Circumpolar Race Around the World

posted in: Home, News | 0

1st September 2020 to 3rd December 2021

Fifteen months ago, in the middle of the Covid pandemic, Mark Baker was asked to join a group to virtually run around the world.

The headline was … ‘The run of a lifetime awaits you. A run that will completely circumnavigate the Earth’.

Then the nitty gritty … ‘We have divided the planet into 12 Regions, so that you can complete an entire section in a relatively short time, with a medal for each regions. When you have completed your journey, there will be a world puzzle into which your pieces will fit to show your complete journey around the earth. We begin the trek at the US/Mexico border, and take on Latin America first, traveling down through Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama, before taking a Ferry to Colombia to complete the first Region. From Colombia we cross the mountains to travel down the Pacific coast through Ecuador and Peru into Chile to complete the Andes Region. Crossing the mountains back to Argentina we travel all the way to the tip of South America finishing the Pampas region by taking the Dornier to Antarctica. Antarctica is our longest continental region, crossing the South Pole on the way to boarding the Dornier for the flight to Tasmania. Antarctica was, unfortunately, the only continent where we were unable to use existing roads, however, we spared no expense in cutting a narrow track all the way across for you and your accompanying support team in tracked vehicles. After running the length of Tasmania, we take the short hop to Australia, and run straight across the centre of the ancient land to finish the Down Under Region with a flight to Timor.

This initiates the Pacific Islands Region, as we run the length of one island after another, taking ferries in between: East Nusa Tengarra, Komodo, West Nusa Tengarra, Lombok, Bali, Java, and Sumatra, before completing our Pacific Island Journey with a ferry ride to Singapore. From there we journey up the Malay Peninsula and across Southeast Asia across Malaysia, Thailand, and Myanmar (Burma). After Southeast Asia you will travel all the way across India (and the inclusion of Bangladesh) to reach the Pakistan border. Due to tensions in the area, we have arranged for human traffickers to spirit you across the border into Pakistan during the dead of night, after which you will have high adventure crossing Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan (we call this region the Stans) to reach Eastern Europe in Russia. Your Eastern European tour will also include the Ukraine, Belarus, and Estonia, before finishing with a trip across Finland and Sweden to reach the Northernmost tip of Norway, ending in a remarkably short trip on the Dornier over the North Pole to reach the tip of Point Barrow, Alaska. We tried to arrange a “land” route across the North Pole, but sea ice being sea ice, we were unable to build a road that would stay in place. Once in Alaska, you begin the long and arduous trip across the Great North region of Alaska and Canada. Trust me, it is far, and the most sparsely populated part of the voyage excepting Antarctica! The circuit is completed with a straight shot across the Lower 48 back to your starting point on the Mexico border.’

Region Description Mark Amy Claudie Total Miles
1 Mexico to Panama 308 328 159 2,512
2 Colombia, Ecuador, Peru 432 320   3,094
3 Chile, Argentina 378 340   3,173
4 Antarctica 500 367   3,296
5 Australia 362 272   2,638
6 Indonesia 257 195   2,088
7 Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar 200 162   1,989
8 India, Bangladesh 163 140   1,661
9 Pakistan to Kazhakstan 288 193   2,319
10 Russia to Norway 341 295   2,696
11 Alaska, Canada 294 356   2,685
12 USA 188 120   2,057
    3711 3088 159 30,208

CRAW, a virtual Circumpolar Race Around the World, started as a team of 10 including 3 Northbrookers – Mark Baker, Amy Burdis and Claudie Combelas. We had 12 regions of varying distances to complete. There were a few changes along the way, and most of our regions had only 9 runners.

The runners were located far apart – Mark and Claudie were in Coventry. Amy was in the Netherlands, Ben, Louise, Alistair and Lisa were all near the Wales/England border. Phil and Susie were from Kent. Claire was from Lancashire. Tom was from Germany. Moy was from Canada.

We all kept our spirits up on a CRAW Whatsapp group, with encouraging messages and progress updates. After each leg we received a medal in the shape of the map, and a large wall chart display.

It was great to have a focus when there were no real races happening. Chatting to new people was also great. As time went on, the determination to finish took over, with the Silver Buckle award being presented for teams finishing within 16 months!

It’s a great achievement to finish. The longest event I’ve ever done. Great team work. It will always be a positive memory from difficult times.

Northbrook CRAW 2021 team members
l-r Mark Baker, Amy Burdis, Claudie Combelas

Here are a few thoughts from Facebook and Whatsapp along the way …

The CRAW team are now over a quarter of the way through the first virtual region from the US/Mexico border to Panama. Amy has just reached 100 miles, and leads the way in the team of 10. Mark is adding regular daily mileage and Claudie is adding very long runs of 20 and 40 miles.

Claudie: My legs are still sore from Sunday on Coventry Way 40 miles.

Louise: I’m pretty pleased. I’ve never done a sub 30-hour hundred miler before.

Lisa: We’re in El Salvador.

Phil: 11 miles today. Managed to break the key in the lock of the front door. Managed to break in.

Louise: Amy, just seen your mileage for the 24 hour race. Wow! Well done!

CRAW virtual relay region 1 completed with 2500 miles from Mexico to Panama in just over a month. Amy leading the way with most miles done. Region 2 is underway with 3000 miles from Colombia to Peru.

Amy: Can’t believe how fast it’s gone.

Alastair: Can’t run today. In quarantine.

CRAW virtual ultrarace region 2 is now completed, with 3000 miles through Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Just me (432 miles) and Amy (320 miles) now representing Northbrook in the team of 10. There’s a space for a new runner in region 3. So let me know if anyone wants to join up for another 3000 miles through Chile and Argentina.

Phil: I’ve got a 100 mile track race next weekend.

Amy: Running in Colombia and Lapland at the same time messes with my head too much.

CRAW virtual ultrarace region 3 is now completed, with 3000 miles through Chile and Argentina. Myself (378 miles) and Amy (340 miles) are representing Northbrook in the team of 10. Region 4 is a really exciting virtual challenge, with another 3000 miles through Antarctica, passing the South Pole. Our weather here is already helping to make it feel like Antarctica. There are 12 regions in total so we should be busy most of this year.

Lisa: We’re at the South Pole!

Susan: Thought I was cold.

CRAW virtual ultrarace region 4 is now completed, with 3200 miles through Antarctica. Myself (500 miles) and Amy (367 miles) are representing Northbrook in the team. The last 3 regions were the longest, all over 3000 miles. Region 5 is another 2600 miles through Australia, but will take us to about halfway in distance completed. The remaining 7 regions are shorter distances, but still at least 1600 miles each. We can do it!

Louise: Australia seems to be passing very quickly.

CRAW virtual ultrarace region 5 is now completed, with 2600 miles through Australia. Myself (362 miles) and Amy (272 miles) are representing Northbrook in the team. We are nearly halfway in distance completed, and the next 3 regions are shorter mileages. In Region 6, we will be running 2000 miles through Indonesia. We will keep going all the way to the end of the 12 regions.

Phil: Firehills in Hastings are amazing.

Mark: I ran a virtual half marathon today for the club.

Phil: I did a 50km race yesterday, and was dragged out today for 11 miles today.

CRAW virtual ultrarace region 6 is now completed, with nearly 2100 miles through Indonesia. Myself (257 miles) and Amy (195 miles) are representing Northbrook in the team. We are now well over halfway in distance completed, and the next few regions are shorter mileages. In Region 7, we will be running over1900 miles through Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar. We will keep going until we finish all the 12 regions.

Moy: Pushing to wrap up my second 100 miler this month.

Mark: Just completed the Peterborough Marathon.

CRAW virtual ultrarace region 7 is now completed, with nearly 2000 miles through Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar. Myself (200 miles) and Amy (162 miles) are representing Northbrook in the team. Amy is based in Netherlands where ‘real’ races are still not permitted, so it’s been all virtual runs. Hopefully that will change soon. Fortunately, I’ve managed to do a few ‘real’ events at marathon, half-marathon and 10km.We also have a team member in Canada. A few more are based on the mid Wales/England border, and others are based around England. Region 8 is the shortest region, but we will still be running over 1600 miles through India and Bangladesh. Some of the team are doing a ‘real’ ultra race called The Spine, along the Pennine Way, so we should be making quick progress. We’ll soon be finishing all the 12 regions, as everyone keeps the momentum going.

Lisa: Did my long run from Winchcombe to Cheltenham on the Cotswold Way.

CRAW virtual ultrarace region 8 is now completed, with 1600 miles through India and Bangladesh in just 3 weeks. This was the shortest region, with myself (163 miles) and Amy (140 miles) representing Northbrook in the team. In total, the team have now run over 20,000 miles towards the 30,000 miles required to complete all 12 regions. Next it’s ‘The Stans’. That will be 2,300 miles through Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan. Some of the team are logging high miles from ‘The Spine’ ultra race at the moment, so we are well on our way.

Susan: Well done Louise. Summer Spine race completed.

Ben: Just finished my Pennine 39 race.

Alistair: KACR starting tomorrow so that will be 145 miles to add by Saturday night.

CRAW virtual ultrarace region 9 is now completed, with 2,300 miles through ‘The Stans’, with myself (288 miles) and Amy (193 miles) representing Northbrook in the team. In total, the team are now over three-quarters of the way to completing all 12 regions. Next it’s Europe. That will be nearly 2,700 miles through Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden and Norway. We’ve been going for 11 months now, and if we finish before the end of the year we get the ‘Silver Buckle’ award. It’s looking good at the moment, but consistency will be the key to a great achievement!

Louise: North Downs Way 100 miles. Weather was hideous and mud was terrible.

Phil: Me and Susie have 40 mile race on Saturday.

CRAW virtual ultrarace region 10 is now completed, with nearly 2,700 miles through Eastern Europe with myself (341 miles) and Amy (295 miles) representing Northbrook in the team. The team are now very close to completing all twelve regions. Next it’s Alaska and Canada, to complete another 2,600 miles in region 11. We’ve ran for over a year now, accumulating more than 25,000 miles. We started in September 2020, and if we finish before the end of the year we get the ‘Silver Buckle’ award. The end is in sight!

Moy: About to crawl on to my treadmill to complete the virtual Boston Marathon.

Mark: The Yorkshire Marathon for me on Sunday. Lisa is running it as well.

Louise: Amy finished the A100 miles.

We’re nearly there! One region to go! CRAW virtual ultrarace region 11 is now completed, with nearly 2,700 miles through Alaska and Canada, with Amy (356 miles) and myself (294 miles) representing Northbrook in the team. The final region is 2000 miles through USA finishing back at the Mexico border. We’re looking forward to big celebrations in about a month’s time!

Phil: I ‘only’ made 233 laps (60 miles).

Alistair: I’ve got a 24 hour race from midnight on Friday!

We’re nearly there on our CRAW round the world virtual adventure! Almost 30,000 miles done. Only 500 miles to go! Hopefully finishing next week.

The final region was 2,000 miles through the USA to the Mexico border, with myself (188 miles) and Amy (120 miles) representing Northbrook in the team.

We’ve finished !!!

Louise: It’s done.

Mark: Well done everyone. A fantastic team effort!