‘I am a normal person,’ is the first line of Emma Timmis’ blog. This ‘normal person’ has run across Africa, the equivalent of 94 marathons in 89 days, rollerskated across The Netherlands, and cycled to the Dolomites – all in her spare time.
Recently she won the award for physical endeavour at the National Adventure Awards 2015.
So if Emma is so ‘normal’, what makes her stand out from the rest of us in making these crazy ideas come to life?
“I guess it all starts the same for everyone,” begins Emma, “which is that you do something for charity and then, when it’s all over you kind of think, ‘Oh, what I am supposed to now? Am I supposed to just go back to normal life?’ And that’s kind of the harder part I guess.
“That might be the same situation for a lot of people doing the same thing as me, that you feel like you need to do another one and another one.
“I’m not very good at the normal side of things maybe. The things that everyone thinks are hard are the things I don’t think are hard.
“I don’t think that the training and the physical part of it… I don’t find that all that hard. I mean it is hard but I find things like sitting in front of a computer so much harder.”
Running across Africa
How did you even come up with the idea of running across Africa and what made you actually go through with it?
“I was working for the RSPCA at a wildlife centre… and all of the staff that work there are so passionate and hard working and I wanted to raise some money for them specifically.
“I can’t bake cakes or anything that’s not my cup of tea, I don’t want to poison anyone, so I thought, ‘What kind of things interest me?’ and it was at the same time that Eddie Izzard was running his 51 marathons or however many he did in consecutive days around the UK.
“I thought, you know what, he’s twice my age and I don’t think he had any running background beforehand, which I did, and I thought, if he can do something like that then so can I.
“Then I thought I don’t really want to run around England – it’s cold and wet and the footage I saw of him with cars almost running him over and I thought, no that does not look like fun to me.
“So then I thought about countries I could run in. I was looking at about 1,000 miles, so what countries are about 1,000 miles where I can run from A to B across.
“So I looked at Africa because I was searching for somewhere that’s quite warm and also somewhere where there wouldn’t be too many language problems, and preferably somewhere that’s affordable because I wasn’t earning a lot of money at the time and I was funding the whole trip myself.
“I’m also one of those people that whatever it is I say I’m going to do, if I’ve said it to somebody else and I’ve actually vocalised it then I really feel like I can’t not do it!”
You fund yourself so how does the financial side of it work?
“I just work for a while and save the money and then go. For the Africa trip I used up all of my holiday throughout the year and I worked extra days and weekends and evenings and covered every shift possible so that I could take off two months to go and do that one.”
Emma shows there’s an intermediate way between huge expeditions and using your annual leave. You’ve just got to start with a plan.
Emma on Instagram
Recommended by Jo
More of sofa adventurer than an actual one? Me too. I voraciously consume adventure books and documentaries and totally recommend the following. I’m sure Emma will have a book out one day too!