On the run

Kevin from Devon is solo circumnavigating the globe

Kevin Carr dips his foot in the Pacific Ocean in Vancouver before heading up province on his quest to be the fastest runner to circumnavigate the world.

One footfall at a time, Kevin Carr is circumnavigating the globe, alone. This 34-year-old fitness-trainer from Devon, England felt this was the ultimate challenge for an endurance runner and set in motion plans to head east from his home and not stop until he’d covered the 18,000 miles (29,000 km.)

“It tests you to see just how much you can do,” he simply said.

When choosing the charities for his trek, Carr said he gave it a lot of thought and chose two.

“I chose the International Red Cross because they are the first to respond to disasters and human need,” he said.

“And I chose SANE, an organization that strives to normalize the world view of mental health issues. They do work in suicide prevention. I had some mental health issues as a teenager and it’s close to my heart.”

Planning, finding sponsors and gathering his gear took Carr about a year and half and on July 28, 2013 he left half a beer at his friend’s pub and began running. He chose his easterly direction and seasonal timing based on the route. After researching various aspects of the journey, Carr figured the 1,200 mile stretch (1,930km) of the semi-desert, Nullarbor Plain, in Australia would be his biggest challenge but that would certainly not be the only challenge.

“I wasn’t trying to avoid the hard bits,” he said.

“But in Australia I did run at night and slept in the day. In the Nullarbor Plain there are only 12 gas stations across that whole stretch. Going across that desert was a real highlight. It was almost like a time machine where I felt I was in the footsteps of the ancients, it’s the same as when they travelled there.”

In many cases, Carr found what was listed as an operating business, actually wasn’t and he had to carry on to next one. Most days, Carr tries to cover at least 50 miles (80km), running and pushing his carriage, a modified running carriage designed to carry a small child. Total weight of his gear and carriage is between 30 – 40 kg including 12 kg of carriage weight.

“That depends as well on where I’m running because sometimes I have to carry more food,” he said.

Without a support team, Carr carries basic food necessities should his reconnaissance fail him and he doesn’t find something to purchase.

His other supplies include a tent, sleeping bag, mat, stove, pan, first aid kit, GPS, tracking device, solar panel and battery, cameras, spare shoes, spare clothes, water filter, water proof clothes, food and water.

With his route through challenging countries, the language barrier has proven to be one of the biggest. But Carr added you find a way to communicate. Each country posed its own tests but none so much as Belarus and Romania in Eastern Europe. With only a 6-day visa through Belarus (must be in and out of the country in that time) it was the most difficult language barrier.

“Basically Belarus is still a Russian state and is like Russia in the 50s. It was hard to move around, no maps available and I almost missed my visa deadline,” he said.

However in Romania, Carr faced the daily challenge of packs of aggressive street dogs.

“When you’re running the dogs take this as a sign of aggression and you’re constantly fighting off attacks, with dogs on your heels. It was winter and one night I found myself sleeping under a bridge and kept a stick at my side, I feared the dogs.”

Belarus was also where Carr suffered food poisoning, one of only two medical incidents in the journey so far.

The other was heat stroke in India.

In Perth, Australia, Carr was knocked down and his custom built cart was damaged. That cart was heavier than his current cart and Carr had to replace the front wheel which then created an imbalance which threw off his running. However, he adjusted his running style and compensated for the cart problems.

The worst drivers to date have been in New Zealand and Australia had snakes, spiders and scorpions.

His route so far which began in Devon, then a 250 mile (400 km) run to Dover, then London and a ferry ride to France, on to Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, a flight to India, another flight to Perth in Western Australia, a run to Sydney, again a flight to New Zealand and finally a flight to Vancouver where he dipped his feet in the Pacific Ocean before heading north through the province.

Between Williams Lake and Quesnel, Carr’s carriage broke. The back axle snapped and he was forced to once again rely on the kindness of strangers.

Walking up an unknown driveway with no confidence he could get his carriage repaired, the intrepid runner was lucky to encounter a father-son team who took on the challenge and temporarily fixed the problem. They invited Carr to share in a celebratory birthday trifle, provided a bed and a big breakfast in the morning before sending him on his way.

When asked what he thinks about as he runs the world roads, Carr said most of his time is occupied with road awareness, weather challenges, where he’s going to stay, food, water and always thinking ahead to the next leg of his journey.

As he heads to B.C.’s northern wilderness, Carr is aware he has to traverse a 310-mile (500km) stretch with only one stop listed before heading back down into Alberta, then across to Winnipeg after which he’ll dip down into the U.S.A. and across to New York.

“I’ll then fly to Santiago, Chili as that is again east of New York,” he said.

If all goes according to plan, he’ll run to Buenos Aires, Argentina, fly to Ireland then home to England.

“I figure I’ll be home in February 2015. I know it will take some time to get adjusted to being back home. I figure there’s going to be a bit of letdown but I’m planning on writing a book about the adventure.”

As a professional fitness trainer, Carr expects his experiences will help him help his clients.

The main sponsor of Carr’s trip is Cocoon, a banking institution which recognized the parallels in their business and his challenge.

“They promote managing financial risks and my entire trip is also about managing risks, just a different sort of risk.”

INOV8 provided shoes, Terranova supplied sleeping bags, Power Traveller provided the solar panels and batteries and RB-Engineering built the custom cart which was the only way possible to cross the Nullarbor Plain in Australia.

With only half the trek completed, Carr realizes completing the journey will be a testament of will.

“Once you know you can do it, you have to constantly motivate yourself to keep going, but I’m determined to finish and finish I will.”

He knows he must continue to take care of himself and maintain his pace. With approximately six months to go and another 9,000 miles (14,500 km) to run, his challenges are far from over but Carr is embracing the entire experience from beginning to end.

To follow his journey, visit his Facebook

page hardwayround or

on twitter @hardwayround.

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