Jungle Marathon – 1 week to go


Ok – nerves kicking in.

Last night it really hit home when I hosted a charity screening of the film The Hangover (available on DVD and blu-ray 7th December !) hosted at the wonderfully splendid Warner Brothers screening room (thanks my wife Sarah for getting hold of the film print and persuding the powers that be to generously provide the venue for the evening, and to Caitlin for all your help on the evening).


A wonderful evening attended by clients (thanks all for coming) friends( thanks friends and my personal trainer Neil McCutcheon for not showing up, see you next Tuesday ?), and of course my support crew including campaign manager Henry Majed, Dietician Dave Stevens, Medical Support Crew Liz Colton and friends, and Simon Fisher for his words of wisdom).

People were asking why I am doing this race. Why indeed???. I have no idea. Especially as Ive now got a week to go and when I was having my medical looked into last week I had to have ECG testing, BP scans (had to wear a 24 hour Blood Pressure monitor which kept on going off in meetings) and blood tests.

The ECG scan itself spotted a slight blip, or as they say “showed voltage criteria for hypotrophy’. Which in itself is apparently quite normal for endurance atheletes like me….



The doctor phoned whilst I was in Tuscany last week to say Ive now been given the all clear ! hoorah !


So last nights event raised over £800 for the British Red Cross – thanks to my employers, The Bezier Group for committing to the tickets ( just awaiting the cash now please….and also for those kind souls who paid hard earned cash for tickets).

Just been reading the course update…here s a summary:

Distance, the total course distance this year is 222km.

Due to all the heavy rain during the rainy season water levels have not subsided as much as normal so many parts of the course will be very wet and water crossings will be deeper than normal.

The first stage is still the shortest and really probably the toughest, as it has the most concentrated elevation. You really have to take it very easy this first day, if you don’t, you will never recover enough to complete the course.
Throughout the stage you are either going up or down, there is very little flat. The climbs and descents are very steep, you will need to use your hands on many of the climbs and also grab onto trees on the way down on the fast descents to steady yourself.

The second stage still has some climbs and descents but a lot more flat parts of the course and also three main areas of swamp crossings. Those of you wishing to increase your speed will be able to do so on this stage, but always be on the lookout for roots of trees and other natural obstacles in your path.
It is impossible to avoid going into the swamps, and you are likely to get lots of ticks. To remove them, you can either pull them out with tweezers if you do it early enough or smear some Vaseline onto the tick as it will then come up to the surface to breathe and you can pull it out then. They go for moist damp areas such as under arms, behind knees, top of legs, behind the ears…well basically anywhere….

Stage 3 is fast and brutal. A mixture of everything- plenty of flatter parts where you can increase your speed, some insane (!!!!!!) elevation, some water parts to it and it goes into one of the villages so you get a chance to see some local life. This is a very long stage, its nearly 38km. don’t hang around at the checkpoints for too long, you need to keep a steady pace to get out of the jungle before dark.

The 4th stage is mainly flat and a good stage to recharge your batteries before the long stage. There is only one climb, towards the end of it.
You do start it will a 250m water crossing………

5th stage is a combination of everything.You begin ith a water crossing of around 220m. There are plenty of fast parts to make up time and also the steepest climbs and steepest descents in the entire course. There are a huge amount of natural obstacles on the fastest parts, you will be frequently climbing over fallen trees. Always check what is on the other side before you put your foot down or grab onto a fallen trees trunk- this is a favourite place for snakes to doze. !!!
It is possible to make it out of the jungle before dark, but if you don’t you will have to stay at CP4 during the dark zone- this area of the jugnel has a huge population of jaguar and we cannot have competitors wandering round here in the dark. The jungle campsite is well protected. There is a campfire, guides with guns (I want one !!) and full medical support.
Once you pass this CP, the next CP is out of the jungle onto paths and trails through several little villages. it is mainly flat ( though there is a steep climb after CP6) and a few more hills between CP7 and 8. Some of it takes you down onto the waters edge along the shores of the Tapajos. If you do this in daytime there is very little shade, make sure you have something to cover your head.
The last few kms of this seem endless. The total distance for the long stage this year is 89.39km. There is one part still with a huge amount of water along the shoreline, so we will make a decision the week before the race whether to amend this and bring you onto the road if it is still deep as it would not be prudent for those of you doing it in the dark.

The final stage is along the stunning beaches of the Tapajos river and through several little villages. It is over 30km so still a long stage,with little shade. But there are several creek crossings to cool you down.

My hunting knife has turned up which makes me a little happier, just cant fit everything into my rucksack at the moment !

Hope that made interesting reading, I am losing sleep over it !!

I will endeavour to send more updates leading up to and from the jungle if my email update works from the Jungle – technology permitting.


Jungle Training – 3 weeks to go…Scotland

“Misty moors and swells of heather,
Thistle leaves as downy feathers.
Soaring cliffs to bracken plains;
Becalming so; the peaceful rains.”

The beautiful land that is Scotland. A long weekend in Gullan,  just outside of Edinburgh is where we set our scene, from ancient grudge break to new mutiny, where civil blood makes civil hands unclean…a training weekend was instore whilst visiting family. The beautiful surroundings of the East Coast lay setting to what can only be described as blissfull running. Hills, dunes, sea, rock and all in the stunning settings of the beach.


Some trecherous terrain which led to grappling around and a few falls however aside from this, a thoroughly good bashing for the legs.


The long run was eventful however, only covering 18 miles, it was a mix of terrain and also people whom I met on route. The most disturbing moment was when I accidently ran into a bird protected zone.


Easy mistake to make however some people can be so rude !  An English couple, in Scotland, telling me I was ruining their weekend by scaring all the birds away. Armed with a massive camera and telescope they were most miffed.

Jungle Training – it continues…www.justgiving.com/iamtombird

4 weeks to go !  Training has been a challenge this week with shin splints and time in general ! I have had my typhoid and yellow fever injections, just need a bit of cholera for good luck next week !

This week  I met up with Mark Hines, author of several endurance books (available at all good book shops and online stores) and Excercise and Human Physiology Lecturer at the British College of Osteopathic Medicine. Mark completed the Jungle Marathon last year and was carrying out some research on “Endurance Atheletes”. As I fitted the bill (kind of) I was prepared to be guinea pig for some bod pod tesing and VO2 testing, ooer….

Marks tales of being attacked by Bullet Ants and people falling out of hammocks left me a bit nervous before he asked me to dress down to my lycra shorts and put on a swimming cap.

Session went well…


He said it was to do with body mass index measurement but it kind of reminded me Seth Brundle in the Fly ! All said and done, I was a little bit lardy according to the results (it was actually the muscle size that threw out the figures and apparently the machines arnt that accurate anyway…).

A bit of Vo2 testing was next on the cards:




Simple in concept but when the machine starts and the incline begins to rise, its only a matter of minutes before things start to get a little tasty. However for my age I fall into the superior category which in itself is better than excellent !

A few other tests were carried out such as bone density and another one which meant I had to balance on one foot with my eyes closed, whilst he took photos. Nuff said.

The rest of the week was spent training  – including runs into work, gym, swim and a good bit of ol Bikram Yoga.

My kit however is my current concern as I have yet to get all my medical supplies and have a few outstanding pieces to contend with. I did however manage to sort out my hammock. The snake skins arrived during the week so I was fully able test it, and I managed to get it up on Clapham Common. Phnerk.


The excitement of trying to get into it was unbearable. But such a relief as it wasnt that complicated at all. Worrying over nothing.

My long run on the otherhand was a bit of a farcicle trip around London. Through the concrete jungle again, dodging cars, taxi, buses, tramps – and that was just to get to Hampstead Heath.

At Victoria however, whilst charging along to the theme tune from Chariots of Fire I managed to trip my feet, over onto the pavement with my rucksack falling on top of me and crashing onto my elbow and knee. As there were a few people around I swiftly got up and carried on running as though nothing had happened to soon later realise I had yet another gashing arm. When does it stop ! At this point I was only 3 miles into at least a 15-20 miles session. After much deliberation I thought, worse things will probably happen when Im in the Amazon so I may as well crack on with it. So I did.

The highlight of my run had to be at about mile 17, running back through Mayfair and past Claridges to see Chris Eubank (ex boxer) playing with his phone and carrying a nice little tanned man bag. To his credit, someone who is more accustomed to using his fists, I said “alright fella” and in his classic voice said ” urrr Helloooo” to my delight !