Run The World Mountains:
The Tien Shan (Asia) – completed September 2016 The High Atlas (Africa) – completed November 2017 The Cordillera Oriental (South America) – completed October 2018 The Southern Alps (Oceania) – completed March 2019
- The Caucasus Mountains (Europe) – June 2020
- The Canadian Rockies (North America) – Fall 2020
This major project is to run solo and unsupported across a mountain range on every continent where indigenous mountain people live isolated from the outside, urban world.
1) ‘On September 18, 2016, I ran – somewhat stonkered – through the city gates of Osh, in the southwest of Kyrgyzstan, having run just over 900 kilometres in 25 days from the northeast city of Karakol via the Tien Shan mountains, solo and self-supported. The expedition took me through some stunning and challenging landscape, using ancient nomad trails and incredibly rough tracks, accessing mountain passes up to 4000m, while I carried all of my supplies on my back, weighing in at about 12kg. Along the way I camped wild in my tiny tent or accepted incredibly generous hospitality from yurt-dwelling nomads, and experienced weather ranging from 35 degree heat, to thunderstorms, to proper snow. This adventure was, for me, as much about mountain running and pushing the absolute limits of my physical capabilities as it was about exploring the largely isolated and unheard of culture of the Kyrgyz nomads, and exploring a country where 25 years after Soviet rule still exists largely in poverty. I met some truly wonderful people and had so many experiences that I will cherish forever, and I am eternally grateful to have been able to have such an incredible adventure. I made ‘Mountains of Heaven’ shortly after my run, and was my first true attempt at film-making. I’ve been delighted to screen my no-budget, solo film at a few adventure festivals around the world, and now I can share it with the rest of you here’!
2) “Tamazight” means ‘free people’, and is what the Berbers call themselves in their own language. In October 2017, Jenny Tough ran solo and unsupported across the High Atlas Mountains, a place still populated by the Tamazight, but patrolled by the Moroccan Gendarmerie. The 860km expedition run took 22 days, using old Berber trail networks and carrying a 10kg backpack. This film was self-shot by Jenny with a compact camera stuffed in the side of the backpack.
3) “No tienes miedo?” – Aren’t you afraid? It’s the first question I got asked in every pueblo as I ran through the Bolivian Andes. For 17 days, I battled with the fear inside my head – and reflected in the people I met – as I ran solo and unsupported across the Sierra Oriental, the third range in my global challenge to run across a mountain range on every continent.
4) It’s not a race, not part of any known challenge, it’s just a goal I’ve set for myself, on my own terms. The Southern Alps were my fourth mountain range in my personal challenge to fastpack across a mountain range on every continent. It’s a totally pointless mission, important only to me, but I still push myself hard every day to do the best that I can do, and succeed on my own terms.
You can listen to Jenny talking to Matt Pycroft on The Adventure Podcast by clicking here…
Jenny is also an accomplished Bikepacking ultra racer, she was first lady in the Atlas Mountain Race. You can check out all her running, cycling and hiking adventures past and future on her website at http://jennytough.com/ of follow on Instagram @jennytough
To simply finish the Atlas Mountain Race means navigating 1,200 kilometres of the most rugged and remote roads in Morocco. To win requires riding almost non-stop, night and day, for days on end. It is a combination of strength and sleep deprivation that only a few riders in the world can manage. Alone, unsupported and loaded down with supplies, each competitor must constantly battle mechanicals, heat exhaustion and saddle sores to get to the finish. There is no prize, no money, simply the satisfaction that comes from pushing oneself to the limit while exploring the forgotten corners of a beautiful country.