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My Fifty by Fifty Life Challenge - The Whisper

Updated: May 17, 2022

Chris Hauth is an incredible athlete. He's a two time Olympic swimmer and an Ironman Age Group World Champion. He's also an incredible coach, the host of a podcast (Weekly Word) on endurance athletics and a regular on the Rich Roll podcast. The core mission of Rich Roll and Chris Hauth's work is to celebrate the growth that is possible from the plant-powered lifestyle and endurance challenges. Which is how I found them.

I turned vegan in January 2021. I'm an accidental vegan. I did Veganuary to see if I could shift a bit of winter weight and kept going. It's now a very important part of my life, but I'll write about that on another day.

As well as not expecting to stay vegan I didn't expect one of the health benefits. That is that I discovered that my cardiovascular health improved noticeably. I could feel the difference. Specifically I noticed that my ability to recover from exercise was better than it had been since my early twenties. Possibly since my teenage years. I found that I could work out one day and feel great the next. This isn't an uncommon experience. If you'd like to know more about why this happens I suggest you start with the Netflix documentary The Game Changers.

So why am I telling you all this? Well, it's because of what Chris Hauth calls "the whisper inside of us". Specifically, that is the whisper that says, "I wonder what I am capable of?"

Most of us don't listen to the whisper. For most of my life, I have certainly been oblivious to it. For all of the years that I gained weight, drank too much and smoked. For all of the years that I was too tired, too busy or too preoccupied to listen to my body, never mind to my soul.

But all of that changed for me earlier this year, when I started to listen to a voice deep inside. The first time I noticed it was on a short walk on The Dales Way with my wife Amy. Something about that path through hills that I love got me thinking. Wouldn't it be nice to run along this? Maybe to take a small pack and just run.

At first I thought it was the sort of thing I could do in a couple of days at best. It's 80miles from end to end. But as I listened more closely to the whisper I realised that it wasn't saying run The Dales Way. It was saying, how far could you run in a day?

By this point, it was no longer a whisper. It was a calling. It was something I had to explore.

And then, one day, I woke up with a fresh take on the same idea. Could I run 50 miles in one go? And could I do it by the time I am 50 (in February 2023)? A quick investigation of the Dales Way route told me that the lovely town of Sedbergh is about 50 miles from Ilkley, where I used to live and first fell in love with trail running. It was meant to be.

The fifty by fifty challenge was born.

By way of context, at the time I had this idea I wasn't running much. The odd 3 mile jog around the lanes was all I was doing. And the furthest I had ever run in my life was about 14 miles. That was 7 years ago, when I was much closer to 40 than 50. So this whole idea was a huge and stretching challenge.

But I wasn't plant-based then. And I hadn't heard the whisper.


One of my goals is to coach myself, using the same sorts of techniques I use with clients. I'll be sharing blogs about this that you might learn from too. So please follow me if you want to know more and share this with people who might be interested. I appreciate the support.

But if this inspires you in any way, what I'd really like you do do is to help me support Women's Health Matters. This small charity is based in Leeds where I work and often train. It is run by wonderful people who work hard every day to help women and girls who are at risk to make paths to freedom and a better life. Anything you can give, however small, will make a big difference in somebody's life. So, donate now, as much as you can.

Thank you. Peace.


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