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Rory Southworth By Rory Southworth

How can you do a long distance trail when you don't have any time? GetOutside Champion Rory Southworth reveals his After-work Long Distance Trail Project.

Rory running across countryside

I love the simplicity of multi-day running, waking up and knowing all you have to do for the day is run from where you are to your next location. Between where you wake and where you next fall asleep may be beautiful terrain, there may be suffering, but there is simplicity to it all.

Having used all my holiday up for the year and finding myself itching to complete a long distance route, I found myself thinking that there must be a way to do it.

After-work Long Distance Trail Project

After-work adventures have been my passion for years since I moved from the city up to the North of England. I can be found running, climbing, swimming and even skiing after work in the Lake District and as a believer that so much can be done after-work it made sense to try and complete a Long Distance Trail over a few consecutive evenings.

That's how the 'After-work Long Distance Trail Project' came about. The rules were simple... find a recognised long distance trail, run it after work from point to point until I complete the full length of the trail.

On the long distance trail
Checking the map route

Make a plan

Planning was simple, I used the search engine on the Long Distance Walkers Association website to find a trail near me, at a length that could be completed in a working week and looked interesting enough to enjoy. I found the West Pennine Way, a circular 74km route taking in some lovely moorland, woodland and maintained trails.

With the GPX route downloaded and put into the OS Maps app the extra distance could be included for parking and getting to and from the route and then re-plotted and broken into 4 days of approximately 21km a day.

Logistics was harder, wanting to run point to point required two cars, one at the start and one at the end. So at short notice I pitched the idea to a couple of distance running friends who lived near by and convinced them to spend their next four evenings running the West Pennine Way with me.

Each evening we would meet at the end car park location, jump into one of the car and drive to the start, run the length of trail for that evening and drive back to the start to collect the other car.

Rory walking along a roadside

Each day we ran we seemed to get faster, feel more robust and our bodies embraced the similarity of running the trail after work, we had glorious sunshine and dry, fast trails. Each day I felt myself so excited for the evening's adventure, powered through my workload and raced to get to the evening to do it all again for the week.

Did we learn anything? Yep, that the logistics of setting the cars up can take nearly as long as the actual running, and that eating enough calories after each of the runs late in the evening can be pretty tough!

It's definitely a summer challenge and I'll probably do another route next summer in the same style, anyone live nearby that wants to give it a go?

Published 14/11/2019

Rory Southworth By Rory Southworth


Rory is a red race short wearing mountain runner, climber and long distance hiker.

Find out more about Rory Southworth.