All posts by adventureferg

Kayaking through the world’s largest archipelago, The FT How To Spend It

Blisters, muscle fatigue, never-ending daylight – and sleep deprivation: Fergus Scholes tackles an 18-hour odyssey through the world’s largest archipelago in Finland.

Northerly latitudes and vast swathes of untouched wilderness make summertime in Finland a 24/7 haven for lovers of the outdoors. Often overlooked in favour of neighbours Sweden and Norway, Finland, in fact, holds its own on just about every front – particularly its water ones: 188,000 lakes and a rugged coastline, deeply indented with bays and inlets. The Archipelago National Park on its southwest coast is a jewel in the crown; its more than 40,000 islands make it the biggest archipelago in the world, and with “everyman’s right” you can roam wherever you like, free as a bird.

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Running tours of Cambodia’s ancient temples, The FT How To Spend It

The ancient temple complexes around Siem Reap are spread over miles of dense jungle, and rarely explored solely on foot. Fergus Scholes does just that – at speed.

Run to see the world: it’s a mantra I’ve lived by for some years now. Marathons in cities, across deserts, over mountain ranges and along coastlines have been some of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. So upon hearing about a “temple run” through the famous ruins at Angkor, in Cambodia – exploring the 1,000‑ year‑old capital of the Khmer empire not by tuk-tuk, but on foot, at speed – I was instantly intrigued.

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9 TIPS FOR RUNNING IN THE SUMMER, FROM KEEPING HYDRATED TO WHAT TO WEAR, The Independent

Nothing quite beats summer running; clear blue skies, warm temperatures, long days, and hedgerows abundant with wildlife and flowers. The psychological benefits of running are even more heightened when the weather and our surroundings make us feel so good.

But when the mercury starts edging higher, it’s important not to get too hot-headed and to hit the trails without some preparations – this is essential, not only from a performance perspective, but also for the sheer enjoyment of the activity.

Sports nutritionist Liam Holmes tells The Independent: “Just a five per cent drop in hydration can result in a 20 per cent drop in performance”, particularly hitting home the point. Therefore, it is well worth considering the following suggestions before putting on your trainers and heading out for your summer run.

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Canyon running and via ferrata in Oman, The FT How To Spend It

The jagged cliffs of the remote Al Hajar range dare Fergus Scholes to accept a vertigo-inducing via ferrata challenge and a gruelling 30km canyon run.

The Al Hajar range, about 50km inland from the Gulf of Oman, couldn’t be further from the glitz of the cities synonymous with the Middle East. These remote mountains are Oman’s majestic calling card, with vast panoramas and topography to rival any of the world’s best canyon lands. Peaks rise to 3,009m above sea level; deep wadis sheer vertically through the arid, untamed landscape.

It’s the perfect place to undertake two extreme physical challenges. My plan is to test out a via ferrata (or climbing route) that opened last year created to explore the mountains’ thrilling vertical elements; then, the next day, join together a series of four remote footpaths – each classed a “day hike” – into a single gruelling, testing run, covering 30km and 2,500m ascents. The trip can’t come soon enough.

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10 Best cycling shorts for men, The Evening Standard

Cycling shorts are skin-tight, and intended to improve comfort and efficiency. The natural evolution of this is the ‘bib’ short. These are cut higher than a traditional cycling short ensuring there is no gap between your jersey and shorts, and they also feature integral suspenders/straps to keep them in place (rather than an elasticated waistband, which can be uncomfortable).

Cycling shorts have a whole host of features to make riding more enjoyable. They will be fitted with a chamois – a padded section offering comfort for your bum – and can have moisture wicking properties, offer compression, have SPF, improved aerodynamics, protection from road rash, waterproof, windproof, storage etc etc.

We have compiled the latest and best bib cycling shorts available on the market, from £50 right through to £235.

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Rowing an ocean: The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge

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In December 2013, myself and three friends stepped aboard a 29ft boat to row an ocean. We pushed off from the Canary Islands in early December, and almost immediately found ourselves in a huge storm getting pushed back towards land. After 3 days of being couped up in a tiny cabin, we resumed progress and reached Antigua after 48 days at sea. It was the most challenging and amazing adventure of my life.

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13 adventure trips you need to take this summer, Redbull

Now the good times are back, it’s high time you planned a life-affirming adventure getaway. Start with one of these epic trips…

Sharpening your elbows to bag the best sun lounger around the pool at some all-inclusive hotel really won’t cut it anymore. Holidays are now all about maxing your valuable time and exploring as much as you can, immersing yourself in different cultures, pushing yourself physically, making new friends and feeling on top of the world.

Get your fill of adventure with one of these epic trips…
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10 best running nutrition products, The Independent

If you’re running for over an hour, refuelling during your event is a necessity. “Our bodies can only store a certain amount of glycogen,” says sports nutritionist Liam Holmes. “You will need to provide this fuel in order to maximise your performance.”  Enter the world of energy drinks, gels, chews, bars and snacks, all sources of carbohydrate. Used in the right way, these will replenish your body and power you to the finish line ensuring you don’t hit the dreaded “wall”.

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Interview With Supercar Vlogger Mr JWW

James, aka Mr JWW, is a good mate of mine, and in the last year and a half he has established himself as one of the world’s foremost and popular super car Youtube vloggers. He is a legend and absolutely smashing it!!

As soon as you see one of his videos, you will see just why he has become such a success – he is passionate, genuine, engaging, real and cool, and people gravitate to him and enjoy watching his weekly exploits from epic trips around the world!!

Recently, James dropped by, and we went for a spin around Chelsea in his sweet Porsche GT3. We talked about rowing the Atlantic Ocean, running across the Wadi Rum desert, life and cars, and the pleasure was all mine.

James really is a legend, and keep your eye on him as he’s going places ..!!


Check out Mr JWW’s channels:

Mr JWW Youtube

Mr JWW Instagram

Mr JWW Facebook

Mr JWW Twitter 

Trans Atlas Marathon: 280km Across Morocco’s Mountains

Ibn Battuta (1304 – 1369) is widely recognised as one of the greatest travellers of all time covering some 73,000 miles, eclipsing his near-contemporary Marco Polo by some way. He was Moroccan, and one of the native Berber people who have called North Africa and the Atlas Mountains home for millennia, many of whom still maintain a nomadic lifestyle to this day.

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Mohamad and Lachen with 15 MDS victories between them

Two such Moroccans truly embracing this spirit are the Ahansal brothers – Mohamad and Lahcen – who have made a name for themselves as two of the best ultra marathon runners in the world. Between them they have come first and second in no less than fifteen Marathon des Sable races.  It is no surprise that they have gone about setting up their own event; one in their homeland embracing the true nomadic Berber spirit; an ultra marathon which eclipses most others.

And so the Trans Atlas Marathon (TAM) was born in 2013, and this year will be the sixth annual event.

Key Facts:

  • 6 day ultra marathon (15th – 20th May) across the High Atlas Mountains
  • 285km in total
  • 12,000m of ascent and descent across
  • The highest point of the route will be at an altitude 3,400m above sea level, which to put in comparison eclipses Europe’s highest ski resort of Val Thorens by 1,100m (its highest point is 2,300m).
  • Temperatures will rise up to 35 degrees celsius at the peak of the day
  • The course is marked all the way along, and there is a team of at least 6 medics spaced out over the course monitoring the competitors.
  • The race isn’t ‘self supported’, so we will carry a day bag with only those mandatory equipment needed for that stage, such as your food, capacity for up to 3 litres of water, spare clothing should the weather come in, first aid kit etc. This will likely weigh around 5kg when fully packed. Each night we will stay in tented camps and have our evening meal and breakfast cooked for us.
  • There is a ‘lite’ version available for runners should 280km be too far. This is 120km over the same 6 days, but these competitors run part of each day’s route and then are collected by 4×4 vehicle.

Needless to say, this is an exceptional, unique and challenging ultra marathon, which puts it into a league above most others. Last year there were 47 competitors in total – 35 of whom completed the course, results here – and this year there is a similar number expected on the start line. It is intended to have a personal and family feel with no more than 100 competitors ever taking part in any one year.

This is an exceptionally challenging event, in particular given the altitude and ascent of each day which sets it apart from a lot of other ultra marathons. It seems to have all the hallmarks to truly find your threshold and push you to a level where you might quit. But looking at testimonials of last year, it seems it will be six days of your life which will be with you forever and ultimately make you a better and stronger person.

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Sebatian Haag, UVU Sponsor representative and Product Development for UVU

The Trans Atlas Marathon takes place between 12th – 22th May, and costs 1,490eur.

The ‘Lite’ version (a shorter part of each day’s route) costs 1,650eur.

TAM are partnering with Facing Africa. This is a charity battling the acute infection Noma which affects the face, the victims of whom tend to be children under 6. With up to a 90% mortality rate, and 140,000 new cases each year in sub-Sahr Africa, the charity sends out teams of surgeons to treat children and educate to help prevent it. 

My First Desert Ultra Marathon: the 242km Wadi Rum Ultra in Jordan

I was lucky enough to take part in the first ever 242 km Wadi Rum Ultra-marathon in September 2016. After 29 hours and 36 minutes of running over 5 days, I crossed the finish line in second place with the most enormous smile on my face having had one of the best experiences of my life!! It was so totally worth the training, pain, expense, time and commitment.

Here is a short video I put together to give you a flavour:

Background to the race

The race is set in the Wadi Rum Desert, a 278 sq mile sun scorched expanse situated in the south-western corner of Jordan, around a 4 hour drive from the capital city Amman. It is a 5 day event through the most stunning but unforgiving backdrop. There were just 7 competitors in total taking part, so it was a really intimate and friendly race, and this for me was without doubt one of the best aspects. The longest day was a gruelling 70km stage through soft sand, taking around 10 hours to complete with temperatures reaching around 40 degrees celsius – the stage was set for an unforgettable week!!

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Here is my story ..!

We lined up on the start line on a rather chilly Monday morning at 5am, the beginnings of dawn happening. All bar one of us had very little race experience of any description! There was one competitor who clearly stood out from the rest of us amateurs; namely the fantastic and legendary Jordanian ultra runner Salameh El Aqra, whose Marathon des Sables accolades include coming runner up in the  8 times, and winning it in 2012!! It was a real privilege lining up with him on the start line, albeit it did make us feel pretty inadequate and ill prepared!

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The starter horn went and we all trotted off on day 1. The picture above at the start line from my GoPro moments before we set off!  My water bottle (admittedly, untried and tested, mistake number one!), started leaking immediately, but fortunately there weren’t too many more kit malfunctions to come!

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Having never competed in any form of multi day ultra marathon before I was unsure of my limits, and the last thing I wanted to do was to bolt out of the starting blocks and then have to pull out on Day 3 from bad blisters, dehydration or exhaustion. To my benefit was rowing the Atlantic 3 years ago, so from this I knew that pacing and looking after even the smallest niggle is of paramount importance. But now having completed this ultra, I have much a better understanding of my capability and all those elements involved with a desert ultra marathon, and I probably would be slightly more aggressive on my pacing next time.

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Above: Me running along side Salameh El Aqra (2012 MdS winner), that was a real honour and one of the highlights of the race for me. I managed a couple of full 10km legs with him (running at 6min km pace), but I couldn’t sustain that for too long ..!!

What is the Wadi Rum Ultra comprised of?

So it’s a five-day event, totalling 242km, comprised of the following stages: Day 1 50km, Day 2 70km, Day 3 50km, Day 4 42km and Day 5 30km. It was actually meant to be 300km (including a 100km day) but after two of the competitors ended up having to drop out from salt loss and dehydration, the race organiser took the decision it was best for all involved to reduce Day 4 from 100km down to a marathon (42km) to make sure nothing more serious happened to anyone. Even Salameh (the MdS winner) backed this, as he too was finding the conditions quite tough.  We would start each day very early to avoid as much of the heat of the day as possible, with the longest day (the 70km), starting at 3am, meaning three hours of running in the dark with head torches and glow sticks – this was super cool, the stars were phenomenal!! But even then by around 10.30am, you’d really start to feel the heat.

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Each morning, the course is made by local Bedouin guides who go ahead in a 4×4 and put little flags marking the route every 30m or so for the competitors to follow. Sometimes you would be in a day dream and suddenly realise you hadn’t been keeping an eye out for the flags and that you’d lost them. This happened to me a couple of times, and believe you don’t want to spend an extra minute running than you have to, so this was infuriating and you’d get really annoyed at yourself!! Every 10km of the stage (between 1 hour and 1 hour 45mins of running), there would be a checkpoint, where the race organisers would have a vehicle, check you were OK, and top you up with water, and off you’d go. We would typically be finished by around 2 pm each day, so then we would try to stay off our feet as much as possible, and recover, eat and re-hydrate. You can do all the training you wish, but if you’re not replacing lost salts and re-fuelling, you could find yourself in some trouble!

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Above: Lee Fudge, the Safety Officer, topping my bottle up whilst I take a moment’s rest!

Conditions on the whole were quite favourable, other than it being very hot, I would say into the mid 30s. There was no particularly adverse wind. One of the days had very soft sand, and this was so very draining. On the 70km day, I was feeling right as rain at the 60km checkpoint, but the last 10km (in the hottest part of the day, around 1 pm) suddenly hit me hard, the sad was super soft, and I walked a considerable amount of this – it was tough! This was a particular lesson that respect for a challenge and a location like this was not to be underestimated at any moment, On Day 4, the 42km day, the surface was almost entirely baked hard salt flat, akin to running on tarmac, this was quite hard on the joints.

What kind of training was I doing  beforehand to make sure I was prepared as I could be?

I firmly committed to the race only around two and a half months before it, around mid June, so my preparation was by no means textbook! I had a good base level of fitness to build from though – probably at around 3:15 marathon level at the point I signed up – and my focus was then to start upping the mileage from my usual 10-20km runs ASAP! Over the months of July and August (the race being the beginning of September), I would be clocking a minimum of 100km per week. This would be comprised of running both before and after work 6 days a week. My peak week was at the beginning of August totalling 175km, including my longest training run of 60km. It was a complete change in mindset for marathon training, which was a lot of tempo and speed work. This was all about getting as many hours on the feet as possible, even if some of it was walking.

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Above: Here are Salameh and I at the end of Day 2 taking some much welcome shade! This was a brutal 70km stage, taking 9hrs 42mins.

What kit was I carrying with me for the day? Did all of it perform well?

We actually only had to carry what we needed for the day’s running, so unlike Marathon des Sables and some other ultras, we didn’t have to carry all our food and sleeping equipment. This no doubt made life much easier and meant we just had a small mandatory kit list (first aid kit, compass, windproof jacket for example), and food, gels and bars for the day, and that was all. So, fully loaded for the day with water (2.5litres) I would imagine the pack weighed in at around 4 – 5 kgs.

Footwear-wise, after much deliberation I opted for New Balance Leadvilles, which were just fantastic. While other competitors were hobbling around and visiting the doctor each night with blisters, my feet were in prime condition and were perfect! You’ll note we have gaiters affixed to the trainer to keep the sand out – these work very effectively.

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Above: The start of day 5 .. just 30km to go ..!!

Did I do anything with a charity?

Yes, with the support of my wonderful friends and family, I raised £2,565 for British Exploring, which is a brilliant youth development charity called the British Exploring Society. They work with young adults from all backgrounds aged between 16-25 and take them on challenging expeditions to remote, wilderness environments (such as the Amazon, Himalayas, Africa, the Yukon) to develop the next generation’s confidence, teamwork, leadership and spirit of adventure. As well as this, they also run several outreach programmes for some of the most deprived people in the UK. It’s a great cause.

Would I do it again?

In the blink of an eye I would do it again. No hesitation whatsoever. I intend to be back there this October for the next one, and I am eyeing some other ultra marathons, both home and abroad, in the meantime .. bring on the adventures of 2017 …!!!

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Above: Moments after we had all crossed the finish line, this request by the photographer for us all to ‘jump’ wasn’t most welcome!! Competitors: David Radcliffe, Zander Whitehurst, James Whitehurst, Alexander Spencer, Salameh Al Aqra and Mohsen. Organiser: Jamie Sparks, ‘Great Michael’ and Lee Fudge.

The next Wadi Rum Ultra starts on the 7th October 2017 with a total distance of 260km over 5 days. The entry price is a bargain £750, and I would highly recommend this if you were thinking of a challenge for 2017..!!

You can view my short YouTube movie of the run by clicking here.

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10 Best budget road bikes

If you’re looking to enjoy the open road on a bike that isn’t going to break the bank, there are plenty of great options for under £1,000 out there that will give you a very good ride.

When deciding which bike is best for you, first up and most importantly, carefully consider what material the frame and forks are made from – carbon, aluminum and steel will be your options and generally speaking this order is the most preferable too.

Next, look at the gears – for a budget bike the best you’re likely to get is the ever reliable Shimano 105 (or equivalent) – but this isn’t the be all and end all. Of course also important to consider are brakes, wheels, seatpost, tyres, saddle –  you’ll no doubt know what features mean most to you.

We have selected a range of road bikes to fit most budget options, riding styles, and a variety of occasions.

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