RUSSELL SMITH is a born adventurer. He grew up in a family which instilled on him a love of nature and the outdoors and this has stuck with him through his adult life.
In this exclusive interview Russell talks about some of his biggest adventures to date as well as what he has planned for the year ahead. Read on to find out his work as a #GetOutside champion as well as his other work for charitable causes.
When did you realise you first had a passion for adventure and who or what were any early influences?
My parents rebuilt an old pub when I was three so I got used to living with no doors or windows early on.
It was being taken to see my dad fishing at four to five years of age and being in the wilds, then at eight years old going night fishing with him that cemented my love for the outdoors, a proper candle in a jam jar experience sleeping on a bin bag – that’s where I found my love for adventure. We didn’t have a car until I was 16 and I was travel sick so walking everywhere kept that outdoor spark alive…
Tell us about your cycle and climbing challenge in 2014 and what it involved?
I cycled the nation three peaks (Ben Nevis, Scafell pike and Snowdon) which was 450 miles, then headed for Brighton. 300 miles and two days later I found myself stood at the start line of Brighton marathon with just 26.2 miles left to complete the challenge. The whole thing was unsupported and took a week, it was a pretty involved trip!
What gave you the idea for that challenge and were there any particular causes you were doing it for?
So, as all good trips, adventures and stories it came about through me and an old climbing friend who wanted to do the national three peaks, but we hated cars so cycles it was, as the drink flowed I added the “why don’t we just cycle to London and run the marathon to finish”.
A few years on and the idea was still bouncing around my head.. The cause was my own wellbeing, a year prior I’d got married which quickly ended in a torrent few months of self question and sadness. This challenge idea was my saviour to find myself and prove my own self worth again. It felt like the trip drew a line in the sand on my life.
What were some of the highs and lows of the challenge?
The low point was being told by my support driver that he was pulling out due to safety concerns. I had to finish work, book trains, pack for an unsupported trip and post my marathon running kit to a friend so he could meet me on the start line. That was very stressful, but it put me in a place where it was grow to the challenge or fall flat on my face.
High point was setting off on Sunday morning on my bike from Worthing just ten miles from the marathon start line with the sea to my right and the sun to my back. I did shed a few tears knowing after 900 miles of cycling and climbing three mountains a marathon wouldn’t stop me from finishing.
What’s an adult kick scooter and tell us about your challenge to scoot from Land’s End to John O’Groats on one?
Oh, So it’s a 16” wheeled child’s scooter with inflatable tyres designed for adults to beat the urban traffic without having to cycle to work. I was given one by a friend, just to look after it. I soon realised how much fun it was and wondered how far I could travel with it… that’s when the trip idea was born.
Tell us more about that challenge and how hard was it to complete?
Oh it was such a lovely way to travel and explore the country. I spent 21 days covering 975 miles mainly on back roads, canal paths, across farmers fields and cycle lanes. I left the directions totally to cycle function on Google maps to see what it threw up each day. Believe it or not I was only covering 50 or so miles each day, it was a pretty steady trip, going up hill is certainly a challenge, even more so when you are carrying a tent and your life on your back. I’d managed to get my pack weight down to sub 5kg though! It wasn’t so much an endurance challenge for me, I just wanted to enjoy the countryside!
How are you currently spending your time and do you have any more challenges for the year ahead and beyond?
Currently spending my time building a career as a presenter/compere for adventure, outdoor and sporting festivals as well as doing race MC for everything from small 10K races for Cancer Research to three day endurance events.
I’m a firm believer in trying something new and facing fears so in September I turned my hand to swimming with the view of going from non-swimmer to endurance swimmer in 12 months and in September 2017 I will be swimming Loch Ness, all 24 miles of it.
I’m also focusing on mountain biking again, my age old love of being on two wheels. You can be sure to see an adventure or two and maybe a short bike packing film later this year.
Also, phew, I’ve been taken on by Ordnance Survey as a #GetOutside champion so want to make the most of inspiring others to get out and learn new skills, whether that’s a simple canal walk or taking up camping to full on map reading, taking on some of the UK’s amazing national trails or spending time in the wilds and leaving no trace.