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Man Met grad runs 40-miles to map out the shape of UK ‘running’ from the EU

He finished the route in eight hours through rain and snow


An ultra-runner from Manchester has mapped out the coastline of the UK on Strava in the shape of it ‘running’ from the EU, before the UK formally leaves on Brexit Day tomorrow.

Former Man Met student, Strava artist and live streaming video specialist Nathan Rae, completed the 39.3 mile run in just over eight hours on Tuesday, starting at 8:00 am in the morning and facing rain and snow as he followed the GPS around Greater Manchester.

Rae named the route, 'BREXIT! or: Goodbye Friend, I Will Miss EU', to mark Britain's withdrawal on January 31st but maintains that he’s “anti-Brexit and “pro-EU.”

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Following the referendum of 2016, the UK will officially leave the European Union on 31 January 2020.

Rae, who studied film-making at Manchester Metropolitan University, has since made a career out of selling commissioned Strava route maps online, which he designs on Google Maps.

He creates the GPS drawings as part of his training, and often designs images of animals and celebrities. However, Rae told The Manchester Tab that designing 'BREXIT! or: Goodbye Friend, I Will Miss EU' was especially challenging.

“It’s easy to draw anything on a map. But when you want to draw a specific thing like a map or a flag, or a logo of company, it's very difficult to get that exactly right,” he said.

He posted on Facebook after the run: “Apart from the snow and rain this was an easy-ish 39 mile run around a city I love, the hard part was designing the route!

“Forcing the coastline into the streets and paths and parks but around motorways, rivers, canals, etc. doesn't always work. But the feeling of relief and joy when you find a creative solution is what it's all about.”

Following the route in practice can also be difficult, Rae added.

“In Salford there were 10 or so streets which have all been demolished, so I had to go around that. That happens a lot in Manchester – there’s always buildings going up buildings going down, so I have to improvise while I’m out there."

He told The Manchester Tab the inspiration behind the running legs on 'BREXIT! or: Goodbye Friend, I Will Miss EU', was partly because he “couldn’t get the map to work through Salford Quays, because there’s too much water and the Manchester ship canal makes it difficult to draw anything around there.”

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Rae said that as his routes follow a specific design, he often finds himself in unexpected places around Manchester.

“It surprises me what I find in the city,” he told The Manchester Tab.

“I’m not planning my route to see the landmarks. I’m seeing buildings and communities for the first time.

“I’m aware of the risks,” he added.

Rae got into ultra-running around three years ago, after finishing a marathon in Manchester.

"I was five or six hours in, running over the hills in the Peak District. And I was like, ‘oh this is what I like doing’," he said.

“Since then the ultras have got longer and longer."

Rae said he probably runs around 25-30 miles each week, and is training for a 100 mile ultra in May, which will be his longest run so far.

In 2018, he designed a heart logo with 'MCR' written inside on Strava, to commemorate the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing of 2017. The move gained press coverage and inspired fellow ultra-runners to join Rae on the same route again last year – an event he now plans to continue.

You can find Nathan Rae’s artwork on Facebook or on his website.