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Member of the Month - ChrisHB

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pedroscalls asks: Congratulations Chris. As a great Conquerciser, are there any zones worldwide that you would like to run if time and money were not an object?

ChrisHB says: First, let me thank everybody for their congratulations. I am very flattered. It must mean that my contributions to the site are considered the equal of other people's achievements in running, coaching and encouraging. Thank you.
I'm really very happy with England. When I discovered European Long-Distance Footpaths I decided I would like to walk them in retirement with my wife. That's probably beyond the range of possibilities now, what with age, aging parents, and grandchildren. The one thing that was on my bucket-list until I decided I didn't like long-haul flights was to descend and climb the Grand Canyon in a day. When I was there I met someone who'd done that on his 60th birthday, in defiance of all the official advice. I told him I was nearly a marathon-runner, and he said I'd be able to do it. So no, zones don't matter, but experiences and effort do.
Carpathius asks: Well done Chris! :) Are the legs in your avatar yours? I have gait envy (that's a thing, isn't it?)

ChrisHB says: Thank you. Yes. I had some photos taken when I was very keen on improving my form, using the method of Chi Running. My avatar is the lower half of one of those. I only intended on that day to run with the best form I could manage. I was actually moving very fast indeed for me; that was an unintended side-effect. At the time I wasn't keen on having my face on the internet, but there are now a couple of normal photos of me at the very beginning of my Fetch gallery. The shoes I'm wearing are Nike Frees, the original affordable version. They cost exactly £100 less than the top current price, i.e. £24.99. I'm grateful to you for asking this question, because my focus on running well has slipped quite a lot. Running with better form is undoubtedly more enjoyable than plodding. I must work to regain what I've lost. It'll be worth it. I encourage you and anyone else to embark on this learning.
Diogenes asks: Congratulations. Are your shorts really that shorts or is it just your legs are incredibly long? Sorry, silly question, here's are sensible one: Have you always done these distant expeditions or was it semi-retirement/retirement and Conquercise that allowed you and spurred to on in your peregrinations?

ChrisHB says: No, they're much shorter than that, and no, my legs are a normal L size. My idea of how long shorts should be is stuck in the 1980s.
It was spending a summer working in Lincoln that set me on the ruinous path of Conquercise. Having to drive there and back, and the long evenings, gave me the ambition of completing a CQ path from Surrey to Cleethorpes. In doing that, I overtook the previous top explorer. I've never looked back.
GimmeMedals asks: Congratulations and very deserving. Your Conquercising is fascinating to follow. When famous people run long distances, they always have supporters joining them. Which Fetchie would you like to run with you or do you prefer to go solo?

ChrisHB says: Thank you. I fancy I'm best alone as I'm quite slow and stop increasingly often.

If any Fetchies can read maps infallibly... That means, not only having the ability, but the sense to use that ability when needed. Equally valuable is the ability to pretend to be looking at the map when you're actually just having a little break. On the other hand, running with someone is an encouragement to keep going.

I have thought of advertising my trips to see if anyone fancies joining me. The fact is, though, I often change my mind about where to go or which day to do it at extremely short notice.
The Mighty Fleecy asks: Hi Chris, well done on MOTM! You're an inspiration to runners everywhere with your explorations :) Could you tell us the decision making behind how you choose where to explore next, as it all seems quite random?!

ChrisHB says: Thank you. I have a list of 62 runs I want to do this year. It'll be about 120 long by the end of the year. The list is formed by what is offered by the rest of life (e.g. holidays, relatives) and what I fancy (e.g. Thames Path, Ridgeway, NDW). I like to join my runs together. Then there's what I can achieve in a day. I won't travel before cheap day returns are available on the train. Unless my wife is out for the evening, I have to be back at around 5 to make tea. Therefore my longest days are Saturdays if my wife is out all day. Then, McGoohan-like, I can get the first train to somewhere exotic such as Bedford.
Autumnleaves asks: Congratulations Chris :) Of the many places you've explored, is there a stand-out memory that you have of a running location?

ChrisHB says: Thank you. My all-time favourite walk is the NDW between Dover and Folkestone, and the finest place in the UK I've cycled is the Wye Valley. I've not run those routes yet.

I'm quite easily pleased, really. Probably my peak* running experiences have been on the SWCP, but you have to define running on those hills partly as "anything you do while wearing running kit".

Bright sunshine and a decent breeze make almost anywhere into heaven. More so if the sun and breeze are both behind you.

And just for you, the Peak District is great. There are several disused railway lines to run on. I did once run nearly up to the top of one of the hills around Matlock.

*pun intended
swittle asks: How are you doing in your quest to mature gracefully?

ChrisHB says: HA! You may not know that I have the power to delete questions I prefer not to answer.

Maturing... they say that growing old is inevitable, growing up optional. I would love to be mature. To react appropriately in line with my values - caring, nurturing - to what anyone says to me, or in any situation. The film "Bridge of Spies" impressed me beyond words as the villain was a man absolutely happy in his own skin. That's maturity for you.
BigChiefRunningBore asks: Do you still have that hat you used to wear at the Fetch Miles?

ChrisHB says: I have many hats, but that blue one no longer. Hats keep the rain off my glasses and the sun off the top of my head and are altogether a good thing. They can also get caught on dangling thorns or blow off in the wind, for the merriment of any onlookers.
Helegant asks: Congratulations Chris. I'm always amazed by your ability to get to and from a run. Are there any UK areas that you would like to explore that you just can't get to yet, and might Fetchies be able to help?

ChrisHB says: Thanks. I run according to the opportunities presented by life, and my ingenuity in exploiting them, not to mention my wife's tolerance (which might sometimes better be described by the ancient expression "long-suffering") and her general goodwill towards my foibles. So no, not really. Even when I have the use of the car, I rarely use it for running somewhere. On the other hand, what you suggest might open up some interesting and sociable opportunities.
DoricQuine asks: Congratulations Chris. Any chance of you coming to say hello to the Fetchies at Aberdeen parkrun one time you are up this way?

ChrisHB says: I'd very much like to. There seem to be a lot of you (us) in Aberdeen. I'd even do a Fetch Mile with you if the opportunity arose. I've only ever done one Parkrun, but I'm not hostile to the idea of another.

My daughter does live a fair way off, between Fyvie and Turriff, so the Ellon parkrun is another possibility if it's not washed away.
tulip asks: congrats Chris! Now that I'm increasing the distances I run, I am wondering what keeps you going on your long runs? (Cake, obviously, all Fetchies run on cake... ;-) But apart from that?) Do you think positive thoughts, have specific food that keeps you going, anything like that?

ChrisHB says: Thanks. Chocolate and bloody-mindedness; also the need to get home in time.

There was a time when the shame of stopping running was sufficient to keep me going. Now I am weaker and less proud.

I like to buy a pint of milk if I pass a shop, or if I find a pub, it's lime & tapwater. In summer I carry water with me.

I can get quite depressed around 8 miles and think I'd like to give up running &c. For years I've recognised this as a passing phenomenon, so I tend to observe it rather than let it get me down.
.B. asks: Congratulations Chris. I seem to recall you blogging about training for a half marathon. Do you have the desire to race any more, and if so which distance?

ChrisHB says: Thanks. A question which interests me. Part of it is how willing I am to be much slower than before, and part of it is whether I'm prepared to put in the effort that would surely produce some kind of result. You are a beacon of training and you (with others) do make me uneasy in my sloth.
Corrah asks: Many congratulations Chris :) If you could have dinner with 4 people (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?

ChrisHB says: Many congratulations Chris :) If you could have dinner with 4 people (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?

If we're living in fantasy-land, then maybe Swittle, and we could converse in Latin. And Tulip or Hanneke, ditto, Dutch. And Contro, French. I'm not aware of an Italian Fetchie, and I don't seem to have any wish to speak the languages of other Fetchies whose mother tongue isn't English. I know we have Finnish and Spanish.
Moses, Jesus, Mohammed and maybe Epicurus. It might lead to world peace. There would be no food until world peace had broken out. Can I be Miss World now, please?
sallykate asks: Many congratulations! If you couldn't run (heaven forbid!) what activity would keep you occupied?

ChrisHB says: Thank you. Trying to be realistic... Taking up gliding is the first thing that came to mind, but that's not realistic. I don't want the responsibility of flying a plane. Cycling, if there were a fine network of off-road, well-paved tracks around the country. I'd like to be a good gardener. Walking, or is that too close to running to count?
Alice the Camel asks: Well done, a worthy winner! How long do you spend planning run routes, considering they're often in areas you're not familiar with? I imagine you spending your evenings poring over maps, scribbling notes on bits of paper...

ChrisHB says: If you were to ask my wife, she would tell you that it is far, far, far too long. Except that I usually use Notepad rather than bits of paper, you are approximately right. It's not just evenings, though.
Tiggia asks: Well done ChrisHB. Top chap :)
I know you like exploring but if you could only run one route over and over again for the rest of your running days, which would it be?


ChrisHB says: Thank you. I'd have to go back to the Taunus in Germany. If it weren't for the M25 and M23, there's a lot of decent running round here. The Surrey Hills are splendid but all too difficult to get to. If I have the misfortune to go totally deaf, I'd be pretty happy with one of the local routes.
Canute asks: Congratulations. Your running is a wonderful illustration of running as a way of experiencing the world. During a run, what sight or sound gives you the greatest surge of joy or excitement?

ChrisHB says: Sometimes it's a church spire, telling me the end of the run is within sight. And for sounds, I have been known to stop in a lonely place and sing at the top of my voice. That's more of an expression of joy than a joyful sound.

I love chattering rivers and waterfalls. I love evergreen and broadleaf forests, and forest trails. I love sunlight filtering through the leaves. I love the sea.
Lalli asks: Congratulations Chris. About time!! :-)
My question is; what got you started running in the first place and what makes you want to carry on when the going gets tough?


ChrisHB says: I really don't know why I made the change from avoiding running at school to running of my own volition. Possibly it was talking to some real runners who told me how much nicer it was running where and how you wanted rather than in the places school chose.

When the going gets tough... in general in life, I've had few opportunities to carry on when the going is tough. Life has been overwhelmingly easy and I'm mostly inclined to give in to difficulties. Finishing a run, once started, is a matter of needing to get home. Occasionally, if I'm running a long way on the track, something has kept me going. I think I've only done that as part of a woolly training plan, and the plan must be followed however woolly. Meeting a weekly target of about 30 miles coupled with preferring not to run after dark is quite motivating, but not as motivating as 40 miles pw. Finally I know I'm almost certain to feel better later for the run.
McGoohan asks: Well done Chris. So many things I could ask, so I'll have to ask the most obvious one.

Suppose you're on a game show, and you're given the choice of three doors: Behind one door is a car; behind the others, goats. You pick a door, say No. 1, and the host, who knows what's behind the doors, opens another door, say No. 3, which has a goat. He then says to you, "Do you want to pick door No. 2?" Is it to your advantage to switch your choice?


ChrisHB says: Unser Pfarrer hat zwei Ziegen und ein Auto. Damit ist er fast in der Lage, das Spiel zu veranstalten. Du kannst die drei Türen zur Verfügung stellen. Übrigens, ich nehme in diesem Fall die 2. Tür. Das verdoppelt meine Chancen.
Bintmcskint asks: Most wonderful worthy MOTM :-) You are stranded on a desert island. You can take one type of food, one book and one Fetchie. What and who do you take and why?

And let's assume that you have a cow as an island buddy so you have all the milk you could possibly need.


ChrisHB says: As I am some time soon going to be running in the UK's only desert, this is far from a purely speculative answer. One type of food: I have milk; give me the ability to make butter and cheese; I think maybe an endless supply of fresh peas. Or wholemeal bread. One book, assuming the Bible and Shakespeare are already there, would have to be "Surviving on and escaping from a desert island for dummies", or in terms of actual books that you might sell, maybe something current on Cosmology. Or Pride and Prejudice. Now to the Fetchie. Can we think of one with "DIY" in her name? The thing about Fetchies though is they're better than chocolate or cake. They are very, very rarely disappointing when you meet them.
mole-thing asks: Congratulations Chris. Which was the hardest zone to get to?

ChrisHB says: There are those that I've failed to navigate to, and I've had to plan an extra run to include. That was only relevant when I was grabbing the whole of London, and will be relevant again when I'm after the whole of Surrey. There are zones in the New Forest that are virtually all private land. In two of them, there's no permitted access, so they remain unexplored. I know of one more that may just be possible. Then there's a zone off Eastbourne that's available only at low tide + spring tide, and there's a similar one at Bournemouth which I explored purely by accident, possibly when I was running in the sea. The whole coast must have zones like that. For the future, there's one at the end of Southend pier. I'd have to pay to get that one.
Night-owl asks: Congratulations well deserved Chris. Have you a dream zone(s) yet to conquer

ChrisHB says: There's a highly dangerous path called the Broomway which crosses tidal mudflats from Shoeburyness to Foulness Island. You can take guided walks along it, or tractor rides, or you can navigate it yourself using instructions that seem to be unobtainable. I have read a book by someone who said it was quite easy, but he didn't reveal the secret. It's also possible to download a path to your phone to follow, but I'd want to be very experienced indeed at following my phone's directions before risking that.
BaronessBL asks: Many congratulations Chris, very well deserved. Do you have a vast collection of paper OS maps that can be spread all over the floor or do you prefer plotting routes online?

ChrisHB says: I have a fair collection of OS maps on paper, and I borrow from the library. I generally do broad plans on paper maps, and detailed plans online with all scales of map and Google Earth to see if a road has a footpath. Let's not forget that bus timetables are as important as maps!
LindsD asks: Congratulations! I love reading your blogs. I know you like milk to refuel, but what solid food is your favourite post-run snack? Do you like cake?

ChrisHB says: I usually skip lunch when I'm running, so a sandwich is quite a likely choice if I have a snack after a run. Generally I need to have a raging hunger before I eat after a run. Is that true? It may depend on whether I'm at home or not, and if I am at home, what is in the cupboard. Cake should be of very top quality and enjoyed only occasionally in a civilised manner with friends, Kaffee und Kuchen -style.
Seratonin asks: Well done on getting MOTM. Do you have any drinks, snacks or products of choice to keep you fuelled during your long runs?

ChrisHB says: Drinks: water that I carry in summer; milk if I find a shop; lime & tapwater, no ice, if I find a pub. My rule that there has to be a shop or pub at the six-mile mark of any run comes true remarkably often. Snacks are usually chocolate (kit-kat, picnic or three others whose names escape me and may therefore be more than three); sometimes crisps. Never, ever, ever any specially-formulated-for-sportspeople confection. I did once, and I doubt if it's a coincidence that that was the only time I've ever felt like vomiting during a run. I'm very sceptical about the idea of needing to refuel during a run. I'm sure I learned during marathon training that the point was to teach your body to burn fat. Eating sugar surely defeats that. Eating artificial sweeteners contained in "energy" products is lunacy.
Duchess asks: Congratulations. is it better to make public transport connections on time or not get lost?

ChrisHB says: I'm glad you asked this question, because it's an important question, and a question many people are seeking the answer to. And let's face it, it's never been more important than now in 2016, a year when many expected and unexpected events will happen, not only in this country, but around the world. Getting lost is incompetent. Let's be brutally frank about that. But is it not also an opportunity to examine what Lessons may be Learned, and hence an opportunity actually to Learn some Lessons? I know I have. Now to the first half of your question. Missing a bus may lead to having time to spend in a cafe. So now I have reinterpreted the question for you, is it better maybe to Learn Lessons or maybe to spend time in a cafe? I don't know what I think, but how about you?

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