Dave and Katharines Blog

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Saving Orangutans

Posted by on Apr 30, 2020 in Big Toe Blog, Conservation | 0 comments

Asian rainforests in countries like Malaysia and Indonesia are being chopped down and burnt so that palm oil can be grown instead.

This story book shows what happens when palm oil plantations replace rainforest

This is a big problem. Those rainforests are ancient; some of the oldest rainforests on the planet. They are home to incredible tree species and plants. These trees and plants in turn support all kinds of amazing animals such as butterflies the size of plates, orangutans, rafflesia flowers, clouded leopards, rhinoceros hornbills, Sumatran tigers, Sumatran rhinoceros and Bornean elephants.

When the rainforests are chopped down and turned into palm oil plantations the amazing rainforest animals have no where to go. Their homes are lost forever and they die.

This cartoon explains what is going on.

Palm oil is being planted everywhere because it provides cheap oil that is being shipped around the world for foods and all kinds of products.

Click here to watch a video where I tell the story of ‘The Wild Treehouse of Borneo’ about palm oil and the rainforests and animals. It was given to us from a friend who visited the island.

We can help!! We can cook food that doesn’t contain palm oil. We can also stop buying palm oil. Palm oil is in all sorts of foods from bread, to shampoo, to pizzas, to stock cubes. But some companies are removing it from their products.

Can you help us by telling us about foods and products that don’t contain palm oil? Then we can be sure to avoid them and all help save these amazing forests and their stunning animal species.

So far we have found out that Divine chocolate, Cadbury’s Bounty, Essentials peanut butter, Doritos original and tangy cheese, Morrison’s Sourdough mozzarella, tomato and pesto pizza and KP honey roast peanuts don’t contain palm oil. All Iceland home-brand food does not contain palm oil.

Here is a video to illustrate!

Cyril’s Big Adventure

Posted by on Apr 26, 2020 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Cyril is a cirl bunting who decides to go on a BIG adventure.  But his adventure quickly turns into a perilous quest when he discovers The Nothing…

Based on a true story about how we nearly lost these precious little birds, but that through the work of farmers and conservationists, the tiny Devon population began to bloom again.

Listen to Katharine reading the tale in four parts here:

PART 1 Watch Here

PART 2 Watch Here

PART 3 Watch Here

PART 4 Watch Here

50p from each copy sold goes to the RSPB’s Cirl Bunting Project

To buy a signed and dedicated copy click here.

Also available from RSPB shops, NHBS, & all good book shops.

World Book Day Reading & Competition

Posted by on Apr 23, 2020 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

To celebrate world book day I have read a couple of extracts from my book ”Running South America with my Husband and other Animals’. I am also giving away two signed and dedicated copies of the book to anyone who signs up to our mailing list and/ or can share my competition post on twitter / facebook. Closing date 30th April.

The book chronicles David and my world first run for wildlife and wilderness. It’s packed full of wildlife and shares the stories of the people who are saving South America’s natural treasures. Including the late Doug Tompkins and his wife Kris McDivitt Tompkins who have restored vast tracts of South America for wildlife, rewilding at an enormous scale and returning species such as puma, jaguar and huemul to their native habitat.

Running through cloud forest, Catamarca, Argentina

David and I ran 1/3 of the run barefoot or in barefoot shoes. We learned the new ‘minimalist’ technique a couple of months before the expedition and have never looked back. Running allowed us to slip under the skin of South America’s extraordinary landscapes. Whether parrots, anteaters, armadillos or tarantulas: running provided surprise encounters with animals that many South Americans haven’t even seen.

Running also unlocked doors. People shared their food, homes, ideas and thoughts. Now we have to repay the debt, even if it is to folk on the other side of the world…

Other running and wildlife books that have inspired me recently include:

Richard Askwith, Feet in the Clouds Fantastic book about the fell running legends of the Lake District and Richard’s own incredible quest to conquer the Bob Graham round.

Scott Jurek, Eat and Run Extraordinary ultra runner who runs on plant-based fuel.

Benedict Macdonald, Rebirding; George Monbiot, Feral, Isabella Tree, Wilding and BTO’s Red Sixty Seven which I have written about here.

You can buy a signed and dedicated copy of Running South America here, also at all good shops/online.

For reviews please see here & please write one if you enjoyed reading it!

Returning the Great to Britain

Posted by on Apr 23, 2020 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Whether mountain, fen, woodland, scrubland, heath, marsh or coast, Britain has so much diversity in such a tiny area. I have lived and worked in all kinds of incredible habitats around the world, but this little island relentlessly pulls me back.

There is, however, one hitch. Life, wildlife is draining from it. Its ecological potential, once great abundance and diversity of wildlife and habitats are vanishing.

The yellow hammer’s plea for a, ‘Little-bit-of-bread-and-no-cheeeeeeeese’ has been binned. The corn bunting’s jangling keys have been lost. Wellies can no longer be flung at the rasping corncrake. That most evocative of Spring calls, ‘Cuckoo’, is vanquished to a few uplands. Even the starlings, house sparrows and robber of chips; the herring gulls, are losing their beak-hold.

Hedgehogs, grass snakes, bumblebees, butterflies, wild flowers, glow worms, dormice, harvest mice, bats: the role call goes on and on.

So what on earth is happening? Well if you read, ‘Feral’, by George Monbiot, ‘Rebirding’ by Benedict MacDonald and ‘Wilding’ by Isabella Tree, you will find out. All three books brilliantly explain why our countryside is denuded and depauperate.

Monbiot reminds us of the mega fauna that once inhabited and shaped out countryside before Homo sapien hunter-gatherers and then settlers wiped them out. How key-stone species like the wolf, beaver and aurochs could be reintroduced to our country to breath life back into it.

Macdonald maps out a fantastic future where our national parks and windswept uplands morph from grouse, deer and sheep nibbled factories into landscapes heaving with life. That there is space in our little island to bring back the ghosts of our past; from lynx to elk to bison.

Argyll: Cuckoos, grass hopper warblers & sand martins sing. Occasionally a white-tailed eagle flies over. But imagine this without sheep? With wild boar, beavers, lynx and bison. Where the herds of deer are controlled by wolves? Where redstarts and pied-flycatchers sing again.

Tree reminds us fossil records suggest that Britain was not the dense wooded landscape depicted in fairy tales, but a hedonistic mass of scrub, woodland and pasture all jostling for autonomy as it was grazed, browsed and snouted by hoards of wild boar, cattle and ponies.

A rare valley on Exmoor where wood warblers, pied flycatchers and all our bat species still cling on.

As Macdonald reminds us, we are a nation who uniquely cares about our wildlife. Subscription numbers to our nature charities attest to this, yet we are living in a country whose wildlife is disappearing at an extraordinary rate. We are in an Ecological Crisis. We cannot accept this. Add your voice for the return of large scale functioning ecosystems that sustain wildlife in the UK here.

BTO’s Red Sixty Seven lists the species of birds declining in the UK. It’s a beautiful book of poems, writing and illustrations evoked by authors and artists. Each species has its own prose or poem and art work. A mix of magic, tears and hope.

Competition!

Posted by on Apr 1, 2020 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

You may not be able to travel at the moment, but you can travel vicariously from your armchair through your mind to distant worlds.

So sit back, turn the pages and delve into South America. A continent of superlatives; with the highest waterfall, the longest mountain chain, the highest biodiversity on earth. Run with David and I, screaming, crying, laughing and joking from the freezer to the oven. Running with parrots, anteaters, armadillos and South Americans.

Two copies of, ‘Running South America with my Husband and other Animals‘ are free to wherever you are in the world. All you have to do to be entered is to answer this question:-

1. What is the biggest raptor in South America? And post me the answer here or on facebook / twitter below.

2. Like FB @Running Nature & Adventure and 5000mileproject (if you’re on FB)

3. Like TW @5000mileproject (if you’re on TW)

And please Share this post far and wide!

Last day to enter Thursday 30 April 2020.

To see and/ post a review on Amazon click here. Thank you!

Running Barefoot

Posted by on Apr 1, 2020 in Running, Running Techniques | 0 comments

A friend of mine, Sarah, has just taken up running- couch to 5km. She wanted some tips. I’m not a coach, but I love running ‘barefoot’. David and I have been running in minimalist shoes or nothing at all for eight years. Now is a great a time as ever, while ‘locked-down’ in your house, to plunge into the world of BAREFOOT. So here goes…

We were about to run the length of South America and our ‘virtual’ running coach, Jonno Gibbins, said our technique was rotten! We were heavy footed, heel-striking, with a slow cadence. The likeliness of injury was high. He suggested we try running barefoot or at least try out the technique. We had nothing to lose.

‘Like no other form of passage, running would allow us to penetrate the moods of the land and its creatures. With only a couple of millimetres of ‘barefoot’ shoe-soles separating us from the earth’s heartbeat, often only our unshod skin we would move silently, stealthily, creeping up on wildlife, a whisper away from discovery, a step from the unknown and unexpected.’ (From ‘Running South America’, Katharine Lowrie)

View of the beach I ran to today in the shimmering sun with sky larks and linnets singing.

So first thing to do is to pad around at home or in your garden barefoot. Walk, run, hop, stand: barefoot. Be barefoot as much as you can. This will start the process of re-awakening your muscles and strengthening your Achiles tendon.

Practice extending your Achilles and centring your posture with ‘third-world squats’. Exercise and ‘ground’ your big toe with ‘toega‘. Jump on the spot or hop and skip- think Masai Mara- again all to 180 beats per minute.

If you can get out for a run, set your phone or a metronome to 180 beats per minute so you get your running rhythm right. Think quick, light steps and an upright posture; as if someone’s stabbing you in the back with a carving knife.

I run off-road; I think this is important, if you can, it means your foot is constantly finding a different plain to land on and searching for something to get a toe-hold on.

View from my run today- following deer paths.

After each run I do a quick yoga routine. Poses like: downward dog, pigeon, warrior, tree etcetera feel lovely. Check out Aimee Fuller’s 6 min yoga routine here.

I run in vivobarefoot shoes because they’re light and with masses of room in the ‘toe box’ allowing my toes and the hundreds of muscles inside them to work. And I run in no shoes at all. That’s the great thing about running, you don’t have to have any kit.

My vivobarefoot shoes. Love them!

We ran 6,504 miles through South America from south to north. We ran self-supported, taking it in turn to pull a trailer. We ran 1/3 barefoot, because we quickly worked out that running pulling a trailer isn’t natural at all! We both feel that running barefoot or concentrating on a minimalist technique helped us achieve our goal of running the continent.

We now live on the West Coast of Scotland and today on my run I saw: two adders, a slow worm, a roe deer, heard linnets and skylarks singing and a buzzard soaring. That’s why I run and because running, wildlife and wildernesses make me feel alive.

A female adder with her young under her and beside her. Stunning.
The slow worm I found sunning itself close to the adder.

BOOKS

You’re stuck at home… what better then to read about running.

Here are some books that have inspired me:

‘Running South America with my Husband and other Animals’ Katharine Lowrie– Had to mention my own (again!) because it’s about our barefoot running journey, travelling at a trot through some incredible wildernesses, living with my husband for 15 months (!) and the amazing wild animals we met. You can buy a signed copy here or in bookshops / Amazon – which also has reviews (please add one if you haven’t) and the kindle version.

Richard Askwith’s Feet in the Clouds. I was totally absorbed by this wonderful book about the history, passion, love and life of fell running. Richard undertakes to do a Bob Graham Round during it too. Brilliant. And while you’re imbibing Richard’s words, check out Running Free about running barefoot, through mud, nettles, undergrowth, in his diary of running the tracks and paths around his Northampstonshire home. Lovely.

Mike Stroud’s Survival of the Fittest. Fantastic book that weaves runing and extreme endurance adventures with the fundamentals of how our bodies operate during such gruelling conditions- from a medic and record-breaking, adventurer. Couldn’t put it down.

Born to Run, Christopher McDougall. I loved this book. Totally inspiring and set us off on the idea of barefoot running. Makes sense- that we were born to run, to chase down our prey or run away from predators. That our bodies have evolved to do this with sweat glands and our bio-mechanics and Achiles hele all help. Nothing much has changed…

Eat and Run, Scott Jurek is a fascinating read about endurance running and the vegetable based food that powered Scott, an elite, extraordinary runner.

Dean Karnazes, Run definitely makes you itch to get out there and start your own running adventures. Another incredible athlete.

Cyril’s Big Adventure- A Real Nature Story with a Happy Ending

Posted by on Oct 17, 2019 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Hello, long time no chirrup!  A little off the theme of running, but very much ON the theme of wildlife. I have just released a brand-new children’s book highlighting the wonderful world of nature. It’s set to raise funds for protected cirl buntings. Cyril’s Big Adventure details the real-life success of cirl buntings – a rare species of bird in England, brought back from the brink through the combined effort of farmers and conservationists.

The book, which I have written and illustrated, is a celebration of the return of cirl buntings and the other wonderful wildlife that we share our countryside with. 50p from the sale of each book will go towards the RSPB’s cirl bunting project.

One of the most exciting aspects of my work with the RSPB has been my involvement in the cirl bunting project and seeing the recovery of this iconic bird. It may be little, but it represents a lot, because where cirl buntings prosper so does other farmland wildlife, including: brown hares, barn owls, arable plants, butterflies, bumblebees, lizards and bats; many of which are declining in our wider countryside.” (more…)

Posted by on May 9, 2018 in Running | 0 comments

‘Running South America with my Husband & other animals’

was published last August 2017 and we’re delighted to announce that it has sold out! It is currently at press and will be winging its way back into the shops in the next few weeks. (NB individual shops/ online stores do still hold copies)

We’re also very excited that the new copies will include additional words of support from the late running barefoot legend Bruce Tulloh and also from the magnificent Joanna Lumley, whom we were lucky to listen to last year at the Transglobe Expedition Trust’s super annual lectures at the Royal Geographic Society (the Trust supported our expedition). The start of each chapter will also include the number of miles run!

You can order your new copy directly from our website- signed and dedicated HERE

Katharine is still giving talks about the expedition for schools, colleges and other groups. Please see HERE for future events or email her to organise a talk:  kathj(surname)@gmail.com (Please remove brackets and add her surname).

For the latest article about the expedition and book CLICK HERE

 

In the ‘papers’

Posted by on Sep 25, 2017 in Running | 0 comments

Daily Telegraph

Meet the couple who ran 6,504 miles across South America- dodging hurricane force winds and the Venezuelan mafia… read more here

Daily Mail

‘It would have been lovely to keep on going’: The British couple who jogged 6,500 miles along the length of South America – but didn’t want the run to end’… read more here

Lonely Planet

‘The most beautiful and simple existence’: one couple shares their experience of running 5000 miles through South America’.. read more here

Sunday Post

‘English runners in Argentina escape death… by pretending to be Scottish’.. read more here

Berghaus

‘Running South America in 27 photos’.. see more here

A continent in stats

Posted by on Aug 29, 2017 in Running | 0 comments

Running in cloud forest, near Catamarca, Argentina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • First people to run the length of South America, unsupported (pulled a trailer with all kit & food)

  • Katharine is First woman to run the continent

  • Katharine completed 2nd longest run ever undertaken by a woman

  • First people to run  Amazon Basin

  • First people to run Bolivia

  • First people to run Carretera Austral, Chile

  • 6,504 miles

  • 15 months

  • Ran through 10 pairs of shoes each

  • 2/3 in Inov8 transition running shoes & 1/3 barefoot or in Vivobarefoot shoes

  • 1/3 on rough tracks

  • Averaged 20 miles/ day

  • Longest run- 36 miles

  • Ran equivalent of 9 marathons in 9 days in final burst to the finishing line

  • Tried to consume >4000cl each a day

  • Pulled a trailer weighing up to 140kg, which was swapped every 5 miles

  • Built 2nd trailer for a 400 mile remote Amazon section to accommodate additional 100kg of food

  • Presented to 2,583 students in Spanish and English about running & wildlife in South America & the UK

  • Wrote 35 articles and blogs about nature conservation & running for The Ecologist, Independent online, Soy Maratonista and Patagon Journal

  • Raised money for: Asociación Armonía, Birdlife International & Conservación Patagonica

  • Recorded 453 bird species and registered 6,154 individual birds, including many that are endangered.

    BUY the book from us in person from one of our events HERE .. or ONLINE HERE Thank you!

Carretera Austral, Chile