Karl Rushen: three minute interview

Bedfordshire-based Karl Rushen’s #GetOutside pledge is to create the 100 Peaks Challenge – the biggest endurance event ever staged in the UK – in memory of his younger brother Lloyd who was killed in action in Afghanistan. The 25-day Challenge will involve tabbing 100 peaks, cycling between summit lines and peak regions, and kayaking across the Irish Sea.

How does it feel to have been chosen as a #GetOutside Champion?

To be honest I don't think it's sunk in yet. It's very humbling to be chosen considering the company. There are some truly remarkable and inspiring people in this group, so to be chosen is a real honour. I'm actually still getting my head around how that happened!

What does being a #GetOutside champion mean to you?

It means everything, I guess on some level what I'm trying to achieve has struck a chord with the OS and they believe in the project I've created. Personally it's put a massive spring in my step and made me even more determined to be a #GetOutside Champion.

What are the benefits to you of being outside?

The biggest benefits for me are fitness and time with family and friends. I do the vast majority of my training alone but relish the opportunities to have 'dates with mates' in the hills. There's no stress, only hard work and banter and there's not a lot better for the soul.

What do you most enjoy about being outside?

Now I'm a dad, watching my little boy explore and be totally and utterly captivated with absolute innocence, he's just over two so every time we go out it's an adventure.

What’s your favourite terrain to get out in? (Mountain / coast / woodland etc)

Living in the middle of the country means I have to go looking for mountains or the coast, and neither are close in any direction! Luckily there is a fair bit of woodland and I love using the trails for base miles for my run training. The cycling's pretty good too, but again real hills are hard to come by, which is why I spend so much time in Brecon. It's my favourite place, it's truly beautiful and a constant test for the body and mind.

What’s your best memory of being outside?

The friends I've made as a result of the change I've made in my lifestyle in the last four years (or so), it's that simple. So many great memories with so many great people.

What’s your worst?

I don't think I've had a worst memory yet, not one worth writing about certainly. That may well change in the next 18 months though!

What’s the most unusual thing to have happened to you outside?

I guess always the most unusual things to happen when you spend time running and training off the beaten track is being chased by animals, most notably angry cows (which really shift when they get going) and nesting birds of prey. They're quite intimidating when they're coming at you in full attack mode with talons out! It's no easy feat getting out the way when you have in excess of 40lb on your back!

What do you like about Great Britain?

Great Britain is beautiful. I share a common philosophy (I think) that if you're in some of the more popular parts of the British Isles there are not many other parts of the world you'd rather be (especially when the sun is shining). I've come to adore those places no matter the weather (an adoration not completely shared at home yet, but we're getting there), we have beautiful beaches, some stunning coast line and some truly incredibly beautiful national parks to explore, our fair isle has it all.

Where is your favourite place in Great Britain to be outside?

Brecon, but because I spend so much time there I'm possibly biased towards its charm. This year I'll be spending a lot more time in the Lakes, Snowdonia and the Highlands. I've never really had the opportunity to explore them before, but I can only assume my favourite place will become favourite places. I must also say (just in case the wife is reading this) Harrogate is a special place too, our favourite place and one that holds many memories for us.

What are your favourite outdoor pursuits?

Being in the hills with my Bergen on, running, and because of my Challenge in 2017 I've now developed a real love (after the normal rookie clipping in and out problems) of road cycling. I love the notion that I can cover the same distance as I run in a third of the time and my knees and achilles don't ache the next morning.

In one line, how would you describe the feeling being outside gives you?

Free, it gives me back!

When you’re outside – how do you change as a person?

See above! Being outside allows me to relax, I get to release the stresses of everyday life. I get the chance to reflect on things past and present and being relaxed allows me to gain normal perspective on issues that may be bothering me. I don't need to be out long for that change to happen and I know the moment I get back in the front door I'm me again, albeit not quite as fresh as when I went out!

Why should people #GetOutside more often?

Why? To improve your life. Every aspect of your life can be improved by getting outside, whether that's just the simple notion of improving fitness or to expand your horizons, it's good for the heart, it's great for the soul.

What would you say to someone who never goes outside to get them outside?

They're missing out on life, life is too short and precious. I've had to come to terms with that in the last few years and I'm glad I did, it prompted the change in my lifestyle. We work to live, not live to work and you can't find your true self inside four walls. You really don't know what you're capable of until you get out of your comfort zone.

Why as a nation are we not getting outside as much as we could?

This will probably make me sound like a grumpy old man, but we've gone soft. As kids we had no tech to entertain us at home, it was either boredom or be outside. Nowadays it's too easy to stay indoors. It's too easy to look outside at the weather and decide to put the telly on, watch a film, get the laptop or console out or sit on your phone! I think sometimes we forget although we're getting older and everyday life takes over, that there is still that kid in all of us, a kid that just wants to play (that could just be me though).

What are the most important things a person should do or take when they #GetOutside?

A smile.

What tips or pieces of advice would you give to someone who wants to get more out of being outside?

Just do it. I'm not advocating that everyone goes out and run marathons or longs to climb Everest, but if you want to make a change, set a goal. Keep it simple, enjoyable and achievable and eventually it may well lead to something that once seemed impossible. Impossible is nothing!

Before you became a #GetOutside Champion, describe your relationship with Ordnance Survey

It was purely one of wonder. I'd wonder what all those symbols and lines meant on those great big bits of paper! But maps are beautiful things and once you know how to use them they open up a world of possibilities.

What music do you listen to when you get outside / does music inspire you?

I never listen to music when I'm taking part in events, I think it distracts you from the whole experience. I seldom listen to music when I'm training either, purely because I worry about safety, but it does inspire me greatly. It's a big part of my daily routine, I have a specific play list dedicated to my brother that I listen to at the start of every day and that gives me the inspiration I need.

What are your backpack essentials?

Med and emergency kit, warm kit, dry kit, money, head torch, phone and remote charger, spare laces, batteries and a spare map!

What’s your favourite food when you are outside?

Reese's Cups and Jelly Babies, although I'm starting to refine my nutritional habits a little and replacing those with stuff that's better for me (but they are always tucked in emergency rations just in case). I've also been known to have a 'Nando's' with me on occasion!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Getting outside is easy, it's just getting your shoes on and going. It doesn't have to be arduous: Find something to that will inspire you to explore yourself and your world and you might end up inspiring others to do the same. To be inspired is great, to inspire is incredible.

● The 100 peaks challenge takes place on 23 May 2017, with money going to military charities.

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