Running John O’Groats to Lands End, why? Because I still can.

On the 18th July 2021, at 9am, I will set off from John O’Groats to run 897 miles to Land’s End.  To achieve this, I will be completing 34 back to back marathons. To give you some backstory; I am 63 years old and three years ago was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. So why am I completing this mammoth challenge?  Firstly, to raise money for Parkinson’s UK, secondly to raise awareness, but also because I still can. When I complete this challenge, I believe I will be the oldest person to have run it.

I was introduced to Rohan back in the late 1990’s when I purchased a complete Rohan wardrobe for a work assignment.  Our objective was to photograph Mt Ama Dablam, close to Mt Everest in the Himalayas.  It involved a long arduous trek to Everest base camp. At times it was bitterly cold and tough going, but Rohan kept me warm and comfortable – it’s why I trust them and have worn the brand ever since. It’s now December 2020 and my training is well under way.  I have nine months to build my strength, endurance and mental resilience to a level that will get me from one end of the country to the other. The impact on the body is not to be taken lightly.

My training regime is very simple; run slow with longer and longer, back to back, mile after mile sessions, whatever the weather! There’s no hiding, winter in the Cotswolds can be tough, so having the right gear is vital if you’re to stay warm, dry and comfortable. The Rohan high performance base layers have been brilliant at keeping me warm when it’s cold, and when you’ve worked up a sweat, keeping me dry and comfortable.

Not only is there the cold, there’s also the Rain.  It takes real motivation to get out of the house when it’s chucking it down.  You know you’ve got 3 to 4 hours of running ahead of you, and the last thing you want is to get soaking wet before you’ve even started. I find it horrible running when you’re drenched and freezing. Not only have my Rohan Storm Waterproof Gloves and Helix Jacket kept me dry, they also offer great wind resistance. I’ve found with Rohan that they do what they say they do – keep you warm and dry.

It’s important for me when I’m on a long run (15 miles and over) that I focus entirely on running. For me, Parkinson’s can bring on balance issues and brain fog, and I’ve been known to take the occasional tumble.  I have to concentrate 100% on running, putting one foot in front of the other and carefully navigating potholes, slippery mud, snow, black ice, rain and wind.  Without distractions. I’ve been overwhelmed by the support I’ve received and on board have a nutritionist, running coach and the support of a running group; when we are able to meet up and get out together.  I also have my two trusted dogs, Jack (7) and Oscar (4) who accompany me on some of my runs and of course help me rest. 

Follow Neil’s story on Twitter @creativenr, Facebook @RunningFromJohnOGroatsToLandsEnd and Instagram @neil.o.russell

Sign up for special offers, news and promotions Keep up to date with our newsletter