Scotland is one of the few countries in the world where wearing a wetsuit is not just for swimming. Autumn. Most weekdays. All weekends. Wearing a wetsuit is almost compulsory in Scotland if you don’t want to get wet. Except yesterday and except for the last few weeks, Scotland has had an outbreak of what can only be described as “the apocalypse”.
Every day the sky is blue, the sun is yellow and there’s no clouds to be seen. It’s boiling! Every night, we huddle in homes desperately trying to sleep in our fridges. It’s horrible!
How are we meant to live like that! Bring back the rain! We live in Scotland, not the Sahara!
So, while six months of training has seen a typical Scottish training programme of trying to find the few dry days where you can go out on a bike, much indoor training, and a lot of wetsuit wearing, the one thing I’d not trained for was running in the sun. How can you train for that in Scotland, it just doesn’t happen. Until this month. Until I had to pack the one thing I thought I would never need – sun cream.
Ironman 70.3 Edinburgh 2018 itself promised a calm swim, some clouds for the bike course before burning off for the run around Arthur’s Seat. And it almost fulfilled that promise as the swim was calm, the run was sunny – but so was the bike course. Unrelenting from the moment it started.
1.9 kms around Prestonpans. With no breeze, the water was very calm and the temperature was a warm-ish 14.5 degrees Celsius.
Before starting it’s worth remembering two things. One, there’s very few toilets so make sure you start queuing on Saturday and, two, the queue for the swim will take almost twenty five minutes due to the rolling start. Either way, be prepared to queue.
The swim itself had an west to east current so the first half was into the current and the second was a rocket launched very easy turbo swim back to shore. In the calm conditions it was akin to swimming in busy swimming pool. No waves made a great turnaround from last year’s tsunami like conditions.
Same course as last year. A very pleasant 56 mile ride through East Lothian with some stunning views of Edinburgh, Fife and the Pentland Hills on the second half of the course.
The main thing to remember about this part of the course is that the final climb up Arthur’s Seat is not the biggest challenge at the end. Just before you enter the park there’s a short section of Paris-Roubaix like cobbles that rattle your bones and could give you a puncture if you’re not prepared for them.
A minor change to the 13 mile run route sees the climb up the commonwealth pool dropped and a slightly longer flatter run around Arthur’s Seat. A welcome change as it makes the route cleaner with less out and back sections.
It was noon by the time I started running so the sun was out and it was a challenge to run in the hot conditions. There’s plenty of water/aid stations and the volunteers were great at keeping the water/cola/energy juice/gels and bananas going.
My aim in the run was to run the first of three laps then run most of the second except for the long climb up from Dynamic Earth then see how I felt on lap 3. As it happened I felt okay throughout and was able to run (very slowly!) most of each laps with breaks at water stations only.
At this point I saw Iain was at least half a lap ahead so I decided to let him win today’s race – and that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!
Ironman 70.3 Edinburgh is a great race. Well organised and most of the niggles of the first year were ironed out. Especially the biggest one – the crap t-shirt at the end. Last year’s effort was very much a ‘will this do?’ effort: ill fitting, poor lettering, just stick Edinburgh on an IronMan generic t-shirt effort. This year was much better. I even wore it through Edinburgh and then back to the start at Prestonpans to collect the car because, although it was hot, cool people wear their finisher’s t-shirts in public! 🙂
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.
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!)
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.
A few weeks ago it was reported that the UK Government was going to scrap 1p and 2p coins because no one used them anymore and they just clogged up space in your purse or wallet.
Within a day, after front page stories attacked the idea, the Government u-turned as it announced it had no plans to scrap them at all, proving once and for all that everyone both loves and hates change.
Runners love change because change represents variety. I usually try and run different routes each time I go out so that while I might follow streets or paths I’ve run before I try and not have too much of a fixed route in my mind. That way I can change direction, pick a side road I’ve not in in a while or, my new favourite hobby, run along a back alley and find the secret routes through Glasgow hidden behind houses, offices and shops.
Running’s all about the route, not the destination.
Cyclists on the other hand hate change. When you’re on a bike, while it’s nice to explore new routes, it’s also reassuring (and safe!) to ride the roads you know well. The ones where traffic is light, where you’re not likely to meet an unexpected pothole, and you can concentrate more on the destination than the route. You have somewhere to get to, and you want to get there in the fastest possible time.
That’s why I’m disappointed to read that this year Etape Caledonia will have a new route. Not much of a change, an extra three miles to incorporate a short climb before Loch Rannoch, but a change nonetheless.
After several years of trying to get faster and aiming to beat four hours, an extra three miles means that history is lost. I can’t compare this year with previous years as we’re now riding a new route.
And while the new route will be good – any ride in Perthshire is good – it’s also bad as it means the history is lost.
So, just like the penny, change is both bad and good!
Last week I visited Tenerife. It’s the the largest of the Canary Islands, 200 miles off the west coast of Africa. It’s a four-hour 30 minute flight from Glasgow which meant I had time for two beers, a bottle of coke, a packet of crisps, 100 pages of my book and an episode of The Grand Tour.
For years cyclists such as Bradley Wiggins have come to Tenerife to escape the bad weather at home. Lance Armstrong used to come to escape drug testers (allegedly).
I wasn’t here to train but, as it was snowing at home, I was glad to escape the bad weather. I was on a family vacation but I was allowed one day off to cycle.
I decided to attempt the iconic Mount Tiede climb. Tiede is the a volcano that dominates the island landscape. The road to it reaches a height of 2250m. Its not the highest road climb in Europe but it is the longest continuous ascent as it starts from sea level and doesn’t flatten out or go down until you get near the top.
I was staying in the southern town of Adeje. I had an all inclusive deal which meant the hardest part of the ride was resisting ordering free beers the day before.
Initially I’d planned toe climb Tiede via the most direct route i.e Adeje to Los Christianos and then TF-28, TF- 51, TF-21 but I’d driven that route previously and got scared by a) the amount of traffic on TF-28 and the steepness of TF-21.
I frantically googled other options and settled on a longer climb which was supposedly on a much quieter road: Adeje to Guia de Isora via TF-82 then up to Aripe to join the TF-38.
I set off as soon as the sun came up. I was slightly apprehensive as cycling on Spanish roads always scares me due to the speed at which cars approach and enter roundabouts. The climbing started from the moment I left the hotel. The first section to the TF-82 was very quiet. I barely so a car or person.
The roundabout at the start of TF-82 was scary. Multiple lanes and lots of fast cars. I did what any coward would do in my situation. I got off my bike and used the pedestrian crossings to get round it. Once on the TF-82 the road was quiet all the way to Guia de Isora. The road has a large hard shoulder so even when a car did pass at speed it didn’t come near me.
It was at this point I realized I’d made an error and forgotten to take any money with me. I had two bottle of water and seven gels. I decided that would hopefully be enough and if not I could always ask another cyclist to lend me a euro for water.
The next section was very difficult. The town of Aripe was so steep I had to push my bike through it. I made the mistake of leaning my bike against a wall to take a picture to demonstrate how steep it was. Unfortunately the bike fell and one of my water bottles fell out and rolled all the way back down through the town. I had to walk down and then do the climb again!
Once onto the TF-38 it’s a straightforward 23KM climb up onto the volcanic desert of Tiede. The road surface was amazing and there was hardly a car on it. The road cuts through the forest below Tiede which helpfully meant a lot of the ride was shaded from the sun.
I climbed 5KM at a time before stopping to admire the view and drink some water.
The last section was the desert. Great views but busier roads. I cycled until I reached Los Rocques. The last high point before it dips down to the road to the cable cars that take tourists to the top of Tiede. I didn’t bother with that bit as I’d been there by car. There isn’t much to see other than a toilet and a load of tourists queing for tickets and the loo!
I went down the direct route to Los Christianos. The road was busy the closer I got to sea level. By the end it was a little too busy for my liking. On the way down I spotted some professionals going up. Team UAE, Team Astana and Team Chris Froome! He’s a team as he was the only one I passed who didn’t have team mates. For some reason he was training by himself with just a Sky car for company. It’s as if he’s got something to hide…
All the teams were going up the hill faster than I was going down. Which shows you how quick they are and how much of a big Jessie I am when descending.
Andrew and I grew up on the Isle of Lewis. It’s the furthest north and west you can go in the UK before you get to Iceland. We moved away from Lewis to go to university but our parents still live there.
The Isle of Lewis is renowned for three things – Harris Tweed, Gaelic and having the oldest group of rocks in the UK. The rock is called Lewisian gneiss. The second oldest rock group in the UK is The Rolling Stones.
In Summer 2016 I met a cyclist at Stornoway ferry terminal. I asked him where he’d been cycling on the island. He said: “I did the Hebridean way. A 185 miles route from Barra to Lewis.” I asked if he’d enjoyed it. He said: “I’ve cycled in the arctic circle in Norway. I’ve biked the far north of Canada but I’ve never been as cold and miserable as cycling here!”
I gave gave him some words of encouragement “If you think this is cold you should try it in winter!”
The Hebrides is the best place in the world on a nice day but on a bad day….
After speaking to him I looked at the route of the Hebridean way. I was disappointed. It missed out lots of great places and bike routes. So here is my improved version of the parts I know well (Barra & Lewis/Harris).
The ferry from Oban arrives early evening into Castlebay. The official route recommends starting your trip the next day in Vatersay before heading north to catch a ferry to Uist.
DON’T DO THAT! Stay in Barra for two nights so you have a full day to explore the island before leaving.
Day 1: Head to Vatersay to see the official start. Make sure you have walking shoes with you as there’s a nice beach to explore here. From the start head clockwise around the island aiming to get to the airport for lunch time. They have a great onsite cafe. Check the plane timetable so you can watch the plane take off and land from the beach.
On the way to the airport stop at Barra golf club so you can see how a sheep field has been converted into a sports venue.
There’s only one hill of note which is towards the end of the route. Anyone of moderate fitness can bike up it. Park your bike at the top of the hill so you can walk up the hill to the statue overlooking Castlebay. Finish off the day with a fast downhill ride into Castlebay.
Day 2: Catch the ferry to Uist
My girlfriend’s sister is married to a man from the Western Isles (he’s from Uist.) Her other sister is married to a twin. I’m a twin from the Western Isles. I’m not sure if she was inspired by her sisters or whether she’s so competitive she’s just one up’ing them.
I’ve never been to Uist but her brother in law has a house there so hopefully I’ll visit one day. I therefore can’t comment on the route until it gets to…
Day 3: This is a controversial choice but I’d argue not to go the official way up the west coast but instead take the east coast. Heading south first means you can visit Rodel church. This is ancient church has one of earliest known representation of a man in kilt. Now a day there’s lots of men in kilts here. Its a very popular place to get married.
Next to the church is small pier which is the southernmost point you can cycle to on the Harris.
The west coast has some great beaches but the landscape of the east coast is unique to the island. A barren landscape of ancient rock and heather. The windy undulating single track road is great fun to ride.
Once you get off the east coast head for Luskentyre beach. The official route passes a bit of it but the best view can only be seen by heading along to it. If you want a challenge try running up the sand dunes. It’s hard work!
The island across from the beach is where the BBC filmed Castaway.
Finish the day by heading to Tarbert. There’s a long climb from the beach towards tarbert but once you get to the top its all downhill into the town.
http://www.hotel-hebrides.com/ does great food.
DAY 4 – (WARNING: Contains hills!)
Unfortunately Tarbert is at sea level and at the base of a hill, so today is going to be hilly no matter which way you go. I’ve added in some diversions off the official way.
Start by heading to Amhuinnsuidhe castle. At one point Madonna was going to purchase it, until she discovered the public are allowed to walk right by the windows. Robert Plant from Led Zepplin was also interested. He went for a pint in the local pub but the beer must have been bad as he never came back with a bid.
The road out to the castle packs in allot of interesting sights. There’s the ruins of an old whaling station, there’s stunning views of the harris hills and there’s the world’s most useless tennis court! It’s exposed to the wind and wild weather of the Atlantic.
From the castle you can walk up to one of the UK’s biggest cliff faces. The 600-foot cliff face of Sron Ulladale,
Head to Rèinigeadal next. Rèinigeadal had no road access until 1990; the only route in was along a hill path, or by boat. There’s a postman’s marked path from the village back to Tarbert. Imagine doing it carrying a load of Amazon parcels. It’s worth walking a bit of it as it has some spectacular views.
Afterwards head as far north as you can but there’s a convenient stop at http://www.locherisortinn.co.uk/
This sticks pretty closely to the Hebridean way path. Therefore you can read about it here https://www.visitouterhebrides.co.uk/way-finder/lewis-wf831
The main difference is I suggest not going to the official end of the route. The road to Ness is one of the most boring drives on the island. Vast empty moor as far as the eye can see. Instead head to Stornoway as there’s much better routes that you can do from there.
If you do want to know what the end of the route looks like then check this out. I was there on a very stormy day.
Give yourself at least a couple of days in Stornoway. From here you can do some great routes.
Tour De Point – https://www.strava.com/activities/1102079723
A flat out and back route to a lighthouse. From here you can watch whales pass by. On the way back a small detour will take you to a 15% hill climb! It’s short but hard. I needed a quick rest at the top!
Castle Grounds Mountain Bike trail –https://www.strava.com/activities/1100545590
If you tire of road biking then a recently completed mountain bike trial has been constructed in the Castle Grounds. An area of forestry next to Stornoway. I hadn’t tried it before and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. There’s no major hills but lots of undulating tracks. It was a great way to pass a few hours.
Tour De Tolsta: If you only do one route from Stornoway then do this one! The beaches along here are some of the best on the island. One of them even has its own waterfall
Originally the road to Tolsta was supposed to go all the way to Ness but it was never completed. Supposedly a local sightseer had predicted that if the road was complete then the “The day will come when the Isle of Lewis will sink beneath the waves.”
Which seems unlikely as how can a whole island sink? But, in 1995, the ferry to Ullapool was named the “Isle of Lewis”… There was no calls to complete the road whilst that ferry was operational!
There’s some great swimming spots along the route. Coll beach is very popular with the Hebrides open water swimmers.
There comes a time in your life when you have to confess something to your partner. You’ll have struggled with the confession for weeks in advance. You’ll spend ages trying to get the correct phrasing. In the weeks leading up to ityou’ll use bribery and flattery to get your partner in the right frame of mind to hear it.
But… eventually… you’ll have to confess – “I’m going on a biking holiday!”
You’ll then try to explain to your partner how your week long “training” trip to Mallorca or the Canary islands wont be fun. You’ll claim – nobody will be drinking! You’ll say – we’re not going anywhere near Shagaluf…sorry Magaluf. You’ll state – it’s all about the hills and the weather
So, to avoid all that worry, book a trip to the Western Isles. There’s amazing hills, amazing weather (on a good day) and if your partner asks about the pubs then you can says that the island’s have the highest rate of abstinence in the UK – just don’t mention that its also got the highest rate of drinking too!
The phrase “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” famously featured in the film The Shining. I thought the phrase was written for the film/book but it was actually first used in a book by James Howel in 1659. Little is known about James other than he worked with a man called Jack who was boring as f**k!
The phrase is equally true when applied to sport. Some people can be so obsessed with their running/biking or yoga that they have no other interests.
I know because I have been that boring bastard.
Back in 2012 I took part in the annual L’etape du Tour bike sportive. A race that allows amateur cyclists to ride a closed road stage of the Tour de France. It was my ultimate bike race. The one I needed to do over any other.
I became obsessed with race to the detriment of any other interest. I trained every weekend, I read everything there was to read about it.
I did the race and then….I became depressed.
I’d done my life cycling goal. Do I do it again? Do I do it faster? What next?
I thought maybe a different race is what I needed so I researched other big races. None of which excited me. I was still depressed.
Then I realized it. I wasn’t depressed. I was bored of myself. I’d become a one dimensional person. I was a biker but nothing else.
If I was bored of myself then Christ knows what anyone else thought of me!
So I vowed from that moment on to always vary my interests. For every sporting hobby, I have to have a non-sporting hobby too.
Since then I’ve tried stand up comedy (badly), acting (badly) and painting (badly)
My art tutor taught me how to paint fruit and how to paint people so he shouldn’t have been surprised when my graduation piece ended up being a fruit that looks like a person!
Both my girlfriend and Andrew’s had nightmares after seeing what I’ve entitled – Lemon Maradonna. Which makes me slightly proud. At least its not dull.
There are many different types of triathlon event. The regular one is the swim/bike/run format but there is also:
The Wanderlust (https://wanderlust.com/gbr/) – A 5K run followed by a 90 minute yoga session and a 30 minute meditation. I’d spend the 30 minutes meditation thinking: “When can I leave?”
The Macnab (http://www.macnabchallenge.co.uk/) – A triathlon for the hunting/shooting set. It’s so posh it should be called ‘Downtonman’. To achieve a Maacnab you have to shoot a deer and a brace of grouse and catch a salmon on the same estate in a 24-hour period. If you’ve done a Macnab then shame on you. You’ve killed Bambi.
The Didnae-try-athlon – Everyone has one of these. An event you entered, you had high hopes for but, on the day, you just did-nae try.
My didnae-try-athlon was the 2008 Rat Race. This was a combination of orienteering, mountain biking, climbing and canoeing.
I did it in a team of three. None of us had ever done an adventure race. We were not well prepared. One friend had a bad back, one had a broken bike and I had a terrible hangover from an after work drinking session.
The first part of the race involved a bike ride to an office block. We had to abseil down the side of the office. This sounded good but, in reality, it was a short bike ride then a long wait in a queue for the 60 seconds it took to abseil down.
We then biked to the next point where we had to climb down a rock face. This again sounded good but, in reality, it was another short bike ride and another long wait for a very short climb.
I asked the organizer of the event what would happen if we skipped the task.
He said “Your team gets a 15 minute penalty.”
“Is that the same for all tasks?”
“Yes,” he confirmed.
The next task was four miles away. A 15 minute penalty was much less than the time it would take to get there and do the task. If we missed out all the remaining tasks it would only be a penalty of a couple of hours. That would have been much less time than it would take to do them all.
I conferred with my team. Should we just go straight to the finish and win this? Even with penalties we’d be hours ahead of anyone else. They thought this was a great idea so we went straight there… via the pub.
After a delicious burger/pint and dessert we made it to finish.
I’d like to say the organizers were pleased to greet ‘the winners’. They weren’t. They didn’t think what we were doing was sportsmanlike. I’d argue that it wasn’t our fault their rules allowed this to happen! We were disqualified.
After the organizers had finished being annoyed with us, a camera crew came over. “Are you the winners of the race? We’re here from Brazilian TV” To this day I have no idea why Brazilian TV was at an event in Edinburgh.
I owned up and said “Sorry, no. You’ll have to wait a while for them. They won’t be here for a few more hours”.
The Brazilian TV presenter looked unhappy and said “We need to leave now. Can we just interview you anyway?”
I like to think millions of Brazillians saw my interviw where I said: “It was good race. I’m pleased with our victory especially as we didnae try”.
And they all turned to each other and went “what the f%&K word is didnae?”