Well, I finally got around to transcribing this off the airsickness bag I wrote the draft on...
As I started to make the transition to Europe and the Western world with my arrival in Istanbul, I finally began to take comfort in the my mind that transitioning this crazy project from a personal challenge to a public event would in some way have "success".
When I somewhat hesitantly began to consider doing "Run-the-World" in the public eye, I had a couple specific concerns. First, I was not sure that I would be comfortable in the spokesman's role. My wife warned my that I would have to be open about many things that I usually would not widely discuss. Additionally, I am generally not one to seek the spotlight, as my brother-in-law said after our event in Malaysia, "I never seen Mark talk that much". Secondly, there was always the concern that the project would not resonate with the public and I would be left with as sense of rejection or failure. I wasn’t sure how myself or others would judge success or failure, but I was definitely moving out of my comfort zone.
My stop in Turkey was the first time that I really felt the lack of time to work while traveling affected my timely planning. I had made contact with Dr. Okan Dogu, General Secretary for the Turkish Parkinson's Disease Society, but had not finalized a plan for my visit and without a phone, I was relying on some last minute emails. On arrival in Istanbul I was making my way to the luggage storage counter with a plan to check my overnight emails once I had dropped off my bag. Then I heard someone call out, "Mr. Marcus". I was pleasantly surprise to find that Dr. Dogu had arranged to have Dr. Arman, a neurology resident and Zeynep Derebasi, a photographer pick me up at the airport and help document my run.
After the run we also had a quick media interview and chance for photos.
Over the first week of my journey a few moments stood out and gave me the confidence I needed to know that the project was gaining credibility and I could relax a in the knowledge that it would not be a failure. First was the response of the audiences – from the first formal talk in Vietnam to the meetings in Japan, Singapore and Malaysia, meeting with groups like these has been a highlight for me. Second was the social media feedback, especially through Facebook. Finally the hints, that I might have some credibility in the backpacker scene went a long way to boost my motivation. During my night in Fiji, I had let a couple of my dorm-mates know why I was in Fiji, and I had been wearing my Run-the-World t-shirt earlier, but I am not sure what prompted the table of backpackers behind me to start looking at my website and discussing how it would be possible to do what I am doing. They weren't aware of my presence, but I was good to get their "approval".
So many people have contributed to get the word out about this project, to arrange meetings, to coordinate press coverage and donate to the foundations --- I would like to thank each of you for your part in help me make the transition from hope with self-doubt to a confident feeling that this a worthwhile endeavor.