Marc Aplin is as a martial artist, writer, student, Parliamentary advisor, owner of a book review website and of multiple adorable animals, in his twenties. Last December he came up with the idea of a “100 Miles, 100 Dogs” project, a non-stop walk from Bristol to London, where he would walk a dog each mile.
The 100 Miles, 100 Dogs is scheduled for 20th-21st May this year and in this interview you will learn about the project and how you can participate with (or without) your pooch!
Marc and his love for dogs
Marc has always loved animals and he told me a host of stories proving it. “My mum tells people stories about the time the window cleaner found the stick insects I’d snuck into my room (they’d escaped and were waiting for him whilst I was at school) or when the baby sitter found terrapins under my bed. I could tell you similar stories about when my mum, herself, found guinea pigs, hamsters, geckos and scorpions in my room too. My love of animals drove my mum mad – she says that each time I went to school she’d dread opening the door incase I’d something else waiting for her. Thankfully she helped me care for them once I’d broke them in! As I grew up and moved out, this love of animals only grew stronger. I’ve ended up with a Boston Terrier named Poppy and a Chihuahua named Cookie (in addition to tortoises, a bearded dragon and array of praying mantis species)” said Marc.
However, his passion for dogs is somehow stronger than the one for the other pets. In this regard, Marc noted, “As much as I love all my animals, I could never live without a dog. The thing about dogs is that there are no boundaries […] they just want to be touching you, jumping on you, licking you, chasing you, being chased by you, snuggling you. There’s this need that dogs have to be interacting with you.”
“As such, dogs become reflections of ourselves” continued Marc. “You meet a person and their dog together and you can see so much of that person in them. It has always hurt me knowing that there are dogs out there that don’t have that person in their lives”. And it was precisely his concern about dogs in need that encouraged him to plan the 100 Miles, 100 Dogs walk.
The “100 Miles, 100 Dogs” project
The starting point of Marc’s 100 Miles, 100 Dogs non-stop walk will be in Bristol on 20th May, in the morning. After passing Bath > Melksham > Devizes > Avebury > Malborough > Newbury > Reading > Maidenhead > Windsor > Slough > Hayes, and visiting some dog charities on the way, he will arrive in London sometime in the night of 21st May.
Marc estimates that it will take about 30-40 hours to complete the walk and he will meet a dog owner and walk a different dog each mile. “Obviously, I couldn’t walk a single dog for that length of time, so I am asking people from across the UK to meet me on route. My plan is to walk a different dog every mile. So, essentially, it is like a relay with me as the baton!” said Marc.
The walk’s aim
The 100 Miles, 100 Dogs project has a twofold spirit: raising funds for dog charity and raising awareness about dogs in need. After running endurance distances and competing in sporting challenges for charity, Marc wanted to “do something for dogs and really make a difference and have people take notice” and he told me that what was clear to him was that it should have been “something genuinely challenging and impressive”.
“There are thousands of dogs across the country in need of a new home, a second chance. Rescues are there for these dogs and providing the care they need at a crucial time and actively looking for their new family” continued Marc.
Marc goal would be collecting at least a few thousand pounds. He revealed that the money raised online will go to The Dogs Trust. “They have a number of centres across the UK and the work they do is exactly the kind of work I want to bring attention to” said Marc.
The rest of the money made offline (thanks to sponsors’ contributions, donation bucket profits, runs at a number of events, and photo books he would like to produce of each dog met during the walk) will be split among the dog charities that take part. Marc is already in contact with around 10 charities, including Holly Hedge Rescue (Bristol), Happy Landings (Shepton Mallet), The Dogs Trust, SNDogs Rescue (Swindon) as well as Starfish Dog Rescue (South West), and is currently getting in touch with many more.
100 Miles, 100 Dogs’ message
Asked about the message he would like to pass on to people, Marc said “The message [of the 100 Miles, 100 Dogs project] is that even if you can’t welcome a dog (or another dog) into your home, there are things you can do to help those dogs currently in the rescue system. Whether this is a regular donation, running an event to raise awareness, walking dogs for your local rescue, helping out at a local rescue, fostering dogs, transporting dogs, telling your friend to visit a rescue before they purchase that £1,500 puppy and so on.”
Participating in the 100 Miles, 100 Dogs walk
In mid December Marc created a Facebook group and set up a website of the project. At the time of speaking, his Facebook group has already reached 700 people (actually 699, so join and be the 700th!) and many of them expressed their interest in meeting him with their dogs along the walk.
“We’ve had hundreds of people ask to join! I mean… if everyone who has posted a picture of their adorable canine companions came along, then I’d be walking 2/3/4 dogs every mile. I do believe though that as we get nearer to the date and people realise they have work or that I’m near them at 2am and so on that a wealth of people will have to drop out (completely understandable!). Right now I’m still asking for people to get in touch and register their interest through the Facebook Group or website.”
Mark is going to finalise the route and schedule of the walk over the next four weeks. “I should be able to provide approximate times over the next month so that people can make sure my arrival suits their routine” added Marc.
If you wish to take part and walk a mile with your dog or support Marc’s project with a donation, visit his website or Facebook page.
The pictures featured in this blog post are courtesy of Marc Aplin.
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