Robert Garside, aka The Running Man

Robert GarsideOccupation:
Running the World
Time in Japan:
Three weeks

Where are you from? Stockport, England.
What brought you to Japan? I' attempting to become the first person to run around the world, as confirmed by and arranged with the Guinness Book of World Records. They give me guidelines which I have to stick to. I'm not allowed to take any other means of transport, except between land masses such as Japan and Australia, where I'm heading next. Guinness said I must cover at least four continents and 26,400 kilometers; my route's 56,000 kilometers. I've chosen not just to go round, but cover the length of each land mass in the world.

When I was a student at London University, I went to a library one day, opened up a Guinness Book of Records and the idea was born, mainly because no one else had ever done it. I knew it was possible because other people have cycled and walked around the world. It seemed like a good idea.

What sort of problems have you had on the road?
In Russia I was shot at by some gypsies in Vyazma, just west of Moscow, in Islamabad I was robbed and my girlfriend who'd stuck with me most of the way dumped me, in India I got terribly ill and in China I was imprisoned.

So, how are Chinese prisons?
Well, I was on the run—literally—from the Chinese police for three whole months, and in the end they put a road block up before Shanghai to catch me. When they caught me I was sentenced to be deported and to serve 30 days in jail, but they let me out after three and a half. But it was hell. I was in a cell five meters long by three meters wide and I was running up and down to stay in shape and the other inmates were complaining. Then they deported me to Hong Kong. I begged to be allowed to finish my run and they let me in for one day. I had to cover 158 kilometers in that one day. I ran through the night but I did it.

Tell us about your arrival in Japan.
I came to Japan to try and get some commercial support. I arrived in Hokkaido at Wakanai and ran to Tokyo, where I arrived at Nihonbashi. I've been here for two weeks, trying to drum up some money, because I'm facing Australia next and after that South and Central America. I need money, the means to keep going. After that, I've got to cross the whole of Africa. Last night, I had
100 left in my pocket.

How did you choose your routes?
It was very difficult, because I had to satisfy what I wanted to do and what Guinness wanted me to do. My original route was to have been from South Africa, up into Europe, down across Asia, Australia, America and then back to London, but in the end I'm doing Africa last and I started off in London, running across to Moscow, through Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and China. I can't make up my mind whether to do the Philippines as well. I quite fancy Papua New Guinea, too.

Doesn't all this take its toll on your body?
Well, you've got to be in good condition, but when athletes injure themselves it's because they're pushing themselves to win something, trying to squeeze that little extra out of their bodies. I don't have that kind of pressure. I'm allowed to take a rest between stages to let my body recover. Your body tells you when it needs a rest.

You're running through some of the most barren places on Earth. Don't you ever get scared?
God, yeah. I ran through Tibet in winter. If I'd got caught in the snow I could have died. In Africa, the first time I ran there, before starting this run, I ran past a cheetah. They can attack if they're in a bad mood. The prospect of being alone in the jungle at night when I get there again is quite frightening.

Is there anything you've seen on your travels you'd like to take back to England with you?
Yeah, I've got a Buddhist prayer stone I found on top of a mountain.

You have to spend the rest of your life running the world. You're allowed to take one book, one CD and one luxury item. What would they be?
To me a book and a CD are luxuries. Otherwise it'd have to be chocolate. Definitely chocolate.

The Running Man spoke to Nigel Kendall.

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