‘Gnome’ tour & wild MARCHing

Ever seen those postcards of stolen garden gnomes touring the highlights of the world?!

We like to MARCH in the heat and sun – preferably the desert heat and sun – so a gnome isn’t going to help but our folding hydration bottles might! So we’re giving them their moment of fame and taking them on tour! And we’re gonna plog (picture blog) the tour from time to time!

And not just any old tour. We try to dodge the main roads & developed cities and MARCH wild. Picking our way round the coasts & beaches, the deserts & mountains, as we MARCH onward, wherever the feeling takes us. An epic way to run, to Adventure – totally free & wild.

Hey, and anyone can join the gnome MARCH – pick your own CHallenge and grab a MARCH folding hydration bottle – www.marchadventureracing.com/products-page/accessories/march-folding-drink-bottle/

And here’s the deal. Email us your shots (Camo@MARCHAdventureRacing.com)  and we’ll post them on our plog, facebook and twitter. And at the end of each month put you in the draw for some cracking MARCH prizes!

Remember, to MARCH is to finish – whatever your pace, wherever you place. So don’t worry about how long, how far, or how fast you run. Just pack ya camera, ya MARCH bottle and go discover life outdoors!!

And the MARCH photographic gnome, ahem I mean bottle, tour begins….

(In the usual way, scroll to the bottom for the start of the tour – the most recent plog will appear at the top.)


19 December 2013 – Lake Havasu City, Arizona, USA

Following Route 66 West from Flagstaff there is a ‘must do’ diversion – and it’s something pretty special for someone who has just lived in London for 15 years….

Yep, it’s London Bridge!

No joke, it’s actually London Bridge. And it’s in the desert in Arizona. Not just any old piece of dusty sand either. It takes you across the water to an island in the middle of Lake Havasu?!?!

(Can you find the ‘gnome’??)

The whole City is the story of one man – someone who worked HARDER than most and certainly pushed HIGHER. Robert McCulloch was the friend of Presidents and a wealthy man. He had interests in oil, chainsaws, outboard motors, airplanes and a bunch of cool stuff. A serial entrepreneur before anyone called you that he had a great pedigree with family members founding some great industries and products. And it was he who founded Lake Havasu City and decided the original London Bridge of 1831, by engineer John Rennie, would be its crowning glory. Purchased from the City of London in the 1960’s, dismantled, and brought stone by stone to Arizona to be re-assembled!!

But tracking back a little in our Gnome MARCH we started our run on the island – from the Nautical Beachfront Resort. A lovely spot on the shores of the lake.

From there we MARCHed towards the shore, enjoying the surreal experience of jogging across London Bridge in the heat and desert sun of Arizona, only to find even more reminders of our London home….

The Dragon Boundary Markers of the City of London?!!? Wrought iron gates from an English country manor house?!!?

And a Sir Giles Gilbert Scott telephone box?!?

30 minutes in to the MARCH now and what an experience it was turning out to be! Little London in the Arizona desert! Having seen the sights above we followed the lake shore for a cracking jaunt along the dirt paths – following our nose and hunting out the isolation of the desert. Making our turnaround at 40 minutes we had a great time jogging back through Little London, across London Bridge and back to our resort. A surreal and amazing experience – all made possible by an amazing man who pushed the boundary of what was possible and dreamed bigger than most!

We made it back just in time to watch the sun setting on the hills across the lake! (Apologies for the missing ‘gnome’ in this shot – a technology failure left us without the photo)

With a negative split we MARCHed easy for 75 minutes of blissful desert running – our last in Arizona.


17 December 2013 – Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

MARCHing in the Flagstaff footsteps of ultrarunning gods!

Flagstaff has a rich heritage of outdoor heroes and in ultrarunning circles one of their top residents is Rob Krar. A MARCH hero, new to the scene, but smashing it up in style. A full time Pharmacist and husband he still finds time to break records, while keeping a cracking full beard wild man style!

After yesterday’s easy MARCH in the Grand Canyon, Camo shot out the hotel door in Flagstaff for a new adventure – finding his own footsteps in this great ultrarunning town. Within minutes he’d found a a snowy path through the pines. And with the sun due to set in an hour it was important to head beyond the shadows and in to the sun.

At 7,000 feet Flagstaff is one of the highest elevation cities in the States so no wonder guys like Rob bust out amazing times on some of the hardest routes.

And with scenery like this it isn’t hard to train – even in in winter! Maybe Rob comes this way?

Not normally a fan of the ‘burbs there is something cool about living up above Flagstaff. His n’ hers 4x4s are a great way to autoMARCH (and like finding wally can you find the MARCH hydration bottle?).

It was still early days in the run – about 20 minutes in – and a good time to remember some of Rob Krar’s epic runs of late. At Western States (his first ever 100 mile race) he put in a storming run to come in second (still breaking the previous course record). Beaten only by another huge MARCH fav’ Timothy Allen Olsen. Chatting to the outdoor guys at the hotel reception one of them mentioned he knew Rob – putting us in total awe. He was a member of the same running club – some club aye! We asked if he knew which Pharmacy he worked at – hoping we could swing by and say G’day…!

And hey, Christmas is coming too. Another reason to enjoy the ‘burbs. Plenty of locals putting on a show as we MARCH past their houses. Not quite the same as the Grand Canyon run yesterday but that’s the point. You can MARCH anywhere, any distance, and get something from it. And it’s all good preparation. Rob lives in these parts and this year he set a new FKT (Fastest Known Time) for the R2R2R (Rim to Rim to Rim of the Grand Canyon). An absolutely epic journey – which he completed in 6 hours 21 minutes. You can read his write up here – http://www.irunfar.com/2013/05/rob-krars-grand-canyon-r2r2r-fkt-report.html

BANG! Hadn’t noticed that view coming this way!! The turnaround at 35 minutes reminded us of an important lesson when MARCHing – enjoy ALL your surroundings. We had actually been searching for the San Francisco Peaks that dominate Flagstaff but we thought they were to our right. Opps – they were behind us! Coming back we realised the town planners had got this street right. We would be happy seeing that view at the end of our street!

And with our footsteps now firmly in place in Flagstaff and the MARCH over it was time to re-fuel. Still a shortish run of 65 minutes and still enjoyed without GPS – just turning the wheels and testing out broken achilles.

Probably not to vegetarian Rob’s taste but the Galaxy Diner on Route 66 was the evening fuel stop! Here you see mini-MARCHers Master Finlay (4) and Miss Dulcie (1) along with Mummy MARCHer Nicola – all in silhouette against the neon fantasy that is a classic diner. It was time to sign off from Flagstaff, the home of running legend Rob Krar. After his R2R2R record he put in a dazzling performance at UROC (Ultra Race of Champions) taking a first with a stunning downhill to put distance on Dakota Jones. We were following the race virtually at the time – what a performance. We may not have found any of Rob’s form but we can still be inspired by what he has done! For a short interview with Rob after UROC see here – http://running.competitor.com/2013/09/news/ultra-pharmacist-5-questions-with-uroc-champ-rob-krar_84941


16 December 2013 – South Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA

Mmm mmmmm, now that’s why we autoMARCH (www.marchadventureracing.com/live-riveted/) ! For the chance to MARCH in places like this! The South Rim of the Grand Canyon on a crisp clear sunny winters day!

This was the starting point for our jog. Desert View Point. A cracking spot to look down (and across!) the vastness of the Grand Canyon. Just under 2,300m elevation. Not huge but enough to feel a little something as we started our MARCH west.

A bit of snow on the ground providing good training for foot placement and balance – a slip here and you’d have a long fall to think about it!

Even a bit of tarmac rocks in this place! As you’ll know from our autoMARCH plog we’re big fans of the journey to the MARCH. We’ve autoMARCHed some of the World’s great routes. Pacific Coast Highway Number 1 (USA) , the Route Napoleon (France), the Furka Pass (Switzerland), Glen Coe (Scotland), Great Ocean Drive (Australia), State Highway 8 (Lake Tekapo, NZ) but why doesn’t Desert View Drive, the Grand Canyon, show up on any of the top 10 drives?!?! This route is epic! Only 25 miles but you wind through beautiful pine forests hugging the South Rim of total grandeur. Every peak out your window delivers a view like this!

Our destination and turnaround point. The highest overlook point on the South Rim.

And what a view it is! In the distance you can see the watchtower of Desert View Point, where we started this MARCH. Designed and built by Mary Colter in the ’30’s its quite an impressive structure standing on the edge of the Canyon. Mary was something of a pioneer – carving out a new path as a female architect in the rugged landscapes of Arizona, New Mexico etc in the early 1900’s. We were to see her name on the side of a number of impressive buildings in the area.

A grim selfie! But the Grand Canyon MARCH is complete. Camo hydrates ready for the journey onward. A short MARCH of 30 minutes squeezed in to a busy day but what a place, what an experience, what a MARCH!!


14 December 2013 – Palm Springs, California, USA

A dawn MARCH can be a special thing. And even better if it kicks off in the Southern Californian desert resort of Palm Springs! No winter blues in sight when its mid 20’s and blue sky every day.

With mini-MARCHers always keen to be up early (normally very early…) and a potent mix of jet lag and new time zones too it was no bother heading out at 5.30am for an early MARCH!

The play thing of everyone from Presidents to Hollywood stars to Chicago mobsters Palm Springs retains a small town charm without succumbing to the crass gloss of so many other towns that attract the rich and famous. Speaking to our bell boy Mark, a 3rd generation local in his mid 60’s, he reckoned it was all down to the chill out vibe of the place. His Dad helped build Steve McQueen’s house but still believed whoever you were you came to Palm Springs to relax and hang out. You simply didn’t need the glitz and glamour – you could stay in LA if you wanted that!

One of the reasons for the great climate is also the reason why it makes such a great spot to MARCH. The San Jacinto mountains shelter the town from the wind and rain and provide great elevation for a dawn run to watch the sunrise bring the town to life.

And the day begins as the MARCH ends. Here you see the view back up the mountains framed by the palms that give the town its name. We MARCHed to the top of the right hand peak. A steep but relatively short jog. About 40 minutes round trip from the hotel lobby in town.


13 December 2013 – Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA

Heard the name, loved the album, but like so much in life, didn’t really connect the dots – until now!

Joshua, the biblical figure? Yep, heard of him. The National Park in California? Aye, seen that on the map before. The U2 album? Of course! Seminal!

But now we’ve started to connect the dots.

Here you see a classic scene from Joshua Tree National park – made even more classic with our wandering MARCH bottle nestled comfortably in the warming sun!

It was a family MARCH with mini-MARCHers Master Finlay (4) and Miss Dulcie (1) in tow so distances were short and the GPS was turned off! But so what! That’s the point. To MARCH is to finish – whatever your pace, wherever you place. And this MARCH was about getting the young ‘uns outdoors – and where better to do it!

Surely the inspiration for Dr Suess? Are there better children’s books (better than the Adventures of MARCHman and Friends perhaps – http://www.marchadventureracing.com/products-page/books/ ) and could there be a better National Park to get the kids away from their computer screen! Absolute surreal magic!

Split rock. Sliced by a giants hand from some distant land and time? A short MARCH from the car park but another world entirely.

The magic of the MARCH was working! Mini-MARCHer Master Finlay was having his own Adventure. Discovering the joy of the great outdoors. Not a computer screen, or iPhone in sight. Not only finding he could get underneath split rock he found a small opening at the back – too small for any grown up – which allowed him to crawl right under the rock and out the other side! Nervous times for grown up MARCHers but exactly what the MARCH is about – and a story that was repeated many times over on the drive home!

By now some dots were connecting. The Mormons named the tree – seeing in its branches the symbolism of Joshua’s raised arms in prayer, welcoming the Israelites. And there’s something in that. A curious tree. In fact a lily – or more correctly, an algave – the tree and the National Park has a mythical and magical feel to it.

And from Keys View, the highest point in the Park, you are blessed with superb views down to the Coachella Valley, across the San Andreas fault line to the distant San Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountain range. The fault line (seen as a dark horizontal line in mid view above) reminds us of the power of the earth and of nature. If we were to stand in this same spot next year we would be 2 inches southeast! A result of the fierce and conflicting movement of the two tectonic plates (creating the San Andreas ridge) !

Which takes us to another answer connecting yet more dots….

The Joshua Tree National Park stands at a crossroads of two deserts. Ecosystems close to the heart of the MARCH. The Colorado Desert and the Mojave Desert. And it was that sense of wide open spaces and voids – both physical and emotional – that U2 were seeking to reflect in their album and their writing. Torn by conflicting feelings about the US, Bono was driven to write the album to express his sense both of love and frustration with a country he knew well, but not well enough. A country that was taunting him with its successes and its failures. Overlaying that was his own sense of struggle with both religion and family life. And to all the band members the desert expressed perfectly so many of those feelings The emptiness, yet also, the potential of a blank canvas.

The Joshua Tree, with its religious connotations, and desert habitat, and its physical embodiment of wonder and magic became the potent visual symbol for that great album.

But to mini-MARCHers (here Miss Dulcie) it is so much more simple. Just the pure joy of MARCHing outdoors – and enjoying life close to nature!!


16 July 2013 – Cyprus

A coastal run to begin the adventure….

1. The start – an easy jog round the first beach – Coral Bay

2. The going starts to get tough. The faint outline of a few previous MARCHers but very much jumping sharp rocks and picking a new route between sea and cliffs.

3. Steep scary descents. The perspective hasn’t worked here but it was steep, and lose and slippery (when it wasn’t razor sharp and unforgiving). This is looking straight downward – with very little run off.

4. A new lesson learnt. And this is why you should stick with MARCH folding drink bottles! We were simultaneously testing something from the competition. A hydration waist belt. It didn’t work! Too much bounce to be comfortable and when you weren’t looking the bloody bottles bounced out! We had to run back and find this one and then clamber down a steep loose cliff to fetch it. It was too hot not too, but too annoying and tiring to ever do it again! With a MARCH folding drink bottle you can run with it in hand and then when finished, fold up to stow in a pocket or clip it on with the integrated carabiner. This photo gives a good idea of the terrain – the bottle fell where we ran up the cliff. Those scraps in the soft soil are where we freewheeled screaming for traction!

5. Ah bliss. Some relief from the cliffs and boulder hoping. The next beach! By this stage we were so shagged and so hot we actually run through the breaking surf. Primo – wild MARCHing at its best!

6. Heading back to base. The white distant hotel is the finish. And with our hydration spent we can fold up the bottles for easy carriage, pin our ears back and try to up our pace for the home straight….

And so the MARCH folding drink bottles have their time in the sun (and the surf) and in the spotlight. Looking forward to the next tour!

Err, rock stars…it’s time to get with the programme and get ya’self a MARCH hydration bottle!! www.marchadventureracing.com/products-page/accessories/march-folding-drink-bottle/

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