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Barefoot Aleks – Running from Norway to Spain

Aleks Kashefi

  • 113.08% funded
  • £ 4,523.34 pledged
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UPDATE:

My original plan was to follow the E 1 all the way to Sicily but some technical issues mean this hasn’t been possible. It’s winter now across Europe and so I have changed my route. Waiting for a new tent means I can’t run the E1 so at Ritsem in Sweden I changed and I’m instead running the full length of Europe.  That’s to Tarifa in Spain, about 10 miles from the coast of Africa. 

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Over 30 days in and it seems running a route like the E1 is a far greater challenge than just covering the distance. The remoteness of the route, the wintery mountain conditions of the Arctic circle and the unrelenting terrain have made this challenge a real test of mental strength and resilience. Injury and damage to equipment have meant that the adventure is costing more than expected and already I have come close to quitting due to the amount of pain experienced over two days of mountain wilderness trekking.

But, the adventure will continue to the very end as all the miles, the pain, the lack of food, the cold and the problem solving would be for nothing if I stop now. But what was the dream for this adventure?

The words below were written before I began, naive in some ways and optimistic in others:

 

My name is Aleks, a 37 year old teacher with a simple idea for an adventure that will prove that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things.

To prove it, I’ve taken some huge steps in changing my life style and mindset.  I’ve handed in my notice at a secure and well paid job, I’ve reduced my belongings to the bare minimum and am training hard to set a world first record by becoming the first person to run the Length of Europe in one effort, travelling 4,750 miles self-supported in under 7 months.  More than that, I am a barefoot (minimalist) runner, so I will be covering the 4,750 miles either in bare feet or in minimalist running sandals!  So is it possible to do all this after starting running, less than 4 year ago, using a couch to 5k app on a mobile phone??

Why is this important?

I am a teacher and I am passionate about helping young people take on their biggest dreams, to commit to real hardship and challenges.

What I often see in the young (and the not so young) is a fear of failure, a want to do amazing things, but never committing.

They are fooled into thinking that CHANGE isn’t possible, that it’s too late to get more active and that  ordinary people can’t achieve extraordinary things, something I am hoping to disprove.

A connectedness with the outdoors definitely encourages people to be more proactive.  Looking at the stats, nearly two thirds of children now spend less than a day a week outdoors and the distances that young people travel has decreased by around 90%.  The learning and problem solving skills in young people have been proving to improve, as has behaviour and attention span when young people are more active and #GetOutside more!  So why aren’t we doing more to engage, encourage and inspire them to get out and get active more?

Lets change all this – let’s inspire grand adventures and testing of ones own limits.

What is the E1 Euro Trail?

The E1 Euro Trail snakes from Nordkap in Norway through six countries to Siracusa in Sicily.  Can I run it in under 7 months self supported, and invite others to join in with the adventure, either in person or virtually online.

To achieve this I will be covering on average a distance of 30 – 40 miles with around 8kg of kit on my back, finding food where I can, wild camping the length of Europe and having to cross the Swiss Alps and the Apennine of Italy in winter!

This is the adventure of a lifetime and I aim to inspire others to #GetOutside and to step out of their comfort zones.

The aim is also to raise over £50,000 for Stroke Association, UK Mountain Rescue and Thomas Theyer Foundation, starting and beginning to share the adventure starting on the 3rd of August.

What’s the funding for?

The whole expedition is already being done on a tremendously tight budget and covers just 3 things, cost of food (it’s amazing how much this builds up to during 158 days), some essential equipment and transport.  I’m not planning on staying in any accommodation other than the tent I will carry with me, but there is no way of getting around the problem of needing food and having to pay for ferries across the long sea crossing.  If I can travel far enough everyday, there will be some funds left over, which I will donate to the 3 charities on returning to the UK.  Flights to Nordkap are booked, so there is no turning back now.

Now A Bit About Me…

At 37 years of age, most would think that I should be settling in to a career, and in ways I ended up doing this with teaching, but at the end of July 2012 I did something I never thought I would even consider…

I downloaded a couch to 5K app and began to use it to run.  I was 15st in weight, which put me boarder line obese.  I couldn’t manage a single 30s slow run without being doubled over ready to vomit from the effort.  But now, approaching 4 years of running I’m contemplating running 30-40 miles a day for 158 consecutive days whilst carrying an 8kg backpack, having completed a handful of ultra-marathons, ran the length of the UK barefoot and lost over 3st of weight in the process.

Even more ridiculous, I chanced on barefoot running and the whole idea of being efficient in my movement and finding out if I could actually run without shoes took hold of me.  I run barefoot or in sandals to see what I am capable of without the advantage that shoes provide, but I’m not a barefoot evangelist.  The important thing here is to encourage others to #GetOutside, to run and feel the freedom it provides and the sense of calm that it places on the mind.

I ran the length of the UK in memory of my grandfather, who’s name I carry and who was an ordinary man, yet during his lifetime he endured extraordinary hardship and achieved extraordinary things during World War II.  That’s the driving force behind my training, my preparation and my aim to achieve a world first, sharing the experience with countless others who decide to follow the adventure and hopefully inspire more people to chose to step outside of their comfort zone and adventure more.

Thanks for supporting #RunE1Trail

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+Achievements

BareFoot Land's End to John O'Groats

I ran an 1162 miles off road route from Land's End to John O'Groats to raise money for Stroke Association. Despite severe tendonitis in my right foot, a damaged left foot, a broken toe and food poisoning I finished the journey in 38 days. I did this unsupported, which involves carrying a tent and wild camping along the length of the UK.

UK Ultra Awards 'Hard As Nails' Award 2015 Nominee

Was nominated for a UK running award to recognise the toughness of the run from Land's End to John O'Groats.

Man Vs Tickets

A charity run based around the idea that £1 purchased one raffle ticket and for each raffle ticket I would run up and down a local hill. I completed 652 laps of the hill, traveling a total distance of 75 miles and the same height as Mt Fuji. This little event raised over £2000 in less than 2 weeks!

+Thank Yous and Updates

Over 30 days in and it seems running a route like the E1 is a far greater challenge than just covering the distance. The remoteness of the route, the wintery mountain conditions of the Arctic circle and the unrelenting terrain have made this challenge a real test of mental strength and resilience. Injury and damage to equipment have meant that the adventure is costing more than expected and already I have come close to quitting due to the amount of pain experienced over two days of mountain wilderness trekking. But, the adventure will continue to the very end as all the miles, the pain, the lack of food, the cold and the problem solving would be for nothing if I stop now. But what was the dream for this adventure? The words below were written before I began, naive in some ways and optimistic in others.

Thomas Theyer Foundaiton

Great meeting with Vicky from Thomas Thyer Foundation and finding out about their future plans, and great to confirm that they are going to help with publicising the run and help secure the involvement of local Buxton businesses. Stroke Association is also looking at helping with the promotion of the run as are Mountain Rescue UK. Now wit budget planning out of the way the real challenge (pre run) begins... Working out the logistics along the entire route and sourcing relevant maps that can be digitised to save weight on the trip. Thanks for the support so far :)

Flight to Norway booked!

Thanks to the additional funds from Mark Beaumont, the flight out to Norway is booked. Flying out on the 1st August and arriving on the second with a few flight changes. Excitement is building :D

Training, Training, Training

That's the main focus but there's a huge need to sort out the route schedule. There's gonna be some tough long days early on and that while issue of enough funding for food is still there. Thanks to all who have pledged... You guys and gals are awesome :)

Cost of transport and bloody broken tent on day one!

The cost of transport was 3x expected and to get to Nordkapp it self I had to pay an extra £40!! And my tent broke on day one so having to blag my accommodation using sticks and strong to hold tent up

+The Project FAQ's

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