Trailfest Summer Solstice 15K (Iain)

I’ve only ran in Mugdock Country Park three times. The first time, I got lost. The second time, it rained. On my last visit, I got lost and it rained.

I have a reputation for attracting rain. I used to be a member of a walking group called Glasgow Young Walkers. Rain occurred so regularly on my walks that I received the nickname – the rainmaker.

I was reminded of this at the registration desk. One of the volunteers recognized me from my time in the club. She asked if I still went on walks.  Unfortunately, whilst I was on the committee of the group, I created a rule stating anyone over 40 was no longer young. So when I turned 40 I had to throw myself out of the club! I doubt my rain making skill is missed, all the walks are now dry and sunny.

As I registered I noticed that I was the only man registering. In fact, from my walk to the car to the desk I didn’t see a single male runner but numerous female runners.

I put it down to registering early and assumed the men were all waiting until the last moment to register.

Before the race started, the organizer gave us all a quick safety talk. I didn’t pay much attention to it until he said “There’s a prize for anyone who gets a selfie with a highland cow”

Unfortunately I did not spot any cows on the way round the course. My collection of selfies with animals will have to limit itself to a horse, a talking monkey, a cartoon cat and cookie eating rooster.

Race directors take note – This was a great idea from trailfest (unless someone had been mauled by a cow outraged at being photographed without first having a chance to put on makeup and brush their hair). I want to see more imagination in awarding prizes at races. Forget awarding the prize to the fastest. Anyone can do that. It just involves running allot. Award prizes to the best costume, the best on course photo, the laziest runner. Anything that make the event more fun!

During the race I was reminded how few men were on the course when at one point a marshal shouted at me “watch out the women are catching you!” I shouted back “I’m just pleased to be keeping up with them!”

 

Afterwards, I checked the results and there was 59 female runners and 39 men. The only other race I can think of that has more female runners than men is the Womans 10k. It is a great tribute to the organisers that the race attracts such a big turnout of women.

 

I have noticed trail races and ultras tend to attract a high number of female racers. I think it is because the events feel less competitive than a normal road race. I’d be interested to know what other people think the reason is.

 

Overall, It’s a great race. Very friendly, well marshalled and organized.

 

I didn’t even get lost the man in front of me got lost and that doesn’t count does it? I was just following him!

 

For more events check out https://trailfestscotland.com/

 

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Escape (Non-attempt) From Alcatraz 2018 (Andrew)

Only amateur athletes will ever say “I’ll just turn up and give it a go.”

You don’t see bin men turning up at the local hospital asking if they can pop down to surgery as they once watched an episode of Casualty. Yet anyone with a pair of trainers will at some point have turned up on a start line with no idea what they’re about to do or why they are there but, what the heck, let’s give it a go anyway!

However this attitude forgets that there are there are two types of fear in the world: the fear of the unknown and the fear of the known.

The unknown fear is the fear that keeps you awake at night in case aliens sneak into your bedroom and steal your socks. You’re pretty sure that if aliens did visit the earth they’d have better things to do than raid your sock drawer – but, as you can’t be 100% sure that E.T. is not phoning home and boasting about it, you worry about it anyway.

That’s why the unknown fear is a stupid fear. It’s based on misinformation – aliens steal the last bag of crisps from the cupboard, not socks – and it usually means you end up scared of something that you shouldn’t be scared of at all.

In triathlon, we have a lot of unknown fears. The big one is swimming in open water. Until you’ve swum in the sea or in a river or loch you don’t know what to expect. There could be monsters! Or, worse, it could be cold!

The first time I swam outdoors was at Bardowie Loch, north of Glasgow. I swam with an instructor who ran a regular open session on a Sunday morning. There were about 20 of us there. Most in wetsuits, one in budgie smugglers (put it away, Iain!) and one man with a loud voice who set out the rules and offered some tips for swimming in cold water for the first time.

“Go in backwards,” he said. “Let the water hit the small of your back first, then, when you’re used to it, roll over and repeatedly dip your face in the water. It’ll help you adjust.”

I don’t know why the base of your spine controls your response to cold water, but, it seeped up my wetsuit, and then through the zip at the back, all I could say was:

“AAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKKrrrrrrrrrrrrGGGGGGGGhhhhhhhHHHHH!”

I’d hate to think what I’d have said if I hadn’t ‘reversed in’.

I found out. I dipped my face in too.

“AAAAAAAAFFFFFFFUUUUUUUU************************* GGGGGGGGGhhhhHHHH!”

However, as I started to paddle, then swim, then dipped my face again and again, the water became more tolerable. My feet were cold, my hands were cold, but my body felt fine, and, after a few minutes, I could keep my head below water and start to swim using the front crawl.

What was an unknown fear, a fear of swimming in cold water, was no longer an unknown fear. It was a quite justifiable, perfectly reasonable known fear!

Now known fears are fears of things you know are scary. Like cold water swimming. But, having practiced, and trained, and adjusted to the cold water, you can justify it to yourself: “I know this will be cold but, after a few minutes, it will be fine.”

And that’s one of the good things about training. It teaches you not just how to run, swim or cycle but it also teaches you to convert your unknown fears in known fears or, perhaps, something which isn’t ever a fear at all.

I’m not scared of swimming in lochs anymore. I know what they’re like. I know how cold they can get when it’s early Spring or Autumn. I’m happy to turn up and give it a go as it’s no longer a fear.

Swimming in the sea however…

I’m scared of swimming in the sea. There’s currents and undercurrents and waves and salt and sharks and I hear aliens nick your socks when you leave your clothes at the beach.

When I entered Norseman in 2016, it was the sea swim that scared me. It was three miles in a Norwegian Fjord, in icy water after jumping from the back of ferry.

I was scared of that jump. In the weeks before the race, I kept thinking of that jump. It was something I’d never done, something I could never prepare for – unless I wanted to start a search and rescue mission after jumping off the back of a CalMac ferry.

Without the training, my fears got the best of me. “You’ll die in those waters”. “you’ll have a heart attack, jumping from a warm boat in freezing water”. “You’ll get hypothermia.”

I ignored the voices though, got on the boat, got to the drop off point and jumped off the side.

And nothing happened. The water was warmer than expected. There were few waves. I swam round and my fear was just a fear of nothing.

I say all this because I had those same thoughts before Escape From Alcatraz 2018 triathlon and this time the fear won – but I’m okay with that.

This time my fear was based on what I knew – the swim was 2.5 miles across San Franscico bay and I hadn’t trained enough for it. A busy period at work had meant I hadn’t had time to go to the pool. My running and cycling was fine but I hadn’t swum enough for a challenging swim.

On the Saturday morning before the race I tried to swim in the bay. I swam in a sheltered spot and tried 1km to see how it felt.

It was tough. Even in the sheltered spot I didn’t feel strong in the water and it was a struggle to swim quickly against the tide.

I knew then that I couldn’t take part. The bay was going to be harder and longer. The leap from the boat was not going to be a leap to overcome an unknown fear, instead it was going to be a leap of hope that a lack of training wouldn’t matter.

And looking at the bay I thought it would be stupid of me to start. To ignore the warning in the practice and to hope that somehow swimming further and in harder conditions would somehow be easier. That wouldn’t be a smart move. Instead, I didn’t race, and I don’t regret not racing. Sometimes you have to recognise that fears are justified and that you have them for good reasons – to race again, so that with preparation and training you never need to think “I’ll just turn up and give it a go.”

Alloa Half Marathon (Iain)

When I think about what Glasgow is famous for, I think Billy Connolly. When I think of Edinburgh, I think Edinburgh Castle. Aberdeen? Oil! Inverness? The Highlands. Dundee? The Beano! Perth? Farming.  Alloa?…..Alloa?…..ummmm….I can’t think of interesting thing about Alloa.

I looked up Wikipedia to find out what Alloa is famous for and it states “some say Alloa is where the Forth ceases to be the River Forth and becomes the Firth of Forth“

First of all, that’s a really boring thing to be famous for and secondly “some say” is a meaningless phrase. How many people say? Is it one person? One hundred people? One thousand people?

I could write “some say Iain is the greatest gift to Scotland since Mr Barr invented Irn Bru” even though no one has said it except me! Its a phrase used when no-one can think of anything true to say.

I see it allot at what I call “maybe places.” These are places, usually historical, where every fact is a “maybe” or a “some say” or a “could have been” ie a sign next to a castle might read “Maybe this was the kitchen where some say the king could have dined nightly.”

I’d rather the sign said “We don’t know what this room is for. We could take a guess but it would be no more valid an opinion than anything you might come up with.”

In fact, I’d prefer historians to make up something much more interesting when they don’t know for sure – “This castle might have been used as a home for the King’s giraffe. Maybe he called the Giraffe Tall Paul and rode around on it as a symbol of his awesomeness.”

Alloa doe shave something to be be famous for. Its half marathon. This was my fourth time running it.  Its a great event because:

  1. The course is challenging but split into three interesting sections. The first 5 miles is an undulating run through Alloa and local towns with a great one mile downhill section. The next five miles is a flat straight run with great views of the Ochill hills. The last three miles has a wee hill but then its slightly downhill back into Alloa.
  2. They have the best race t-shirts in scotland. Every year has an interesting bright color.  This year was flame red but previous years have been  neon orange, fluorescent yellow and ultramarine blue.
  3. The finish is beside Asda. I can do the race and do my weekly shopping.

This years race was held later in the year than normal. It should have been in March but was delayed due to Snow. There was a big turnout of runners but it was definitely quieter than normal. Usually the road into Alloa is very busy before the race but this time I drove straight in without having to queue once

At the start, I noticed a sign saying headphones (or similar devices) were banned due to health and safety. As I was reading the sign I noticed a commotion at the front of the race – the giant inflatable hanging above the start line had collapsed. It was lucky no one was hurt. Next year they’ll have to amend the sign to say headphones and giant inflatable start lines are banned due to health and safety.

The race much like Alloa had no points of interest. I started, I ran, I finished.

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PS – I eventually found one interesting thing about Alloa.

“Part of Clackmannan’s folklore is a story about Robert the Bruce. He lost a glove there while hunting. Ever the thrifty Scot, he sent his lieutenant back to find it. “Go to a path near Clackmannan village,” he instructed him, “and look aboot ye.” The road is called Lookabootye Brae to this day”

The Almost True Story of Maurice Wilson (Andrew)

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Before Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing climbed Mt Everest, the world’s highest mountain, a cross-dressing shoe salesman from Bradford reached the top before them. This is the little known* story of that salesman – Maurice Wilson – and how he swapped high heels for hiking boots and back again.

In the 1930’s, Maurice Wilson had a dream. In a world bruised and battered by the Great Depression Maurice believed a single man, with faith in the Lord, could achieve anything.

That meant, despite working in a woman’s shoe shop in Bradford, despite never visiting the Himalayas, Tibet, Nepal or even Asia, Maurice believed he could reach for the stars. Literally. He would climb the unclimbable – he would climb Mt Everest – and touch the sky itself.

But first, as a warm up, he went hill walking in Wales, which, like Mt Everest, is cold and inhospitable (especially Cardiff) but nothing to match the conditions of Everest itself.

To put his training into perspective, climbing Mt Snowden to prepare for Everest was a bit like jumping in a paddling pool to swim the Atlantic. Or closing the curtains and jumping up and down in a darkened room to walk on the moon. It was simply not enough – and Maurice knew that… so he went hiking in the Lake District too.

Nothing prepares you for sub-zero conditions like an ice cream cone on the banks of Lake Windermere.

In short, to prepare for a climb that many thought impossible, Maurice did two of the three peaks in the ‘Three Peaks Challenge’. But he didn’t do them in 24 hours. Nor did he climb Ben Nevis, presumably because it was too big and far away.

But, despite being outclimbed by Dave from IT and Maureen from Accounting in your office’s annual fundraising challenge, Maurice could not be stopped. He would climb Mt Everest!

Because Maurice had a plan. A cunning plan. He would climb Mt Everest by… NOT climbing Mt Everest!

Instead he’d fly a plane and crash into the top of Everest,  pop out of the wreck, jog to the summit and claim the mountain for Blighty!

Genius.

Except for one small problem: he didn’t know how to fly.

Undeterred, he took flying lessons. Big mistake. His instructors refused to pass Maurice as they thought his flying was so bad he would kill himself during take off.

But that didn’t stop Maurice. Maurice had a dream, and he believed that dreams were there to be followed.

So, in 1933 he took off for Everest. And the take off was a success, if success is judged by escaping with his life after he immediately crashed. It was not a success. However, a second attempt followed…

Three weeks later, Maurice took off again. And this time, he travelled across Europe and the Middle East in a tiny Tiger Moth plane he christened ‘Ever Wrest’.

Despite the British Government’s efforts to either hinder him (by contacting airports to ask them to refuse to give Maurice fuel) or save him from himself, Maurice made it to Nepal, who immediately hailed our intrepid hero, wished him all the best, and, while his back was turned, confiscated his plane to stop him crashing into their holy mountain.

But Maurice could not be stopped. Despite guards barring his way, and despite not having a plane, he and two Sherpas sneaked into Nepal disguised as Buddhist monks.

According to his diary, Maurice, reached Everest one month later. Also, according to his diary, he would have got there faster, but he kept getting lost on the way.

History does not record whether Maurice had ever learnt to use a compass.

On May 15 1934, Maurice arrived at Everest. It was, as he suspected, remarkably like Snowden. Except 10 times bigger, 10 times colder, and without a steam train that takes pensioners all the way to the top.

But without a plane it was time for Plan B. Maurice would climb Everest singlehandedly.

This was not a success.

With no experience of climbing, no equipment, no clue what he was letting himself into, Maurice lasted five days before he had to turn back to base camp. In his diary Maurice wrote:

It’s the weather that’s beaten me – what damned bad luck!

But that didn’t stop Maurice. He tried a second time, and this time he made his way through faith, prayer and fasting almost all the way to the top until he was stopped by an ice wall that he couldn’t climb because, despite all his preparation, he had never learnt to use a rope.

And there he died. In a lonely tent at the foot of the wall, overcome by the cold, having failed to conquer Everest.

Or that’s what most folk think.

Here’s the thing.

A couple of years ago, a Chinese expedition reported finding, just below the summit of Everest, a single high heeled women’s shoe. No-one could explain it. Chris Bonnington’s not known for his fondness for a patent leather pump, unless that pump inflated a belay bed at 30,000 feet.

Maurice on the other hand (or other foot) was different. It turned out that some nights former shoe salesman Maurice liked to be known as Maureen. And Maureen liked ladies shoes. And in his/her bag, in his/her tent at the base of the wall, Maureen nee Maurice had packed a floral dress.

So, how did the shoe get to the top of Everest? Could Maurice have reached the tip of the world in his high heels and floral dress? Did he use his stilettos as make shift ice axes to climb the Hilary step? Could he have reached the summit twenty years before any other man and have died on the way back down, and not on the way up, as many believe?

I’d like to think so.

One day, when temperatures rise and the top melts, we’ll find that shoe’s twin. A single high heel planted on the summit confirming that the first man on Everest with a woman’s name was not Hilary but… Maureen.

*And possibly, almost, nearly true. Kind of.

Stornoway Half Marathon (Iain)

There are many ways someone can start runners at the beginning of a race.

There’s the classic countdown – “3, 2, 1, GO!”

There’s the false start – “3, 2, 1, WOAAAHH!!”

And then there’s the “3, 2, 1… WTF! IS THAT DONALD TRUMP?”

The Donald was here because his mum came from a small village near Stornoway. A generation later he made it to Washington and now he’s in charge of the free world. My mum also left a small village near Stornoway but a generation later I’ve only made it to Glasgow and all I’m in charge of is a cat.  Note to self: must try harder!

It’s a pity it wasn’t the real Donald Trump. I’d like to have heard him address the runners in his own inimitable style.

“This years race is THE greatest running event Stornoway has ever seen. We’re going to make allot of runners happy today. Believe me!

Crooked Hillary was asked to start the race but she was too busy. SAD!

Lets make runners great again…..3,1, start!!! What do you mean I didn’t say 2? I said 2. Anyone who claims I did not say 2 is a liar. Fake news!”

My first attempt at this race was in 2002. I came top of my age group….by being the only person in my age group. Unfortunately, the organizers realized I was the only one taking part, they didn’t award a prize.

I remember 2002 was a very sunny day. It was the hottest I’d ever felt whilst running this race…until this year. It must have been 22/23C at the start of the race. I wouldn’t normally advocate running “taps aff” but I thought about it, until I wondered where would my race number go? Maybe that’s why men pierce their nipples – to hang race numbers from!

I felt good on the way round. It’s a great course. There’s always something to see – nice views out to sea, nice tracks over to the airport and a beautiful second half of the course running through a forrest in the castle grounds. Afterwards I didn’t feel great. I think the sun got to me. I had to have a lie down till I felt better. What is it they say about the midday sun? Only mad dogs and runners go out in it!

I didn’t win my age group but I did finish almost the exact same position as 2002. After 18 years of running I’m just as bad as the day I started 🙂

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A Gentleman Never Talks About His Training (Iain)

A famous playwright wrote:

“A gentleman should never talk about his exercise regime or love life. It should be assumed he does none of one but lots of the other. Discussing either makes a man a bore!”

Talking about training is something all runners/cyclists/swimmers are guilty of. We all want to share the amazing training session we had but does anyone actually want to hear about it?

The best example of over sharing is to think about any friends who have new born babies. I have a friend who posts one picture of their kid every few months. It’s sweet to see the child’s progress so I click like on the picture. I have another friend who posts a picture every day. Sometimes multiple times in a day.  At first it was sweet, then annoying and then I unfollowed them as I didn’t need to see there snot nosed vomit machine every time I logged onto social media.

That’s what happens when you talk too much about training. You first become background noise i.e. people scroll past without even reading. You then become annoying, people ignore your posts and, before you know it, no-one is actually looking at your updates.

I realize the hypocrisy of saying don’t talk about training on a blog about training but if I can’t be boring on my own personal blog where can I be boring?

Here’s some common tropes that I find annoying and how to avoid them.

The “smashed it” post

The post which says what a great training session an athlete had. They smashed it! In fact every post says they smashed it. If every session was that great why are they not winning ever race they enter?

I’d suggest occasionally posting something else. A picture of a dog. A picture of some food, or occasionally just write “what a great session…but not as great as last week.”

The look at me post

The post which says “What a great run today. The view was amazing” yet the photo the athlete uploaded is a picture of their face.

I’d suggest post the view, not the viewer. I’ve seen a million shots of their sweaty face. I know it better than I know my own. If I wanted to look at faces I’d get a job as a crime mugshot artist.

The too good to be true post 

The post where the athlete wears clothes which are too clean to ever have been used in a training session. Every shot is photographed professional and the posts seem to be all  taken from one day yet they get posted over a time period of a few weeks.

I don’t trust these posts. I think I’m subliminally getting advertised to. They should occasionally upload a real picture of themselves i.e. falling out of bed, bleary eyed, half drunk from the night before then I’d be more likely be interested when they did post a good shot.

The meme post

“OMG! Meme quotes are amazeballs! LOL” I think I’m quoting Malcolm X correctly here.

If you went to an art class would draw something or just bring a copy of the Mona Lisa? if you went to a music class would you try to play an instrument or would you bring  a Beethoven CD? I prefer people who have confidence in their own work. They quote themselves  – anything said with truth is more inspirational than anything copied from someone else.

The blatant plug post

If any companies wish to sponsor me then be aware that I have very strict morals. I only work with companies who share my core belief – that I should get free stuff. If you fit that brief then I’ll happily plug your product in a photo shoot which we will release picture by picture over a few week period accompanied by me writing about  how I smashed the session using an inspirational meme quote!

PS – the purpose of this blog is to say I won’t be writing about Norseman training until the event but then I’ll post one big post about it for anyone who’s interested in seeing what I did to succeed/fail (delete one after seeing result) at Norseman.

Etape Caledonia 2018 (Andrew)

Recovery

It’s not often you see someone carrying a spare tyre when they’re out riding. A tube, yes. A tyre, not so much.

What are the chances you’ll need a spare tyre in the middle of a race? Or worse, in the middle of a race that you ‘d be planning to race for six months? Or worse, 10 miles into that race, you need a tyre and you don’t even get the sense you’d even started it.

What are the chances? Pretty high actually, if you’re me. I had a tyre explode 10 miles into the Etape Du Tour – a race which follows a stage of the Tour De France.

A rip in the tyre wall meant a wait at the side of the road for a motorbike support.  And then another wait as the support checked if they had any spare wheels they could give me before I was finally told “the only wheels you’ll see are the four on the bus that’s coming to pick you up!”.

I remembered this horrible memory on Sunday as I waited at the side of the road, this time just after the five mile point, for motorbike support. I was taking part in the Etape Caledonia and had selected the wrong gear before climbing a short sharp hill. I tried to change gear. My chain slipped. It became caught in the crank and it became so twisted and knotted even Alexander The great would have said “I may have conquered the world – but, fek’s sake, even that knot’s beyond me!”

But, as I waited for the inevitable conversation with the mechanic that would lead to the sweep up truck, he said:

“Wait, is that a quick release link?”

Before he pressed the chain, split it in half, threaded it through and released the knot in 30 seconds. He then threaded the chain back, linked it together and said: “You’re good to go!”

And I had a second flashback. I remembered in January I’d tried to change the chain, failed miserably at removing the pins, destroying the chain tool in the process, before I’d replaced the chain again with quick release links.

Thank you, January Andrew! You’re a star! (Even if you didn’t know what you were doing and was just following the first YouTube mechanic video you could find).

So, despite starting again near the back of field, as every one had passed as the bike was fixed, at least I was starting again this time

As for the race, a new three mile loop adds an interesting challenge to the first half and some cracking views of Schiehallion. A rebrand gives some cracking looking jerseys. And, despite a heatwave on Saturday and forecast of a dry day with more to come, there was still a couple of spots of rain as we passed Loch Tummell. The Caledonian Etape – never knowingly dry no matter what the forecast!

The highlight of the race however came as I reached the 70 mile point. I saw a man with a spare tyre tied onto the panniers on the back of his bike, I didn’t think “Ha! He won’t need that!”. Instead,  I thought: “Well played, sir, well played indeed!”

(Oh, and Iain claims he won – but the official time shows a dead heat, so I’m still the undisputed heavy weight champion of the Etape Caledonia!)

Caledonian Etape 2018 (Iain)

Andrew and I were nearing the end of the Caledonian Etape (the annual 84 mile cycle sportive in Perthshire) when I began to increase my speed. Just a little. Just enough to see if he’d keep up. I went a little bit faster and was starting to build  a gap when I heard him shout.

“IT’S NOT A RACE!”

I knew then that I’d won.

The Etape started in 2009. We’ve done it since 2010 and  Andrew has beaten me every time. Most of the time he wins because he’s better at biking than me but occasionally he uses underhand tactics…

  • One year he arrived at the start having bought a road bike knowing that I had a hybrid. Unsurprisingly, I couldn’t keep up with him.
  • Another time we agreed at the start that if we got separated during the race we’d meet at the next food stop on the course. The race started. He immediately biked off. I didn’t worry about it because I knew I’d get him at the next food stop. I arrived at the food stop. He was nowhere to be seen. I waited 10 minutes. He didn’t turn up. I realized I’d been tricked. He went on to win the race easily because he didn’t stop once!
  • Last year, he brought a “ringer” from his work. The “ringer” was a man who could cycle sub 4 hours for 80 miles. Andrew biked behind the “ringer” to get a pull round the course.

This year he had no underhand tactics….that I’m aware of. Although, I didn’t sleep well the night before the race. Maybe he upped the temperature in the hotel room to disturb me.

The weather forecast was for sunshine. It hadn’t rained in the week before the race. Unsurprisingly, it was wet at the start! We were off at 0632 which meant we got away before the majority of riders. The first five miles were uneventful until we came to a corner. I could see the road kicked up after the corner so I changed to a lower gear before I got there.

As I took the turn I heard the unmistakable sound of a gear clanking away and coming loose as some poor rider tried to get into a lower gear. I thought to myself “What idiot wouldn’t notice the hill! You’d have to be a right twat to not change gears in advance. Who’d be that stupid?”

“IAIN!!!” I heard Andrew shout. I looked round. The idiot was Andrew.

Impressively he’d managed to wrap his chain round his bike crank in such a way it was impossible to pull off. Thankfully a moto-bike mechanic turned up. He looked at it and said “Wow! I’ve never seen one wrapped that tight.” Thankfully after ten minutes of pulling and chain splitting we were able to sort it.

I could at any point have cycled off to ensure I’d win the race. I stayed. Not because I’m nice but so I could spend the rest of the ride reminding Andrew that I could have ridden off and therefore he should declare me champion by default!

We finished together but Andrew knows in his heart I won. Next year I expect him to use every underhand trick he knows to get his Etape crown back!

Some points on the race

  • The course has altered slightly this year as the organizers have added in a hill. Its not a tough climb but it breaks up the first half of the course nicely as I got nice views on the descent.
  • Their was no sports nutrition bars or gels this year. Each stop only had a banana or a flapjack.
  • The registration pack came with a complimentary bike cap. The first time the race has ever given away something for free!
  • The race used to be sponsored by Marie Curie cancer. They didn’t appear on any marketing this year. I’m not sure if that means its not more of a private for profit event.
  • It rained on the course for a couple of minutes which means we still have never had an all dry Etape.

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It’s a game of two sick parrots (Andrew)

“Does anyone want to play football? Eleven a-side. You don’t need to play, you just need to be able to run.”

My first thought was “No!” and my second thought was “Hell NO!!!” because full fat football, the eleven a-side version, is horrible.

First, you have to have a position. A position that says where you should be, who you should mark, when you should run and when you should defend. Which sound easy. If you’re a left side defender you should be on the left side of pitch. However, you might think that’s where you should be, everyone else in your team will shout “FFS! You’re out of position again!” To everyone else, you couldn’t be more out of position if you were a dyslexic reading the Karma Sutra.

Because here’s the thing. In every eleven a-side game there’s at least one, if not half a dozen players, who think they have the motivational skills of Sir Alex Ferguson. Not in the inspire you to victory and to give your all until the very last minute type way. More in a “I will *****ing kill you, you *****ing **** if you ******ing don’t get *****ing back in *****ing position” type motivational speech way.

Playing eleven a-side football turns some people into tyrants. Usually Dave from IT, the one you least suspect of Hulking out as he never says a word to anyone, just sends email that you delete without reading because you know he’ll be talking about the server again.

It could be worse though. You could volunteer to play and you hear language that no one should ever hear. Words that would terrify Rambo and make The Rock cower in fear. Those words: “Barry’s not turned up, can you go in goals?”

NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

Having my cake and eating it (Iain)

Recently, whilst queuing at a bakers, an old lady standing ahead of me said:

“Please can I have two doughnuts?”

The baker replied, “Sorry, I’ve run out of normal doughnuts. I’ve only got two two mini doughnuts instead.”

The old lady looked at the very small mini doughnuts and said “No thanks – too much sugar.”

My immediate thought: “WTF!!! They were tiny. They had less sugar than the full sized doughnuts she originally ordered! If she wants to avoid sugar she shouldn’t order multiple donuts at 0830 in the morning!”

She then said: “I’ll have two french fancies instead.”

Which made me think: “YOU DON’T WANT SUGAR BUT NOW YOU’RE ORDERING A CAKE MADE OF SUGAR, COVERED IN SUGAR ICING WITH A SUGAR CREAM FILLLING!!!”

I think in block capitals when thinking loudly.

And her purchase annoyed me as I wanted the french fancies for myself.

I was reminded of this when visiting my parents home (Stornoway) last weekend. My mum saw me and said, “You’re looking broad!”

Which is a polite way of saying “fat bastard”.

I like to think it’s all muscle but, considering I’m sitting here eating a cake, then that would be as delusional as a Theresa May thinking Brexit will be a success.

When I did IronMan UK my weight was 12 Stone. My Current weight is 13 stone which considering I’m 6ft 1 is well within normal healthy range. Strangely, although I’m heavier, all my times and fitness levels are better now than back then.

I can only conclude one thing. Cake make me faster and fitter!

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mmm – fudge doughnut!