(Almost) crying because of a halo…

(Almost) crying because of a halo…

I almost cried this week in school, not a thing a Deputy Principal should do!


I showed my Year 11 (Grade 10/16-year olds) a 28 minute YouTube film that came out this week. It is inspirational, and as such next week I will show it to Year 7-10 in their assembly.

My, almost (I didn’t, just felt like it) cry, wasn’t because of the content of the film, but because it brought back so many memories for me.

I remember being on the start line of the London Marathon in April 2015, when 7 months earlier I couldn’t run 100 metres alongside a Bulgarian friend. For me there were tears of joy at the end of the London Marathon, as before this I had spent 7 months of treatment in and out of hospital turning the pages of my kindle with my nose, as my arms hurt too much from the chemotherapy drugs, then training from zero to be able to run 42.2 km; it was a major challenge, but one I am proud to have accomplished.

The film, which I think all should watch (it is only 28 minutes long!) is:

In 6 weeks I take on a new challenge, something I have never done before, a 100 km race, the “Carphone Warehouse Race to the Stones“. I’ve done many races in the past 4 years, mostly half-marathons, interspersed with a few marathons and the inaugural 57 km Firelighter (the first day of the Ring O’ Fire 3-day ultra) but this is definitely a running challenge beyond what I’ve done before, both before and after bowel cancer.


Because I can, and also to help others…

I’m almost fifty, just over 200 days to go an Excel formula tells me, and I feel lucky to still be alive, and capable of mad challenges. There are many who go have bowel cancer without the support I had from my wife/family/work/friends, and many who do not survive it. In addition to it being good physically and mentally for me to run such races(!) I also aim to raise money for bowel cancer charities, this time for Bowel Cancer UK, in the hope that they can today help those going through what I did (it really isn’t nice), and in the future help medical progress so that such things cease to exist.

Am I ready – no, in my humble opinion!

My training has been limited – only 500+ km this year, with one extreme marathon, one marathon and a few half-marathons within that.

Will I still do the race – YES.

Will I finish – at this distance it’s the mind that will get me there, not my body. I will be fortunate to be running alongside a good Slovenian friend, who will fly over with me to the UK just for this race, and he has run several 100+ km ultras.

I am looking to increase the amount raised – if you can help please, please make a donation via my JustGiving page:

JustGiving logo

Going back to the film today, I pointed out to a student after he had finished watching it, “don’t you dare complain about me ‘volunteering’ you to run next week for Global Running Day, you are fortunate to be able to do such things, maybe one day you will realise this” (NB he completed a 7 km race for the first time a couple of months ago for his Duke of Edinburgh International Award, with me as his coach!) 🙂

Please support my charity efforts via the link above, thank you.

Countdown to #rtts2018 on my website 🙂

Just to remind you this is the route, roll on Saturday 14 July:
Race route

Race to the Stones 2018

Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones on 14/15 July 2018 is my charity race this year – a new challenge as I have entered for the 100 km non-stop race. The 100 km non-stop is on Saturday 14 July, though there are options to do a 50 km on the Saturday and then again on the Sunday (camping overnight), or just do 50 km on either day. But, with the saying of “in for a penny, in for a pound” I opted for the full non-stop race 🙂

Once again I will be raising monies for Bowel Cancer UK via a new JustGiving page.

Bowel Cancer UK logoJustGiving logo

Something new for a Saturday in July, for me. Alongside me I will have a very experienced ultra-marathoner, my Slovenian friend Relja Mirović. This will aid both in terms of motivation as well as having someone there who has done such races before so knows what it takes to get to the end. for both of us though this will be a new venture, myself in terms of distance, Relja in terms of location.

We’ll start at Lewknor, in Oxfordshire, and finish at the Avebury Stones, with most of the race along The Ridgeway, recognised as the oldest path in England.

Race route

This is the promotional video for the event, makes you want to enter too doesn’t it 🙂

I have designed a training plan, to start from the week commencing 5 February, which starts with runs of 19 km on Tuesday, 17 km on Thursday and 24 km on Saturday – should be a fun start to a 20 week programme.

If you would like to support my efforts, please click on the JustGiving picture below:JustGiving logo

Thanks to the gentlemen of “Club 11” who raised £415 at their January dinner; therefore I am almost there with my initial goal of £500.
Club 11 BelgradeSo:Keep Calm

Running – 2017

As we enter 2018 there is a time of reflection on last year and of the setting of targets for this year.

Over 2017 I ran many races – a list of them is below, in reverse chronological order:
1. (official) Belgrade half-marathon – December
6. (half-marathon) Plavi krug oko Ade – November
4. Coca-Cola 5 km Happy Run (with my 12 year old son) – October
Košice Peace Half- Marathon  – October
3. Odžački half-marathon – September
Nike We Run BGD 10K – September
1. Firelighter 57 km Trail Race – September
1. Ruma half-marathon – August
Kopaonik 15 km Trail Race – July
3. trka patrijarha Pavla 2017 (Rakovica half-marathon) – July
1. Vranje half-marathon – June
38. Sombor half-marathon – May
Run up 24 floors (566 steps) of Beogradjanka (with my 12 year old son) – April
30. Belgrade half-marathon – April
12. Bratislava half-marathon – April
2. Kruševac half-marathon – March
3. Spring Rolls 7 km (charity run alongside my 12 year old son) – March
10. Palić half-marathon – March

The big race was on 1 September, running in the inaugural “Firelighter” 57 km ultra-marathon around Anglesey which was the first day of the 3-day Ring O’ Fire race. A great experience, even if it meant finishing in the dark, running along the coastal path with only a headlight to illuminate the way, and also having my watch run out of power after 55 km; fortunately I managed to keep going to the end, at just over 57 km. I raised £576 (~ €650 / 77.000 RSD) for Bowel Cancer UK through this event.

Strava made a video of my year – which can be seen at:

And my favourite photo of the year, taken during the Odžački polumaraton was:

It looks like I am running with the winner, Kenyan Wycliffe Kipkomp!

There are lots more photos on my facebook page – Neil4bc

I’m currently planning what races to run in 2018. With a major run planned, to aid charity, in July, the focus of my training and races needs to be around this, so we’ll see what happens. With the merger between Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer about to take place we’ll see what the name of the charity I will aid this year will be called soon.

Belgrade Marathon Day – 22 April 2017 – before the event

Belgrade Marathon Day – 22 April 2017 – before the event

It’s on next week, the 30th edition of the Belgrade Marathon.
Belgrade Marathon 30th logo
My family will be taking part in the 5 km Fun Run, supporting BELhospice.

Below is a video, from photos along the route I took for the 2015 event; the route for this event is still the same.

I’ll be running the half-marathon, 10 years since I last ran it. There is a new route this year for the half and full marathons. Below is the map from last year (as it was in 2007) and the route for 2017 – can you see the differences? Just, perhaps, yet from the Marathon HQ you would think this was an amazing new route!
Old Belgrade marathon route

Old Belgrade Full/Half Marathon route

2017 Belgrade Marathon route

2017 Belgrade Full/Half Marathon route

Anyway I am hoping for a reasonable time. This will be my fourth half marathon this year, following on from Palić (4 March), Kruševac (26 March) and Bratislava (1 April). In each of those races I finished either in 1 hour 34 or 1 hour 35 minutes, which for me is excellent.

Let’s just hope the weather is good. Last year it was boiling hot, and the year before cold and pouring with rain.

Start times are 10:00 am for the full/half marathon, and then about 10 minutes after for the 5 km Fun Run.

And the following day I plan to rest and watch the London Marathon, live on Eurosport 🙂

Firelighter – charity run in 2017

Having passed my target of 1200 km in 2016, for me the main target is to continue to run, and more importantly to enjoy the running. My target for 2017 is 1500 (recorded) km.

At the same time, I still, very personally, appreciate the fact that I can enjoy my running, many can’t. Therefore, I have set myself a challenge for 2017; finish my first ultramarathon, via the Firelighter event on 1 September 2017. This will also be the focus of my charity fundraising for 2017, to try and raise funds to benefit bowel/colon cancer charities via a challenging first for me.

So why the Firelighter?

Well, it’s unfinished business for me. The Firelighter is (for the first time in its own right) the first day of the Ring O’ Fire 3-day race. I tried this a couple of years ago, but it was beyond me at that time. That story, my attempt then, I posted here.

The basic details are:

Firelighter overview

The organisers of the event have Bowel Cancer UK as an official race charity; they feel supporting it is something worthwhile.


It is a great race, well organised, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience last time. This time, with the Firelighter as a new event, I intend to ensure my training (and arriving in North Wales in time) means I will complete the event 🙂

This is an ultramarathon along the coast of Anglesey with many undulations/surfaces of over 57 km (with a lowered time limit of 10 hours now, it was 11 hours before) –  it’s a major challenge!

Therefore, I’m going to try something I haven’t yet achieved, at the age of 48; of running in a race further than my age (in km)!

Why, because I believe I can, and more importantly appreciate that I can.

Please do support me in this challenge, by donating online via my new JustGiving page. If you are in Belgrade and don’t want to donate online please get in touch and if you give me cash I will donate that amount online on your behalf. There will be some fundraising events in 2017, in Belgrade, I just have to get them planned (ideas welcome!)

All monies raised from individuals will go to charity. If a company wishes to cover some/all of my expenses (flights/train/accommodation/kit etc) then fantastic, but no money raised from individuals will be used to cover this.

Please support my efforts, they will benefit others who need support. I’ve been there and know first-hand what the impact is, which is why I want to support charities helping others/research into a cure for all – it really is not a nice thing to go through.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

PS If you fancy joining me in the first ever running of this specific race, the Facebook event is at – https://www.facebook.com/events/308294206236982/ then formally join via the SignUp form 😉

50 Day Streak


Start: 26 December 2016
Finish: 13 February 2017


I am trying something new with my running – a 50 day streak. One where I do keep my clothes on 🙂

So a streak is?

For me, running a minimum of 5 km, every day, for 50 consecutive days.


My first race, a half-marathon, is on 4 March in Palić, with a few more over subsequent months, and a focus on the Firelighter ultra (for charity) planned on 1 September (see below results for sponsorship link). So I thought I would try something new with my training as I still have time to change to fit in more with the races.

Results (to be updated over the weeks)?

Week 1, completed, days 1-7, 26 Dec 2016 – 1 Jan 2017:


Week 2, completed, days 8-14, 2 Jan – 8 Jan :


Week 3, completed, days 15-21, 9 Jan – 15 Jan:


Week 4, completed, days 22-28, 16 Jan – 22 Jan:


Week 5, completed, days 29-35, 23 Jan – 29 Jan:


Week 6, completed, days 36-42, 30 Jan – 5 Feb:


Week 7, completed, days 43-49, 6 Feb – 12 Feb:


Week 8, completed, day 50 (13 Feb):

week8of50-5I ran the 5.3 km with my 12 year old son on Day 50*5, then continued to run each day and the last day of the week was the 50th day of 2017.

Stopped my streak on Day 60 (see picture below) – just fancied a rest; so took Friday and Saturday off.
Then ran 12 km in exactly one hour on Sunday (with 191 m of elevation).


I’ll do another streak, some time, some distance as it was good fun 🙂

My next charity race – please support Bowel Cancer UK via the link below:


Running – 2016

Running – 2016

Happy New Year – Срећна Нова година

These are the races that I took part in during 2016, starting in Palić around the lake, and ending running around a horse racing track in Belgrade!

Since starting running again in September 2014, upon completion of my chemotherapy and after a gap of seven years, in 2016 I ran more than in any other year. This was even with gaps in my training for sickness/work/personal commitments. The total I ran can be seen at the bottom of this post; I did run further than my target 🙂

Palić Half Marathon – 5 March 2016

We had a lovely family holiday in Palić (as always), and whilst it was a bit on the day of the race the setting was lovely. 3 laps of a course taking in a lot of the lake. Best part was that my 11 year old son ran the 5 km race (lap 1) with me achieving an excellent time of 26:23. I ran the race in 1:42:16 which I was very happy with 🙂

Palic event picture


2. Spring Rolls (8 km) – 20 March 2016

My 11 year old son joined me for this run too. We ran alongside the Sava river, in very muddy conditions on a 2 lap course. Great fun, with the bonus of it being a run for charity so others benefitted from us taking part.



Belgrade Marathon – 16 April 2016

Entered the full marathon, but having run the first half in just under 2 hours was not feeling well and at around 24 km pulled up, was sick in the bushes and walked home. So a DNF for me; such is life. A very hot day and I just did not feel that it worked for me. Always next year, the 30th running of the event (though think I’ll stick to the half)…



Wings For Life (vs. car) – 8 May 2016

This is a novel idea, everyone starts running, and then after half an hour either a real or virtual car starts after you. It starts slowly, then starts to speed up the further you go. As there was no actual race in Belgrade I was running against a virtual car using an app on my phone. Bit of trouble with the app, it worked on my phone, but not my son’s, meaning we spent the first few minutes trying to resolve the problem (the race starts at the same time throughout the world, 13:00 CET) rather than running. Managed 18.9 km of my 21.1 km target before the virtual car caught me, he managed 11.5 km.wfl-logo


Sombor Half Marathon – 15 May 2016

Long day this one, caught bus at 05:30 on a chilly, light rainy day. The bus stopped at Novi Sad, before arriving in Sombor. However, the race itself was great in that I managed to keep going well after 16 km, instead of slowing down, helped by the very flat nature of the race (zero m elevation!). As such I finished the race in 1:40:13, my best time since completing the chemotherapy.



Novi Sad Night Half Marathon – 25 June 2016

Second consecutive year I’ve run this half marathon. Start at 21:45 in very hot and humid conditions with 3 laps. Each lap is half on road surface, half on running track surface. Still have no idea how to run this race, and whilst it is a great event I still don’t seem to do well in running it; as my time of 2:04 shows. But still plan to do it again…



Rakovica Half Marathon – 2 July 2016

A lovely run around Rakovica, on the outskirts of Belgrade, ending up (after going up a hill at the end of the race) at the monastery. Again, due to it being summer, the race was in the evening. A slow race as I went out of my way to run slowly after Novi Sad and enjoy the evening. Still very enjoyable, but with a finish time of 2:09 there is room for improvement next year!event-pic


Bath Long Half Marathon – 24 July 2016

Hilly, hilly, and even more hilly! 25.5 km (a long half-marathon!), with 650 m of elevation, mostly up small forest tracks as this was for a large part a trail race. Hence a finish time of 2:53 which I was happy with. Great to do a run back in the UK, and as we had a weekend away in Bath managed to be a tourist as well. Part of a series of races organised by Relish Running Races, well organised, with what has to be the friendliest marshals of all the races I’ve run this year.



Gloucester Marathon – 7 August 2016

So pleased to make it to the inaugural Gloucester Marathon – my home city. A lovely flat race they said, going through the city and then out into the countryside. All true, except for one huge hill just two thirds of the way through! Though this was 42.2 km with 66 m of climbing (compare that to the Bath race). First half in 1:50 but then found it tough and finished in 4:29 (walked some of the second half!) Still better time than previous marathons, Belgrade earlier on in the year and London 2015 so have to be happy with the result.



Hvar Half Marathon – 20 August 2016

Holiday time – great place to have a family holiday; on a beautiful island off the coast of Croatia. We went with the excellent specialist running travel company, Active Traveling, so everything was organised for us. At the end of a lovely week the race took place. This is a straight up, then straight down race – 571 m up and quiet a bit down. Very tiring, but the views are worth it – fantastic views on a very hot afternoon. Finished in 2:08.hvar-logo


We Run Belgrade (10 km) – 4 September 2016

A run around Belgrade, from Ušće park, though to the centre and back again. The race was free (probably why only half those registered actually race the race), and with several thousand taking part it was a great event to run in. Many of those running it was clear had not done much running; why my time of 47:24 put me in the top 20% of times. As I finished in the same time as my age it was a good race for me.



3 Carrots Irish Pub Half Marathon (!) –  28 September 2016

My charity race for the year – running a half marathon in a pub. The full story is on a previous blog post – https://neil4bc.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/belgrade-record-achieved/



Coca-Cola Fun Run (5 km) – 15 October 2016

A 5 km race around Ušće park. I ran the race with my eleven year old son, and it was great that there were also some other parents/friends running with their children. We ran fast and hard (sprinting the last 100 m) to cross the line in 26.3 (5.2 km), therefore just a touch over 25 minutes for 5 km. So well done to us both 🙂



Plavi Krug Oke Ade – 13 November 2016

Cold, cold, no not cold but freezing – what a morning to do a marathon for the benefit of charity. Running around a lake with a bitterly cold wind coming off it, in a sub-zero temperature was never going to be fun. After 26.8 km (3.5 laps) of the lake I called it a day. Good point was 2 of these laps where the fastest I have run around Ada Ciganlija; I ran the first 21.1 km (half-marathon) in 1:53.

Plavi Krug oko Ade


Only Fools and Horses (5 km) – 4 December 2016

A fun 5 lap ~5 km run for charity around the Belgrade Hipodrom (horse race track) with my eleven year old son. e had a great time, and I enjoyed pushing him to do well in this race, with a time of 25:32 for 4.9 km. My six year old son, not to be outdone, also did one lap. The two youngest enjoyed their ride on the horses too!

Only Fools and Horses

Pictures from all the events are on my Facebook page – facebook.com/neil4bc – do pay it a visit and Like the Page if you haven’t already.

And that was my running (races) for 2016.

Over the year I managed to reach my target of 1200 km, officially recording, on my Strava account, 1234.5 km.

Total km in 2016

Roll on 2017, lots more (charity) races planned, and targets to aim for (posts to follow showing the what/why/when)…

So once again Happy New Year – Срећна Нова година 🙂

Belgrade record achieved…

Belgrade record achieved…

Well I managed it – I completed a half-marathon, on a treadmill, in a pub!

running in a pub...

I now hold the Belgrade record for the fastest half-marathon in a pub – of 2 hours 7 minutes – at a Neil4BC social charity event.


In the process those in the pub bought raffle tickets and drank several drinks each, raising 41.240 RSD (~£302 / ~€335 – as of date of this post). All this money will go to support the work of EuropaColon, who themselves support colon cancer activities across Europe, including Serbia.


Many thanks to everyone who came along, who helped out at the event, and also to those who donated the many raffle prizes we had that evening.

Some raffle prizes...

Just some of the many raffle prizes 🙂

I know the winner of the main prize, a trip to Bratislava next April (including coach travel, 2 night’s accommodation, breakfast AND entry to the Bratislava Marathon), courtesy of Active Traveling / Marathon Travels, is very happy.

Running in a pub

More pictures at http://bit.ly/2dsyCcG

Many more pictures can be seen on Flickr.

If you would like to donate and increase the total raised please just send me a message 🙂




Half marathon in a pub!!

Dear friends,

After a long time without a fundraising event (but having done lots of running) I am pleased to announce there will be a fundraiser for the bowel/colon cancer charity EuropaColon at the 3 Carrots Pub; but with a twist!!!

As well as a raffle (some great prizes!) and special drinks that evening I will also run a half marathon (on a treadmill) in the pub!

To celebrate the fact that my oncologist does not want to see me for a whole year – my very recent set of major hospital tests showed I am still cancer free and thus it is 2 years since I completed many months of chemotherapy – worth celebrating.

The fundraising is to help EuropaColon with their work across Europe (including Serbia) as a charity helping and supporting those with and who may have bowel/colon cancer. Having been there, done that, and survived advanced cancer myself this worthwhile cause is so worth supporting.

So do come along – 3 Carrots Pub, Kneza Miloša 16, Wednesday 28 September, from 18:30 until late 🙂

Mines a half poster

See you there 🙂

Belgrade Insight article

Full-page story in the 202nd issue (March 18 – March 31, 2016) of Belgrade Insight about my running and cancer.
Many thanks to Carolyn Palletta who wrote a lovely article.

You can download this version – Belgrade Insight interview (pdf, 579 Kb).

Below is a copy of the article (which if you can’t read but looks interesting download the pdf version above,or go get yourself a copy!):

Belgrade Insight article

Thank you Belgrade Insight 🙂
Belgrade Insight logo