Norseman video (Iain)

The official Norseman 2018 video has been released. The first Norseman video I saw was the 2013 film

I didn’t know a thing about the race or triathlons but I was transfixed by people jumping off a ferry. It looked amazing. I looked at what the race involved and wondered why anyone would want to jump off a ferry into a fjord.

5 years later I was lucky enough to do it. This is the video

Hopefully it will inspire someone else to dream of jumping off a ferry.

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In other news – this site has been nominated for a prize. Yes – really and its not a prize for terrible punctuation and grammer which has come as a shock to Andrew who claims he has to correct all of my blog posts after I’ve written them!

If you want to give us a vote then you can do so here:

https://therunningawards.com/vote/205/233#vote

Cocaine For The Nose (Andrew)

Sinex nasal spray is cocaine for the nose. Which means it’s just like cocaine in that it goes up your nose but, unlike cocaine, it’s good for you!

Not that I’ve ever had cocaine. But I watched Scarface and I know how it works. First, you get a pound of cocaine then you sniff it up your nose before gunning down a Mexican cartel and half the Miami police force.

Now, you can call me a square, but I don’t want to gun down no cartels, thank you very much. So, I’ve never touched the cocaine! Or the heroin! That’s worse – no sooner have you had some then you have to live in Edinburgh!

But Sinex. That’s cocaine for athletes (unless you’re British tennis player, Dan Evans, then cocaine is cocaine for athletes). One minute you’ve got a bit of cold. Maybe a blocked nose. Next thing you know, two squirts of Sinex up each nostril and you’re ready to take on the world.

I say two squirts but, I am legally required to say that you should only use one squirt. I use two because I have a big nose and have more snot to clear. Ordinary folk are medically recommended to only have one squirt.

Don’t abuse the Sinex, kids!

It’s great stuff and one I’ve had to use all last week after developing a bit of a cold on Tuesday. I say a bit of a cold but what I actually mean is… I WAS DYING!!!!!

And then it cleared up after a couple of days, so, false alarm, but you can’t be too careful when it comes to your health. And the NHS is free. So always go and see your doctor, even if you’ve recovered because, who knows, it might come back?!

(Don’t abuse the NHS, kids, unless you’re Jeremy Hunt then, stop abusing the NHS, Mr Hunt even though you’re now Foreign Secretary!)

Anyways, I had a cold this week. It was serious. I had a sniffle. And a cough. St Peter was ready to welcome me to Heaven but, don’t worry, I’m okay now.

And it was all thanks to Sinex. God bless, Sinex!

The Patron Saint Of Uselessness (Andrew)

Every Jean Claude Van Damme film explains why he has a funny accent. He’s French. He’s Belgium. He was raised in the bayou by wolves. It’s the same for Ryan Gosling – except in every film they explain why he can’t act. Let’s look at the evidence…

  • Bladerunner 2049. He can’t act ’cause he’s a robot.
  • La La Land. He can’t act ’cause he’s too obsessed by jazz.
  • The Place Beyond The Pines. He can’t act ’cause he’s dead.
  • Crazy Stupid Love. He can’t act ’cause he’s busy working on his abs.
  • Drive. He can’t act ’cause he’s got a cool jacket.
  • Half Nelson. He can’t act ’cause he’s on crack.
  • The Notebook. He can’t act ’cause you can’t tell the difference between Ryan Gosling and the timber he uses to build a dream house!

In short, unless you’re looking to remake Lord of the Rings and need someone to play a tree, Ryan Gosling can’t act.

But that doesn’t stop him from trying. And that perseverance is something we can all admire as we can’t run, swim or ride a bike we keep trying anyway.

So, God bless you, Ryan Gosling, you’re an inspiration to the hopeless everywhere!

Top Tips For Norseman Support Teams (Andrew)

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to witness the union of swim, bike and run…”

With these words the race director opened the Norseman briefing the day before the race. However, he missed one important element. Triathlon is not just the union of swimming, cycling and running, it’s also the union of athlete and supporter. The race is unsupported by the organisers so every athlete needs their own team on course to feed them, clothe them, pick up their swimsuit and bike after them and generally support them throughout.

And, after 18 hours, here’s what I learned:

  1. Accommodation – It’s an early start. Athletes must be on the ferry by 4am. If you don’t want to be getting up the day before then finding accommodation near the start in Eidfjord is vital. Top tip though – if you do find accommodation make sure it has curtains. Mine didn’t and I now know how hard it is to get to sleep in a country where the sun rises in April and sunset is October. Groan. So, so tired…
  2. Nutrition – the athlete will get hungry and will start to demand every food type they can think of in order to escape the monotony of their twentieth energy gel. “Bring me a steak sandwich!”, “I want a black forest gateaux!”, “Where’s my swan!”. A good alternative to energy gels is a small bit of grated cheese. The flavour will reset their tastebuds and provide a contrast to the rest of what they eat. Top tip though – don’t store the grated cheese in a plastic bag in the car. It will soon become a big ball o’melted cheese.
  3. Timing – there is no need to rush out of Eidfjord when athletes leave the first transition. Unless they’re eventual Norseman winner Allan Hovda, it’ll take your athlete at least an hour to clear the first climb and for them to reach the start of the route where support is allowed. Have a nap! Have some breakfast! Let the traffic clear! Then follow them up the mountain!
  4. Decoration – Personalise your car with the athlete’s face. Allan Hovda did but we didn’t but then have you seen Iain’s face?!?!?
  5. Amusement – If/when it’s sunny, taunt the athlete with a Magnum. They won’t appreciate it and that’s what will make it funny.ptr
  6. Stocking up – there’s not many places to stock up with food and drink between Eidfjord and Zomebie Hill. It’s important you make the most of each stop by learning Norwegian. That might sound like a big effort just to buy extra supplies in the local Spar but, trust us, when you buy sparking water and not still water because you can’t read the label and the athlete is expecting Norway’s answer to Evian, you’ll thank us for this tip.
  7. Fellowship – Remember to cheer the other athletes until… you realise it’s the same ones passing every time on the run route. Then remember you have something to check in the car so you don’t need to shout “Good luck!” for the tenth time that hour.
  8. Fellowship – Remember to give the other athletes names too. Shout out in particular to Nic Cage, who was the spitting image of Nic Cage, the Walking Dead, who we were sure died on the bike but was still shuffling along the run route bent over and doubled up, and Stephen, who’s actual name was Thomas and who was always just behind Iain, but we got his name wrong once and it then just stuck. Go Stephen!
  9. Photography – Take lots of pictures. Particularly of the athlete changing and looking hot, sweaty, beat or depressed. When they complete the race and two years later they are still going on about it, you’ll have the perfect blackmail material to keep them quiet.
  10. Photography 2 – Top tip, don’t use a zoom lens near transition 1. You never know what you will see through it as everyone seems to ignore the “Keep Yer Pants On, Dear God, Man!” policy.
  11. Clothing – only someone wearing the official supporters t-shirt can enter transition. At the briefing they said their would be two t-shirts for each team however the race pack only contained one. We never found out which was correct. One t-shirt or two. But, check your pack when you pick it up and check with the volunteers that you have the right number.
  12. Timing – there are some sections of the bike route which are very fast and cyclists are almost going as fast as the cars. Or at least that’s our excuse for when Iain arrived at the second transistion 30 seconds before we did.
  13. Rjuken – don’t try and check in to your hotel while the athlete climbs Zombie Hill it takes much longer than you think to drive through town and back up the hill. Though it was good to see the room had curtains…
  14. Rjuken 2 – … and only half a double bed…
  15. IMG_20180804_223426.jpg
  16. Rjuken 3 – … and the toilet had a lock on the outside of the door. Why? Who’s going to lock you in??!??
  17. Rjuken 4 – Basically, don’t stay at the Ryuken GuestHus…
  18. Enjoy it – the day flys by. You get a front row seat of 250 inspiring people who battle on no matter how hard it gets and you get to see lots of brilliant bits of Norway.
  19. Crisps – also you can eat crisps in your car all day. Mmmmm, crisps!ptfbty

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.

Capture

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.

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!!!!!!!