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?”

Sweet tooth (Andrew)

Sunday lunch in Yorkshire a couple of months ago: a warm inn on a dreich day as I tuck into a hot plate filled with slices of roast beef, vegetable and pudding – the identifier Yorkshire being unnecessary in this plain speaking Shire.

“Yorkshire puddin’? It’s jus’ puddin’ round these parts! There ain’ no other kind o’puddin’!”

And, for pudding itself (the sweet kind, not the suet kind, thus proving there is more than one type of pudding) I choose a selection of cheeses, because I am a triathlete and trying to be good.

(Also all the puddings had nuts and I can’t eat nuts because of a mild allergy, but I told myself I was being strong for races).

“Do you have any biscuits to go with the cheese?” I ask, not unreasonably

“Of course”, says the waiter, and then, unexpectedly, he pulls out a large flat drawer from a cabinet against the wall to my left, and places it with a flourish in the centre of the table; not batting an eyelid or pan lid at this impromptu act of dismantling dining room furniture.

“Enjoy”, says the waiter, leaving the large drawer on the table; which I now see is filled with open packets of water biscuits, oatcakes and crumbly digestives.

How strange.

I can’t help but wait until the waiter’s back is turned before I peek into more drawers –  just to check if they contain a similar surprise hoard of savoury snacks. I want to find a pork chop in a folio desk; a cabinet stuffed with nothing but carrots; or condiments in the cupboard, saucy and secret. But, sadly, they are empty.

I wonder if this is what Ann Summers means by ‘edible drawers’ but I don’t want to go into one of her shops to find out.

But why are all the biscuits contained in this drawer? And why bring the drawer out and not just the biscuits?

Perhaps I was witnessing the act of a snack-aholic. Hiding biscuits away in unusual locations so that no one knows exactly how bad their snacking has become. A real crack(er) addict.

Or perhaps the drawer was just a marketing gimmick, a unique way of making you remember the meal long after the taste has long been forgotten.

Remember that restaurant in Yorkshire, you’ll say.

What restaurant?

The one with a drawer filled full of biscuits!

Oh, that one! How delightful and quaint! A meal that was – *groan* – truly top drawer!

Anyways, I tell this story for one reason only – watch out for savoury snacks, even when you’re trying to be good, always order a proper pudding!

Welcome to the Velodrome (Iain)

“This is not a race! Do not treat it as a race. There will be no winners or losers. Are we clear about that?”

I was with a group of about twenty people. We were doing the “Introduction to Track Cycling” course at Glasgow velodrome. The man giving the instruction was the track cycling coach.

“Get on your bikes and do not race! I’m judging you on your ability to ride safely not quickly.”

We were all ready to start. One of the other riders was in full cycling club team kit. Even his socks were branded with the name of his cycling club. He wore sunglasses indoors. He looked like a twat.

“Are we ready to start?” Asked the coach.

A man suddenly appeared next to twattymactwatface. He too wore full cycling kit. He turned to his identical twat and said: “You can win this.”

No – you can’t. Its not a race! Did you not hear what the coach just said?

He started giving Luke Twatwalker a pep talk: “Take it easy on the first lap and then use your power on the second. Don’t be afraid to cut people up.”

No – don’t cut people up! Take it easy on the first lap and then even easier on the second. Demonstrate you can do this safely!

He then added “Fuck them up!” and slapped Encyclopedia Twatania on the back.


The ‘not a race’ started. Everyone set off at a steady pace except Lance Twatstrong. He shot off. I could hear him mutter: “You can do this”

There’s nothing to do! It’s not a race. It’s a bunch of middle aged men living out a Chris Hoy fantasy. We just want to spin about a bit and then go home for tea.

His mate started shouting “YES! You’re at the front. Keep it up!”

Twatasuarous Tex soon caught up with me. We were both about to reach the tiered banking. He pulled out wide to go round me but he was going too fast and couldn’t control his bike. He hit the top of the track. His bike slipped and he came off. I looked up. The bike and him were now sliding down the banking towards me. I did what any man would do in this situation. I closed my eyes and hoped for the best. Track bikes have no brakes and even if they did I couldn’t use them on the banking.  I had no way of avoiding being hit.

His bike went through mine. I fell off. I hit my head of the wooded boards of the banking and scraped the skin off my arm and shoulder.

The coach came running over. He took one look at the two of us and asked “Are you ok?” My head hurt and I had a bit of skin rash from the slide but nothing serious. Twatzilla looked surprisingly chipper all considering. We both said “I think so…”

The coach thought for a second and said “Thank fuck for that. Now imagine how sore it would have been if you’d been racing!”

I’ve never been back to the velodrome since that day.

How to not lose (Iain)

For the last five years I’ve played squash every Friday lunchtime. I play the same man at the same time with the same result – I lose. I occasionally win but it’s very rare. One year, I did not win a single match.

People ask me – why do you play if you always lose?

I play because our matches are very competitive. The result feels like it could go either way even though it only ever goes one way.

Last year I asked myself – how do I stop losing?

I concluded that I needed to stop giving away silly points. If I stop giving him points then surely I’d stop losing.

I didn’t. I kept losing. I lost every week until I realized I had asked myself the wrong question. I shouldn’t have asked – how do I stop losing? I should have asked – how do I start winning?

My mentality was wrong. You can can’t win by trying not to lose. You win by trying to win.

So I came up with a plan to start playing with my head, not my hand. Think about where the shot should go. Play shots that will win the point.

Since making the change I’ve won every match.

The more matches I win, the more my opponent has become tetchy and annoyed. He now shouts and yells when his shots go wrong!

What he shouts the most is:


This occurs because he plays tennis and sometimes miss-hits volleys because of the different weight of a squash ball compared to a tennis ball.

Despite repeatedly shouting this during matches his volleying is still costing him points.

I could tell him how to fix the problem but I’m quite enjoying my current winning run and don’t want it to end.

So I’ll wait a few weeks and then tell him he needs to change his mentality. He needs to shout


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!

Norseman – The journey begins… (Iain)

The Chinese philosopher Confucius wrote “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

The approximate distance from my house near Glasgow to Eidfjord (the Norwegian town where Norseman starts) is 1000 miles.

And I don’t step anywhere until I’ve booked a flight, arranged a hire car and reserved accommodation with AirBnB. So, forget what Confucius said, the phrase should be: a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single… mouse click.

Click  1 – Arrange a support crew. 

It’s compulsory to have a support crew. Previously I did this by myself for Andrew. That worked fine but, if I’d had to run the final leg, then the logistics would have been tricky. This time I’ll have two support crew. It’ll make it a more enjoyable day for all of us.

Click 2 – Arrange a flight

There’s two flights from Scotland to Norway. One goes from Edinburgh to Oslo, the other from Aberdeen to Bergen. Bergen is the closer to Eidfjord but Aberdeen is much further from my house. The time I’d save driving in Norway would be lost driving in Scotland. I therefore booked a flight to Oslo.

Click 3 – Arrange accommodation

Eidfjord is very small with limited accommodation but I managed to arrange an Airbnb for a small village nearby – Ovre Eidfjord. I booked a chalet in Rjukan for the finish. I’ve stayed there before. They sell great pizza on site which I’m looking forward to having after the race.

Click 4 – Train for the race

I asked Google “How do I train for Norseman?”

Google replied: “Stop sitting on your ass at the computer!! You won’t get anywhere until you step outside!”

Maybe Confucious had a point after all…

2018 (Iain)

I have wee’d in Harry Potter’s author J K Rowling’s driveway. It is not my proudest moment…

Even worse than that – I met her at an event and, instead of saying, “Hi there, I really enjoy your books,” I said “Hi there, I pished on your gate.”

I told her she could use it in a book – Harry Potter and the Search for a Toilet. A book where Harry Potter has one too many Butter Beers and then tries to make it home. She’s not written it… yet…

Triathlete’s claim an IronMan is the hardest event on earth. It’s not. The hardest event on earth is trying to unlock a door, hopping from one foot to the other, whilst desperate for the loo.

Rowling owns a country house in Perthshire. The house is peaceful and quiet but a b-road passes by her front gate. Every May the Caledonia Etape Cycling Sportive uses the road. 5,000 cyclists pass the entrance to her house but one year instead of wiz’ing by I wiz’ed in a different manner.

I was desperate for the loo and I saw her path was conveniently located close to the road. A bush next to the gate hid me from the view of other cyclists. I knew it was her house but resisted the urge to shout, whilst gripping my wand, “Expelliarmus!!!!”.

I’ve started planning my 2018 “season” hopefully I’ll avoid any incidents with beloved children’s authors! I’m picking races based on the closeness to my house and ones I’ve done before and enjoyed.

2018 Races (until Norseman)

  • January 27th – Buchlayvie 10K
  • February 11th  – Kirkintilloch 12.5K
  • February 24th – Glentress Trail race 21K
  • March 11th – Balloch to Clydebank Half Marathon
  • March 18th – Alloa Half Marathon
  • March 25th – Stirling Duathlon
  • April 22nd – Balfron 10K
  • May 13th – Loch Leven half marathon
  • May 20th – Caledonian Etape
  • July 1st  – Ironman Edinburgh 70.3
  • August 5th – Norseman

Glentress Winter Trail Race 21K (Iain)


I have two man crushes. One is ex-Celtic striker Henrik Larsson.  I was a season ticket holder at Celtic during Larsson’s time there. At games I’d sing:

You are my Larsson,
My Henrik Larsson
You make me happy when skies are grey
We went for Shearer, but he’s a w******
So please don’t take my Larsson away

He eventually got taken away so I stopped my season ticket! Celtic without Henke was like Ant without Dec – nice setup work but no-one to supply the punchline.

My other crush is…Hugh Grant. I think it’s because we both fancy Liz Hurley and we both had terrible floppy haired curtain haircuts before cutting our hair short. The first film I saw him in was “The Englishman Who Went up a Hill but Came down a Mountain”.

A title which sums up my Glentress trail race experience (but replace Englishman with Scottishman).

I hadn’t done enough research on the race. Actually, I hadn’t done any. I just had a vague memory from biking at Glentress six years ago. Unfortunately that vague memory wasn’t of the course but of a particularly good plate of macaroni cheese I had at the cafe. Mmmm – delicious!

The day before the race I was asked – what are you doing at the weekend? I replied, “I’m running up a hill.”

I was sort of correct except the hill was just a warm-up for the rest of the climb! It was actually a 6 mile 700m+ ascent of a mountain!!! (I might be using dramatic licence here but it was a long climb and I think of hills as being less than 700m…much, much less)

So, although I went up what I thought was a hill. I definitely came back down a mountain.

PS – It’s a great race. The next one is on in February