Running into the record books

Tom BlandMal LawTwo men from opposite ends of the earth are attempted what most people would consider a crazy challenge: they are running (yes, running) the whole 630 miles of the South West Coast Path, from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset, in just 14 days.

Tom Bland and Mal Law have chosen to take up this epic adventure to raise awareness and understanding of mental health issues and support two charities: Mind in the UK and New Zealand’s Mental Health Foundation.

What do these two men have in common? Both are passionate trail runners who love the outdoors and prefer striding over summits to pounding the pavements in conventional events such as marathons. They both thrive on setting themselves challenges: Tom is a former Great Britain triathlon representative; in 2009 Mal became the first person ever to run New Zealand’s 7 ‘Great Walks’ in 7 days, a feat that saw him appearing on TV, radio and in the press throughout his homeland.

Their adventure started at Minehead on Sunday June 17th, and they will be covering a daily distance of between 40 and 50 miles each day around the coasts of four counties, finishing with a 66-mile day/night run to South Haven Point on Poole Harbour on July 1st. The daily distances would be challenging enough, without the added dimension of the ups and downs of the route. The overall altitude gain is the equivalent of climbing Mt Everest from sea level 4 times.

The two, who met in person for the first time just before the challenge begins, have been training hard for the last year. Tom, from Devon, says “for me, running the South West Coast Path to raise awareness of mental health issues is a challenge very close to my heart and to my head. As a west country boy I have a great love for the south west coast and this run will provide both the physical exertion and the awesome sense of well-being that can only be achieved by pitting oneself against a personal challenge”.

Mal, who was born in the UK but now lives in New Zealand, where he has been doing most of his training adds, “I love big hairy audacious goals and this is without doubt the biggest and hairiest that I have ever set myself…. bring it on!”

Funds raised by Tom and Mal will help Mind and the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand continue their vital work with the 1 in 4 people who experience mental health problems.

You can learn more about the challenge and live track their progress by visiting, where you can find links to the Facebook and Twitter pages for the challenge.

Published on: June 17, 2012