When I first thought up this run home from Rome, I felt a bit silly. How could my two little legs attempt something so enormous? Had I not known the people I know, it would’ve died right there, in my mind. Thankfully I know Danny Bent and Anna McNuff and they are living proof that huge impossible-sounding journeys are possible. They are also the world’s biggest cheerleaders and didn’t bat an eyelid when I cautiously suggested what I might be about to do. They only thought it sounded fantastic.
In January then, I went public. I told the world what I was going to do. I had my worries, of course. I worried about the financial impact of taking two and a half months off work. I worried about the cost of the run. I worried about the cost of the kit. I worried about camping and how little experience I have. I worried about running that far and what it might do to my body.
The world, though, has taken me into its hands and made things work for me. After deciding to fundraise for the Ronald McDonald House in Manchester where one of my running friends stays while his son gets treatment for brain cancer, a work colleague brought me in a cheque for the entire amount I had intended to raise! Speechless is not a state I’m often in but I was that day. This meant that I could increase the fundraising target to double what I had originally set it at.
It was also a privilege to meet the team at the Ronald McDonald House. The lifeline they offer to families who stay with them cannot be underestimated. The immense feeling of gratitude I experienced, having had my parents stay in a Ronald McDonald House when I was hospital-bound as a youngster, was too overwhelming to explain here in words.
Another work colleague brought me in a super handy little compass to take with me. My brother gave me some camping equipment. My amazingly generous friend, Tarek, gave me loads of other useful gear like a headlamp, waterproofs, trail running shoes.
Through Facebook, adventurer Dave Cornthwaite sent me a message to ask if I wanted any help or advice and, boy did I need advice! I still do! I only have a vague idea of what I’m letting myself in for. From his location at the time in Bali, he carved a moment out of his ultra-busy day to chat to me about the ins and outs of human-powered journeys and what to expect. Other friends came forward too and talked me about anything they had experienced or learnt that might be useful for me to know. Another wonderful friend, Bianca, is a social media whizz and everything you may have seen online about the run has happened because of her expert guidance. I am only as prepared for this run as I am because of them.
There has been yet another layer of giving for the run that was new to me but has surpassed my expectations – companies giving their products. Now my wonderful friend, Vahan, has a sock subscription company called Look Mate, which have given numerous pairs of socks for the run. Being a lover of socks, he is also, naturally, a lover of shoes. Whilst at an event at the Vivobarefoot offices, he met the founder of the company, a lovely man called Galahad. He happened to tell Galahad about my big run from Rome to London and how I run in Vivobarefoot shoes and a connection was born between the three of us. Before I knew it, I was meeting with Galahad and the team at Vivobarefoot and they wanted to know all about my run and to support me.
Another company, Stvdio5, who make vegan toiletries heard about my run and, being a vegan myself, they offered me some of their soaps and shampoos that have fabulous flavours like cappuccino and chocolate orange. From having previously done a multi-day self-supported run, I am all too familiar with the level of stink that human bodies can reach when running long distances. Hopefully, injecting a bit of chocolate orange aroma onto the scene will negate somewhat the inevitable griminess.
Another fantastic side effect of telling the world is that it has put me in touch with others who are attempting similar things. One is also doing a run from Rome to home (what are the chances?!), a great guy called Dan, who will be starting out next February. I can’t wait to do a bit of route planning with him and then watch his journey start. Another, Laurence, is setting out in two months to run from Croatia back home and his page The Long Shuffle Home will be documenting his run. Another, Skip, is going to run the South West Coast Path next month and has offered to take me running around the hills of Dorset to prepare me for the Alps.
It’s so great to have a little group of people to talk about all the weird and wonderful things that you have to think about when planning such an unusual journey.
It happens constantly, these serendipitous meetings. In work the other day, for example, I met a fabulous man from Florence who, when I spoke to him in Italian about my run, couldn’t be more eager to help. “Anything you need while you are in Italy,” he told me, while handing me his business card, “Anything at all, you call me. I can show you around Florence when you get there.”
So I am equipped, tented, trained, shoed, sponsored, soaped up and ready to go, all due to the world keeping a gentle guiding hand on the proceedings, pushing me in the paths of people who can and want to help. Through this, I have learned to trust that things will take care of themselves. The money worries I had have dissipated. So long as I am sensible with money between now and then, my normal wage amount should see me through because, actually, running doesn’t cost money. Neither does camping. Food does and that will be my biggest expense but I won’t be eating out nor drinking fine wines. I will be sensible and my money will last. I’m confident that the world will look after it.
Check out more from Laura and her running adventures over at her blog. http://lazylauramaisey.wordpress.com/
Donate to Laura’s casue: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Adam-Finch-RMCH
Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/runninghomefromrome/