Author Archives: monkeyleader

The Causeway Coast Marathon Starts Here

Over the past 6 months I’ve become far too lazy and far too fat. I’ve come to realise that without a goal to aim for I end up getting this way.

So I’ve decided to sign up for the Causeway Coast Marathon in September – that’s 6 months away. I’d like to aim for a sub 5 hour time so the training isn’t just going to be about putting in the miles, but also upping my pace.

My fastest marathon to date (Amsterdam) was 4.30 with my 2 Belfast times in and around 5.15. I know this will be a tough ask but I want to aim for more than simply plodding along and finishing in 6 or 7 hours – I already know my body can plod.

I aim to document my journey on here and via my YouTube channel


Ely to Cambridge (in a roundabout kinda way) Report

So a few days ago I left my job of 17 years to follow my passion of photography. I wanted to mark the occasion with something a bit different so upon waking up this morning I decided to test myself at marathon distance. Having only done a handful of runs in the past 10 months with the longest (by a fair shot) being last month (15) it was always going to be a challenge. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Start the Day with Coffee

Start the Day with Coffee

You know it really hit home how quickly the train can travel between Cambridge and Ely – around 18 minutes, and as the countryside sped past I realised I would be on my feet for a good few hours going in the other direction.

One Way Ticket

My pace would be considerably slower

I had run part of this route before, as part of the Monster Ultra so upon exiting the station I made my way to the River (Great Ouse), making sure it was on my right. Within about 10 minutes I was out amongst typical Cambridgeshire Fenland views – flat and wild.

Welcome to Ely

Hello Ely

Goodbye Ely

Goodbye Ely

I pretty much followed cycle path 11, well until I took a wrong turn which meant I had to double back and around on myself a few times – also meant the overall distance was going to be more than a marathon.

IMG_1229 IMG_1230 IMG_1231

Pit stops included the coffee shop at Wicken Fen where I devoured in record time a very tasty sausage roll. I had also packed a lunchbox of pasta and this was consumed in the wilds of White Fen, with a Marsh Harrier hunting overhead for company – idyllic.

Pesto Pasta FTW !!!

Pesto Pasta FTW !!!

I reckon I hit close to my limit around mile 23 but pushed on and ended up with around 28 in the bank. Currently sitting on the sofa with the smell of a steak being cooked by my other half wafting through the house – glorious.

Oh and the run was also part of my #30DaysWild ….. So what was so wild about it I hear you ask? Well how about

Marsh Harrier (Male and Female), Kingfisher, Hare, Lapwings, Reed Buntings (also being shown a bit about surveying the nesting progress), Azure Damselfly, Several Butterflies, Bumble Bees, Cuckoo (heard, not seen), a few friendly dogs (and one which sounded like it wanted to eat me) …

A top day in the wilds of Cambridgeshire …. A little video showing some of my exploits …

Fulbourn to Wicken Fen Report

So yesterday I decided to run to Wicken Fen – as you do.

First long run since July last year. Felt great to be out and I even surprised myself with how comfortable I felt. Looks like it was around 14.5 miles in total, including my first ever sub 2 hour half marathon. And there was cake !!! There ALWAYS has to be cake.

And Lo There Was Cake And It Was Most Pleasing

And Lo There Was Cake And It Was Most Pleasing



Boobs for the Next 10 Miles?

Boobs for the Next 10 Miles?

Also my first report on the new FujiRunner blog can be read here. Running, for me, is a fabulous way to discover photography locations. I plan to document some of my adventures on the FujiRunner blog.

The Running Photographer

I was out for a mid-week trail blast this week and given the beautiful Spring conditions decided to record a little video. As you can see I like to use my running as a recon. mission for future photography sessions.

Big changes since my last post. I won’t go into the details but you can read all about it here. As for my recovery and path back to some kind of fitness? Well it’s coming together, one day at a time. I’ll be updating my progress in more detail in the next week or so.

By the way, every time I slip on my Inov-8 Rocklites it’s like putting my feet inside two tubs of buttery runner’s goodness. That’s the best way to describe them. They are so so so dam comfortable. Certainly more comfortable than any road shoe I’ve ever worn. Can’t wait to really put these puppies through their paces this year.

Lightweight Kit … Heavy Body …

I’m in a complete rut at the moment. Lots of shit going on in my life which has been quite difficult to deal with. I can always tell when things are not going well by my weight. While I’m never going to win any slimming contests, I feel something approaching healthy the closer to the 13stone mark I get (the lightest I’ve been in the past 5 years has been 13.1 … for all of about 3 days I think – as a reference the heaviest has been just over 16 stone). Now for me, 13 stone is still classed as overweight .. but it’s my baseline for the start of healthy.

Just jumped on the scales this morning, after another pretty bad weekend of junk food, too much beer and too little movement … 13.10 (or 193lbs) ….. They must be broken …. get off… shake them …. remove pants … step back on scales …. 13.11 (shit I’ve actually gained another lb .. I’m literally getting heavier as I stand here) …..

ARSE (which actually is quite toned – the only part of me that is)

I dare not jump back on in case it’s 13.12 …. so we will go with 13.11 (193lbs)

What makes this even more ridiculous is how I’ve also spent the past 4 hours (yes insomnia got me again) researching lightweight back packs for running/camera gear. Saving a few ounces here and there seems completely ridiculous given I’ve put on half a stone in the past few weeks. Right this is just getting silly now Nigel. Here you are talking about a life full of adventure, but if you carry on how you are going you may not get to experience it. You only get one body.

It’s just over 6 months until my 40th birthday – I’ve set myself a target to get down to 175lbs by then … the lightest I would have been in about 20 years ….. Going to be a significant challenge.

Tomorrow is St. Patricks Day … typically a day of excess when it comes to all things unhealthy for an Irishman. It also marks 170 days (including today) until my 40th birthday.

Perhaps I need to get serious about this – like proper serious. Could I give up all forms of alcohol until my 40th birthday? I’m not saying that I have a problem with drink … or perhaps I am. Not a serious problem you understand, but I certainly use it as an excuse to dull out the bad shit that’s going on right now. I’m sure I’m not alone. You know the social / casual drinker. I consider what I’ve drunk this past weekend.

  • Friday – 6 pints (airport)
  • Saturday – 3 pints (home)
  • Sunday – 8 cans (home)

Does not seem that bad, does it? But then I think of what I’ve consumed on other weekends … 3-4 cans normally per weekend evening (Friday-Sunday). Also Nicola and I have had the odd unplanned evening in the pub during the week (couple of pints) and I know at least once over the past month  I’ve drunk a bottle of wine in 1 evening. Again nothing approaching really serious, I don’t think, and yet just enough to make me not want to do too much the following day.

Past 7 Days Units

Past 7 Days Units

And yet .. when I run. When I head out and explore. I get a high so much better than anything a few beers could ever offer. I literally cannot stop smiling during a run, even if it’s hurting. And afterwards. I feel like I’ve actually accomplished something.

So yes … I think I’m going to hit publish on the Blog post …. and with it my complete abstention from alcohol until my 40th birthday.

A Source of Inspiration

I love to read about other people’s adventures. It servers as a real source of inspiration in my own life. Someone who I met at a meet-up in London (organised by another inspirational adventurer, Al Humphreys), Anna McNuff is on a journey of EPIC proportions. She is attempting to run the Te Araroa Trail in NZ, all 1864 miles (3000km)of it.  She has been going for just almost 2 weeks with a couple of hundred miles down.

As she says in her latest blog update, her adventure isn’t just about HER adventure, but also about the people she meets along the way including Ron, who sold his house in 2013 and now travels the globe under human power.

What else am I supposed to do with the rest of my life..?” he asked. “Sit around, cutting the grass at home, waitin’ to die? No thanks. I’d rather be on a trail or a river instead. So here I am.

Check up on her photo updates here and via twitter here. Oh and don’t forget you can also donate to her cause here.

Anna, you are amazing and from the other side of the planet continue to be a true inspiration for me and I’m sure most who come into contact with you.

Keeping going ….