16 marathons. 16 days. 16 UK National Parks.

Ben Turner By Ben Turner

Ben Turner is taking on an epic challenge. Running 16 marathons in 16 days, in all 16 UK National Parks. Here he tells us why the project in so important.

What is the project about?

The 16 National Marathons is a project where I will run 16 marathons in 16 days in all 16 UK National Parks in an attempt to find an answer to the question: “Do the UK’s National Parks need to adapt to the modernising and digitalising world while encourage younger people to get outside?”.

Stemming from a conversation with friends who were playing with the latest virtual reality software, this got me thinking, will the benefits of the outdoors be lost in a time centred so strongly on the screen in our pockets?

Image of a trail in a National Park

Why have I set myself this challenge?

National Parks are the staple of outdoor activities in the UK with over 60 million visitors across the UK per year (October 2014). Now with the increased modernisation of the world, social circles are centred around smart devices, the development of the world is going increasingly artificial and there is an ever growing pull and globalisation of social media.

How does this affect the outdoors? Will there be such a drive with younger generations, a similar appreciation and respect that older generations hold? It seems that the outdoors could be adapted to become more 21st Century.

Which is where the 16 National Marathons aims to shed light.

Ben Turner in training for his Challenge
Ben Turner getting testing his gear

This project is growing exponentially and is exploring the ideas and concepts behind the world’s first National Park City in London (the 16th National Park) and the Smart Park initiative in the Lake District. Both concepts seem to aim to draw people outdoors in opposing ways to a common cause.

I want to run a marathon in each National Park to both celebrate our National Parks and to see if the above initiatives are feasible and translatable ideas across the UK.

How will I achieve success?

I want to use the physical action of running multiple marathons as a vehicle to draw attention to the findings of this project, which is something that is closely aligned to my purpose, to encourage people to get outside and find their own adventures, push themselves and redefine their ‘possible’.

Currently, I am less than one week out from the 16 National Marathons and my training is bringing me to running to the top of Ben Nevis at 5am on most days, clocking long miles on remote trails and battling the many storms on constant rain of the west coast. I fear the current weather is setting the standard to for the marathons, as to be expected for October, especially in Scotland!

Running through a stream

When and where am I running?

22 October – 06 November 2018

This project will prove to be a fascinating voyage of discovery though the “UK’s Natural breathing spaces”, through the intricacies of technical physical training, and I aim to inspire others to get out on an adventure of their own, with the option of a more 21st Century approach.

  • 22nd - Cairngorms National Park
  • 23rd - Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park
  • 24th - Northumberland National Park
  • 25th - Lake District National Park
  • 26th - Yorkshire Dale's National Park
  • 27th - North York Moors National Park
  • 28th - Peak District National Park
  • 29th - Snowdonia National Park
  • 30th - Pembroke Coast National Park
  • 31st - Brecon Beacons National Park
  • 1st - Exmoor National Park
  • 2nd - Dartmoor National Park
  • 3rd - New Forest National Park
  • 4th - South Downs National Park
  • 5th - Norfolk Broads National Park
  • 6th - National Park City

Find out more

You can read more about the schedule for the marathons, the routes (courtesy of OS Maps online) and my journey to the 22nd October via the 16 Marathons website, Instagram: @Athlete_Adventure, Facebook: @AthleteAdventure or Twitter: @AthleteAdventur

Landscape photo

Ben Turner By Ben Turner

About:

Following 7 years as an Adventure Training Instructor in the British Army, Ben decided that he would become a freelance instructor for groups and individuals anywhere in the UK. Mountain leader, personal trainer and motivational speaker, Ben has a great love of the outdoors and all it has to offer.

Find out more about Ben's adventures.

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