Don’t be dull (Iain)

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.

The Didnae-try-athlon (Iain)

There are many different types of triathlon event. The regular one is the swim/bike/run format but there is also:

The Wanderlust ( – 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 ( – 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?”

Tokyo Marathon 2008 (Iain)

Last weekend saw the 11th running of the Tokyo Marathon. It’s one of the “big six” world marathons.

  • Tokyo Marathon
  • Boston Marathon
  • London Marathon
  • Berlin Marathon.
  • Chicago Marathon
  • New York City Marathon

Its also one of the worlds most boring races!

In fairness – I find all marathons boring but surprisingly, for a man who hates long runs, I have done quite a few of them.

The first one, I didn’t actually enter. Andrew had trained for months to do the 2003 Edinburgh Marathon. This was when the marathon ran through Edinburgh rather than its modern incarnation which heads away from the city to Musselburgh. It should really be called the run away from Edinburgh marathon.

He was supposed to run it with his friend but his friend got the flu before the race. Andrew asked if I’d do it instead. I had done no training. I did some last minute cramming to get fit but blew it all by drinking until 3am the night before the race!

6465684683_63aab8016d_oThis picture does not do justice to how hungover I was feeling. On a drinks consumed scale I was somewhere between George Best and Oliver Reed.

If you look closely you will see a mobile phone in my right hand. I’d promised to phone my mum to let her know how it was going. I bet Mo Farah doesn’t do that.

I lasted until the 14 mile point then gave in. I took my number off and jumped on a bus to the finish.

My next race was the Berlin Marathon. This time I didn’t get drunk. I didn’t even make it to Berlin.

I suffer from a fear-of-flying-itis. I got a really bad dose of it and didn’t make it onto the plane.

My next attempt was a marathon in Fort William. It was 13 miles out then 13 mile back. I did the 13 miles out and then jumped in a car for the way back!

Did I mention I don’t like long runs.

Which is why you might ask how I ended up in Tokyo doing a marathon that going by previous records I’d be unlikely to finish. I was actually out visiting an ex-flatmate who worked there. We both thought it would be a good idea to time it with the marathon. It was only the second time the race had been run.

I can’t remember if I did much training for it which I think means I didn’t do much.

The race itself was very boring. Tokyo is a great city but its very modern. The route was up and down straight roads passed identical office/housing blocks. 26 identical miles is pretty dull.

The only thing that livened up the race was trying to work out what to eat and drink at the feed stops. Everything was in Japanese. I’d pick something that looked tasty only to discover it tasted disgusting!


The day after the race I went snow boarding. My friend had recommended it as Japan has great snow and slopes. Which was lost on me as I’d never ski’d or boarded before.

On my first morning I went to the children’s slope to practice. I stood on the board. Slid down the hill and promptly fell over. Whilst falling I managed to accidentally punch myself in the chest, cracking a rib.

So my abiding memory of japan is a boring run and an incredibly painful 4 days of snow boarding.

I’ve never been on a board since or done a marathon!





Glentress Trail 21K (Andrew)


“Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance” is referred to by the British Army as the ‘seven P’s’.

Let me add another P. Prior Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

You might say ‘prior’ is implied by ‘proper’ but, after the Glentress Trail Half Marathon, I want to emphasise how important it is to plan things in advance.

Not that I’m very good at that. I change route and distance mid-run depending on how I feel and whether I ran down a particular street before or “Oh, what’s that over there?”. Which makes runs more interesting but it doesn’t help me prepare for races where running a route is part of the whole challenge.

Perhaps I should take up orienteering but, the only time I met an orienteer, he patiently (and in depth) explained why and how he adjusted the stitching of his shoes to craft a pair of trainers that were better suited to run on an incline. No sport should require a detailed knowledge of cross stitching. Orienteering is just fast rambling with embroidery.

I thought I’d prepared for Glentress. I’d checked the weather – a perfect dry, if cold, day after a week of dry cold days guaranteeing a mud free run – and I’d checked the pre-race information for recommended kit and brought it all with me in case there was an inspection.

I even checked Iain’s Strava profile for the race from November. And, from that, I worked out that it would be six miles of climbing and six miles of descending. The profile almost looked like a pyramid.

So, mile 1, with ankles stiff and complaining as they failed to warm up while running up hill, I started to count the miles in my head as my Garmin beeped them off.

Mile 1 done. Okay, only five miles of climbing to go.

Mile 2. Some flats. Free speed. Only four miles to go.

By mile 10, when I was thinking, “What another false summit?!?”, Iain finally admitted something he’d suspected from mile 2. It was a different route!

Instead of six miles up and six miles down it was over 10 miles up (with some flats) and then a legs flailing, almost falling two mile descent back to the start.

Of course, if I was a soldier, the seven P’s would have told me to read the website course and not rely on Iain’s previous route. If I’d checked the website I’d have spotted it was a different course.

That’s why I add the eighth P. There’ no point figuring out where you went wrong halfway up a hill on mile 10 –  checking is essential!

The race itself is tough – did I mention the 10 miles of climbing? – but an excellent and varied route through the mountain bike trails of Glentress. There’s also a 10k and a marathon option (twice round) if you fancy a different challenge.

Kirkintilloch 12.5K 2018 (Andrew)

There are two types of runners. There are runners who park beside the start line and then there’s runners who park on Mars – to give themselves a bit more of a challenge by running 55 million kilometres as ‘warm up’.

I’m a runner who parks beside the start line. If I had a choice, I’d park on the start line. Warming up is just wasted energy after all. Why run before you need to run?!?

Now, some people – coaches, athletes and professionals – will tell you that warming up is an essential part of the whole running experience. If you don’t warm up then your muscles are cold and stiff and more likely to break. But those people – those experts – have clearly never had warm up in Scotland in January when it’s cold and wet and miserable and the thought of spending 30 seconds stretching each hamstring is as enticing as sharing a hot tub with Donald Trump.

Scotland is not a country for warming up. It’s a country for running as fast as you can out your front door until you run as fast as you can back in your front door and straight into a hot shower.

Which is what I wanted to do after Kirkintilloch 12.5K.

The Kirkintilloch 12.5 is a hilly circuit around the edge of Kirkintilloch on mostly old farm roads. It’s also one of the most exposed races with the top of every hill giving the freezing cold winds a good 50 mile standing start to breeze right through you.

It also doesn’t help that there’s very few car parking spaces near the start so, before the race, there was also a battle between the runners who like to park next to the start line to actually park next to the start line. Most failed.

We saw quite a few running a mile along the road from the centre of Kirkintilloch to the edge of the town, where the race started.

Luckily, we found a spot on a side street not far from the start as otherwise who knows what might have happened if we’d had to run before we ran. (We’d have probably run round faster as we were warmed up but that’s beside the point!)

The race itself featured a cold wind, some ice on the side of the road and a Penguin biscuit at the finish line. It also had a few sharp wee hills and a couple of longer drags. The good thing though is that the hill you race up at the start is also the hill you race down at the end. At which point we could see people cooling down.

Don’t get me started on cooling down. It’s Scotland. In Scotland, if you cool down any further you’ll turn into Frosty the Snowman.

Instead, don’t warm up, never cool, just park near the finish line, you know it makes sense.



Kirkintilloch 12.5K (Iain)

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Buchlyvie 10K:

“The race started and almost immediately stopped due to a giant puddle on the course. Runners will run through anything – illness, injury or bad weather but it seems most won’t run through a  puddle. Everyone gingerly tried to tip toe through or around it.”

Yesterday, I did the Kirkintilloch 12.5K and the race started and almost immediately stopped due to a giant puddle on the course. Runners will run through…you can guess the rest.

I wonder if this means there’s a gap in the sports shoe market for running welly boots! I should pitch my idea to the BBC’s Dragons Den. Even Dragons must prefer dry socks on a run.

The race was great fun but very cold. There was ice on the local roads but, thankfully, the course was clear of it. I’d done a long run the previous day so I did the race as a tempo training run rather than a full on sprint . I was happy with my steady pace and time.


The most interesting thing about the race is the town itself. Kirkintilloch used to have the slogan “Canal capital of Scotland” until people painted over the “C”


It now has the slogan “A walkers are welcome town” which will last until someone paints over the first “l” with an “n!”

I think they need to work on getting better slogans.

Smile! (Andrew)

“Can I take your photo?” Is not a question I get asked often. In fact, until last week, I’d only been asked it once.

I was on holiday in India and walking round Jaipur palace when two Indian boys approached me and asked “Can we have a photo?”.

I thought they wanted me to take a photo of them. In fact, they wanted to take a photo of me. I said “okay” and they happily took a number of snaps of a puzzled looking Scotsman. I still don’t know why they asked.

Last week I was asked again if I wanted my photo taken.

I was buying a car, I’d arranged to collect it from the dealer, when, after I’d been given the keys, they asked: “Do you want your photo taken?”

I didn’t know what to say. Why would I want my photo taken? I’m collecting a car, not receiving a Nobel prize.

Then I thought, how do I even get my picture taken with a car? Do I need to pose? Do I stare at the camera? Do I face the car and look back seductively? Do I splay myself on the bonnet? How do you pose with a car?

I said “No.” I thought it was the safe choice. Less awkward from me. Definitely less awkward for them.

“Please God, no, don’t ‘make love to the camera’! Just hold the keys up and smile!”

I asked: “Does anyone say ‘yes’?”

And they said. “No.”


(Though I admire their persistence.)

On the way home, driving along the M8 I started thinking if there were any other times people take your photo. Then I remember – you get your photo taken when you finish a race.

At the end of races, sometimes in the middle of them, you get your photo taken. Of course, it’s not the best photo in the world, even though it represents a great achievement. Your face is red. Your stomach is like a squashed pillow as the photographer somehow manages to take thier photo halfway between your elated arms in the air joy and you’re ‘bloody ‘ell I just want to collapse’ slump.

Which is better than the photos you get mid-race when the photographer ambushes you just as you have a facial expression which looks like an action man/barbie (depending on your sex) that has been left too close to the fire while you’ve been simultaneously hosed down in chip fat oil. Also, you probably did ‘the point’

You know ‘the point’. That’s where you think pointing at the sky, a rock, the photographer or just a passing seagull will somehow translate into a really cool kick ass photo. It doesn’t. Just look at any finish of any bike race ever. If a professional cyclist can’t look cool pointing at the sky while winning Paris Roubaix after six hours on a bike across the battered fields of Belgium then you look as cool as Jacob Rees Mogg in a mankini.

But still we want these photos.

Yet, when asked if I want a photo with my car, when I’ve brushed my hair, scrubbed my face, wearing normal clothes and not sausage skin Lycra, I say “no”.


I can think of only one reason.

A picture is worth a thousand words. And when you get a photo of you running then that photo says “Winner!” one thousand times. But when you get a photo of your new car the only thing that photo says is “You Plonker!”.

The fastest boy in school (Iain)

One of the signs I am getting old was seeing my Secondary School and thinking how much it had changed since I attended it. It was a very minor change – the Council had knocked it down and built a new one!

Previously, a road ran past the front of the school. The road has been replaced by a very large building. This is very annoying as the road was a shortcut from my home to the shops in town.

I did think about cutting through the school to save me a five minute detour but for some reason schools frown upon middle-aged men roaming the playgrounds.

That road has a special place in my sporting heart and history. It was where I became the fastest boy in school history. How I felt when I saw it was gone is how Andy Murray would feel if Wimbledon was knocked down and replaced by a Tesco Metro. He’d probably need a sit down – although that might be due to his dodgy hip.

It happened during my 5th year of secondary school. During PE lessons the class would take part in a 100m race. The  course was setup on the road outside the school.

The PE teacher picked one of the other boys to go out with a measuring wheel to mark the start and the end of the course. Once it was setup the class lined up at the start.

I don’t think I warmed up before the race. This was the 1990’s. Warming up hadn’t been invented yet.

We didn’t have blocks so it was a standing start. The gym teacher blew his whistle. I started running with all the forward momentum of a conservative MP stepping forward in support of Theresa May i.e. I dithered a bit and then when I noticed everyone else was doing it I stepped forward too.

I covered the first 50M swiftly and was soon near the front running alongside a boy wearing Joe Bloggs jeans. He’d forgotten his shorts but he didn’t care as he knew the Jeans made him the coolest guy in our year. I knew he’d slow down towards the end as he wouldn’t want to get the jeans sweaty.

In the last 10m I was Eric Carmen! No not the kid from South Park but the man who wrote and sang All By Myself. {NOTE: I thought the reference would be less obscure but as I’ve gone to the trouble of googling who sang All By Myself then I’m going to keep it in!]

And then I was over the line. I couldn’t believe it. I’d won. The teacher couldn’t believe it. My time was unbelievable!

I was so fast my name should really be UsIain Bolt Todd.

What neither I nor the teacher knew at the time was the boy who’d been sent out to mark the course didn’t know how to use a meter roller so he’d just taken a guess at how far 100m was. He’d actually created a course of 81m.

This was discovered when another PE teacher heard about the time and realised that a runner as slow as myself could not possibly have run the time claimed.

I was the fastest boy in the history of the school….for about ten minutes and then it was annulled.

‘Tis But A Flesh Wound (Andrew)

Running with an injury should just be called ‘running’. Runners are always injured.

Ask any runner and they can talk for hours about their creaky knees, dodgy ankles and wonky hips. “But it’s always been like that!” They’ll add, forgetting that it wasn’t like that before they started running.

Runners are basically the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Despite how many limbs are chopped off the knight still cries ’tis but a flesh wound!’ and battles on.

That’s why there are certain stages that runners go through when they run with injuries… sorry… when they run normally.

It Doesn’t Get Any Worse When I Run

At the moment I have a pain in my left foot. It falls into the category that I call “It Doesn’t Get Any Worse When I Run”.

This is an injury that’s just as sore when you walk as when you run. That mean, and this is logical, I can run because running doesn’t make it any worse! (Don’t think about the logic, just trust me!)

These types of injury also tend to fall into the related category of…

It Doesn’t Get Any Worse If I Run On Alternative Days

Again the logic here is sound. If the injury doesn’t get any worse because you only ran on a Monday and Wednesday then clearly you can’t be injured at all. An injury would hurt all the time so, if it only hurts on alternate days then it can’t be an injury at all. Simple.

After Five Minutes It Doesn’t Hurt When I Run

This is a tricky injury because it does hurt when you run. Usually quite painfully and in a way which suggest amputation may be in your future. However, after five minutes, all the pain goes away! (Though it does tend to return an hour after you stop – and ten times worse than it was before).

I’ve had this injury. I hurt my knee and every time I tried to run it would be very painful to put any weight on my leg for the first five minutes then everything was okay until I stopped and had to cry with the pain of it all.

However, as it wasn’t sore when I ran, or at least most of the time, it wasn’t an injury at all!

It Hurts When I Lie Down

Wimp! If it only hurts when you lie down then you know what to do – go for a run!

It Hurts All The Time

Okay, a runner may admit this may be an injury and will book an appointment to see a physio in three weeks time. In the meantime: keep running! You never know, it might heal on it’s own!