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Time is ticking, so get out there – Alastair Humphreys

alastair humphreys on stage with his deathclock ticking down in the background

British adventurer Alastair Humphreys knows the exact date he’s going to die—September 8, 2050—and has it noted in his diary. Granted, his death date is a (hopefully pessimistic) estimation by way of deathclock.com (visit if you dare), but it’s a reminder that time is ticking, life is short, and the opportunities to get out there, drop out of your comfort zone and feel alive, are limited.

For even an individual such as Alastair—who has cycled around the world, walked across India, traversed Iceland by foot and raft, hauled sledges across the Arctic, rowed across the Atlantic and crossed deserts from Oman to Dubai—even he has to fight the urge to just stay at home with a nice cup of tea.

“For the past two years, I’ve been slightly conscious of the lazy, easy, self-protecting ruts that I might fall into,” he says. “It’s easy just to turn on Netflix than to do anything in life.”

Alastair was talking at the opening of the BCP Evolve Business Festival, held at Pavilion Dance in Bournemouth. His story—injected with self-effacing humour and beautiful photographs—both entertained and inspired. For while accounts by other adventurers can be just as compelling, their exploits tend to feel far from reach.

Alastair’s concept of the ‘microadventure’ changes that. His message is that adventure is not only a state of mind, it can be found not far from your front door.

After fifteen years of hardcore expeditions, smattered with moments of supreme discomfort (rowing across the Atlantic when you suffer from sea-sickness isn’t great), all the experience and wisdom gained led Alastair—now a father of two—to look at the concept of ‘adventure’ in a very different way.

He says: “I asked myself, ‘Do I really need to go to the ends of the world to find adventure? Maybe adventure is more just about an attitude in my head; maybe I can find it wherever I am.’”

The result of this idea? A week-long, 120-mile lap of the M25 with a “particularly stupid” friend as support.

Of the M25 ‘expedition’ Alastair recalls: “I kept thinking ‘This is exactly the same as cycling around the world. It’s shorter, of course, and it’s quite silly, but I’m going places I’ve never been, and I’m finding pockets of wilderness and beauty among it all. I’m meeting interesting, good, kind, people, and it’s quite hard, physically—this is an adventure; it’s not a big adventure, but it is an adventure.’”

alastair humphreys on stage in front of a screen that says 'living adventurously'

For most of us, even walking the M25 seems too much (both physically and, frankly, philosophically) but Alastair’s other microadventures include exploring a single, 1km x 1km grid square of his local area, once a week, for a year (this was how he adventured during lockdown), or climbing the same tree every month for the past three years. Or simply going to sleep on a hill with some friends for the night.

“Wherever you happen to live, you can find nearby nature that you can fit in around the margins of every day life,” Alastair says.

This forms part of his ‘5 to 9’ idea—that while most of us have a ‘9 to 5’, there is nothing stopping us from taking advantage of the 5pm to 9pm, where we can use our freedom—even if it’s for fifteen minutes—to walk out of our houses and look for something new.

“If it feels like an adventure to you, then it is an adventure,” Alastair says.

Alastair refers to the ‘Doorstep Mile’, a Swedish notion that says the hardest part of any journey is the first mile. This is because overriding our primal desire to stay where it’s safe and warm is the biggest stumbling block to stepping out of comfort zone, which, as we’ve all discovered at some point or another, is where the magic lies.

“So, what does living adventurously mean to you?” Alastair asked at the end of his talk. “What is your Doorstep Mile? Think about it. It can be anything—starting a new business, a collaboration, signing up for a half-marathon, anything—but it must be initiated by this weekend. Because time is ticking.”

alastair humphreys and warren munson on stage
Alastair Humphreys with Evolve founder Warren Munson

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