Support through Sport UK spoke to Malcolm Anderson about Run for Tomorrow (R4T) ....
Thanks for talking to us, Malcolm. So what is R4T?
R4T is a non-stop continuous relay-style run around the world by a core team of 10 experienced marathon runners. Each member of the team runs a marathon distance and passes the baton to the next runner. We run through more than 30 countries and for 200+ days, all the while, the runners keep rotating and the baton never stops moving.
What is the aim of R4T?
The purpose of R4T is to improve the health and well-being of individuals around the world. R4T will educate children and adults about the importance of healthy living and exercise, and encourage and inspire them to commit to making positive changes in their own lives. R4T is committed to raising awareness and support for people with diabetes, heart and stroke conditions, children and youth, and those who are in poverty (represented by our partner charities). Basically, we want to be the 'spark' that will help people be more active.
When will the run start and what route will it take; will the team be running across the UK?
Yes we will be running in the UK! We start our ‘big run’ later this year on September 15th, in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, and return to Ottawa several months later. The R4T team will journey through southeastern Ontario to Toronto. From there the route will take the runners into the United States via Detroit. R4T then makes its way across the US to Los Angeles, then up the west coast through San Francisco and Seattle before returning to Canada in Vancouver. We fly to New Zealand and then continue through Australia, SE Asia, India, Africa and Europe. We’ll arrive in Scotland from Northern Europe and head down to London before heading across to Wales and then Ireland. We return to North America via New York City then Boston, and after having run through 32 countries, we’ll hopefully celebrate a Guinness World Record relay run with our own R4T running weekend when we arrive back in Ottawa!
How long should it take to complete?
We’re estimating just over 200 days. We’re in the process of mapping the very detailed routes, making assumptions about the time it will take to complete the respective marathon distance legs and so on.
What motivated you to set up R4T?
I was writing a book about runners from around the world who have each completed 100 or more marathons (some over 1,000) - the book is called ‘The Messengers’ - and I was coming home on a train from meetings in Toronto. Knowing what a difference that running makes in my own life, and hearing what it had done for the lives of the runners around the world I’d interviewed for my book, and my friends and so on, I thought why can’t we runners somehow create a spark, be a catalyst for changing people’s lives - get them more active and healthy? And I thought of several causes where being physically active makes a huge difference to people’s lives (e.g, diabetes, stroke, cancer … children and youth). I thought getting a group of runners who can run long distances (and often) to be part of a team running around the world could capture the interest and imagination of people all over. So I started scribbling notes on a piece of paper about how it could work, who should I ask about being one of the runners, who could be advisors and so on. When I got home I pinned the page on my noticeboard and put the date on it. And that’s where it started. I kept chipping away at the idea and got more and more people involved and it’s quite a buzz to see it where it is today!
And, finally, is it true that you've run almost 50 marathons and ultras? What have been the highlights?
Yes it's true, and I hope to run many more. I enjoy it because I feel healthier and always feel better after a run. We all know the benefits, and the research evidence is overwhelming strong - better physical, mental and emotional health, social connectedness, and opportunities to meet new people and see and learn about new places. I’ve been fortunate to have run in lots of different events, and have lots of great experiences / memories and made many friends, but my favourites have been the Comrades Ultra in South Africa, the Brathay 10 marathons in 10 days challenge, the Connemara Marathon in Ireland, and the Tahoe Triple (three in three days) in the US. The third day marathon was neat because a bear ran across the road in front of me as I turned a corner on the road. I think he was more surprised than I was so he quickly scurried down a slope off the side of the road. I just kept running wondering if I needed to change my underwear.
I had a big blast when I ran a local 5 km race with my two sons, who were about 8 and 11 at the time. And it was a thrill to see them feeling so good about themselves when they’d finished the race. I ran the Athens Marathon (my second ever) a few years ago as part of another book - ‘A Marathon Odyssey’ - and that’s where I met a guy on a train platform from England, Dave Major, the night before the run, who turned my thinking about marathon running upside down when he told me it was a special race as it would be his 200th. We talked for about forty minutes as the train meandered back into downtown Athens. I was inspired, and went on to write about the Messengers, and I also ended up running more and more myself!! And not only did I learn about distance running and what it means to runners in other countries, some of my best friends now are runners whom I’ve met running and writing, and they live all around the world. I feel very privileged to have met so many great people, and I feel very lucky, every day, that I can get out and run, and stay healthy.
Thank you so much for talking to us, Malcolm; it's been fascinating. We wish you the very best of luck with R4T and would love to come and cheer you all on when you get to the London stage of the run!