Friday, 3 July 2015

Climbing for the Climate - 31,000m in July - UPDATES

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All further updates on the matt-maynard author page 

or via the Twitter feed @greenbeantrails or linked 

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Latest GreenBeanTrails Publication

- TrailRun Mag Australia and New Zealand -

Climbing for the Climate - 31,000m in July

- A Commitment to Clean Air -

A rare clear winter's day after rain in Santiago
This week I started a challenge which I'm not sure I'll be able to complete...

The Background
I’ve been running for 8months now in the mountains surrounding my home in Santiago, Chile. It’s mid winter here and it’s rained only twice since I arrived. The ski fields are dry and my lips are cracking in the thin air up at 1,000m, where we live. 

Santiago suffers badly from air pollution and is one of the worst capital cities in South America on this index.  The colder temperatures of winter presses this contaminated air down into the lowest altitude reaches of the city, where the poorest people live: Their babies, small children and elderly being admitted to hospital each June and July with respiratory related conditions.

"...Babies, small children and elderly being admitted to hospital
each June and July with respiratory related conditions."
The Andes mountains that sweep around the city, blocking the free flow of air, are part of the reason for the contamination. Other problems are the industry that has been allowed to take a grip in the heart of the city, the insufficient provision of quality public transport, the lack of bike lanes and the poor recycling infrastructure. 

 The government, the President; Michelle Bachelet and the Environmental Minister; Pablo Badenier Martínez have a lot to answer for.

But it doesn’t stop there….There’s an even bigger culprit really.

The role of the individual
The singular acts of individuals, will be the main reason for the reduction in contamination in this city. The energy, effort and commitment involved in my climbing challenge, won’t do anything to change the air quality in Santiago. It does, however, show a parallel to the strength of mind needed to take seriously our commitments and responsibilities with the environment. 

Choosing a smaller car, to share a lift to work, to eat just vegetables once a week, to recycle all the shit we buy, to take life slower and arrive by bike - these are the changes that are needed - regardless of whether you believe the man on the other side of the fence is making the same effort. Such proactively is what draws the line between negligible and nothing. You can’t build on nothing but a lot of negligible eventually makes a difference.

The Challenge
This month I will try to climb 31,000m above the city - 1,000m of elevation gain each day - to draw awareness to the tragic irony in Santiago that we breathe better when we escape into the thin air, and to show the level of effort needed to try and combat such a problem.

So I’m going into the mountains this month: to breathe some better air; to take pictures of the contamination and have a personal stab at making a difference. 


There are some great people who already are keen to join in but I appreciate that climbing mountains isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. You can follow the challenge at GreenBeanTrails on Facebook each day where there are pictures; data from the running App Strava and snippets of info about we can make changes on a personal level to reducing our waste, cutting our emissions and doing our bit.
Share with #nosmog

Happy Trails. Matt Maynard. 

Thursday, 2 July 2015

31,000m Sobre Nuestra Contaminación En Julio - UPDATES

Un Compromiso al Aire Limpio

Day 3 (Mas información abajo este post)

casa- observatorio - Pochoco - Pochocon - casa

Metros ganados hoy 897    Metros en Total 2,973

Day 2 

Hoy día corrí a camino Las Varas desde mi casa y después subí hasta la canal en la falda de Alto Naranjo. Caminé un poco de la subida...estoy cachando que seria un desafío bastante difícil!

Tomé este foto a la 4:10 del smog

Metros ganados hoy 1,014     Metros en Total 2,076

Day 1

Hoy día subí el Pochoco por una ruta poco usado. Al medio día había todavía había una vista linda de Farallones, Colorado y El Plomo. 

Metros ganados hoy 1,061     Metros en Total 1,601


Seria buenísimo si lo compartes por Facebook y describes tus propios intentos de bajar la contaminación en nuestra ciudad a Greenbeantrails! #nosmog

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

31,000m Sobre Nuestra Contaminación En Julio

- Un Compromiso al Aire Limpio  -

Hoy dia empezé un desafío para el mes de julio. 

Normalemente salgo a correr todos los días en las montañas de Chile - mi pais adoptado. Disfruto la sensación de dejar mi trabajo y mis preocupaciones “reales” por un rato y salir hacia las cumbres y el cielo.

Este invierno, sin embargo, entiendo que el smog esta peor que nunca. Hoy es la décima pre emergencia por mala calidad del aire. El gobierno Chileno impidió a 1,350 industrias funcionar y hay restricciones de auto y de estufas a leña... 

…Hasta cuando? Esta media es para una ciudad en plena crisis - no hace nada para mejorar la raiz del problema…Estoy llegando al meollo del asunto ahora

El Ministro del medio ambiente; Pablo Badenier Martínez, y la presidenta de la República de Chile; Michelle Bachelet, necesitan tomar la responsabilidad y hacer los cambios necesarios para mejorar la causa del problema con las industrias, el reciclaje y formas de transportare sustentable. 

Pero también esta en nuestras manos. Es demasiado fácil quejarse del smog. Pero somos la causa también….

Este mes, voy a subir 1,000m metros cada día por los senderos en las faldas de Santiago. Mi intención es escapar del smog y llamar la atención a la tristeza y grande ironía que respiramos mejor en nuestra ciudad a mas altura - donde hay menos aire.

Subir una montaña no es una opción para todos, pero igual yo espero que este desafío muestre un poco la determinación y convicción que necesitamos para realizar cambios duraderos y significativos para combatir este problema que hemos creado. Ojalá te inspire usar un auto más chico, compartir un auto a la pega, dejar de comer carne una ves a la semana, andar en bici, reciclar o salir a pie a buscar tus propias aventuras. 


Seria buenísimo si compartes por Facebook a GreenBeanTrails tus propios intentos de bajar la contaminación en nuestra ciudad a Greenbeantrails!

Matt Maynard - GreenBeanTrails


Monday, 22 June 2015

Iron Man - A compelling urge for ice cream and to make ourselves exhausted

This weekend is Iron Man France.

One of the lesser known British competitors making the trip across the Manche, is the Bath based triathlete James Donald. 

This will be Donald's second time of competing the Iron distance that includes a 2.4mile swim, 112miles on the bike and a marathon run of 26.2 miles. His aim is for a finishing time of sub 11hours which would put him amongst the top 20% of the 2014 finishers.

The 32 year old runner - known for his electric range of headbands, his constrictive clothing collection and his "recovery food" Christmas Cake stash that lasts him through 'til June each year  - has had an incredible run of form leading up to the event.

Inside the magic training window (10-6 weeks) before the race, James clocked no less than four marathon or greater distances over each of the consecutive weekends. The first three of which included a 2:39min PB at the London Marathon, 2nd place at the Marlborough Downs 33mile ultra-marathon and a 40 mile off-road training run through the night along the Costwold Way. 

A runner by nature, Donald looks these days to the Ironman distance however, because his overriding penchant for pain demanded that he pushed himself for longer. "It used to be that long marathon training runs did the job" he said "but unfortunately I'm finding the better I get, the more I need to do to feel the same type of exhaustion."

Despite not adhering to any normal standards for enjoyment, the pain Donald experiences, however, is clearly distinct for him from suffering. His training is time for himself and he described that finding the time to  "zone out" and think about "nothing is pretty much the aim of long solo sessions."

Nor is James one of those robot athletes who finds all things equal, admitting he finds it difficult to commit even handedly to all three triathlon disciplines. Of his pool sessions he stated, "I never really enjoy them;" his Twitter account reflecting this, in his terse and typically modest profile: "Cycle a bit, run a bit, swim as little as I can get away with."

This partiality for the two dry events of the triathlon, was reflected at the Arun River Marathon in mid May: The final consecutive weekend of his intensive Iron Man preparation. 

Despite the accumulated exhaustion in his legs, he cycled the 112mile distance to the event's start through the Costwolds Hill and the South Downs on his favoured steed "Jake II." After a brief night's sleep, he then went on to complete the undulating run in a time of 3hr16min - taking 1st place. Donald stopped to comment that the win had been "a real psychological boost ” - before quietly slipping away for the Iron distance cycle back home to Bath - The trophy stuffed neatly up his cycling vest.

These four intensive weeks of preparation in May would leave many athletes exhausted. Donald however seemed unfazed: “Overall I'm not feeling too bad, but I’m definitely ready for a few light weeks now! That, and eating a lot!' he quipped.

By any normal persons' standards, his Strava training log, with its stark absence of rest days following this intensive training block - would be the tell-tale sign of an athlete on the road to burnout, injury or even chronic fatigue. Donald seems to be made of something else however. His Twitter feed still burbles along this week with positive reports in the final build up to the race:

"Rather enjoying my taper; I've only just left home for the pool and don't get knackered going up stairs!"

Maybe his secret to success is all the ice cream he eats. Or the beer on Thursday night that keeps him straight. Or just the deep pleasure he takes in carving himself out so regularly and in good company amongst the hills and earthy valleys of the Costwold Hills surrounding his home in Bath. Whatever it is, he will certainly be giving a lung-busting performance on the appropriately named Promenade des Anglais, in Nice this coming Sunday.

And when it's finished...You can be sure he will be thinking about his next adventure - The Costwold 100mile foot race this September...well, that and the cornucopia of of croissants he will undoubtedly be working his way through, on the Eurostar home.

Read more on James's shared blog                                          
By GreenBeanTrails - Adventure Media 

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Why I’m not voting for myself in the UK general election

I believe that in 50 years time I will have grandchildren who will ask me “Did you vote for me?” 

Today I hope to, by voting for the Green party.

I am not voting for the leader of the Green Party Natalie Bennett to be our next Prime Minister. Nor am I voting because I have been drawn in by the party’s policies of ‘Robin Hood’ taxation,  looking after the elderly a bit more or putting the queen in a council house. I’m not even sure that I would want my local Green MP to represent my views in Westminster during the next Parliament. Frankly, I’m not really sure she is up to the job. She is still going to get my vote though and this is why…

The idea that the Green Party, in its current state, should have national polices in a First Past the Post political system, seems a little strange to me. There was one Green MP in the last parliament. Caroline Lucas representing Brighton Pavilion had her chance to share Green policy in a national forum for 5 years whilst representing the views of her constituents. This was a first for the Green Party - this was excellent progress. She wasn’t however called into an emergency meeting of the Cabinet ministers when they were deciding what to do about Bashar al-Assad or deciding funding arrangements for the NHS or discussing Trident nuclear weapons. She didn’t have a say in that - lest we forget.

By voting Green - you are no less putting the country in imminent risk of financial or geo-political meltdown as you are in thinking that doing your recycling every week and becoming vegetarian will immediately halt the march of climate change. 

The Green Party and voting Green isn’t about immediate results. And unless you maybe live in parts of Brighton, or Bristol or perhaps Norwich you are more than likely to be on the “losing team” when the votes are counted. 

However, like recycling on a very small scale - even when many around you don’t seem to be making the same effort - such proactively is what draws the line between negligible and nothing. You can’t build on nothing but a lot of negligible eventually makes a difference.

Nobody is going to be walking out of No.10 with a green tie anytime soon. The Green Party’s core concept -  the environment and sustaining it for future generations - (which I hope they still stand for) is a theme that unlike austerity or immigration or health care, will not ebb and flow. It will only become more and more prominent. 

The elephant in the room has still not got everyone’s attention however, and it will be a few more elections yet before vast swathes of the population make determined decisions about their choice of MP based on the threat we pose to the environment.

It currently saddens me therefore that the Green Party have been drawn into a sphere that is not currently one they need to be involved in. Some of the comments in their campaign have at times been like watching an episode of that old programme “faking it” , as they have got a bunch of passionate environmentalists  to try and pass themselves off as construction workers or nurses - just by pulling on a bunch of boiler suits or scrubs. 

I hope the Green’s were just trying to play it smart. I hope that they aren’t watering down their position as the only party with a core policy that extends the reach of a 5-year term. I hope that their stab at national policy is just pandering to the illogical need some groups have for them to present themselves a legitimate party ready to form the next government.

I’ll be voting green because, in the future, the starkness with which we will look back on these indecisive times with regard to the environment, will be in the same light that we marvel at why it took so long for women to get the vote or for Rosa Parks to be able to take a seat wherever she liked on a city bus. 

I’ll be voting green, wearing the same hat I do my recycling in: Making a small, almost insignificant difference now. Waiting for the momentum to gather.  

Monday, 4 May 2015

Latest Adventure Media / Prensa en Inglés de Deportes Aventura

Full Portfolio at

- The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route 4,000km -
 - Outdoor Fitness Magazine UK -
Mayo 2015 

- Andes Infernal -
Ultra Running Magazine USA-
Abril 2015

- Vulcano Ultra Trail 80k -
- Ultra Running Magazine USA -
 Marzo 2015

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Ultra Fiord 70miles - 2nd place

The heat had finally burnt out of the South American summer. With 6 weeks until Ultra Fiord, I could finally run in the mountains after sunrise and not have to return home to a saline drip. The path that I had been gently teasing open in the mountain above our home, was now in a runnable condition and I added it to the selection box of training runs that I was now cherry picking through on a weekly cycle. To close even the shortest loop however here in the foothills of the Andes, involved never less than 1,000m of ascent and it left my UK Kelston Round Hill loop choking in the dust and cactus.

I had decided to target the inaugural Ultra Fiord in Chilean Patagonia because it was being held by the same race director who organises the Patagonia Expedition Race - once heralded by National Geographic as “The last wild race.” There were whisperings coming up from the south about glacier travel, of swimming across rivers and of puma sightings. It was something I wanted to be a part of. The flight from Santiago to Puntas Arenas took us from the equivalent latitude of Morocoo to the Pennines and yet we still weren’t at the bottom of the country. I watched however as the Santiaginos got off the plane and shivered in the cold. On the runway, I reassured myself I was coming home.


The 3,000m tomb stone granite pinnacles of the Torres del Paine were largely submerged in cloud on race day as the night begrudgingly gave way to day. Runner’s head torches were still reflecting off the first few race markers lining the course infront of the start line.  Another three thousand of these stretched out over 70miles of forest, mountains, glaciers and barren tundra - some of which, 5 months previously when the race was first conceived, had never been travelled before. 

Two Catalan men from the Asics Team and the Frenchman Xavier Thevenard - 2013 winner of the UTMB - set a wicked starting pace. Fortunately they were in the 70k race however, that was being simultaneously held, and I checked the other race numbers nervously to try to stay at the front of the star studless 70mile event.

The Brazilian Fernando Nazário beat me to the the first river crossing at mile 2 but rather than charge across I decided to slow down, ensure my race pack was held high above my head and not compromise my chances by deteriorating so early into discomfort and fatigue. 

Over the next 20miles the rain came down hard. I passed a lot of distressed 100miles runners who had run an extra 9hours though a wet night before we had even started. Many of them became hypothermic in the slow conditions dictated by the deep mud and DNFd at the next aid station. 

I then remember sitting on the ground outside the aid tents, pouring water and pebbles out of my shoes for the fourth time in the race. A photographer pushed a banana into my mouth. A volunteer emerged with my drop bag from the tent and took a knife to my tangled drawstring bag to free my waterproof trousers. I then set off running, pot noodle in hand along the jet black pebbled shore of the rain riddled lake. 

I estimated at least a ten degree temperature drop over the 1,500m climb into the mountains. The route markers weaved at first through tangles of gorse and peat - akin to English moorland - and yet it was so steep at times as to require steps to be kicked into the dark soil to make uphill progress.

At 1,000m above the lake, the vegetation gave way to technical running across rugged jumbles of scree and boulders partially covered in snow. I got a time check on the Brazilian as being 15minutes ahead, in 1st place, and chased after him up a steep valley that led directly onto the glacier. 

Wallking poles had been made optional a day before the race began and with little experience using them, I decided to do without. The steep white terrain was ravished however by the scars of rockfall and it resembled territory that I had only ever travelled before when roped to a climbing partner and carrying an ice axe. I put the camera away and concentrated for the next forty minutes on kicking solid steps into the snow. Approaching the top of the pass, the snow rustled with every step as ice crystals formed in the fading afternoon temperatures and thinner air.

I took a wide contouring line on the descent from the summit plateau to avoid a cerac that was close to the route markings. Once running down the fall line again, however, I seized the opportunity to take the weight from my feet for a while and slid on my backside for 500m.

Once finally off the glacier I caught sight of the Brazilian. I was jogging through a boulder field 300m above a hanging cirque and he was down there, inside it, picking his way through the moraine on the edge of the lake. I wasn’t certain that I could catch him, but felt that I had run a controlled race so far and had a lot left to give. We were only at mile 24 but the majority of the climbing had been done. There remained 19miles of technical downhill followed by winding forest trails and rivers to cross and then 27miles on a rolling 4x4 track. I clinged onto a group of four 70k runners and enjoyed taking pictures and sharing the navigation over the next 3miles as we descended back towards the tree line into a constricting valley of auburn leaves, conceding peacefully to the tightening grip of winter. 

Once in the woods, I removed my waterproof layers and stripped to shorts and a t-shirt with arm warmers to run hard before nightfall. Now was the time to try to reel the front runner in. I wanted to cover as much of the course as possible in the daylight to have less to run in the night, as well as to have more visual experiences from the day to feed off when the lights did go out and the sleep monsters set in.

 I didn’t feel hungry but kept eating every 10minutes or so from my little bird feeder like zip dispenser on my Ultimate Direction rucksack. I had been given some liquid calories as well in powder form at the aid station, and so with this mix of energy sources, I thought I was getting close enough to nutritionist Renee McGregor’s suggested 90g of carbs. p/h during the race.

I waded through rivers and drank in the sounds of woodpeckers banging out applause to my efforts; the trees themselves disintegrating now into the dusk. Some pain in my knees came for a visit. It usually floats around aimlessly and then goes away if I don’t welcome it in. I noted it as about a 4/10 and then tried to forget about it, despite its unusual insistence for further acknowledgement. As the darkness closed in, I took my last photographs and then put up the hatches completely for the night - hoping that I had enough miles run and enough positive thoughts to take me home.

There was a big pulsing event tent for the 70km finishers. I waded across a river towards it with my arm across my face with bright search and rescue lights blinding me. It was just after 9pm and it was into the 12th hour of the race. Fernando Nazzaro had left 20minutes ago and had not stopped.  I stood in the tent, dazed by the attention of the eager to please photographers and volunteers; pushing cheese sandwiches into me, pinning me with a floodlight camera and pumping me for answers about how the race was unfolding out there. I was the third runner through including Jeff Browning who was leading the 100mile race. There were many runners behind me - some still perhaps on the glacier. There was a gathering tide of concern in the tent about the potential misadventure of others. With these disconcerting thoughts in mind, I poured some isotonic into my pot noodle to cool it down and finished it off. One of the Catalan photographers walked with me out of the tent, and then jogged with me to the edge of the estancia. I remember her stopping and I stopped too and looked at her to see what was wrong. “Suerte - good luck” she said, and I remembered I was on my own for the final marathon through the night.
The first 20km I walked the uphills and tried to fade out my conscious awareness of time passing and pain and fatigue into just a background autonomous function - like breathing in your sleep and pumping blood through your veins. I came out of this trance and realised however that I hadn't seen a race marking for a long time and backtracked for a km. As I did so, I couldn't recall going past any of what I now saw, but surprisingly, I was still on route and found a marker and turned around to retrace my steps.

Just before midnight I grew aware of the weight of the balls of my eyes, painful and protesting at the lack of sleep. I scanned ahead on the dirt road and then took the head torch and held it up against each one of them in turn for a few seconds  - hoping to wake myself up a little.

At the 58mile aid station I stepped into a small tent and two figures in the shadowy light of a paraffin heater spoke very softly and calmly to me and gave me coffee and sugar and more noodles. I felt very relaxed and peaceful and grateful - but not tired, and was warmed by the companionship in the middle of that long road in the night. 

I ran harder after this and sucked intermittently on the isotonic drink that I had mixed with 3 spoonfuls of instant coffee. I ran for 40 minutes and gave myself a two minute walking break. I watched the seconds disappear and then forced myself into a run again. The finishing lights of Puerto Natales glowed on the horizon and reflected in the sea - like a sun that refused to set until everyone had been safely gathered in. 

There was a fire by the roadside and three Chilean men were kicking embers and drinking yerba mate. They seemed surprised to see me and almost despondent that by 1am only three runners had now appeared. I wanted to encourage them that people were coming - it was just that those markers from the start line had led through mud, over mountains, across a glacier and through the deepest woods before casting me out on this interminable track. I wanted to say this but I had nothing. They asked me if I knew how to run the last 4miles to the plaza - the same plaza I had spent the last three days before the race. I told them to give me a moment to think about this - and I stood there, rocking, in silence, for a half a minute or so. 

“….I think it’s better we drive you in" said one of them eventually. I turned onto the road and my knees immediately fired up with a 6/10 at this unforgiving surface after 17hours on the trails. I ran in the headlights of the truck. I knew I wasn't going to catch Fernando now. Instead, I swerved intermittently out into the road to check that I wasn’t going to be caught by the American Krissy Moehl who I was certain must be bearing down on me by now. I ran in fear, in adrenaline and satisfaction at the distance I had come. At the plaza I vaulted two steps at a time and then, after crossing the line in 2nd place, crumbled quickly as the adrenaline sluiced out of me.


Agradecimientos más que especiales a Stjepan - un hombre con una gran pasión y visión por las montañas, y su tremendo equipo de Camilia y Max y demás. 

(My own better photos and words to come in an article in an autumn edition of "Outdoor Fitness Magazine" UK)