World Walk Interview #4
Post-New Zealand interview with Irish adventurer Tony Mangan who has just walked the 20,000th kilometer of his world walk. In this extended questions and answers interview, we ask some of the questions you may have wondered about. February 27th will be the second anniversary of the start of his global march for cancer awareness. This is his third lap of the world. When he was younger he cycled it. Then between 2010 and 2014, he completed a four-year, 50,000-kilometre world run.
Questions compiled by Scott Richards, Florida, USA.
SR: You walked New Zealand without your pushcart which you call Karma. Why did you choose to carry your gear in a backpack instead of
using Karma? Did it work out like you figured?
TM: I ran on those same roads on my world run five years ago. On that run I also didn't use my cart as in the south island, in particular, there are so many narrow roads and especially narrow bridges which I found to be extremely dangerous without the added danger of pushing a
cart. In addition to all of this, I noticed a definite increase in traffic in those five years. Widening the roads is going to be a major problem for New Zealand as in many places there is just not enough room. A friend of mine (Kevin Carr) ran with his cart a few years ago.
I suspect that he took more back roads than I did. I could have done that also but as I have so many special friends there I would have had
to take a different route from my world run and away from them. I didn't want to do that, I wanted to meet up with them again. So, I guess it worked for Kevin and though it was an extra effort, it worked well for me too. I researched this well, I made my decision and don't regret it. There were times on narrow sections when I wondered how I would have managed to push Karma. I also wondered about the safety and even without the cart I still had my safety issues with some tight roads that had little or no shoulder and I also had some moments with the police!
SR: Did you have to explain to the police at any point what you were doing and please tell us some of the run-ins with them?
TM: Yes, several times. Though it was mostly 'a welfare check' as American cops sometimes call it! However, a couple of months ago I was
pulled off a bridge while crossing the the Ashley River by an arrogant cop who wouldn't let me run the last 120 meters. When I asked if I could run in front of his patrol car. He screamed, "Get into my car NOW or I will lock you up." I did, but as soon as I got across I asked him to take me back to the far side of the bridge from where I had just come so I could wade across the river. He took me back and left me while still shaking his head. Interestingly, years earlier on my world run, I ran through Tongariro National Park and I was enjoying the stunning views of the active Tongariro and Ruapehu volcanoes. When I got to Waiouru a cop car pulled up on the hard shoulder. A police officer got out and he was followed by a television cameraman. The cop asked me questions about what I was doing while the cameraman continued to film. Then I realized that I as filmed for a police television show similar to the tv show Cops. Later, I got an email asking me for my permission to use the segment in their New Zealand show called: Highway Cops. Years later I still get messages from my friends back in Ireland and in many other countries to say they have seen the episode which is still being repeated! I believe it's in the first season of the show. The filmmakers wouldn't give me a link to use, so I'm on the lookout for someone to record it for me!
SR: From your Facebook posts, you seemed to have met up with a lot of your old friends from when you ran there in 2013. But also in New
Zealand, you seemed to be meeting people every day along the roads who offered you help, a place to stay, food, and even transporting your
backpack forward, etc. Why do you think this was?
TM: People all over the world are friendly and hospitable. It's not just in New Zealand. I only feel comfortable accepting such help in
the richer countries. In the poorer countries all I need is shelter, company and when I can do it without offending I use my own food and
offer stuff like a jar of coffee, sardines or some small money. Yes, it was wonderful meeting up with so many of my Kiwi friends again. Some others have moved on to other places and others I lost contact with them as I didn't do as much Facebook back then. That was a shame, that's part of travelling. You are right that so many people, including strangers, just came up to me and offered all kinds of help and assistance. I guess us Irish are popular! Seriously it wouldn't have mattered where I was from as Kiwis are such a friendly race. Frankly, I'm not surprised that the country was recently voted 'the best place in the world to live in.' That was the result of a huge survey by the Legatum Institute.
SR: Why are you walking with a cancer awareness message and how receptive were Kiwis towards this message?
TM: Pretty much so. It seems that almost everyone I speak to these days is touched by it. I had a lot of roadside conversations, in cafes
and in people’s homes. It's a tough message to share as so many people have a harrowing story. During my world run, my mother was diagnosed with bowel cancer. We didn't have a history of cancer in our family. Mam was healthy. She was also active, ate a good diet which included lots of fruit and veg. She didn't smoke or drink alcohol. Perhaps with an early diagnosis and early screening things could have been
different. When I decided to hit the road again it seemed like a good way not only to honor her but hopefully for others listen to my message and that they may be more fortunate than her. My message is that: Life is precious and early cancer screening saves lives.
SR: I understand that there is little or none ozone layer in New Zealand? Is cancer a much-discussed topic down there?
TM: Yes, it's in the media so much and there are information signs up in many places encouraging people to watch out for the symptoms of
breast and prostate cancer. As in Australia people also get home testing kits free of charge from the government once they turn fifty. Yes, you are correct about the ozone layer and whereas Kiwis are pretty outdoorsy types, many people I met just flaunt the sun, others cover up or use a good sunscreen.
SR: How was the weather in New Zealand for your walk?
TM: Though NZ is not as hot as Australia but it was a lot warmer than I expected. Many people mentioned that I could expect a lot of rain.
Coming from Ireland I am well trained in that regard, lol! Still, there was not as much rain as I was prepared for as they seem to be going through a semi-drought in much of the country. It's definitely not as green as Ireland is now, or even as New Zealand once was,
perhaps a sign of global warming? (NZ route see map3)
SR: I understand you are now going to walk more in Australia! Why are you walking this extra distance when you have technically walked the
continent already? Can you give us a rough idea of all of your 'extra distance?' What was the idea of your NZ timeout? Did you plan it so it would be that? Sorry for being so long-winded!
TM: That's okay Scott! Initially, I only planned to walk in the region of 4,300 kilometers from Perth to Sydney. (Map 2) I'm not interested in
any speed records. After enjoying Australia so much I decided to walk this extra leg. Another factor was that I had such a positive interaction with people regarding my cancer awareness message that I decided that I would continue the Australian leg of my world walk up to Darwin. There was one problem though! The heat in Queensland and also in the Northern Territories. That was the reason I took a summer timeout from Australia. I wish I could have walked for another month in New Zealand, but I had to return when I did to get another six months on my Australian multi-entry visa. Going to NZ for the Aussie timeout was the logical thing to do because of the milder weather there and that way I can return to my exact location in Toowoomba City, Queensland. Crucially, I wouldn't have any gaps in my route. My extra walking route from Sydney to Toowoomba City was about 900kms and from Toowoomba to Mt Isa to Darwin is going to be about 3,600 kilometers (see map 4.) So I guess I am walking twice the minimum distance required to complete the continent from Perth to Sydney. As much as my Kiwi mates hate hearing it, my 1,600 there was also extra as I could easily have ticked off the continent in Sydney! There was no way I was going to miss out on an amazing country like New Zealand.
SR: Did you see many other people running, walking or cycling the country?
TM: I didn't come across any other journey runners or walkers but as the country is so beautiful cyclists were pretty much 'ten-a-penny' in New Zealand. I probably came across more cyclists there than the rest of my world walk combined.
SR: Were accommodation and food easy to come by?
TM: Pretty much. Because smaller towns are not as far apart in New Zealand I was never far from a supermarket or even a fish and chip
shop. Though still expensive they were also much cheaper than in Australia. If you look hard enough you can find bargains and many
small towns and cities have 5 dollar pizza specials as the popular pizza chains are having a price war. Fish and chips cost about seven dollars (five Euro) and many restaurants have a takeaway section and don't mind you sitting there. The result is you can eat a twenty dollar meal for a fraction of that, you just need to use your imagination.
I have a lot of friends there and they helped me enormously and then they sometimes kindly set me up with their friends. I was also grateful to at least eight hotels that generously gave me complimentary accommodation. In addition, there were places where I asked to camp and I was often invited inside and given a bed, or at least a plate of food. So-called freedom camping is pretty much forbidden in New Zealand. I probably camped in about three campsites and as I hate paying about 15 dollars for a patch of grass, so I usually try to secured a discount or a complimentary night by presenting my mission card which I use to promote my global walk.
About four times I hid in forests and another few times I asked for permission at farms or houses with some land attached. People were 100
percent obliging. My experience is that people respect what I'm doing and are delighted to help. Others may not want to do what I'm doing
but in a strange way, they see in me someone living out their dream and are incredibly supportive.
SR: What kind of tent did you use there as I imagine weight was an issue?
TM: I pretty much planned to rough NZ without a tent. But the day after I arrived I saw a Macpac, Microlite 1.3 kilogramme tent in a camping shop. I purchased it for 200 NZ dollars ( originally 400 NZ dollars ) as I was offered a 50% discount to help out with my mission. So I kinda wimped out and bought it as I wondered about roughing it! I love the tent as there is a huge vestibule (outside storage area under canvas) where I can store my smelly boots and pack.
SR: What about a backpack, other equipment, your cooking gear and how heavy was your backpack when it was fully loaded?
TM: About eight kilos total. I could have gotten the weight down more had I not bothered with such luxuries as a blow-up airbed! These days
my poor aching body needs to be pampered a bit more than it did when I was tough! The backpack I initially planned to walk the country with
got damaged and besides, I doubt if it would have been big enough. Thankfully the manufacturer, Oz Trail gave me a great replacement. It's a 40-litre capacity which was perfect for the job! I particularly liked the yellow rain cover which not only made it high-viz, but it meant I could also write my cancer awareness message on it. I also used a 500-gram summer sleeping bag. I didn't bother with cooking gear but I picked up
two thermos mugs from op (charity) shops. I just added the boiling water, after presenting my Mission Card and asking permission, that I obtained from petrol stations, cafes, houses etc. to add hot water to noodles or porridge and most important of all, for my coffee in the morning. I also carried sardines, raisins and peanuts. I charged my phone up wherever I stopped to snack or sleep. I also carried two spare battery packs which I charged whenever I could, more weight! It's also important to keep everything dry so I have a few dry-packs for my clothes, electronics and other important items.
SR: Between your world run and now this world walk you must have tried every shoe brand. How many have you worn out and which is the best shoe?
TM: On the world run I used 50 pairs (50,000 kilometers) On the walk I'm on my 16th pair. Regarding the best shoes; that's always the easiest question of all to answer. Free shoes!
SR: In New Zealand were there any long, looming stretches or desolate roads like in the Australian outback?
TM: Not really. There was one stretch of about 65 kilometers between Waiouri and Turangi which is called the Desert Road. As the name suggests there was nothing there. I just did a commute back and forth from Turangi to my route and stayed in a backpackers hostel for two nights. In comparison to Australia, New Zealand is the ultimate in luxury!
SR: As you prepare for your return to Australia-part two what are you going to miss about New Zealand?
TM: The first thing I'm going to miss is the security of being able to walk worry free on grass. New Zealand has no snakes or venomous spiders etc. So, I'm obviously going to have to watch every step I take as there are a lot where I'm going. I can't leave my backpack and shoes outside my tent and I will have to zip it up fully. Aussies are equally hospitable as their neighboring brothers and sisters but because I'm going a lot more remote I will be having fewer people contacts. I will miss that but I still expect to have a blast there. I have no doubt I will soon be missing the cooler Kiwi weather when I hit Queensland!
SR: What are you particularly looking forward to on your return to Australia?
TM: I'm looking forward to the outback adventure again. There is something uniquely special about Australia and camping under the stars
in the bush. I look forward to being able to cook my meals over a campfire and as strange as it sounds I miss the kangaroos. I never got bored looking at them hop through fields and across the road right in front of me.
SR: Where are you going to after your extra walking in New Zealand and Australia?
TM: I have also walked Asia, but I want to go back there for extra walking, lol :) Extra walking might make a good title for me someday! Seriously, I have always wanted to walk in Japan and before Perth when I walked south from Russia to Mongolia to China to Vietnam, (see map 1) Japan was not on my route at that time. So, that's why I'm going back to Asia. As I'm a purist I am particular about keeping my route continuous I will be starting back there in Asia from an ocean location in China which was near my route when I previously walked through. So I will be reconnecting my route back up.
SR: Are there rules regarding an attempt to run or walk around the world and if so what are the main rules?
TM: Yes. The World Runners Association ( WRA )drew up some guidelines based on the experience of previous around-the-world runners. Though intended for runners walkers are also encouraged to register and follow these rules. Following a successful attempt in which the adventurer will have been observed he/she will be invited to submit their logbook and other proof, they may have. Currently, the WRA has
six members, of which I’m one of them. The most important rules are: Minimum distance on foot is 26,232 Kilometers, 3,000 km minimum per continent. Four continents coast to coast with no gaps. You must Start/Finish in the same location. You have to cross and then recross the equator. Lastly, while crossing the globe you must visit two antipodes. Antipodes are complete opposite locations in the world (Click the link for a map to find antipodes https://www.antipodesmap.com/ ). In other words, if you dug a hole dead straight through the earth, it’s the exact spot that you will come out at! Mine are at my friend's house in Hamilton, NZ and also at a location in a field just outside of Cordoba Spain. Because they’re harder to find than you think, there is an allowable tolerance, but as I say I prefer the purist way and will touch the exact spot.
For more info on the WRA rules please see: https://worldrunnersassociation.org/constitution/
SR: When are going to finish your world walk?
TM: I love this so much, so obviously my answer has to be 'whenever!'
SR: I'm sure there are many people wondering how you fund this world walk!
TM: As you can see from my posts this is a pretty low budget expedition. I do the odd paid talk and when they happen I put that towards hefty expenses like travel insurance. It would be nice to do a few more but they are difficult to organize. In the western world, I also get a lot of offers of places to stay and so many people are extraordinarily generous. I have absolutely no financial sponsors other than readers that chose to sponsor a day or whatever on the Paypal link. ( found here… http://www.theworldjog.com/blog/ ) In a good year that covers my travel insurance and the odd flight at the end of a continent. Please see the link on my website www.myworldwalk.com
My main source of income is the rent differential between what I get for renting out my house. After I have paid my mortgage repayments, insurance, repairs, expenses and tax. It works out at about ten Euro a day, which isn't that much and can go quickly if one's not careful. Next I rely on donations from friends and readers to my PayPal account ( found on my web page ) to supplement the help I get on the walk because normally if I don't stay in a dirt cheap hotel or hostel ( which I usually only do when I need to do laundry or it's going to be bad weather for a day or so ), I camp. Other times I cook and or get invited to a meal with someone who I met earlier in the day That I gave one of Mission Cards to! Believe it or not, there have been only a few flights, that I've had to take to get this far in the trip in 2 years. I live a pretty Minimalist existence and not in the materialistic world. So, obviously unlike most people I am not paying to put children through university, I sold my car, so I don't have those other associated expenses. Nor do I pay rent, pay 100 dollars a month for Sky Sports or pay electricity. My only water and gas charges are when I buy a rare bottle of water instead of filling it up at a tap and buy a camping gas container for cooking! Most people are astonished at how little is needed to do a trip like this. Sometimes I sense that their mindset is still set on their own wild and expensive holiday in Bali or the Costa del Sol and multiplying that by two years rather than the reality of how I'm actually doing it! I'm aware that if you are on a long backpacking journey and paying for buses, hostels, restaurants, beer etc. it costs a fortune. But when you slow it down and elect for one of the three best ways to travel: Journey run, walk or cycle then it's a whole different ballgame. The sky is your limit and I believe the slower one travels and the longer it takes the self-sufficient traveler to get from one place to the next that the experience is multiplied and the monthly cost is diminished.
SR: Why do you think you have no sponsors?
TM: Perhaps because I'm always acknowledging even the smallest help that I get that people might think that I don't need sponsorship. I could do a lot more and even have the odd steak dinner if I had sponsors. I also don't like talking about myself and hate interviews. I know I have a conflict there with spreading my cancer awareness message, but I believe that I have a better effect when I meet people one-to-one. Every interview I do its because I'm approached. I honestly can't remember the last time I sought out an interview. Even at the end of my world run, I had no interest in doing the whole media circus. Perhaps that is the reason that I don't fare well with sponsors is that I never make such lists as ' the 50 most daring adventurers.' That said, a big highlight was when I was picked up by the BBC and interviewed for their Outlook programs '50 most inspiring people of the last 50 years' It was a special moment to make the shortlist!
SR: Finally, do cynics ever accuse you of being just on a prolonged holiday and if so what is your response?
TM: I get the occasional snide remark along those lines. Almost as if I'm a bum who is too lazy to work! Then after speaking to me for a while, they realize just how passionate I am about my walk and most importantly about my cancer awareness message. Sometimes I mentioned that people have actually listened to my message, gone to their doctors and discovered tumors. I ask the cynics one simple question. "What have you done for cancer awareness in the last two years?" That is usually followed by silence.
SR: Thank you, Tony, for your honest and interesting responses. Good luck with the Australia Part 2.
TM: Thank you, Scott, so much for your time and interest in my cancer awareness world walk. Life is precious and early cancer screening
Click the picture to listen to the interview
World Walk... #3
An Interview after walking Australia before leaving for New Zealand
By Scott Richards 12/01/2017
How many kilometers or miles did you walk across Australia? What's the total since starting in Dublin 21 months previously?
My Australian route was from Perth to Sydney to Toowoomba in Queensland. The total distance walked in the country is almost exactly 5,000 kilometers which is just over 3,000 miles or a similar distance from Los Angeles to New York. The total for the walk so far is about 18,500 kilometers or about 11,500 miles.
How many road days did it take you to make it across Australia??
130 road days. So that works out at around 37.4 kilometers per day. That surprised me as the last two months I really took it easy. There were many days when I walked only 20 kilometers and other days much less. It just goes to show the great work that Michael Gillan did when he crewed for me for almost three months from Perth to just west of Madura.
How was Australia different to cross then Asia or Europe?
As mentioned above I had great help from Michael Gillian who loaded up his car with food, cooking equipment and camping gear.
In Australia I took it fairly easy in comparison to some of the long days when I walked long into the night in Russia. It was necessary to get through Mongolia before the onset of their harsh winter. Australia had been pretty much warm and dry. Of course the big difference is that it's an English speaking country.
Were the roads in Australia easier to navigate?
Yes as it was pretty much point A to point B stuff and after Asia it was a joy to walk on quite civilized roads again.
You crossed the Australian Outback in the cooler season, was this planned to avoid the heat of summer?
Yes, that was the reason why I walked big distance days in Russia. Not only did that ensure that I got through Mongolia before winter but it took me nice and neatly to my start line in Perth on April 30th
Did you meet many other self-propelled travelers on the roads?
Not too many, just a few cyclists.
On a scale of 1-10 and 10 being the most difficult how easy would it be for someone to cross the Australian continent.
Without support and assuming the trans-Australia crosser took my route (or even Melbourne to Darwin) and walked at a favorable time of the year... I would say 7. With support about 2 or 3.
However, there are other adventurers who have crossed the Australian outback and across deserts like the Simpson Desert. Some of these people don't have support vehicles. They push their gear in carts and have to find their own water from infrequent water holes. That's obviously more hard core than what I did and I would imagine that would be easily a 10!
Was it easy to find food and water on the road?
With Michael it was easy. We just stocked up his car when we got to a supermarket. He also went on ahead at the end of the day and cooked our dinners and in the morning he prepared breakfast. He did a first class job and I thank him from the bottom of my heart for his massive selfless efforts.
After Michael got sick and had to leave the trip, you and Karma were reunited. Was it hard to get used to having to fend for yourself again?
Long term followers will know that Michael planned to be with me all the way to Sydney. He was hugely disappointed when he had to leave me due to a hernia problem. When he left me I had no other option but to fly to Auckland, New Zealand to pick up Karma, my cart which I had sent on ahead. It was pretty tough to be honest and I really missed his help and the great chats we had every night. After I picked up Karma I returned to my route and then decided to slow it down and just take my time. I also decided to extend Australia. Michael had an operation a couple of months ago and he has to take it easy for another few months.
If you had to do the 1st part of your Australian crossing without Michael crewing for you, would you have made it?
Yes of course I would have made it. I just wouldn't have had the luxury of his support. It would have been much tougher and more expensive as I wouldn't have had as much supermarket food, I would have had to purchase from more expensive stores and roadhouse. I have a friend called Kevin Carr who ran unsupported while pushing a cart across the Nullarbor plains in summer. So it's possible, but not a luxury like I had it!
Is it easier for people to grasp your story when you’re out walking pushing Karma, vs walking without the cart?
When I'm pushing her on the highway people can see that I'm up to something like a walk. But when I'm walking with a backpack I think people sometimes confuse me for a construction worker. But on the quieter roads of the Nullarbor more people got curious and made good-natured stops. I really love the Aussies; they are such a hospitable people.
How many pairs of shoes have you now gone through?
I am on pair 14 now. They are an expensive pair of Italian walking boots which were presented to me by an Irishman called Tim Carroll. Normally, I walk in regular trainers. However, as the roads are much tighter in New Zealand I am going to walk it with a backpack. Because it's a heavier load on my back I have decided to go for the extra foot support which these boots offer.
What are you packing in that backpack for New Zealand?
It will be about eight to ten kilos in weight which will include snacks, an air mattress, a summer sleeping bag, a bivvy, two spare tee-shirts, 1 pair of shorts, 1 spare pair socks, light weight jacket, fold up disposable poncho, small log book, chargers and electrical cables, vitamins and not much more.
How do you manage to transport your passport safely?
By far the safest way to transport a passport is inside a ziplock bag and in a stitched-in pocket of my walking top. I prefer a rugged, not too easy to open zipper. That way even the world's best pickpocket would have a serious challenge. If I was to leave it in a backpack or in my cart (like many other adventurers do) it would be vulnerable when I stop for my breaks etc. The only time I take that top off is when I shower or when I am sleeping in a safe location. Neck document pouches and fanny packs are just asking for trouble as they are highly visible. I keep a spare ATM card in with my passport. I carry only a small amount of cash as I mostly use a debit card for my transactions.
Do you find easier to cope with hot or cold weather?
I don't do extremes in hot, cold or high humidity well! Generally, I tend to joke and say the easier climate to manage in the opposite to what I am suffering in at that time. I tend to pace myself to operate in moderate or chilly weather.
There are other issues with weather extremes and not just the suffering. In hot weather snakes and bears can be an issue as are dehydration, heat stroke and having to carry and find extra water. In cold weather extra clothing is an option. When it's hot one has the option to travel in the coolness of the evening or early morning. Cold climates tend to be cold almost all of the day and night. Wind chill can also be a factor. Other issues are poor visibility, dangerous drivers, ice, frost bite, hyperthermia and the need to stay dry and warm. Remember the clothing waterproof properties that keep rain out are the same properties that can't wick sweat away. It is more of a problem for runners than walkers not to overheat as they sweat up easier and damp clothing can be a serious problem in extreme cold weather. Runners in the North Pole and Antarctica Marathons wear surprising little upper torso clothing: Usually, a Base layer, a fleece and a Gore-Tex type of windbreaker.
In the long miles of road without much traffic, scenery or elevation change, what do you do to occupy your time while walking?
I'm rarely bored as I just immerse myself in my surroundings, talk to whoever stops. I tend to take more rest stops. Sometimes I listen to podcasts or music on my phone. But keeping my phone charged up is another issue.
How do you keep your phone charged up?
I have three backup battery packs, two of which are solar powered panel which also charge up from an electrical supply. Every chance I get even at short cafe stops I plug in my stuff in my four-way USB charger. The table which I sit at is determined by where the sockets are! Additionally, I have a small light-weight extension lead so as I can plug into sockets which are too low on the wall for my USB charger or when a socket is too far away from my table or when I am in bed!
How many people do you see and get to speak to on an average day!
It really varies, in India it could easily be all day long pestering because there are soooo many people! So for this question, let's just talk about in Australia. In Australia perhaps on average about four vehicles might stop to check on me. Perhaps about another six conversations in rest areas or petrol stations. But there have been days when I didn't talk to many people. I always hand out my cancer awareness card. It has my message printed on it: Life is precious and early cancer screening saves lives
Do people relate to your trip of just think you’re plain crazy?
Yes, most people can relate to my walk. But it'd not for them! They are supportive of my efforts and see me living out their dreams. Their dreams may be radically different to mine but most people admire someone living their dream. Occasionally, people will approach me in a joking manner and call me crazy. My reply is always. "So I'm crazy because I'm living my dreams? How many people do you know who are living their dreams?"
Has your cancer message affected anyone? Do you meet a lot of people who relate to cancer? Do many people know someone, maybe a family member or friend who has or had cancer?
There is hardly a day when I don't meet someone who has a family member or friend who has had cancer or is a survivor or undertaking treatment. It’s a difficult message for me to spread but it's more difficult for them. Sometimes I say that it would be much easier to spread an environmental message to encourage people to plant more trees, but at the end of the day that's a useless message in comparison to my cancer awareness message. I have met people who have listened to my message and they got checked and things were discovered. That keeps me going and is one of the reasons that I am extending my walk in Australia; as it's an English speaking country and people are listening to me.
What is the next continent you’re going to walk?
After New Zealand, will be returning to walk from the spot of my pause in Australia and continue on to Darwin, Then I want to return to Asia. I want to go to Hong Kong and perhaps onto China, to Taiwan back to China to South Korea and all of that is because I dearly want to include Japan into this walk and want to beat a path towards it! Many years ago I read a book called ' The Road to Saha' it left an impression and that's why I am returning to Asia and ultimately Japan
World Walk... #1
An Interview before the start of Tony's world walk
By Scott Richards 2/25/2016
Your start date is February 27th 2016, in Dublin Ireland, from the Run-Logic running store, who is one of your sponsors. How long do you think it will take to return?
My estimated walk time is three years. I am yet undecided about the full route for the Asian and North American legs. There is absolutely no reason for me to decide now.
On my world run it was probably a mistake for me to time the start and finish with my city marathon, it was pretty hard-core stuff crossing Europe, and also the final lap around Ireland. I am determined that this will be more leisurely, stroll. Already I have people stop-watching me!
When did you complete your Run Around the World ( RAW )?
I began my world run at the finish line of the Dublin marathon on Oct 25th 2010 and finished at the same place on the finish line on Oct 27th 2014. The final footstep was exactly 50,000km and not a meter more! As one of my friends from my competitive career, John Geesler said... any more would have been showing off! Incidentally, as it was also too late in the day to start running across Ireland, and I had to say goodbye to many of my friends, many of which had come from abroad. That first days distance of 2.9 km to my mothers house was the lowest official daily distance of the entire run as I didn't count the marathon itself because the start finish were in different places. In many ways when I left her house the following morning, my world run began in earnest. The start at the Dublin marathon finish line was a bit bizarre as I literally ran from the finish line of the Dublin marathon to a bar in order to say my goodbyes! Incidentally, my start day of this walk is just 4 kilometers to Dublin Port, perhaps that will also be my shortest road day.
It had been a twenty-plus year dream that never left me. The run more or less just became a monster dream that ran out of control, incubating in my mind! In those days it was never more than a few waking hours from my thoughts! I would have run it several years before, it was just that I had a very successful competitive career that I didn't want to end prematurely. I guess in many ways when I retired from competition, I was put out to pasture to run around the world! I have always said that I am a very average runner, but with an extraordinary ability to tap into my mind power and it's hidden strengths, some people have said like the Incredible Hulk, ha ha!
Since you’ve run around the world in addition to also cycling around the world already, how will this be different?
I am determined that this will be a leisurely stroll, but already I have people stop-watching me! This always happens when you involve others in your expedition, as opposed to just going alone and camping in a field. But I wouldn't have it any other way as I love meeting people and also sharing the road with them. Sometimes people send emails with " urgent answer required - when EXACTLY will you arrive in the subject line!
Why are you doing this?
Purely for the adventure, I am not fundraising this time but I am walking with a cancer awareness message: "Life is precious, early screening saves life's." My mother died from cancer almost a year ago. She would not let me stop or shorten my dream to run around the world as it had become her dream too. Thankfully, she was there to cross the finish line with me. She died five months later. Many people said we kept each other going, I think so; I certainly inherited her persistence.
Is the route different then your RAW?
Yes, almost entirely. On my world run, I didn't get my Chinese visa and I also planned to run through Russia to the Ukraine and Crimea area. That was before the trouble there. Perhaps it was a blessing I didn't get that Chinese visa as my eventual Asian route took me into Europe a different way.
This time, I successfully lobbied the Russian and Chinese embassies. I have a multiple entry Russian Humanitarian visa with each entry valid for six months and a multiple entry 60 day Chinese visa. As I need more than three months for China that means I will probably take a train to Hong Kong and then returning to my route for another 60 days. There is a spike in Kazakhstan I may walk through but that is now a visa on arrival country, as is Mongolia. I will have one eye on the weather in Australia, so that’s the reason for my indecision, I will see what my timing is like. There is also a possibility I may end China in Shanghai or continue onto Hong Kong. Australia is a different route. This time I want to walk from just north of Perth to perhaps Sydney. New Zealand is the closest to my RAW, I want to walk both islands, I am also not sure about South America. Previously I ran to the tip of the continent, this time if I go it will just be just Peru, Brazil and Venezuela through the Caribbean to Key West, Florida and the east coast if North America. If I don't take that route I will continue in North America from the USA west coast as far as somewhere like Oregon and then walk south-west to Key West, Florida.. This time I plan to return to Europe and walk back home to Ireland via Gibraltar, Spain and France.
Are there any journey runner or walker that inspires you?
Rosie Swale Pope. She is currently running across America aged, 69! Rosie is full of life and ran around the world fairly late in life, and there is now sign of her hanging up her shoes, who knows perhaps we will both spend the rest of our lives on the road! So before I began my own world run which I started late in life, she inspired me, and even now as I begin my world walk. It was a travesty that her northern hemisphere world run was not recognized by the WRA until recently despite her having completed the second most compressive world run.
l also have great admiration for Jean Believue who has completed the longest foot journey around the world on his 77,000 48,000 mile, 11 year world walk.
How far do you think you’ll travel this time?
Between 32,000 and 34,000; roughly 20,000- 21,000 miles.
Why did you choose this route?
Because most of the places I did not visit on my world run or world cycle. I am particularly looking forward to Russia. I am told there will be lots of meeting mayors and town receptions and both runners and walkers to walk with me. I also want to walk more in the USA, as it was my favorite country on my 41 country world run.
What distance will you strive for each day?
I am looking for about 32 kilometers or 20 miles perhaps many days I will walk a marathon. I plan to start earlier each day. Whereas, I say I want things to be leisurely, there has to a compromise. When it’s totally leisurely you risk having the goolies frozen off, and then walking through blizzards. So you have to ask yourself if you want to travel in comfort or in severe weather. For me the best friend of the journey runner or walker is time! Because no matter how slow you are, with more hours on the road bigger distance are possible, even when shattered!
Do you ever get lost?
Ha Ha... I have many times, but that distance never counted! I absolutely hated turning back. There have been times when I kept going straight ahead, even when I realized it was longer than turning back!
What supplies will you have to buy on your trip?
I am a great believer in pop up tents. Even though they are not ideal in windy weather, those times I will look for a sheltered area or just use my bivy. I also have a lot of cooking equipment as this time it’s very low budget and perhaps it’s the best way to get my nutrition up. I didn't eat properly on my world run for long periods of time as it was so difficult to obtain sufficient nutrition.
How many pairs of shoes did you go through on your RAW?
50! I found I was getting less wear out them at the start than at the end. I guess that was because I was also afraid of getting injured that I threw my shoes away prematurely. At the end of my run around the world I was just crawling along! Since I finished 14 months ago I have been walking around in the same pair!
How much of your day will be spent walking, and what do you do when you’re not moving?
When not moving I am generally talking to people in cafes or restaurants, as I love to hear what people have to say. Perhaps I will walk about 7-9 hours a day, some days more, some days less. I think the biggest miscalculation I ever made in my life was that I thought I would be finished my days on the world run at lunch time! I had visions of sitting in internet cafes twiddling my thumbs. Eventually I slowed right down. It was to take me all day to do what I used to do all night, run a marathon!
What do you do in bad weather or when it gets cold?
Usually, I persisted and slowed right down. The stats of something like this are staggering. For example: on 1,000 road days, all it takes is one extra kilometer or mile per day equates to a lot of distance. A lot can be done with that extra distance, like taking rest days and catching up later on bad days.
Where do you sleep most of the time?
Often behind hedges or under bridges. In the USA and Canada I was running in the winter and went up to farms, I asked if I could camp in their barn and generally they brought me inside! Some of those people I am still great friends with. They always liked to hear my story and I enjoyed their tales. There were times when I produced my Magic Letter ( letter of introduction from the Lord Mayor of Dublin) at 'mom and pop' type motels and offered them twenty bucks as they were often empty and they knew I want a high-roller. Sometimes they even gave me a bed for free. In Latin America there where many cheap hotels, I called them squalor dollar hotels!
What do you do for food?
This time I plan to cook more. Generally one can have a week’s supply in my cart. I can also carry extra food by taking light bulky stuff like my sleeping bag out of the cart and carrying it in a backpack on my back.
Is language a barrier as you cross the world?
No! Not really as I will always find a way to eat, sleep and to survive. However, the real disadvantage is not picking up on the nitty gritty details that people want to communicate. Sign language is also a great method. I can see the day when foreigners will be sitting in Mongolian yurts and communizing with Google speaking translators!
How can someone reading this help or be involved?
Donate to sponsor a hotel night or meal on the Pay-Pal account I will soon put up! If you can please find major sponsors, be a local contact, help get the word out to local media, find a sponsor willing to provide shelter for a night, line up a group to speak to, etc
You were recently in Florida at the ICARUS Ultra Fest where Andre & Claire Nana, the race directors, had invited all 5 of the people who have run around the world to the event. Did you already know everyone?
I would like to express my gratitude to both Andrei and Claire. Andrei kindly sponsored our flights!
I hadn't met Tom Denniss as he started his run when I was on my own. I helped him with some advice after he emailed me, and he in return helped me, so it was great to finally meet him. I also helped Kevin Carr with some logistics and places to stay in Ireland when he ran through Ireland, and then I ran with him in Dublin. Rosie - Swale-Pope was not there as at that time she was not a member of the WRA (World Runners Association) which is the the governing body for all us world runners and walkers who are a few tacks short of the full box! I also crewed for Jesper Olsen across Ireland. I have successfully lobbied the other WRA members to have her great world recognized, in addition to higher standards.
Will you try to participate in any event(s) along the way?
Absolutely no running! I have retired from running and don't miss it! I have since discovered that unlike any other sport like football, cycling that runners are not allowed to retire! But I am determined. Perhaps if there is some kind of a charity walk when I am walking through a place.
How will you stay in touch with family and friends on your trip?
In the larger countries I will get a data sim and do Skype and phone etc, also text message and email.
Are there any journey runner or walker who inspires you?
Rosie Swale Pope. She is currently running across America aged 69! Rosie is full of life and also ran around the world fairly late in life, and there is now sign of her hanging up her shoes, who knows perhaps we will both spend the rest of our lives on the road! So before I began my own world run which I started late in life, she inspired me, and even now as I begin my world walk. It was a travesty that her northern hemisphere world run was not recognized by the WRA until recently despite her having completed the second most compressive world run. I successfully lobbied the WRA for her inclusion and higher standards.
l also have great admiration for Jean Believue who has completed the longest foot journey around the world on his 77,000 48,000 mile 11-year world walk.
How do you feel with less than two days to go before setting out to walk around the world?
I have a terrible cough and a heavy cold, I am also sneezing a lot, so naturally I am worried. I am also flip-flopping from sheer terror and excitement, which is normal. I am also totally out of shape as I have run nothing and walked very little in recent months, however for some people that can also be normal for something like this as I have a lot of time to walk myself fit! It will also be interesting to see how my weight reacts, I am currently 82 kilos, each week I break a new weight record! When I started my world run I weighed 68 kgs and dripped to an all time low of 62 kilos when I was in Singapore. I was so lacking that some excited dogs ran after me and gave me a hard time! I guess I resembled a running carcass of bones! So, this time I am more bulked up.
Editor Note: You can email Tony at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
I will also be looking for groups or runners who would like to accompany or host Tony once he reaches the USA. Email me at email@example.com ( Scott )
For any other location email Tony directly, in advance, as the ability to check email daily becomes a factor in remote areas, so email early.
Or on his Facebook Site or his Fan Page
Written by Laarni
Press Donate below to sponsor a day, a meal or a hotel night on the road, via Pay Pal, or my gofundme.com account
Read another great Interview with Tony about the walk at...
World Walk... #2
An Interview after walking Europe and Asia before the next leg of Tony's world walk
By Scott Richards 4/20/2017
You’ve just finished crossing Asia, How long and how far did you walk.
It was a blast! Off the top of my head Asia took about ten months walking and a little under 10,000 kilometers or about 6,000 miles covered.
How many countries have you walked across?
To date I have walk across ten countries. In Europe: England, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania. As we all know Russia begins in Europe and stretches across Asia. I walked about two-thirds of it before heading south to Mongolia. Then it was China north to south. I finished Asia in Vietnam at the South China Sea.
What was your favorite country to walk in?
Mongolia was a blast. I really didn't expect China to top it but it did. For me China was a slow starter but it peculated slowly. The country may be restrictive but the people don't reflect that. Many cyclists told me to expect a lot of rudeness, that was not my experience. Well, perhaps when they got on the road!
Since the people along the way are all different, and yet the same, your thoughts on this.
People around the world are indeed much the same. I am sure if we were able to stop in North Korean villages and chat to the people, who are perhaps the least know people in the world, it would be the same. Most of us care dearly about our fellow human beings and want to reach out to help those in need. We all want the best for our families and friends.
How friendly and receptive are/were people towards you?
So many people reached out to help me that I couldn't possibly stop every time. But I did stop a lot, that's why many of my days were so long, I am not complaining. My experience was indeed life-changing. I really get to see how people live. For example many people in China may not be materially rich but most have built their own homes in the villages and I have low running costs. Everyone seems to have their own vegetable patch where they grow their food. In addition, so many people have chickens and livestock and have more than sufficient food to survive. If their food is not eaten it often just sits there and rots away. I have seen it. So I did not witness much total poverty there. I was aware that many years ago there was no middle-class in China. Just the rich and the poor. Now a higher standard of living is more attainable. So many people seemed to me to be contented with so little, yet most people own a smart phone and at least an electric bike. You have seen the pictures on my Facebook page or website. Family life is paramount and an integral part of Asian society.
Did you always feel safe out there on the back roads you walked?
Crime-wise I felt safe all the way. Especially in China and Mongolia. I had heard that Vietnam could be dangerous as I was told that many people had guns and knives, but that was not my experience. The main danger is always dangerous drivers. This usually seems to be an issue in poorer countries.
In Russia I was a little worried about bears, because I am a bit of a wimp, that's why I chose to walk the route I did. More remote and quieter roads especially deep in the forest have more bear activity. However, Russian bears are mostly shy brown bears, the opposite to the USA! I also took the added precaution of camping in built up areas, especially at petrol stations. All I needed was a patch of ground, some hot water for my noodles and tea. Also, a place to charge my electrics and wash myself.
Speaking of water, how difficult was it for you to wash yourself and your clothes?
I have to do a lot of body washing in petrol stations especially if I can lock the door of a wash room. Eventually there were fewer wash rooms. I also carried my own mirror and a soapy sponge, whenever I got some warm water I had a body wash. Now you can see the benefit of filling up my thermos before pitching my tent. Anytime I got a cheap hotel I washed my clothes in the shower. It was always difficult to dry them as tumble driers don't exist in poor countries. Sometimes if there was a heater or a fan in a room I used that. But mostly I had clothes spread out discreetly on my cart to dry when I was walking. If I had something small like a fast dry shirt I often washed it at stops and hung it on my backpack. Ah yes! The hobo life!
How hard is it to convince someone you “Actually” walked here from Ireland and you’re not really homeless ( well sort of ) !
Many people don't really understand the concept of me walking all the way. I have talked to so many people for a long time only to be asked by them 'when are you getting your bus!'
Some people think by walking that I mean walking from train or bus stations to their town! I don't have anytime and don't engage with the doubting Thomas's or the naysayers, for I got absolutely nothing to prove to anyone in the world, not am I trying to.
Are the police in each country receptive to your crossing or just tolerant?
Police are always friendly. Even in China when I was stopped so many times and had about eight hotel visits, they were always friendly. Russia was surprising, I was only stopped a couple of times in almost six months. I was stopped more in Canada or the USA on my world run than in Russia. In Holland and Germany I was told that 'wild camping' is illegal. I got caught a couple of times in Holland but they just came over to my tent to inform me and have a chat. One officer even wanted to friend me on Facebook.
When it gets late what type of area do you look for to sleep at?
In Asia I found that I was gravitating towards petrol stations, restaurants and the covered foyers of grocery stores in small villages to pitch my tent. In Europe I often approached farms as I did in the USA on my world run. I like to meet people and besides the whole safety issue this is the best way to realise the family experience in their own community.
Has finding food and supplies on the road been difficult, since your unsupported this go-round, vs your run?
Well I was also mostly unsupported on my run around the world. This time I have had no real issues picking up food as I walked as there have not been too many really remote stretches. When there were I just stocked up and pushed it in Karma, my cart. It's pretty much cheaper to buy food in cheap cafes than cooking besides I prefer to meet people and make talk as best as I can to them. What's the point in sitting at a bus stop cooking up a meal when I could be having a laugh with nice people. Besides, I don't really have time to cook as my days are so long.
How did you communicate with people?
Most of the time it was with sign language and charades. However, google translate apps are great. I used this and many people did also. I saved the frequent answers and my introduction message on my phone. For example I had a message asking I I could camp there or showed a picture of my tent. Sometimes I also showed a picture of food I wanted to eat or just blindly stabbed at a menu and hoped what arrived would be tasty! The real communication problem is missing out on the finer details that people want to tell me. But I think I still do well!
How many flat tires have you had since you started?
Perhaps about twenty or thirty! I got a lot in the first week in England as there were so many thorns. That's the biggest problem! I have changed about four tyres also. How about how many pairs of shoes in 13,500 kilometres? Answer 9!
What was your biggest obstacle in the last year.
Getting across China was pretty tough not mentally and physically. It was also hard for me to do my ongoing logistics as many sites are blocked and censored. I used a Vpn app to get around and unblock those sites I needed, like Facebook. Many people told me it was not important, but they still expected to know how I was doing.
I know the passing of your brother Brian, while you’re on the road has had an impact on you, How so??
It was a shock when I got the calm from home, especially as he is fifteen months younger than me and coming so soon after the death of my mother. After Brian's death I have been really reflecting on my own mortality. I never got married or had children. I am constantly explaining to people that my relationships didn't work out because I was probably meant to be a rolling stone. Most people in poor countries can't understand this, as most are obsessed with getting married and having big families.
It's starting to hit home that all I have in the world is my dear lovely sister. Well, I have so many amazing friends who I know will be there for me, but it's not the same.
Changing the subject to the future, you’ve had a little over a year to think where and how you’ll walk the rest of the world, has your plan changed?
What’s up next in Oceania?
Yes, I am constantly fine-tuning my plan and it's becoming more and more ambitious. Since Brian's death I am thinking why should I hurry, there is little for me to hurry back to at home. I need little to survive on the road. People can sponsor a day or so on the link on my website and that goes a long way. So it depends on funds. Most of my expenses to date have been for visas, the medical tests which were necessary to obtain my long term visas, equipment, flights and travel insurance. If I can get some sponsorship I will spend the rest of this year in Australia and New Zealand. After that I would like to continue in South America. Perhaps from Lima, Peru or Santiago, Chile north-east towards Brazil, Guayana, Suriname, and French Guayana. Few travellers venture into those last three countries as they are pretty remote. From there island hopping through the Caribbean to the USA. Ideally, I would like to walk the full perimeter of the USA and when I get to the west coast, if possible take a short detour to Japan. Then back to USA and Europe. The dream gets longer the more I think about it, so because I'm walking it's not practical for me to talk about any 'when's!' I hate that world for I try hard to stay in the moment!
My World Walk .com