Tom Crispin, a production editor for a financial magazine, plans to run from Norwich to London in June. Here, the 57-year-old explains how the idea for running 230k in 3 days came to him in lockdown – and why he is fundraising for a charity dedicated to improving the mental health of young people
Norwich to London (N2L) was an idea born during the first lockdown. Everyone was cooped up, I was working from home, there was a big round of redundancies going on – and I thought that I needed a big adventure, an escape. I had been running recreationally for about 10 years in 2020, had done an assortment of road races over different distances and was just starting to get into the world of trail/adventure running in 2018 and 2019. So, when lockdown came along, I started to think about what I could do by myself – I imagined I might even do this run in 2020 or 2021. I tried to run the Peddars Way Ultra at the beginning of 2020, and it very nearly broke me. I was nowhere near strong enough, so I started training with a coach – Maggie from Mountain Strong Coaching.
I am running for a charity called Open Door. It works to support the mental health of young people as they move into adulthood. It also helps the parents of teenagers. My wife and I were lucky enough to be offered a place on a short programme that helped our family through a difficult time. So, yes, it is close to my heart. Open Door gave us the tools to cope.
My wife is born and bred Norwich. We visit her family there regularly. Her father has been both Sheriff and Lord Mayor. It felt like a good place to run from – a family link, far enough away to be ambitious, with good off-road connections. I haven’t done a multi-day run like this before.
I have done quite lot of trail-running of different distances. The furthest was the Race to the Stones – 100k through the Chilterns. My training for that – and for this – has been to run five days a week, plus one day with strength training and one of rest. I have been doing that for two and a half years solidly, so I feel quite fit and ready to go.
The plan is to set off from outside Norwich train station early on Monday June 5, and follow the Via Beata to Thetford – that’s just under 70k. On Tuesday, I will follow the Angles Way and the Icknield Way to Saffron Walden – 75k. Then the final day of running will follow the Harcamlow Way, the River Stort and the New River back to my house near Alexandra Palace in North London – roughly 80k. In total, I expect to cover around 230k and run for about 33 hours in the three days.
I have spent a lot of time planning the route and practising what I will carry – the run is unsupported: I will be carrying all my own water and food for each day. I’ve done a recce of a good chunk of the route, so I am feeling quite confident about the physical challenge – I know how big it is and how tough it will be.
It will also be a hard mental challenge – I will be bored and my brain will be begging me to stop. I will have my phone with me, but much of the route is remote, so I won’t have a lot of contact with other people except in the evenings. It was probably that realisation – the size of the mental challenge – that made me want to run for Open Door. It feels symbolic in a way – overcoming my (self-imposed) mental challenge faintly reflects the struggles that teenagers go through.
Tom Crispin is running from Norwich to London (230k in 3 days) for Open Door Young People’s Consultation Service, from Monday June 5 to Wednesday June 7, 2023. Day 1 – The Via Beata from Norwich to Thetford; Day 2 – The Icknield Way to Saffron Walden; Day 3 – The River Stort and the New River to home. If you would like to donate, visit justgiving.com.