well under anearobic or threshold pace we are burning very high percentage of fat for fuel – our breathing is near silent/effortless.

    For a well trained runner – running at this pace is often easier than walking!

    however ask that runner to run jsut 10% faster and it might be a whole different story.

    Still – it’s doing to be bloody difficult!

    YesMark Beaumont cycled the world in just 180 days – the first person to average over 100miles a day – at the tiem this seemed crazy fast.

    You were right in thinking there was a quick succesion of people to break his record.

    As I mentioned above – Soemone jst rode it almost twice as fast i believe 93/94 days!!

    No point in keeping it quiet though – ppl will find out during/after and break the record if they can/feel they want to.

    • Thanks for your response. I did train for and run a marathon once so I kind of have an idea about this. I do understand that running 30 or 35 miles in 1 day (at say 5.5-6mph) is not an extremely tough physical challenge in itself if you train and build up to it. I’ve never gone above the marathon but I know I could. However when I ran long distances the next two days I wouldn’t have wanted to run at all, not sure how you cope with the body’s recovery time.

      I was thinking about your challenge today and I guess you will have a lot of tradeoffs on the route. Do you take major roads to get the shortest and easiest to plan and perhaps flattest route (but smelly, dangerous and unpleasant) or do you do extra planning and take longer offroad routes or small roads in order to have a safer, more pleasant journey?

      • Recovery – just isn’t going to happen. It’ll probablly take around 4-8months after the run to recover.

        But In terms of rest days/recovery I’m currently torn between having complete days off once every 8 days or just having an easy day once in a while.

        I need to average around 6.5 hours a day – depending on the crrent load in my trailer, and the surface terrrain, and hills.

        A 6mph effort will be slowed down to around 4.5-5miles per hour by the trailer depending on the above factors.

        so 6.5/7 hrs x 4.5/5mph = 29.25- 35 miles my daily average has to be 32 miles

        to do this I can either run every single day for 7 hours

        or run 8hours a day for 7 days and then have a complete day off – having bought myself 7 extra hours a week by doing 8 hrs a day instead of 7.

        trouble is sometimes rest days cause more problems than they are worth – Mentally they can be very tough! just sitting still seems stupid when trying to move as fast as possible on a route.

        Teh biggest danger is if your body treats the day off as the end of the event/thinks the stress is over and then trys to begin revcvoering/rebuilding the damage. It can leave you feeling incredibly stiff/weak/sore taking a day off.

        The other option is instead of adding a whole hour extra to my daily average and buying myself a day of every 8 days i could add just 30 mins etra a day and biy myself an easy/half mileage day every 8 days – so once every 8 days I’ll run for a few hours in the morning and then have some mental-down time, but without my body seizing up the following day.

        I’ll let you know how I respond in training runs coming up.

  6. Adjarho David Obaro Posted

    Kevin Carr,are you still on your run now? Follow your dream, as am wishing you all the best.I love running and just finished my longest run/walk of 787km under 23 days in Nigeria with the longest wrapper in the world and am working on my next one now. See world wrapperman.



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