My Life Now, Or Something Like It (The SP of MH)

Tuesday, 29th October 2013

Some things do not change. I am still labelled with the same name and I continue to reverberate somewhere in the region of 6'2". As we storm towards the end of 2013, I am pleased to announce my beard is progressing into its delightful, bushy winter coat.

2013 has witnessed a dramatic shift in my world views, not simply on a conceptual level but enacted upon on an experimental one too. Following a few weeks of combined annual and unpaid leave in the Arctic and in the Alaskan White Mountains, I was informed by my employer in 2012 that I could not have a month off work in the future. This might have presented a dilemma, not least as I intended to spend three months in the Arctic from January 2013. However, as my employers had given a splendid demonstration over some years, of just how to have someone overworked to the point of falling apart, whilst simultaneously ensuring they were ludicrously underpaid and underappreciated, the solution was clear.

Having resigned from my lecturing role at the college at the end of January, I spent the subsequent three months in Canada's Yukon and Northwest Territories.  I competed in the Yukon Arctic Ultra, making it my third successful finish in the 430-mile race and my second podium place. I had hoped to achieve funding for an Arctic expedition, but unfathomably nobody had wanted to finance my £100-k ultra-mission to the North Pole. Rather than returning back to Blighty after the race, I stayed on in the Yukon, supporting the 6633 ultra through the Northwest Territories, working with dear friends at the Pelly River Ranch, and spending time with friends in Dawson City and Whitehorse. I had an amazing time, was taken care of by great people, and whilst there was offered the opportunity to return and build a cabin in the wilderness.

This was good. To build a cabin in the Yukon has been a dream of mine for some years. Realising this depends upon the local government and indigenous population permitting us to alter the land use, but whether it happens or not I am now committed to a move out there. At the time of writing we are still awaiting permissions. The hope is that the land will be cleared in the winter of 2013, and I'll be heading there once the ground has thawed to prepare the logs and arrange them for drying. I'll then return the following year (2015) to build Chez Hines.

This all looks very promising. Between preparing the logs and the main build, I am hoping to head to the Indian Himalayas to enjoy the ultra race (La Ultra) again. Whilst in India I will spend time with a dear Indian friend who will be showing me the deserts, jungles and communities. In September I'll head to Greece to complete the Spartathlon, before returning to the Himalayas, this time with plans to pack-raft the Brahmaputra from Tibet through Bangladesh, finishing after the river has merged with the Ganges in the Bay of Bengal. After India I will head to the Yukon again, where I will finish the Yukon Artic Ultra for the final time, continuing on to Fairbanks, Alaska, to see the whole of the Yukon Quest route (around 1000 miles or so). With that accomplished I will enjoy some time in Alaska and the Yukon before building my cabin.

However, before I can leave the UK in order to track down and ambush the reality of my dreams, I must tie up all loose ends. I do not own any property, or even a car.  I am in the process of selling or donating everything I own, with the exception of some outdoor gear, a vastly reduced library, and some computer equipment. In 2010 I began doctoral studies at the University of Roehampton.  Care of my college work elsewhere, I was unable to make good progress on my PhD for most of that time, as I was expected to cover for department heads that had left and were not replaced. 

Since leaving the college in January I have been focussed on completing my research. I was working on this whilst out in the Yukon, and I completed data collection over the summer, choosing to prioritise this above training. Around June I made a conscious and deliberate decision not to train for the Spartathlon, and although I did still plan to do some general fitness training, I would find myself working from 6 or 8 in the morning until around 2 the following morning. If I was not actually testing someone I would be writing or testing code for the data processing. As a result, I used the Spartathlon as an insight only into what the race was about, choosing the DNF (Did Not Finish) over a DNS (Did Not Start), and satisfied with that decision. I can return to the race anytime, but I cannot leave and return to the PhD - academia just does not work that way.

So, I am now processing data, writing the literature review for my thesis, and working on other projects to earn some sort of income (new books and giving public lectures). Although I have been applying for jobs I have been neglected for interviews.  Without the PhD I am not of interest to the larger universities, and so close to getting the PhD other potential employers assume I will jump ship once I have it. All the more reason to hurry up about the PhD, and I plan to have more books available before the end of the year. The PhD will mean I can work in a university in Canada if required, but my plan is to spend my time writing new books in the cabin, and heading out into the surrounding area for adventures.

Whatever happens over the coming 24 months, the future looks far more exciting and interesting to me than the past 24. How my plans will be achieved is uncertain, especially if permissions are not granted for the land and alternatives must be found.  Still, as a dear friend once advised me, 'The cloud clears as you enter it'. Exciting times lie ahead, and there is nothing to be gained by wallowing in the false securities of a society that no longer interests me.


I am in the process of selling my remaining stocks of books. Doing so will help me to clear debts and fund my races, expeditions and adventures, and to ensure I am not paying for their storage. The books are available via the online shop and should be available from all online retailers. Once sold out, all current books will remain available as ebooks.

Those interested in my adventures might be most inclined to read my book on the Yukon Arctic Ultra. This documents my experiences and perspectives when I first journeyed through that great land. 


I give lectures and courses around the UK on subjects relevant to endurance athletes, coaches, personal trainers and therapists.  Details of these can be found here.



The Books


My books are available from Amazon as ebooks and as printed versions.







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