Month: November 2012

Runners Wall

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MSH December 2012

Training for the 10 City Bridge Run begins on 4 December 2012. You can see the full program at the Training Schedule. and that is also the beginning of part of the conversation. Participation leads to conversation. Please join us!

You can join in by running, walking or skateboard any leg of the training for the particular date it is scheduled. You don’t need to coordinate that with us first, and you don’t need to be in the same location. You could even be in a different country. Afterwards, let us know you joined us on the journey by taking part in the run. Send us your photo (Facebook avatar will do) which will be posted onto the ‘Runners Wall‘.

There will be three levels for participation:

  • Level 1 ‘athlete’: where you join us on at least one day of training from the training schedule.
  • Level 2 ‘marathon’: where you join us on at least three days of training from the training schedule.
  • Level 3 ‘olympian’: where you join us on at least 10 days of training from the schedule.

The training goes over 12 weeks, and then there is one month of running the 10 City Bridge Run, so plenty of time to get your game on!

We will start with just two photos: me and my mate John from Kenya. Then another might join, and then another. How long before 10? How long before 100 people have taken part? Can we exceed over 1,000 people? How will participation shape conversation, I wonder?

This idea is still being unpacked, so if you have any questions or better suggestions please let us know. If you know a better way to display the ‘Runners Wall’, please let us know too.


No Prize For Coming First – Participation is Key

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English: A man helps a friend along at the 200...
English: A man helps a friend along at the 2005 Boston Marathon, near mile 25 on the MBTA overpass. Location: Boston, Massachusetts, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The highly respected Coach Bob Williams from Portland, Oregan, developed this program for marathon distance and was written up in Noakes book ‘Lore of Running’. I have modified it slightly for a shorter distance, and built in some rest to avoid overtraining. See the program at the menu at the top of the page here.

I invite you to join me on any day I am running. You don’t need to run the same course, or even be in the same city. All you need to do is head out where ever you might be and run the same training load I have for that day. Send me a message by email, or comment below, or post on Facebook so I know you have taken part. You could even send a screen-shot of your mapped course or photo of you out running so others could see as well.

Let’s get this conversation started start through running. How many people could join me running on any one day? Two, ten, 100, more? Don’t go it alone: take the office with you. How large a group can you organise? I know there are running clubs that meet regularly- include my load in your distance, then send a photo with your crew out training!

I know my good friend John Thuo from Kenya will be keen to help out. He is a marathon runner and a good one too. And my mate Dean in Sydney has also said he is getting ready to help encourage me along in my training with some of the 8 km routes. That is three of us to start!

A number of good friends including Ash and Simon here in Sydney have already stepped forward saying they will run with me on the day itself. Others are of course welcome, and don’t forget there are nine other cities as well. You could even run your own 24 km route during the month I am running on one of the days in solidarity for the cause. Trust me, it will encourage me enormously to know you are out there with me! Please share the opportunity with others and repost this link. Let’s get more people involved. Fire up the network and get this conversation started!

So how about you too? Will you join us? Pick an easy day if that is best for you. Just run one day – no big ask. How about 2 January 2013 (scroll down: it is 6 x 200 m ‘sprints’). No prize for coming first, but it is important that you come with us on this journey.

New Beginnings

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Bridges over frozen waters
Bridges over frozen waters (Photo credit: Allie’s.Dad)

The good news first. We are building many strong relationships with important conversation partners that will give this initiative teeth. What is core to the outcome of the 10 City Bridge Run is a robust conversation. It is the conversation that mobilises the network.

I have realised the start date will need to be pushed back to enable the conversation to develop to its potential to achieve the best outcome. Earlier I had planned several different start dates, going all the way back to 2010. The last iteration was for 12 December 2012. However, I have come to realise that to commence now would be premature, given the scale of what is sought to be achieved.

Consequently, I have made the decision to delay the commencement of the 10 City Bridge Run until 24 February 2013.

This was a difficult decision to make, and harder still to communicate to people like yourself. Let me first say thank you for taking time to read this post.

Every time the start date slips, I feel that the credibility of this initiative is tarnished in some way. In fact, the opposite is true in this case. Starting now would be irresponsible if making impact was key. Running over Christmas might have been good to ‘just do it’, but the reality is that everyone is face-down in Christmas pudding. Better to hold off until a better conversation is possible.

If you have Supported this initiative already, you will have seen the design behind this initiative in the Supporters Passport I sent you. The Supporters Passport, just like this blog, is of itself part of this unfolding conversation. Clearly, the dates in that passport will accordingly need to be amended.

I do seek your further help through any feedback you might want to offer on what is contained inside the outline in the Supporters Passport: what was good for you? what needed more explanation? what could be improved? and were there ideas that were not included?

I also welcome you taking a more active role in this initiative either by joining our team of volunteers, or by being available to offer feedback to the meaty part of the conversation as it begins to unfold: what should the Design Forum focus on? who should we be speaking with? what issues need to be addressed? We could do with your help no matter your experience, where you live, or how limited your time might be.

Here are two dates to note:

  • 12 December 2012: the first of a number of planning meet-ups.
  • 31 January 2013: Launch event. Looking for good suggestions about where, how and with whom this might be best organised.

If you did not receive your Supporters Passport, please email me with your correct address and I will ensure a new one is posted out immediately. If you are already a Supporter, there is no cost to you, and it is something I want you to have as a way of thanking you for your support.

People can still join and support this initiative through downloading a Supporters Form here Supporters Payment Form 10 City Bridge Run 291112.

This is a big undertaking, and it is taking shape. I hope you share my anticipation of what is possible from the journey ahead.

12 Week Training Schedule

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The Bore of Running

Here it is! The final training schedule for the 12 weeks leading up to my start date of 24 February 2013 for running the 10 City Bridge Run.

The highly respected Coach Bob Williams from Portland, Oregan, developed the program which was written up in Noakes book ‘Lore of Running’.

Want to join a session? Let me know, and we can find time to head out together. There are some short runs and well as long runs. You take your pick. I would welcome the company!

Date Running
Training Schedule
Training Week 1/12
Tue, Dec 4, 2012 8 km
Wed, Dec 5, 2012 5 x 800 m
Thu, Dec 6, 2012 8 km
Fri, Dec 7, 2012 5 km on machine
Sat, Dec 8, 2012 Rest
Sun, Dec 9, 2012 24 km
Mon, Dec 10, 2012 Rest
Training Week 2/12
Tue, Dec 11, 2012 8 km
Wed, Dec 12, 2012 3 x 1600 m
Thu, Dec 13, 2012 8 km
Fri, Dec 14, 2012 16 km
Sat, Dec 15, 2012 Rest
Sun, Dec 16, 2012 20 km
Mon, Dec 17, 2012 Rest
Training Week 3/12
Tue, Dec 18, 2012 8 km
Wed, Dec 19, 2012 4 km on machine
Thu, Dec 20, 2012 8 km
Fri, Dec 21, 2012 8 x 200 m
Sat, Dec 22, 2012 Rest
Sun, Dec 23, 2012 24 km
Mon, Dec 24, 2012 Rest
Training Week 4/12
Tue, Dec 25, 2012 8 km
Wed, Dec 26, 2012 4 x 1600 m
Thu, Dec 27, 2012 8 km
Fri, Dec 28, 2012 9 km on machine
Sat, Dec 29, 2012 Rest
Sun, Dec 30, 2012 24 km
Mon, Dec 31, 2012 Rest
Training Week 5/12
Tue, Jan 1, 2013 8 km
Wed, Jan 2, 2013 6 x 200 m
Thu, Jan 3, 2013 8 km
Fri, Jan 4, 2013 5 x 1000 m
Sat, Jan 5, 2013 Rest
Sun, Jan 6, 2013 24 km
Mon, Jan 7, 2013 Rest
Training Week 6/12
Tue, Jan 8, 2013 8 km
Wed, Jan 9, 2013 8 x 400 m
Thu, Jan 10, 2013 8 km
Fri, Jan 11, 2013 7 km on machine
Sat, Jan 12, 2013 Rest
Sun, Jan 13, 2013 20 km
Mon, Jan 14, 2013 Rest
Training Week 7/12
Tue, Jan 15, 2013 8 km
Wed, Jan 16, 2013 5 x 1600 m
Thu, Jan 17, 2013 8 km
Fri, Jan 18, 2013 16 km
Sat, Jan 19, 2013 Rest
Sun, Jan 20, 2013 24 km
Mon, Jan 21, 2013 Rest
Training Week 8/12
Tue, Jan 22, 2013 8 km
Wed, Jan 23, 2013 8 km on machine
Thu, Jan 24, 2013 8 km
Fri, Jan 25, 2013 8 x 200 m
Sat, Jan 26, 2013 Rest
Sun, Jan 27, 2013 24 km
Mon, Jan 28, 2013 Rest
Training Week 9/12
Tue, Jan 29, 2013 8 km
Wed, Jan 30, 2013 6 x 200 m
Thu, Jan 31, 2013 8 km
Fri, Feb 1, 2013 5 x 1600 m
Sat, Feb 2, 2013 Rest
Sun, Feb 3, 2013 24 km
Mon, Feb 4, 2013 Rest
Training Week 10/12
Tue, Feb 5, 2013 8 km
Wed, Feb 6, 2013 8 km
Thu, Feb 7, 2013 8 km
Fri, Feb 8, 2013 6 x 800 m
Sat, Feb 9, 2013 Rest
Sun, Feb 10, 2013 10 km on machine
Mon, Feb 11, 2013 Rest
Training Week 11/12
Tue, Feb 12, 2013 8 km
Wed, Feb 13, 2013 5 x 1600 m
Thu, Feb 14, 2013 8 km
Fri, Feb 15, 2013 16 km
Sat, Feb 16, 2013 Rest
Sun, Feb 17, 2013 20 km
Mon, Feb 18, 2013 Rest
Training Week 12/12
Tue, Feb 19, 2013 8 km
Wed, Feb 20, 2013 5 x 1600 m
Thu, Feb 21, 2013 8 km
Fri, Feb 22, 2013 5 km
Sat, Feb 23, 2013 Rest

Overcoming a dilemma: building a bridge

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AI USA Maternal Death Clock Launch
I thought this was an unusual photo. Pointing to the Amnesty International “USA Maternal Death Clock” at the launch. I wonder how it is going, the clock that is? (Photo credit: Amnesty International)

In my last post I wrote about a dilemma I faced. Come too far to stop, but not enough backing to start running on 12 December 2012. It was a real dilemma. I had been training hard to make this journey possible since early 2010. Many false starts, many injuries, but not yet enough of what I needed to begin the journey.

The journey involves a stunt. I will run 10 sub-marathons each of 24 km each in 10 cities across 10 countries all inside of one month. The stunt is to open a conversation about how might we use our networks to help reduce child mortality within the context of the Millennium Development Goals.

Every time I had delayed the start in the past was a difficult decision. I felt as though people who were supporting me would be disappointed, I felt the embarrassment of having to change plans from what I said I would achieve, I felt the difficulty of needing to refocus my mind to a new set of dates.

The good thing was that many people really did help me with some good advice when I shared this last dilemma. Their advice: take your time if you need it, get it right, find some space to rest your mind and get clear on what you are wanting to achieve.

So, to those people who have been a great support, I just want to say thank you.

The new start date for running is 24 February 2013. The dates I had earlier outlined will obviously need to be shifted, but that gives us an opportunity. Through the ‘Supporters Passport’ I have sent to those people who have helped me, we now have a straw man of the concept which we can build upon.

And there are some good opportunities emerging:

  • ‘Conversation Partners’ have now been identified to help with the journey.
  • A significant partner is likely to help to frame the experience. More on that opportunity shortly I hope!
  • Just over three months from now until I start running, so much better time to build the conversation before running.
  • Running outside of the Christmas break so can build a more focused conversation.
  • Looking at a launch party on 31 January 2013, with a very good MC agreeing to help out on the night. More on that shortly!
  • Some good performers also agreeing to help out at the launch event!

It is regrettable to delay, but in this case it helps to build a stronger conversation. Building a bridge over a dilemma. That is what is most beneficial to the outcome, and that is what is most important.

One of the outcomes is the definition of a Three Year Plan. The run will now take place at the beginning of that Three Year Plan. We will be living it out as the plan unfolds. Every decision we make has real consequences.

Thanks to everyone for joining the journey. We welcome many more to come with us if you are not already on board.

Over the coming months, I will be asking for your advice. Looking forward to hearing from you!

On the Horns of a Dilemma: Come Too Far to Stop; Not Enough Support to Go

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General William Tecumseh Sherman, 1865.
General William Tecumseh Sherman, 1865. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The great and hard-charging American Civil War leader, General Sherman, spoke about putting his enemies on the horns of a dilemma. Confront them with a decision where either option is at their peril. Have you ever been in one of those sticky situations? Come too far to stop, but not having enough enough resources to proceed. Maybe you know what I am talking about.

I am not talking about the time you waited on the phone for two hours while the help-desk had you on hold. You really needed to take that call, but after hearing you were next in line your phone battery was about to give out, and you had a pressing engagement to attend. Waited too long to stop, but not enough capacity to see it through until the end. The classic case of what to do?

I am addressing something of a bigger dimension in this post.

In May 2010, I decided that I would open a conversation about poverty and the Millennium Development Goals through a stunt I called the 10 City Bridge Run which was a global endurance challenge where I would run 10 sub-marathons each of 24 km in 10 cities across 10 countries all inside of one month. In hindsight, often my efforts have been clumsy and crude- there was always room for improvement. It is the most painful form of progress. Bon Scott knew about this when he sang the rock anthem “It’s a Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)”.

I look back on this period where I have sought to partner with quite a number of  ‘not-for-profit’ organisations to undertake this journey on their behalf, but was met with words of encouragement but closed doors. “Not in line with our messaging or our fundraising objectives”. So much for wanting to change the world whatever it takes.

Looking back, I see an inexact definition of what I had hoped to achieve often to source of this rejection. I reread the weekly updates I produced for my first supporters, and cringe at my naivety. That was all part of the journey. I don’t know there was necessarily a shortcut past that earlier point of unsophistication. In the process, although it has been extremely difficult and challenging, I have learnt a huge amount about the issue and also importantly about myself. Mostly importantly, is that now I have good clarity of where I am heading. The question is, will I achieve enough support to deliver? That is largely up to you.

In late August 2010, I commenced what was my first attempt at crowdfunding. It was successful to a point, and the response from friends who backed me was a huge encouragement. Enough to get me started, not enough to achieve completion. I had undertaken a similar event in 2009 which I funded myself in its entirety, and while that was a worthwhile journey it was financially a bad decision. I ended up after the 2009 journey wiser and richer in experience, but emotionally and physically exhausted. Even encouragement has its limits.

I continued to look for an opportunity to start this journey in 2010, acknowledging the prudent precondition of needing sufficient funds to begin. Two years ago this week, I finally relented that it would not be possible to commence running in 2010 knowing that I was not going to raise enough money to complete the journey at that time. Besides not raising the money, my body was broken from overtraining and I was unable to run at that time even to catch a bus. It was probably a period of another five months before I was running again, and then only very gently as I began my recovery.

Last year, I looked for further opportunity to commence the journey. Nothing bore fruit. I had received just over $6,000 by early 2011 from my crowdfunding efforts, and took my responsibility seriously towards delivering on the expectation that I had set.

Which brought me to September of 2012 part way through my recent crowdfunding round. A good friend from the cut-and-thrust world of business who was a lot older and experienced than me, gave me some advice over coffee about leadership: “When you are the leader, and faced with a difficult situation, you need to weigh up the situation. If it is beyond you, then walk away. People will understand.”

What was I to do? Delay was not really a solution. Delay by how long? Weeks, months, years? The problem is the real deadline looming outside of my control: the 2015 expiration of the Millennium Development Goals. Besides this, every day close to 20,000 children will die mostly from five largely preventable causes. It really is crunch time.

There is a fine line between the expressions ‘Don’t die wondering’ and ‘To Dream The Impossible Dream’. What on earth are we to make of a character like Don Quixote?

That Moment of Your Quixotic Realisation. Been there before? Overcommitted to chasing windmills? Boxing at shadows? Or is it really a credible exercise in changing the game, and in the process inspiring others? Yes, we love to remember the quotes by Steve Jobs (“Here’s to the Crazy Ones”), and others like that. My sense is that there is a moment of irrationality where the feeling of the ‘inner Don Quixote’ emerging needs to be stamped out, and remembered that it is just the discomfort of working towards something that is just a little further out of reach than anticipated.

I remember doing some work for a company in the Pilbera back in 2007. Postered onto every office of that organisation were the company values which included: “Never ever give up”. Failure will occur, but failure is not the end of the journey. It is simply an operational pause, and time to grip up your resolve to work out how to reach your objective.

There have been plenty of times over the last two and a half years of gut-wrenching uncertainty. There is a lot to be said for partnership and working in teams. Everything has to start somewhere. Before a team became a team, it was a collection of individuals.

In just over a month, I will go on a journey and smash myself. There are better ways to open a conversation. Perhaps more sensible ways too. The question is though, is the situation of child mortality not so pressing that it deserves us giving everything an opportunity? I am not doing this for your entertainment. Please join me on this journey- let me do the heavy lifting, but we all need to join the conversation.

Elvis had it half right. We need a little more action, but also a little more conversation. Come on and satisfy me by sponsoring this initiative. You can do that for the cost of a meal at this link: Thanks for your support.

10 Day Sprint

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Ελληνικά: εκκίνηση
Run hard!

Starting tomorrow, I will be head-down on a 1o day sprint. It is an all-in 100% guts-effort to welcome 100 new sponsors to join this journey.

I am still carrying most of the expense out of my own pocket for this initiative, as I have been doing for the last two years. What that means essentially is that I am still short to meet the required amount to board a plane to start the journey.

I am convinced it will happen, and just know that there is some hard work ahead of me between now and then.

In 10 days time I want to be able to book my air travel with confidence that I have the necessary funding in the bank to start and complete the journey.

There are essentially three levels of sponsorship: $5, $24 and $240. You can sponsor me at or if you would prefer to use a different payment method contact me by email or leave a comment below.

It is more than just giving money. In return for your sponsorship, you are in effect joining the journey, and so I will be sending you your own 16-page passport which describes this initiative in detail. At the end of the journey, you will also receive a copy of the book Life Bridge featuring 100 photos of human bridges.

I will be working hard to engage my networks. Would you help by passing this news to people you know. Please help us to reduce child mortality by sponsoring this initiative. Thank you!

Three Important Lessons from Sandy

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Hurricane Sandy: 10/30/2012
Hurricane Sandy: 10/30/2012 (Photo credit: ccho)

Hurricane Sandy hit landfall just over 48 hours ago, including passing through Manhattan, New York. In a city with more cameras per square inch than anywhere else on earth, it was always predictable that visual reporting of this event would be prominent.

The unforgiving and unrelenting forces of nature often bring about loss and tragedy. Those events are unequivocally sad, and it is right that we should all share in the grief especially because of the loss of life that has resulted. For some, this will be personal. I have already heard on Facebook from one friend who knew one of the people who died. They were walking their dog in Brooklyn at the time of the incident.

Here are the three most important lessons that came to mind when I reflected on when  Sandy came to The City:

Lesson #1: We do not call the shots. Nature does. When nature moves, get out of the way. No one made provision for the intrusion of Sandy in anyone’s planning before the event. How can you prepare for the unexpected?

With Sandy bearing down on the US East Coast, it is a welcome reminder that we do not call the shots. The Presidential campaign for the 6 November election is pretty intense. I don’t know how much money gets consumed in the few short months immediately before the election itself, but needless to say it would be a lot.

I remember back at the end of 2004 during my Army service when I was the Operations Officer responsible to respond to any manner of emerging crisis for the Australian Defence Force. Iraq was in full swing, we had withdrawn from Afghanistan but would commence the planning for the second mission six short months later, and there were countless of other smaller tasks and operations running at the same time in the mix.

On Boxing Day, a tsunami occurred affecting large parts of the Indian Ocean, and subsequently I was called to become intensely focused on helping to respond to the emerging situation. More about the tsunami in another post to come, but suffice to say we cannot really plan for nature.

For all of the interest and money given in support of the election, it was all shelved while all shoulders were put to the wheel preparing for the arrival of Sandy. That was the right thing to do, and it does show that even with the US being the superpower that it is, there are still limits to how it can act. We cannot stop a storm.

POTUS might have the power at his command to rain Hellfire surgically through a window on the other side of the globe. It is comforting to know that with all of our strength, we still must yield and always respect the world around us.

Lesson #2: Death sucks. A bigger inconvenience than Wall Street closing for a few days. Reading the stories of what was damaged in the wake of Sandy, it was sad to learn of the loss of life. Somehow, and for good reason, we still put primacy onto the value of human life above all the materiel damage that can occur. One life lost trumps Wall Street closing down for a short period.

Death sucks. And the reality we are all aware of is that we will all die. This lesson has a more lugubrious note when I reflect on Sandy. I ask myself whether we value one life that we can easily identify with of more value than another in some other circumstance that is completely foreign to us?

We talk about resilience and community spirit in the face of death. My reflection here is that I feel sometimes we see more clearly own parochial concern for our own neighbourhood at times like these. The next time there is a mud-slide or flood in Bangladesh where hundreds of people die (like in June earlier this year), ask yourself where is this same spirit of lament.

Lesson #3: Our obsession for an immediate media fix. Even POTUS gets bumped.  Truth be told, I think there were a lot of Americans who were welcoming a distraction from the Presidential election spectacle that had been unfolding. Even so, it is a pretty important issue. So important that itself is usually able of sucking all of the oxygen out of the room to dominate media focus.

But we have an obsession for our media fix. We are junkies, and don’t even admit to it. Checking your Facebook and news-feeds how many times a day on your smart phone?

Here is the irony: we want news, but we settle for a force-fed diet of rubbish. Most of the world goes unseen by us, and yet we have this irrational sense that we are somehow informed. I especially think of friends like April in Sudan at times like this. Yes, she too will be concerned about Sandy. We all are. But let’s develop the capacity for broadening our horizons, while being attuned to the big changes that are unfolding in front of us.

My three lessons. The last couple of nights, New York sleeps. Finally, time for reflection.