SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT – ROCK+RUN.
When I was 10 years old, my friend Chris and his Grandad, who were staying at my Grandads Cottage in Sandside, Cumbria, asked me if I wanted to go and climb Great Gablewith them. It was the first time I climbed a mountain. It was cold, we got lost and absolutely soaked, but I loved it and I was instantly hooked (early signs of OCD!) From there, I got into mountaineering and also fellrunning. Both of which are still two of my main takers-up-of-time (bar facebook and work perhaps…)
A shop that I used to love going to was the Ambleside Branch of Rock+Run. An amazing place full of top notch gear, where I used to fritter away all my pocket money and milk round earnings. Andy Hyslop was the founder of Rock+Run, himself a top class climber and runner, (former holder of the Skye Ridge Record). There were also branches in Manchester and Sheffield, but these closed with time, and the Ambleside store was sold (to Lakes Runner/Lakes Climber, no connection) in 2007. From there Rock+Run moved to a new base at Sandside in a beautiful corner of the South Lakes.
I was up at Sandside a few weeks ago, to visit the Rock+Run team, and to chat about our trip over a cuppa. Sandside is a place I?ve loved going to, ever since I was a nipper, with endless opportunities for running, biking, climbing, walking (and also birdwatching, if you are of the twitcher kind, the Kent Estuary and nearby Leighton Moss are two such hotspots).
It is now entirely a web retailer/mail order outfit, run by Greg, Mike and George, with a factory/workshop up in Aviemore, where they make their own range of equipment, climbing gear and running accessories.
Rock+Run is not your average outdoor retailer, selling anything and everything. Some stores try to capture the entire market/population, from expeditions to festivals (and many stores fail, it is simply not possible in my eyes).
Apart from the sterling Customer Service and friendly advice they offer, one of the most impressive things about Rock+Run is the website, it is awesome. Not just full of lots of great gear, but also a source of valuable information and reviews. There is always something that catches my eye in the weekly newsletter. Rock+Run have a very active facebook page too, with a shedload of awesome videos/reviews/articles.
When I started cooking up the idea of our Mongol Rally, I made a small list of all the companies that I had used over the years, and wrote to them offering a link on our website, advertising space on our Micra, shameless plugging/social networking of their brand/service/products, in return for any gear that they could offer us for our trip (with full reviews/pics of any gear). Sponsorship is a two-way thing. Companies get constantly barraged by people asking for gear-for-nothing, for nothing-in-return! Although our crack at the Mongol Rally isn?t an on-sight ascent of Rhapsody, it is something a little bit different that may catch peoples eyes (as I am hoping that our increasingly pimped Silver Streak will do too!)
Rock+Run were the very first people to come back to us, offering us an amazing rocket-powered multi-fuel stove, the Soto-Muka and also a fantastic Black Box holdall(one of their own brand of innovative products).
We are looking forward to using both of these first class pieces of gear and also to sing the praises of Greg and his team from the rooftops of UlaanBaatar, and everywhere else in between.
If you need any gear for your Mongol Rally, or for anything outdoors, you would be loco not to check out their website. Tell them I sent you