On the 20th of May, Joe Parkes is going to be taking his first steps on a journey of a lifetime. Joe will be running the length of the Thames, from source to sea for Restless Development. 7 marathons in 7 days. This is Joe, discussing the task ahead, writing during a train journey whilst working in India.
Every morning my alarm wakes me from the bliss of a night’s sleep in a big comfortable hotel bed at 6am or earlier. I am in India on a work trip and trying to fit in any decent training is not easy. But every morning I swim for half an hour before breakfast, then do some sit ups, press ups and squats. If there is any chance to walk anywhere or run on a treadmill I grab it with both hands.
Today I have hiked about six miles mostly up and down hills in temperatures close to 40 degrees. With less than three weeks to go until I start running the length of the Thames, I am relying on the fitness I already have and my absolute determination to raise as much money as I can for Restless Development and reach the end of the river!
I was introduced to Restless Development through their partnership with my organisation Steppes Travel. My job title is Travel Expert and I cover India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar – I put together bespoke tours taking into account people’s interests – trips can range from cycling to trekking, cultural tours to yoga retreats. I want to raise money for Restless as they do incredible work in countries that I love.
I am an avid runner and I compete in races from 5k to 120k – on road and off road. I particularly love trail running – charging through the woods, through puddles and up and down hills.
I grew up by the River Thames and have swum in it, fished in it, boated and kayaked on it, drunk beer and picnicked beside it, and spent a considerable amount of time running alongside it. The idea to run the length of the river as quickly as I can came to me whilst camping with a friend in Sweden.
We were sat by the fire sipping whiskey and telling stories, having spent the day tramping across the island we were staying on. I don’t really know why, but the idea came into my head and the next morning it was still there. I went home and started looking into the details a bit more and when I divided 184 (the length of the Thames in miles) by 7 (days) I could hardly believe that the figure I got was 26.285. 26.2 miles is the length of a marathon. 7 marathons in 7 days has a nice catchy feel to it. And sounds like a long way!
With a week and a half to go until I start my mind is completely preoccupied with the run and I just want to get on with it!