Here, not elsewhere

By Aleks Kashefi

The purpose of adventure is to learn. You think you know something, you test it through the challenges adventure throws at you, you refine it and then retest. There were moments in Norway and Sweden where I questioned my motives. Then I questioned my methods. I realised that I was trying to do what I thought others expected of me. What others saw as adventure based on what popular media portrays. That's the point I stopped. I refused to play the game and realised the best way to inspire others to be more active, to take on challenges and to use them to learn is to just do what I need to do on a daily basis.

The distance ahead stopped being a huge mental block, the lack of food, the cold, any aches or pains, lack of water, the wet, all the things that were a huge drain physically and mentally seemed to melt away. Running became free. I finally understood a term I've been carrying with me for a while...

"Here, not elsewhere" An old North American Indian saying used as the name for the Americas before it was populated by others. Now tis just a case of running. Solving problems on the go without the indecision. If it goes wrong so be it. A new solution is put to the test.

I've left the wilds of Norway, the empty woodlands of Sweden and the more populated Denmark behind me and I head south through Germany. The problems I once had are now a source of comfort. Food is everywhere, a day time coffee and somewhere warm to sit is easy to find. Now the problem is sleeping at nights.

Civilisation seems to swallow the spaces that you can pitch a tent and sleep, so I'm seeking shelter in abandoned buildings, under foot bridges, in the doorway of shops, in allotments and occasionally in parkland, hidden by the darkness of night. The temperatures are still low. A glorious sunny day is followed by a night in subzero temperatures but then, I've learn to deal with this. My body feels the cold less and with the additional calories I have access to it can generate its own heat through the night, insulated by my PipeDream 400. It's just a case of following the Rhein south, then the Rhone valley to Spain, skirting around the Pyrenees on the east coast of Spain and heading to Punta de Tarifa. A small tear drop that is the furthest point South on mainland Europe. Strange that by doing something quite ordinary I'm going to be the first person to ever run the entire length of mainland Europe, and to do it with minimal equipment, self supported and to the horror of many runners and hikers, in a pair of sandals all the way.

The harsh mountains of Norway and Sweden have been replaced by the tarmaced footpaths of Germany and what lies ahead of me is a mystery. Still, that's the whole point of this sort of thing. A step into the unknown, holding hands with your best friend... fear and uncertainty. Without them it wouldn't be an adventure. It would be the same dull challengless routine I left behind.

2500km of a 6000km run left!

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