RUN UK 2013 – Barefoot

A rather inspiring post, that was brought to my attention and written by Chris @

RUN UK 2013
Run UK 2013 is a challenge that adventurer, author and speaker Nadine Horn has set herself as a goal for this year. She plans to run ‘barefoot style’ the length of Britain! Not only is this to be a personal challenge, that we can follow and support but we also have the opportunity in attending one of the many ‘open evening’ presentations that Nadine is hoping to put on for anyone interested in the style of Barefoot running!

– I have been in touch with Nadine and it does look as though we ‘may’ be able to host an evening for her within Edinburgh – watch this space for more news… 🙂


Nadine is certainly no stranger to setting challenges for herself, having successfully completed a “3 Border Triathlon”, where she cycled 680km acrossSwitzerland, swam over 200km in Germany and then finished with running 260km across Austria – a total distance of 1140km!!!! O_O

Nadine also happens to be the ‘First female ambassador for the European Outdoor Conservation Association’.

Here’s an introduction from Nadine:

I am one of those people with a rare allergy to walls and comfortable bed. My passion: traveling, exploring, learning and meeting people from all walks of life. My career: extreme endurance athlete / adventurer / author / barefoot coach.

Last year I cycled 4000 km around whole Spain learning fluent Spanish on the way. It took me 29 days from the idea to the moment sitting on the air-plane off to Spain to start the quest. This year I have just finished my 1140 km solo-triathlon across 3 countries: cycling across Switzerland, swimming the Danube for over 200 km and traversing Austria.

Why am I doing it?

There are many good reasons including living my passion, but one in particular:

Living up to the potential we have been given by being human, challenging ideas of what we can do and what not and that there is no failure but simply room for improvement. Getting rid-off bad habits that are of no use.

Exactly for this reason I have transitioned to becoming a barefoot-runner. The last leg of my Three Border Triathlon Adventure involved running across Austria. The aim was to run 320 km. After 260 km my mind was prepared to keep going but my Achilles tendons were ready to give up. I felt them closer to tearing with every step I took. Both of my heels were swollen. I tried to carry on but realized that hopping from bench to bench, wouldn’t get me very far. I was intrigued by what went wrong…

Shortly after, while giving a talk at the Outdoor Expo in Germany, I came across a simple answer: Barefoot running. It turns out the modern shoes most runners rely on nowadays create a number of false signals which confuse our brain, they mask the natural feedback that contact with the ground gives us. Hence we create shapes and habits that are not natural plus in my case the shoes were just restricting my movement and rubbing into the back of my heel.

So what now? I have turned the learning curve and weakness of my last adventure into my next challenge: Running across the UK ‘Barefoot’. Thanks to Chris I am sharing the journey from the idea to having my feet prepared for the challenge to the actual execution in spring here on his blog. So stay tuned. You can also find me on twitter adventure_nads and read about my last adventures and other projects on: Feel free to sign up to my newsletter.


I have honestly to say that planning a route is not one of my strengths. It’s not that I cannot do it, it just seems preferable in my nature to just plot a line in 5min and then go and do it. The downside: I may not experience the most beautiful scenery and it seems to be more about the ‘doing’ it, then making the best of all aspects of the project. It’s good to be aware of these things, cause then you can decide to put a learning curve in.
So at the beginning of my project planning I approached my Run UK in the same ‘my-normal-5min-plotting-nature’ approach until I realised that it’s not going to work like this. But before the route comes the evolution of the adventure itself.

The ‘difficulties’ – the decision making process

The difficulties lie in the mind to make a decision. I have recognised the pattern whenever I start out for planning a new adventure: the amount of options is huge, the imaginary ‘fear’ of missing out is present and it takes me days if not a week or two to decide on one route, realising that I can make twist and tweaks along the way, but need a framework to start with.

The evolution of the adventure

One things leads to another. After doing my Three Border Triathlon and experiencing problems with my feet during the run-across-austria-leg I came across ‘Barefoot running’ or as the Vivobarefoot Trainingsclinic puts it: ‘learn the skill of running’. I was intrigued by their philosophy and it seemed very obvious and interesting that we learn the skill of swimming and cycling, but never really the one of running. Once I started to get involved with Vivo and started the journey of learning the skill, running made more sense to me and the core of the next adventure was clear: run across the UK in barefoot shoes.

What was next? The route (and my challenging learning curve)

The evolution of the route

The country

I was intrigued by the UK for a while and it seemed to be the perfect country for my next adventure. You don’t have to go far to experience beautiful landscapes. I just remembered how stunned I was when I went to the Lake District Area before.

The route – crossing the 10 largest National Parks

And here was the challenge: I knew that the route ‘Landsend to John o’ Groats’ was out from the start. It seems boring to chew the same route as many others have done before. Creating your adventure gives you the possibility to explore the country in your own terms and discover something new, exciting that has no real template. Someone recommended  to run across the National Parks. Great idea. Rather then me running across any way (which I most properly would have done, and most properly would have ended up running ugly carriage ways and non-spectactular industrial areas) – this was a great idea to experience the UK beauty in its best. So the idea received a tick. It was clear for me to run South  to North.
The next question was: which National Parks? And here came the first little head-battle. I wanted to have a mileage of around 1000miles, doing all of the National Parks would have gone over for quite a bit, so a solution was needed. After a bit of brainstorming and listening to my gut-feeling of what felt right, I came up with – the 10 largest Nationalparks. Done. And here they are:
1. South Downs
2. Brecon Beacons
3. Snowdonia
4. Peak District
5. North York Moors
6. Yorkshire Dales
7. Lake District
8. Northumberland
9. Loch Lomond
10. Cairngorms
It still took me a couple of days to accept the route. Still wondering about other options. Could I squeeze a milage of around a 1000 miles into this route? And then it was time to stop wondering and just deciding on it and doing it. The clock is ticking and the more time you give yourself, the more time you waste. The next step was the detailed planning of the route (which I am still in the process). As I have mentioned before, having made the decision above would normally be enough for me to start – but listening to some recommendations it made sense to map out the route in detail to have the rough mileage, the towns I am going to pass etc. So here we go…

What have I planned so far:

The overall route:

Detailed map planning

Plotting the route with the help of markers, route tools and making use of the features that OS map allows such as showing the National Parks and Trails.
I started off marking the rough route with purple markers. Start will be Eastbourne where the South Downs begin. I haven’t plotted the route there yet cause I am going to follow the South Down Ways (Distance: 100mile, finished in Winchester). So I started the plotting from Winchester onwards up to Bristol. From there I will follow the National Trail ‘Offa’s Dyke’.  I will follow the trail until Knighton from where I head west to Snowdonia, crossing the east corner from close to Machynlleth up to Ybala. From there I follow a couple of trails to go to Chester. So far so good. Things can change along the way cause it will be interesting to see what the paths are like. One thing I know I will need is a navigation tool

So what’s next:

In the next days I finish the detailed route, have picked 10 cities where I am going to organise a barefoot-running workshop to explain what it all means. Will start to get sponsorship for equipment, make a decision on where to sleep (camping, accommodation etc.) and see who is nuts to come and join me as a driver (still need to organise a car), as a film-maker to help me documenting the trip and one more person that I will need for the logistics. Also I like to get in contact with running groups in the area to join me for some parts.

If you like to get involved in any way in this project, drop me a line at

6 responses to “RUN UK 2013 – Barefoot

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