When I was debating over whether to go ahead with this project, I started by writing a long list of pros and cons. The pros list soon stagnated and then became somewhat irrelevant after I had made the decision to do the run. However, the cons list developed into an ever-increasing list of reservations, helped along by mum and dad who offered up concerns at a rate faster than I could cross them off.
My second biggest concern was that I wouldn’t be able to complete the blogs, or that I would have such a small window in which to draft each one that they would appear rushed, factually incorrect or boring. You may get away with uninspired drafting when you're writing about Trump throwing paper towels at Puerto Ricans, but a boring article on the impacts of ocean surface temperature rise would just be the pits. My primary concern was that no one would really read them anyway.
Not being able to run 400km was well down the list, only slightly above my concerns around whether Asics shoes were still cool (according to dad, yes) and whether they would sell wholegrain oats in Kosovo (according to the internet, no). This was not because I knew I could run the entire distance - the longest race I have done in my life was about 25km - but because I thought that if I stuck to a strict training plan and slowly increased the distances over a number of months, I would be fine. I was therefore extremely annoyed when, six weeks out from the first run, I developed a severe pain in the ball of my foot.
I booked in with Tracey the holistic podiatrist, purely because her offices were conveniently located three streets from my flat. She assured me that I did not have a stress fracture, suggested some calf stretches and used the remainder of the session to file my toenails. After a few days I realised that Tracey’s calf stretches were not going to do the trick and, following a week of complaining to anyone who would listen and trying to solicit advice out of my physio friend Laura via Snapchat, I decided to make the trip to A&E. There I saw two NHS doctors who confirmed that my foot was in fact broken, suggested that I keep off it for 4-6 weeks and complimented me on my well-filed toenails. Refusing to give me a straight answer when I asked whether it would be better to reduce this timeframe or simply turn up to the first run with no training, I decided to roll the dice, halve the suggested rest period and hope for the best.
Suffice to say I regretted the £42 pounds spent at the holistic health clinic. Nonetheless, at my initial consultation I had taken advantage of the offer to book in for a follow-up session at a discounted price (you have to admire Tracey for her business nous). So I recently returned to the clinic where she gave me the all-clear and suggested that I “take it easy”. Having already confided in Tracey that I was planning to run 19 back-to-back half marathons off little training, I was minded to ask her what would possibly surpass her threshold of “taking it easy”; however, I thought that the likelihood of further conversation being of any help whatsoever was low.
Chatting with Rosa, my partner in this project, we decided that too much time, effort and money had been invested to pull out now. We agreed that I should aim to run as much as I can, breaking down the half marathons into 2x 10.5km where possible and acknowledging that there will undoubtedly be times where I will have to walk (or worst-case bike) to complete the planned route. Needless to say, running on a potentially broken foot is now number one on my key concerns list. Agonising over Kosovo’s grain supply seems rather trivial and has been removed entirely.
So why am I doing this? The reasoning behind this project is set out in detail on the homepage of the website and I won't repeat it here, however I wanted to take the time to briefly explain what the blogs will be about.
Climate science is not a precise art. We don’t know exactly what effects will occur if we keep emitting carbon into the atmosphere or at what levels these effects will become irreversible. However hopefully we can at least agree that climate change is happening. That human actions have caused atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations to rise and the planet to warm at an unprecedented rate. If you think otherwise, then you are on the wrong side of the nine out of ten climate scientists who believe this to be fact. I have dedicated one blog (Berlin) to briefly substantiating this claim; however, you will be relieved to know that, as a general rule, I don't want to focus on unpicking scientific models, pouring through graphs or agonising over numbers and percentages. Rather, I want to focus on the effects at a human level.
I believe the key reason that we're so slow to act on climate change in New Zealand is that there is this lingering idea that it's a future problem. Something that won’t affect us. As we are not yet faced with the effects of global warming on a daily basis, it's easy to put the issue on the backburner in favour of discussing more immediate concerns. However, climate change is happening now and the effects can be seen in all corners of the globe. My goal is to illustrate this by highlighting certain effects that we may not instantly attribute to climate change, with an emphasis on telling the stories of the people caught in the line of fire. As such, I won't be focusing on the various causes of climate change (for example, the fact that deforestation accounts for around 20% of total emissions, around the same level as emissions from all transportation, and every couple of years enough forest to cover all of Germany is lost forever). The causes are equally as important; however, I only have a certain number of blogs in me and I need to go back to work at some point.
I do want to acknowledge that global warming is unlikely to be the sole cause for any of the effects discussed on this blog. Matters such as climate wars and vanishing lakes inevitably involve a complex set of variables, and often a single direct contributor can't be identified. However; climate change is a threat multiplier, in the absence of which, effects would not be as frequent or severe.
Finally, as explained on the website, I hope that this run will not only start to hammer home the seriousness of the effects already occurring as a result of climate change, but that it will contribute to the groundswell of public support that we'll need to pass robust legislation committing New Zealand to net zero carbon by 2050 or sooner. I am also raising funds to assist the Pacific in adapting and responding to climate change. Any donations would be greatly appreciated, and I am sure will also bring positive karma when calling for people to donate to that Movember campaign you're currently running.
So please donate, share, or most importantly, simply take the time to read these blogs.