/ 16 Marathons in 16 Days in 16 National Parks
I am looking for some help with my latest challenge to raise awareness of the amazing work that our National Parks do and why they are so important. I aim to investigate their differing management methods, the potential challenges that they may be facing and how we all can help do something about it on the smallest scale.
To do this I will run 16 marathons in 16 days in all 16 National Parks. Before people jump up and down saying that there are only 15, while you are exactly right, this project aims to investigate the initiative to make London the worlds first National Park City, making the 16th.
I want to set each marathon in the heart of each National Parks, to do this, I would like to ask for your help.
For those of you who have explored and adventured into our National Parks:
What are the places that you feel people must see?
What would you say was the heart of your favourite National Park?
Why visit your favourite National Park?
I am conscious of traffic in these areas and adding to the problems currently faced in the UK with over population or footfall erosion of these areas, as such, I aim team up with land management groups and the National Park Authority to raise awareness to the sustainability of these wild places and how it can be managed by everyone.
Leave no Trace, A Little Goes a Long Way, Leave Only Footprints, Respect the Land, are all relevant to this project, I strongly believe that a little awareness goes a long way. But also, there are so many health and life benefits to getting outside more. This is what the '16 Marathons' is about.
I welcome any comments you may have, good or bad, everyone is entitled to an opinion. Any assistance with the above questions would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you all in advance.
Are you driving between all these National Parks?
Hi Nick, I sure am!
Playing devils advocate, Is this more about you rather than promoting the National Parks and exercise? I would be more impressed if you ran 16 marathons in 16 days on a treadmill aboard a grounded plane, in London, in order to raise awareness of the theory of global warming.
Hi Ben. Sorry, I don't mean to sound rude, but what exactly is this in aid of? Who will benefit from this exactly? Best wishes. Tom.
Thank you all for the comments and questions.
Previously, I have completed the Three Peaks Rope Climb where I climbed the equivalent height Three Peaks Challenge up a 20ft gym rope to raise money for the three mountain rescue teams that cover each peak. The 16 Marathons is following a similar vein, I am incredibly interested in the training aspect, and that side is more for my personal gain, but the main aim is to support the UK's National Parks.
I simply want to try and encourage people to get outside (and inviting people to join me), in a responsible manner, and support the work of the National Parks who keep our wild places well managed.
Who will benefit? I aim to meet with the management teams of each National Park, assisting them to spread the word of their work, how people can get involved, if there are any challenges faced and what any visitor may be able to do about it.
I hope that sheds more light on the project.
I’m still a little unsure of how you will achieve your stated objectives. To be honest all that driving doesn’t really seem to fit in with the ethos of what you are trying to achieve. 16 marathons is 419 miles, you can link a lot of National Parks with that kind of mileage.
Hi Nick, my aim is to help people get to know our National Parks, not everyone will be able to name every single one. I have thought through trying to cycle between them as well, but it wasn't a realistic plan.
As with any sporting fundraiser or awareness raiser, I am trying to use the sporting challenge itself to draw more attention to the cause itself. Although I could link a lot of national parks together with that mileage, that still leaves some out and doesn't fit the aim.
Now that'd be a challenge!!!... 16 NPs in 16 weeks!!!
HA now its growing legs!!! Not sure if 16 weeks off work would be allowed!!
One more question. Is there a new one? I thought there were 15 National Parks.
Hi Nick - if you read the original post, a marathon across London to raise awareness of the initiative for the worlds first National Park City is the 16th ????
> .... National Parks who keep our wild places well managed.
Ah, the innocence of youth.
Ps. Unless you are a celeb or carrying a big pot of cash, the national parks and the public won't be very interested in your trip. There are people running, walking etc.. long distances everyday in the parks. It's not really news.
Why not have a crack at the wainwrights?
Thanks for your comment, but you have to start somewhere, arguably, having a crack at the Wainrights could relate to the answer you have given above..
Just trying to do a good thing, looking for input from people who have visited the parks...
If you are genuinely interested in the management. Ask them why each park is independent, own hq building, staff, support services, supply chain for cafes and shops. It is your taxes paying for it.
And that's before you consider they aren't wild at all. It's intensive land use by man that has created them.
All good points and I plan to address such points when talking with all of the management teams.
Your point on them not being Wild - for sure, but intensive land use is increasing, putting more importance on these places to protect what we have left...
> All good points and I plan to address such points when talking with all of the management teams.
Good luck. What's in it for them to even speak to you?
> Your point on them not being Wild - for sure, but intensive land use is increasing, putting more importance on these places to protect what we have left...
No it's declining, the days of pulling out hedges are long gone. The CAP replacement isn't going to encourage it either. Population growth etc is the challenge. Plus most parks don't have a population growth problem, they have a second/third home problem.
> Good luck. What's in it for them to even speak to you?
Your right, but so far they have all been receptive - I am not trying to say I have all the answers etc, but someone who is interested and trying to do at least something...
Well good luck with it all Ben. I hope that you get the interest of the press and outdoorsy type TV programmes, which I'm guessing is the idea in order to raise awareness. Maybe, if your real motivation is raising awareness, you could look into schemes which exist already which aim to support and facilitate the access of outdoor spaces for people who ordinarily have difficulty accessing them, or promoting these spaces to people whom are not aware but may benefit greatly, such as children, young adults and adults from poorer and more restrictive backgrounds. Don't allow your desires to become convoluted, that is to say that sometimes care must be taken not to always try and tie your altruistic desires and your hedonistic desires together. It's ok to do each for the sake of themselves. All the best.
Thanks for your comments Thommi
Well done Ben, for coming up with an original challenge. And well done for listening to the above comments without getting defensive. Worth taking them on board, doing what you can to address them then cracking on anyway. Pretty much all challenges could be seen as partly egotistical, nothing wrong with that if you are aware and do your best to maximize the benefits to your chosen cause. Much better than doing nothing.
Your runs could involve going from sea level to the highest point in every park, or to create interest and a story that's not about the main peak (scafell pike, Snowdon) could involve going from sea level to the 2nd highest point.
Thank you for your comment! I like that idea actually, drawing attention to the lesser known areas, sea level to Summit is something I’ll look into - thanks again!
Sorry missed the London bit in the original post. What would be the purpose of a National Park for London?
A couple of comments, not unique to this challenge, but also to a lot of similar events.
Will each run conform to the rules that cover a marathon route, or just be a long trip of approxiamately the correct length.
Have you a set minimum time to complete each 'marathon'
Nick - check out the National Park City project on google.
Hi John, thank you for your questions, I am as for as possible staying within the rules of a 26.2 mile marathon. As for time, as this project will take in nearly every different type of terrain to run on in the UK, I aim to have each one down in under four hours, some will be a lot quicker as the terrain lends itself more favourably!
Hi Ben. What's a national park city? I thought national parks are about nature and the natural world? Good luck with your run.
Interesting idea and a slightly different 'challenge' to the usual. A good start might be to become more aware of the National parks yourself before embarking on a promotion of them to others. Have you contacted all the park authorities yet and got hold of a decent map of each area ? or better still just visited them all ?
> And that's before you consider they aren't wild at all. It's intensive land use by man that has created them.
A lot of them are wild compared with where the majority of the population live, though. I don't think it unreasonable for someone from Handsworth, for instance, to consider Upper Eskdale pretty wild.
Thanks for your reply. Four hours for each one on consecutive days seems reasonable. So many of these sort of challenges seem to be done at a fast walking pace, and then the participant claims to to have 'run' a marathon every day, while completed would be a more honest term.
> Hi John, thank you for your questions, I am as for as possible staying within the rules of a 26.2 mile marathon. As for time, as this project will take in nearly every different type of terrain to run on in the UK, I aim to have each one down in under four hours, some will be a lot quicker as the terrain lends itself more favourably!
> What's a national park city?
An oxymoronic construct designed to make London even richer and more popular than it already is? ;)
> Unless you are a celeb or carrying a big pot of cash, the national parks and the public won't be very interested in your trip.
It's the sort of thing that local TV would bite your hand off to fill in a few minutes of airtime.
I like the idea of London as a National Park. Hopefully along the US model, so everyone living there will have to move out...
Now there's an idea ;)
Haha! Getting everyone to move out of London... now THATS a challenge!
Thanks for your comments!
> A lot of them are wild compared with where the majority of the population live, though. I don't think it unreasonable for someone from Handsworth, for instance, to consider Upper Eskdale pretty wild.
Are they a wild natural landscape worthy of being a national park, or are they distinct areas through man's intervention over the centuries worthy of being places of national or global (un) heritage importance.
Yes. A river bank in cities is wild compared their high streets, but that doesn't mean landscapes which have been changed hugely by man are actually wild. Of course it's all down to perception or what you are relatively used to.
You might be interested to know that the Cairngorms already has an approximate marathon - the Lairig Ghru race is run every June from Braemar to Aviemore, and covers a distance of 26.5 miles. It's quite a tough run, considerably harder than a conventional road marathon, but a great deal more scenic.
> Are they a wild natural landscape worthy of being a national park, or are they distinct areas through man's intervention over the centuries worthy of being places of national or global (un) heritage importance.
I don't see this as an either/or question. These are attractive areas for people to visit irrespective of how 'wild' (Norfolk Broads would never be considered 'wild') or 'natural' they are. By general consensus they are worth preserving in their current state. There are precious few parts of the country where this is the case.
This interview with the guy behind the project might help explain a bit about the London National Park idea: https://www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/features/interview_daniel_raven-ellison_on_the_london_national_park-6796
For the record: I'm sceptical, and I'm from there. But it certainly seems to have gained traction...
> What are the places that you feel people must see?
> What would you say was the heart of your favourite National Park?
> Why visit your favourite National Park?
Interesting "challenge". Are you intending to run on or off road?
To answer your questions for a few parks I know well.
Must see; Dark and White Peak, "hearts" perhaps Dove Dale and Edale, therefore maybe run between the two? (very rough part off road trail from Milldale to Edale came in at 26.2 traced on map!!! Therefore really must be longer but you could vary start and finish)
Must see; Wasdale. Heart; Langdale or Borrowdale. Round Windermere by roads is about the right distance.
Must see: Snowdon/Idwal. Heart: Idwal. Extended Welsh 3000s for a real toughy! In reverse to finish on Snowdon?
Must see and heart: Seven Sisters. Run along South Downs Way to there from convenient starting point.
Must see and heart: Pen y Fan. Something from Black Mountain to Black Mountains via the Beacons themselves would link the main hill areas of the park.
Must see; coast around Lynmouth. Heart; Dunkery Beacon. Route along coast then climbing to finish on Dunkery?
Must see: Malham Cove and Ingleborough/Pen y gent. Heart: Malham or Swaledale. Route, Hawes ish to top of Malham Cove?
Must see: any of the main heathlands, maybe west of Bolderwood? Beaulieu river. Heart: Lyndhurst. Run to Beaulieu?
A spectacular finishing point ought to be possible for each!
Hi Graham, thank you for your comment, I am a mountain leader who has been fortunate enough to take groups or just visit myself every one.. But I have good maps of everyone and I have a few minutes of each national parks time to have a chat about their parks, challenges faced and new projects etc.
Ha thanks John, I know what you mean! I would like to do each at 3hrs 30, but I think the more vertical areas will have something to say about that...
Thanks Tony, I was just looking at this today, unfortunately not on ideal dates, but looks like a hell of a race! Maybe one for another day though. My routes will staying clear away from roads as much as possible, more of an adventure that way I think...
Oh wow, what a message that was EXACTLY what I was looking for. Thankyou so much, it certainly looks as though you have had your fair share of adventures. Its amazing to see other peoples experiences!
Thanks again and I wish you more adventures to come!
wow. I'd missed that article. THere's a lot to be said for urban conservation, but National Park??
Sorry Mal, also, I intend to run all of them off road as much as reasonably possible in under four hours each.
> This interview with the guy behind the project might help explain a bit about the London National Park idea: https://www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/features/interview_daniel_raven-ellison_on_the_london_national_park-6796
> For the record: I'm sceptical, and I'm from there. But it certainly seems to have gained traction...
Most of the replies in this interview seem to be along the lines of "this would be great for London". I wonder how much support this has outside London itself?
There are many greener cities in the UK and I see no reason why London should be the first, even if one does agree that "City National Parks" are a good idea. "Because it's London and the world would take notice"....and???
Grrr, this whole idea has well and truly "triggered" me tbh
You mean well so some of the critique here probably stings a little. I think folk are a bit wary
a) of another confected challenge, especially with a lot of road miles to link up
b) of the idea of London as a National Park, which is blatantly silly
Yeah sorry to go off on a tangent/bitter rant about London, OP.
Good luck with your project!
The 15 National Parks deserve all the promotion they can get.
Thank you for your comment, I get it completely, it is ANOTHER challenge... The point of this is to explore our countryside and share it with those who may not have been there, but also make people a little more aware of the truth behind each National Park, the amazing places and the issue.
London would always be a contentious issue, but that's good, it's great to hear peoples constructive points... I am fortunate enough to have some time with every national park authority in the coming months to chat about each park, if there are regular points (good and bad) that people bring up, then I will gladly raise that to try and add some more benefit.
No worries at all - its good to hear what people really think... I will do the best I can, thank you.
I think the aims of the London Project are highly laudable and I wish them luck, but . . . I have problems with them aspiring to be a 'National Park'. There is enough pressure for ever more development in our current Parks without people being able to say "if London can be a National Park, then why does it matter how many zip-wires we build, or pay and display carparks we create, or how big the Low Wood Hotel is allowed to become, or how many acres of tarmac we spread around at Dove Cottage, or access tracks we bulldoze for mini 'green' hydro plants, etc?"
Our National Parks are under intense pressure and woefully under resourced considering the magnitude of the challenges they face. I think simply 'making more people aware of them' lacks ambition. We need a call to arms to properly re-commit the Government to the real essence of what makes these places special.
> Our National Parks are under intense pressure and woefully under resourced considering the magnitude of the challenges they face. I think simply 'making more people aware of them' lacks ambition. We need a call to arms to properly re-commit the Government to the real essence of what makes these places special.
A thousand time this^
but your comments about a developed national park devaluing the others are equally important. London can never be the lakes or snowdonia or Pembroke ( even though it is fragmented and isolated) and it is a false comparison to think otherwise
Thanks Ben. I've had a read and i can't say I'm convinced that London fits the national park scheme. I do really like your ideas about of raising awareness of sustainability though. Enjoy your run.
Thanks Dan an interesting article. I'm not convinced either, the national park scheme is designed for natural(ish) environments and with the best will in the world London isn't. I think it's really important to provide space and encouragement for nature in cities, especially as we become more urbanised, but I think the national park scheme is a very poor fit for that remit.
Also if London was a national park it could devalue the current parks. I can imagine developements that are appropriate in London being used by developers to argue a precedent in traditional parks. In short good intentions but a bad idea in my opinion.
Thanks very much! Il be sure to post updates!
What is the scheduled date for you appearing on Breakfast TV with some Park Rangers to talk about National Parks?
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