Beyond the Finish Line:

Running and Living with Purpose

The NC500 Guide to Life

Day 7

The Power of Connection

Day 7

 The Power of Connection

Many of the most amazing moments I had during the NC 5ooRun were the ones that centred around people that I met.

The people I met.

The conversations I had

The connections made.

Not one to usually seek out company, this was different, long periods of isolation led me to stop as much as possible and engage with anyone who would stop and talk.

Many of the conversations were of little intellectual value, largely due to the fact that I don’t have any intellect, they were just brief chats about the individuals, what they are doing, who they are, and they were fascinating.

The one thing I noticed with life in the highlands was the balance between work a rest, in the south of England where I live, life is busy, time is a rare commodity, there is competition everywhere, driving to work, getting through crowds, were all jostling for small openings to get to where we want to be as quickly as possible.

In the highlands life is slower, calmer, and more connected. There is a real sense of community in all of the villages and hamlets. In all of my travels during the challenge I found the locals to be unbelievably friendly and accommodating. That’s not to say in the south of England were not the same, we most probably are, we just don’t have the time to be.


On the very first day I was walking up a hill about 40k into the day, a cyclist pulled up beside me and got off his bike,

“Do you mind if I walk with you for a bit?” he asked.

“Not at all” I replied.

John stayed alongside me for about 20 minutes and the conversation covered what I was doing (he commented that I must be mad), what he was doing, what we both used to do, his bike, the famous highland midges, and our preferred Cadburys chocolate bar.

He got on his bike, and we said our final goodbyes, and I was happy, happier than I was before the conversation. That’s not to say I was deliriously hopping along singing and dancing, but happier for the connection, for the stories, for the time.

Jon – who stopped for a chat

On another occasion, Day 7, I finished in a small village called Scourie, on the West coast. I finished at 7.00pm, looking forward to a shower, the lady reminded me that the only place to eat in the village, the fish and chip van, only fried until 7.30pm, it was a beautiful warm sunny evening so I thought I’d walk up to the van straight away and have my food, then come back for a shower, 20 mins I thought.

When I walked the short distance to the van and turned the corner, there were more than 25 people gathered around the van, waiting, eating, chatting.

It was like a social club, I queued, and then sat and ate my Haddock and chips, which was amazing, and stayed watching and listening, and even joined in the conversation, with locals, with other NC500 travellers, all agreed I was mad again, but it was just an amazing moment of simple connection.

We are social creatures, and our emotional well-being is deeply influenced by our interactions with others.

Meaningful connections contribute to a sense of happiness and enhances our overall well-being and quality of life.

While technology has provided new ways of connecting, it’s essential to prioritize meaningful, in-person interactions as well. Many now chose to sit behind technology rather than chose face to face conversations.

It always amazed me as a player when other players came in off the training ground, unhappy about something, their role in the team, a comment the manager made, or being left out of an upcoming game, and the first thing they did was get they’re phone out and call or text they’re agent to contact the manger for an explanation.

The manager’s office was literally yards away, and they were bouncing the conversation off a satellite in space, and the information comes second hand too, because agents always say what the player wants to hear to the player and what the manager wants to hear to the manager.

Get off your arse, knock on his door and talk to him, he can see your hurt, your upset, your angry, above all else, he can see you care.

It’s crucial to strike a balance between online interactions and in-person relationships.

We are stronger together, all of the best teams or units, the SAS, the marines, the best sporting teams, all function better as a team, the united collective group will aways be stronger than any one individual.

But we often combat tough times by closing ourselves in and shutting off much of the outside world.

This might seem like a natural response to protect ourselves from stress or emotional pain. However, this approach can have negative consequences and make the challenges we are facing worse.

We rarely get options or solutions to a problem by doing nothing.

Instead of closing ourselves off, it’s essential to strike a balance between taking time for self-care and seeking support from others.

Healthy coping mechanisms are important like engaging in activities that are proven to bring joy, and maintaining daily routines like sleep, exercise, and healthy eating.

Seeking help and leaning on others during tough times is a sign of strength, not weakness. Humans are wired to connect, and it’s through these connections that we often find the strength and resilience to navigate through challenging periods in our lives.

So find your trusted committee, or council, and use them when you feel vulnerable, and look at these as moments of strength, when you reach out, it’s a sign you are ready and want to improve you.

Oh, and for the record

John’s was a Fudge

Mine is Fruit and Nut


These all made my experience far more enjoyable, and I am hugely grateful to them all.

My mate Rob

The amazing Chris Jones, walking 7000 miles around the UK for Mental Health


The amazing Cheryl who along with her husband made the challenge possible with their support.


An old team mate from the early days, Hugh, who now lives in the highlands.


The crazy american form Minneapolis.


Clem – one of the best mates anyone could have.


He’s working until 4.00pm or until it rains, whichever comes sooner, then he’s going home.


This angel and her husband saved my feet, with the best blister plasters I’ve ever used.


Photographer Callum Mackay, a cool guy.




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