The Great North Run 2014 – Newcastle

I would like to continue from my previous post which I wrote before my planned 7pm bedtime so that I could get around 7 hours sleep before my 2am get up….

7:00pm ….That was until we realised that the neighbours decided to have a spontaneous house party – a party which involved many people, a DJ and disco lights etc. At first it was just a dull bass from next door trying to sleep through – until it went louder and louder and Ang went round (such a tough guy aren’t I) to tell them to turn it down. To be fair to them I wouldn’t have heard it if we were downstairs watching a film but we didn’t tell them we were going to bed at 7pm and they never told us they were having a house party so we were both to blame. They did turn it down enough for us to drift off eventually around 8:30pm

1:00am Was woken up at 1am by drunken shouting from them outside. Oh Well!

2:00am My alarm went off, I got downstairs giving Ang and Seb a bit of extra time in bed until my moving about actually woke up Seb so Ang got up anyway with him. I had my porridge berry special as usual and got my gear out for a photo and to double check I had everything.

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3:00am It was the start of a very long day ahead where I was going to see two moons in the same day – something I realised when packing the car. We got Seb into his seat with his cover and a pillow and at 3:20am we set off to South Shields, 156 miles, 2 hours 40 mins drive.

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6:00am The drive went very quickly and it was very easy in cruise control pretty much from start to finish with no traffic on the roads. I wanted to make sure we got a parking space as I was warned to get there before 7 to be guaranteed one. We arrived at South Shields bang on 6:00am…. and we were the only blooming car on the car park!!


But wow what a view when we arrived PLUS the beach was beautiful and Ang was made up knowing whilst I was away running there would be lots of nice things for her and Seb to enjoy in the day. Seb woke up in his car seat still in his dressing gown, I wrapped his blanket around him and pulled him outside to look at the beach and sea – there was a very cool sea breeze but Seb was warm and we had a lovely cuddle looking at the beach with Seb saying “WOW!!!!!”.

7:30am: I got on the bus, left Ang & Seb and headed off towards the start line in Newcastle to meet up with the Great North Run Beer Tent Group.

8:00am: When I arrived I was quite chilled and realised I was an hour early for the group meeting so I went into a nearby cafe, had a cup of tea and starting affixing my running labels to my vest. At this point after a bit of research I discovered that there were no changing areas near the starting area so I decided to get ready in the cafe’s men’s toilets. I also realised that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to tape up my leg with the KT tape I invested in – but I thought my legs were feeling OK so I decided not to tape my legs.

9:00am: I met up with the Great North Run Beer Tent Group which was strange as I never met any of these people before – only having talked to them in the past for advice on the Facebook page where the group actually exists. I didn’t really feel part of the group being honest, no one came to say hello and I did try to speak to three people who were really difficult to talk to – making a good effort to begin conversation and then not to be spoken back to – Southerners! I just got unlucky ha!

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9:30am: I headed off towards the start area and I was amazed with the mass of people! Wherever you looked there were thousands of runners. I also realised that it was starting to get really warm from the weather. Who would have known a blue sky summer’s day for our run! I hoped that this didn’t slow me down.

I decided to go for a quick wee which involved queuing up at the toilets for 10 minutes – and then afterwards something crazy happened! After my toilet visit, considering there were 55,000 runners there PLUS friends/families I heard a “Paul?”…. no way that was meant for me and I heard it again “Paul?” and I turned around and saw a guy I didn’t recognise…. and he said “Hi Paul, I’m Andy, Jonathon Turnbull’s mate – the guy who Johnny was talking to you about staying in Durham”. On Saturday when I met up with Johnny he said he had a friend who was doing the GNR and was going to check if there was any availability at his hotel – which there wasn’t. He was telling me that he also is doing IronMan next year with him – and I flipping bumped into him regardless of the tens of thousands of people who were there! MADNESS! So we chatted and relaxed and talked about the run. Andy was in the Orange group which is for flipping FAST runners so I had a lot of respect for the really lovely top bloke I had the pleasure of speaking with.

10:15am: I went into my Greens starting area and took this selfie – picture does not do it justice of how many thousands of people there were.


This picture does it better…… taken HALF WAY DOWN!

Starting Line UP

10:20am: We started our warmups but I decided to do my own. I know how to warm up properly and prefer to do my own stretches.

10:30am: Warm up finished and now we had to wait for 10 minutes for the start to begin. I just stood there and starting feeling my left calf feeling a little tender when I stopped so I kept moving on it. I hoped that this would not cause me problems during the run and that it would die down. The big screen shows Mo Farah on the start line probably about 500 meters in front of me – I’ll give him a head start and I’ll catch him.

10:40am: The start of the Elite Men’s race and front groups start…. little did I know that it would still be around 30 minutes when we would be getting underway. We started walking slowly, edging towards the start line. I got chatting to a lady in her 50s who was nice and was in her second GNR in around 8 years. The Red Arrows flew over our heads which was cool!

11:11am / Mile 0: WE GO and I wish my new lady friend all the best and off we went. It’s pretty manic with people pushing to get ahead already.

Mile 1: I’m still running alongside my new lady friend until we went our separate ways. Just before we did I said to her louder than I should have “I Can’t Believe That There Are People Walking Already!” and then realised there was a woman walking nearby and she gave me a dirty look – oops!

Miles 2-4: So the calf was sore but it was OK, I finally knew what it felt like to run with thousands of other people…. pretty much like a standard run the roads at home – which didn’t feel any different – apart from there being thousands of people around you and THE CROWDS cheering you on – the kids high-fiving youincredible stuff. We ran over the Tyne Bridge and got a huge reception from the crowds and it was pretty cool when we went through road tunnels and people were shouting the iconic “Oggy Oggy Oggy Oi Oi Oi!!!“. The water stop was good – I emptied a full bottle of water over my head and grabbed another which I took a couple of swigs out of. At this point I started thinking that I really needed the toilet. I had to hold it in for now!

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Miles 5-7: So I hit the half way mark and my 10K split time was 60 minutes which was around my normal running pace of 6.5mph so I was pretty chuffed. My running wasn’t at all too bad and at this point I started thinking maybe I could achieve a 2 hour or nick a sub 2 hour run? The support continued to be amazing – there were bands everywhere and people who came out of their houses offering ice lollies, oranges, skittles and bags of other sweets – I grabbed the lot as it gave me a psychological lift knowing it would help my energy levels. I took on way too much than I needed but it didn’t slow me down lol. There were also lots of people with hose pipes spraying the runners and there were white tents which you ran through and it sprayed you with ice cold water! LOVELY! The Lucazade drink stop was OK but the drink was very warm and I was already taking on fuel – plus I was really needing the toilet and it was starting to get to my psychologically and I tried to ignore it.

Miles 8-10: Oh dear! The left calf was getting very sore, I was feeling it on the hills and I started slowing down. People were overtaking me and I started to realise my 2 hour target is gone. I started to feel really down and I needed to lift myself mentally. This was not a problem when I saw a guy who was partially sighted linking and running with another guy. Also I saw elderly guys giving it their best, I saw people dressed up, and most amazingly people running for people who had died – ie “Dave died last year of cancer. I’m running to raise money for cancer and I know he’s running alongside me now” – it was so powerful and this helped me push on – thinking to myself “Don’t be so pathetic wanting to give up – these guys have it miles harder. DO NOT STOP“…. Although I still really needed the toilet and I planned to go in the next bushes I found that were discrete.

Miles 11-12: Each mile felt like 3 miles, the pain now so bad I was doing a limp-run – but I Didn’t Stop! I was overtaking a lot of people at this point who were walking – at times a whole wide line of walkers making it hard to overtake. At this point we approached the slight incline hill that went forever and GOD I felt it in my calf. Here I thought there was no point going to the toilet and I will just go when I arrive at the finish line. I’m pretty fed up to be honest at this point – I thought I would feel jubilant, alive, being part of such a fantastic event but I was just done in with the amount of pain I had to deal with and I couldn’t think of anything else…. that and my need for a wee lol.

Mile 13: The final stint – it felt like forever. I just wanted it to end although the last mile had hundreds of people hugging the roads at least 20 people deep all the way to the finish – people shouting “You’re nearly there” – and it was great but it didn’t help much for me. At this stage my fitness wasn’t done in – it wasn’t a test in the end for my fitness but my mental grit of putting up with this injury for so long. We came down the hill to see the sea – I have to admit that bit was pretty awesome! Then the 800m to finish, 400m to finish, 200m to finish signs kept coming and coming and I honestly thought that it would never come. I actually thought I would be finishing around 2 hours 10 mins… until I realised that it would be longer… then after 2 hours 15 mins I started feeling really low, fed up and just wanted to finish.

Three times through this final mile – I actually started choking, holding back the tears. Why? I don’t know – maybe it was that I was feeling proud of myself – maybe it was because of having to deal with this slight trauma for so long and it was nearly the end. But the choking seemed to come when I was thinking of hugging Angela and Seb. I WAS PROUD! Yes definitely I DIDN’T STOP ONCE and I bloody earned the donations!

FINISH: And the end came at last – how did I feel – thank god that’s over. I was gutted that THAT was my actual general feeling. After the Great North Swim, Tough Mudder and arriving at each coast during the Coast To Coast I felt AMAZING and ELATED! Here, I felt down, in pain – my mind was battered and I was so tired mentally not just physically. I could finally walk and at this point I could actually feel how bad my calf was. I knew now even at this point that I couldn’t even start running now even if I wanted to.

I checked my phone to see where Ang was but her text made no sense. I wanted to find her and Seb for HUGE cuddles – more sympathetic than celebratory really! I tried texting her saying I will meet her at the family reunion area but the mobile network was rammed with everyone trying to use it.

A text came through – my automatic text to tell me my time of 2:21:35…. I didn’t know what to feel. I don’t think I cared about the time – I think it was just a realisation that ultimately this race was a matter of either stopping or keeping going and I kept going and I was pleased with that.

I carried on towards the family reunion area, to the C area and just before I get there I get a text from Angela saying she is there waiting. A HUGE HUG, Angela was amazing in making me feel better about myself. What an amazing wife! She opened up my goody bag for me which I couldn’t wait to open after the Great North Swim. She was cheering me up with things such as “Ooo look your medal… oooo and your T-Shirt you will have to wear this now… oh and these snacks…” and opening them and feeding me. Top Top lady! After 20 minutes of chilling on the grass, Sebastian who was asleep in his buggy when I arrived woke up and was smiley and really nice saying “HI DADDY”.

We got up and I made my way to the toilets which I realised I wasn’t dying for anymore – must have been just the running. The walk around was slow – OUCH! – using Seb’s buggy to hold my weight off my left calf. We then located the National Autistic Society tent and I had a chat with one of the organisers about why I chose the charity and why they were amazing and she was grateful – It made me feel a bit better about my run – it was all for them and those who would benefit from the donations. The donations at this point was just under my £300 target but I knew there was more to come so I was made up with this!

I was going to join the Great North Run Beer Tent Group at this stage but I decided not to – I never really felt part of the group in the first place. I wore the wristband thinking I was part of this awesome running group but at the end of the day it was just a forum for advice.

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We decided to stay in the area for a while so that we didn’t queue up in traffic. We made our way to the pub for a pint and then we headed off to the steam train in the local park which Seb and I went for a ride in – he absolutely loved it! After this he went on some fairground rides and we headed back to the car.

Ang said she was OK to drive but I realised that I was on my final and THIRD phone battery, with this one at around 20% battery level. So I knew if I left this turned on with Sat Nav even if it was plugged into the car it would still drain the battery flat. So I knew I couldn’t sleep on the journey home and had to keep turning off the phone to charge in between each junction.

30 minutes into the drive I felt the tyre going over the white lines and cat eyes in the road…. I looked at Ang and her eyes were almost closing! I said immediately “Ang are you OK?” and she answered…. with a couple seconds of a delay …..”Ermmm Yeah!” – “RIGHT” I said “Pull over the next junction – I might not be able to drive as well as normal and I’m shattered but I’m still the safer drive of us both lol”. Ang was glad to be able to go to sleep and the drive back felt like an age lol.

I’ve done nothing but moan in this post haven’t I? That wasn’t my intentions it’s just that this event has been a bit of a disappointment. This was supposed to be the icing on the cake of the five challenges. Put in a good time, enjoy the day and have a huge smile on your face. This wasn’t the case at all – it was mentally torturing around the course. AGAIN though I am SO PROUD of having completed it considering the state my leg was in!

There is a happy ending though! We got a Chinese takeaway when we got back which was amazing and I had a beer before we retired early for bed.

Summary: Maybe the KT tape might have helped me but probably not much. I am proud that I managed to complete it and that I didn’t walk it once through the course. Would I do this again? Probably not unless one of my friends or family members did it and wanted my support.

I can honestly say that for each of the five challenges I gave it my all! I have also raised a hell of a lot of money for one person which I will reveal in another post. I am currently making a video which will have the best bits of the Fierce Five Challenges and it should look awesome 🙂

Thanks for reading

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Tough Mudder Yorkshire 2014

The day arrived and I felt generally great and ready for this test. I went to bed at 8:30pm which was strange for a Saturday and struggled to get off to sleep – probably the excitement. At least I’ve got Monday off work so I’ll treat today like a Saturday. I had some of my porridge, protein, berry special which I used to always have on big swim days.
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Jonny Turnbull picked me up from my house at 5:30am and we headed to Skipton…. but the wrong way up the M62 but it was fine as we had bags of time before we got there. At this stage I went over everything including the course map which is here:
We got about 2 miles from the event until we found it impossible to get any closer. My Google Navigation was being unusually rubbish and the signage to get to the event was terrible – I had to pretty much bring up a map on my phone and old school bring us in via visible roads to the event. WE GOT THERE!!! – and still with well over 90 minutes before our start time of 9:20am

We met up with Gareth Macdonald (the C2C2C bike lender and AFC Masters volunteer/father of player), Ian Percival  (AFC Masters volunteer/father of player), Phil and Lee (from same company as Gaz), Cindy (Gaz’s wife), Brady (Gaz’s son and AFC Masters player) and Phil’s missus. At this point I realised that I was the only person not in their running gear so I glamorously got changed in the back of Gaz’s car which was perfect timing when I was in my boxers and being introduced & shaking hands with Lee.

Gaz was ‘bigging me up’ to his work mates telling them about what I’ve completed this summer and I felt terrible as I knew my fitness was not as good as it was after my Insanity Workout training and 10 hour swimming sessions – I knew this after my recent runs requiring me to stop occasionally to rest. I told everyone “Trust me guys you’ll be running ahead of me” and was thinking at this stage would I be ok today?

Me and Jonny needed the loos, we ended up using the campers portaloos – not even in Mordor could there exist a more darker evil than what existed in them! That’s all I needed to say about that but felt I needed to remind myself of this dark moment!

We checked in the registration area, got our start numbers and wristbands and headed into the Tough Mudder village camp. It was pretty quiet as we were some of the first people in there and so we headed off close to the starting mustering point, only after we permanent markered our numbers onto our heads (and the back of Jonnys perfectly round head).
The final call for the 9:20 wave was announced, luckily we were already there waiting (reminding me of how unlike my Great North Swim with me turning up on the very last call for my wave with me still in my trainers and a half zipped up wet suit). At this point I realised how actually COOL the organisers were, cracking jokes and making us feel part of something special and prestigious. The guy on the microphone pointed out that two guys who came in fancy dress who didn’t even know each other, one was Hulk Hogan, the other Stone Cold Steve Austin and made them wrestle haha!

Here he made us do some funny stuff to get us in the mood then a fitness guy got us doing some warmups to get our hearts pumping. After this we ran to the start line and over a small practice 6ft wall (with me thinking this was the first obstacle – embarrassing ginger).

This part was SOOOO cool! The guy on the mic knew how to ramp people up and that’s what he did with stuff like making us do the Mudder Pledge, shouting things such as “I do not whine…. kids whine” and “When I say Tough you say Mudder” and “When I say No, you say Quitting” and it felt amazing jumping up with everyone in the loud roar of everyone shouting. A nice touch was at this part where the guy made us cross our arms over our heads and said if we see someone in trouble we need to stop and do this to indicate to staff that someone needs assistance and if we find others doing the arm cross sign we must also stop and do the same to quicken the time it takes to get seen. Awesome! It was also amazing to see some people who had done Tough Mudder 12 times and were lauded in front of everyone (even though some of these guys were on their 3rd Tough Mudder in 2 days…. nuts…. something I’d do – my mind’s brewing already for next year).

WE WERE OFF! – with Gaz, Phil and Lee setting off on a quick keen pace but knowing Gaz and how hard he’s trained all year for this and I could appreciate his desire to do this well. For me and from my experience I knew it was better to establish an easy pace and be light on my feet to reduce cramp and burnout which was inevitable anyway. We bumped into the guys who were previously lauded for doing it over 10 times and they were walking uphill, saying “You think these hills are tough guys? Just wait”… Oh god!

Glory Blades
This is a proper wall unlike the practice one haha! I could imagine myself trying to scale it myself but Jonny obliged to help and I kinda “GOT” Tough Mudder which reiterated “Help your fellow man”, so we threw each other over and took turns giving peg ups 🙂 Jonny did a proper hero’s decent over it unlike my two footed slide ha!

Arctic Enema
Basically a skip filled with cold water with a middle bit you had to swim under, I thought just ignore the cold and crack on son! I saw Phil ahead of me go in, then come up just before the middle bit, then went back under again under the middle section – I thought I’d do the same. So I go in – first thought is it’s cold but not as cold as I imagined – perhaps NOT 0°C? This wasn’t the main concern though, I weighed up the middle bit wrongly – I thought it was about a quarter shorter than it actually was and underwater I looked up and felt with my hands that it was still there – and IT WAS PITCH BLACK! At this point I didn’t know how far I had to go, whether I was going forwards or sideways where I wouldn’t be forever under it and unable to surface… I panicked and went forwards a bit more, looked up – still darkness but still pushed my hands up and jumped up and surfaced!!!!

OMG that was horrendous – the GoPro video shows this happening over two seconds!!! – which I just cannot understand in my mind as it absolutely felt like at least 6-8 seconds and I absolutely panicked.
I made this video for my Facebook Page to actually describe how it felt like compared to how it was…

Still – one of the worst obstacles out of the way.

HAHA Ditch
Help your fellow man! Here consisted of 3/4 ditches which were basically sloped 45 degrees which you slide down to a sheer wall. Here you needed your team to help you up and over because it was SO slippery and with nothing to grab onto. Everyone didn’t think about helping it was an automatic response which was a wonderful powerful feeling.

Boa Constrictor
The One I was dreading – we came towards it and noticed that the pipes were just about manageable and I peered inside and could see that there was light at the end and it wasn’t too far to go. The first part was a breeze where even though it was tight I was almost sliding down into the water center area. Next, the second part which was a pipe going up and out of the water. It took quite a bit of time to get out – my only tactic being so constricted was to put my hands together, put them in front of me, dig down with all my strength and pull myself forwards – progress was slow but MAN how happy I was to see a hand coming into the pipe to grab mine and pull me out!

Kiss Of Mud
Not too bad this one – you had to get low and scramble under barbed wire low and flat. Even though I had a GoPro on my head I still found it quite easy by using my elbows, digging them into the ground and pulling myself forwards – a tactic I luckily made up and worked like a charm! I got caught on the barbed wire a little but nothing to slow me down or cause any damage!

Hold Your Wood
OK if I said the last one was quite easy I think this one was bizarrely easy – I picked up a log, not necessarily looking for the lightest one and my god it felt like it was a hollow tube – I couldn’t understand it. I went immediately to Jonny to swap and noticed straight away his was significantly heavier (at least three times heavier) but still without causing me any problems carrying it. I carried Jonny’s on my shoulder and Jonny carried mine under his arm like it was a small puppy ha! – We carried them and did a short lap of this field – it felt a bit pointless this one.

Balls to the Wall
Now you’re talking son! Around 4 meters high we scaled this monster and loved it, but not loving it more than Jonny who after we completed it and stopped at the water and protein refueling station right next to it he DID IT AGAIN! Legend haha! It was OK to do it again as Ian at this stage realised he had a HUGE blister on his foot. He wasn’t wearing any socks which he admitted later was a huge error and his blister formed, popped and bled in the time since we started. I for one know what it’s like WALKING on blisters after the Coast to Coast but to run and take on obstacles through it is INSANE! Massive respect to the guy. After getting his foot seeing to we were on our way.

Cliff Hanger
This consisted of a steep cliff we needed to ascend which required you to find your footing right on craggy rocks, plants etc. If you slipped you’d fall a long way and it would hurt – A LOT! Luckily I love stuff like this so I scaled it as quickly as I could – which was pretty quick! LOVING IT SO FAR!! Then the battery on my first GoPro went so I had to wait until I met up with Cindy to get the second GoPro off her and until then there was no more footage. I didn’t meet up with Cindy for another 30 minutes until Electric Eel.

Hanging Tough
OK as well as Boa Constrictor I was also dreading this one – I practically already agreed that I wasn’t going to be able to do this one. I’ve seen Gladiator’s Hang Tough too many times to know what happens – you go down unless you’ve got really good upper body strength.
GladiatorHang Tough
I think there were about 7-8 pairs of rings, you can see Lee here doing it on an official Tough Mudder photograph:
Jonny goes first and after a couple of rings he loses all momentum, is going nowhere and goes into the deep water below. Crap I’m going to follow him in – guaranteed! I go for it, quickly learning that I need to have one hand on each separate row of rings, NOT both rings on the same row otherwise you’d lose momentum and wouldn’t be able to get going again. The problem was that the rows were quite apart from each other, so I relied on my swing and momentum to get me forwards. I start off pretty well – beginners luck but I started getting the hang of it. I got to row 6 and I started losing momentum and then I had to start pulling with my arms and shoulders to make a bigger swing so I could reach for the next ring. Each time the ring is harder and harder to get to and I need more and more swing and power – Oh God my arms are killing and energy is zapping away, the last row I’M NOT GOING TO MAKE IT – I needed to swing really far to make it to the landing bit which was miles further away than I predicted…. BOOM everyone grabs me and pulls me in! YES!!!! I would have gone in without them… but I DID IT! I could not honestly believe what just happened – convinced I couldn’t do it. I wrote a lot about this one because this goes to prove that with a bit of training and some solid mental grit you can do anything and I did just that – with a little help from the boys. No GoPro footage for this though – damn! 🙂

Mud Mile
This was tough… and very muddy. Basically the same as the obstacle HAHA Ditch but with a lot of mud and each pit in between was filled with thick mud which went up past your ankles. There were about 4-5 “mud-ditches” to get over and each needed your fellow man to help you up and be pulled over. We still had a bit of energy at this point so we didn’t have any problems – just getting through this took time as at times you were waiting for people ahead of you to go first and you were just stood, waiting, ankle deep in mud – lovely!
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Soggy Bottom
I don’t really remember this – I think I must have assumed I was still part of the Mud Mile but there was supposed to be a lot of deep mud. At one point we had a huge muddy hill we slid down on our bottoms which was awesome so if it was not this bit I’m still telling you we did this bit and it was ace! It was like this picture but longer and constant.

Just The Tip
Again I weighed this up and questioned my upper body strength. You pretty much relied on your arms and hung off some wooden parts high up on a wall and you swung across without anything to stand on. Still, I managed to do this which was fantastic and surprising.

Electric Eel
Approaching this you hear the screams of large grown men – I heard from Ian Percival that the last time he did Tough Mudder North West the electric wasn’t as powerful as the Electroshock Therapy at the end – so I wasn’t expecting it to hurt too much if I did get zapped. Jonny went first at a fast sploshing crawl and heard no screams from him so I ferociously went through it, half way thinking yeah I’m doing OK… then BANG not only did I get zapped but IT WAS the FULL 10,000 volts of electricity – and then BANG again another one straight after it. It really REALLY hurt and I could only just keep thinking of carrying on just so I could get out of there – then right at the end BANG again! Three full on ZAPS on my back which I can only describe as taking a solid punch from a strong guy. I learned from Phil and Jonny that they managed to avoid getting zapped!! Lucky for some!!! The pain was still there for sometime afterwards but the adrenaline just powered me on and we proceeded onto the next obstacle – Oww Though 😦
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Hero Carry
Jonny and I decided to take this on, a decent distance where we took turns carrying each other. We were both matched for weight and so I went first carrying Jonny and I started ok until my legs got tired and I was taking very small steps. Then at the halfway point it was Johnny’s turn to carry me – and what does he do? – He fireman’s lifts me with absolute ease haha! It was really funny and I told him he was my hero and was very gentle and squeezed his ass in front of other Tough Mudders who said we were having way too much fun.

Hero Walls
I really struggled with this one – there was only two… I think… and the first wasn’t so bad because I overheard those guys who had done TM over 10 times – remember the guys who got lauded by the guy with the mic and I was talking to at the beginning about steep hills – man they were right about them! Anyway, I overheard them say to use the A-Frame part of the wood to stand up on and to get over, rather than taking it on at the center.
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Anyway with a little help from two of my team members I managed to get over the first one without much problem even though the top of the wall was very slippery and muddy so you needed to take extra care. But the second one I couldn’t get a grip at all and Gaz came to the rescue and I was able to get my hand onto the top of the wall, up and over it. Quite a difficult obstacle this one.
I didn’t have my GoPro running at this point which I must have forgot at the time but Jonny and I did do this quick mid-review of our whole progress video afterwards.

Mud Mile Continued
This hit me by surprise – thinking that we had already done this bit I didn’t even notice that there was a bigger returning part to it on the other side containing between 5-6 muddy ditches. This took a long time to get through but we had lots of fun getting through them apart from Jonny when I was pulling him up the second to the last one and I pulled him so hard he went flying over the ditch and into the final mud pool pit head first. He got mud in his only good eye (as Jonny is partially sighted) and lost bearing of which way to go. I had to pull him out and direct him over to a supervisor who he wiped his eye on his t-shirt then got his eye properly cleaned by a medical guy just up the hill where I saw some bits of grit coming out of his eye! I tried to point where it was and nearly put my muddy finger in his eye! God I was supposed to be there for my fellow man, not permanently blind him!
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Island Hopping
I honestly thought I’d have a good chance of this one. Jonny and I were quite far back at this stage as the rest of our team had ran on. Jonny was getting cramp in his legs so I stayed with the legend so that he could try and walk it off. When we got there the rest of our team were already waiting for us on the other side – I assumed the team were able to do this. I watched two guys I didn’t know complete it without falling in – watching and learning their tactics. As I was waiting for Jonny, doing his first and second islands people on the other island hoppings started falling off. This was not good for my confidence but as always I’d give it my best shot. I climbed onto the first island from the shore area and took my time getting onto the second island – wow it was so wobbly and uneven. I took my time and tried to concentrate on getting to the third island, until I realised my footing was crap and not in the exact center of the island – SPLOSH in I went! At this point I could see Jonny still going on! Go On Pal!!! I swam up to him, still going for it until at last I saw him slowly going over…. I swam as hard as I could shouting “I’M COMING JONNY. I’M COMING FOR YA” but I was too far away to hold onto the side for him and SPLOSH in he went too. If I was but a bit closer I could have saved him! I got out, went to the rest of the team and learned that ALL OF THEM FELL IN! Ha so I didn’t feel THAT gutted even though it was my first obstacle failure of the day.

Creek Crusade
Here we came to a narrow but longish (15m) stretch of open muddy water which we had to jump into and swim across. Jonny spectacularly bombed in but with having my GoPro filming on my head I jumped in like a 5 year old boy keeping the GoPro safe. BOOM this was my element open water swimming, flying through it until I saw one of the supervisor/lifeguards looking worried, shouting “Keep swimming… come on”.. I thought surely not at me until I saw a guy near me REALLY struggling. I thought Christ he looks in real danger with his face barely over the level of the water. I was ready to go back for him and pull him in but he managed to keep his head over water and somehow crawled his way to the climbing out area. Probably the first time in the day I thought wow someone could have been in a bad way. Unfortunately for Jonny his cramp was so bad at this stage I needed to lie him down and push on his legs to get some normality back into them. At this stage we were just walking……

Walk The Plank
BOOM I could not wait for this one – again anything involving open water and jumping into it I weirdly enjoy – strange boy. We climbed to the top and it seemed really high up but I wasn’t too nervous. The whole team had gone before me and Jonny so we went up together, waited for the OK, counted to three then………………………… SPLOSH!!!!! I was under for quite a long time and it felt like I went pretty deep – although probably I was only under for a couple of seconds and went down about 3 feet ha!
211 212 213 208210 I made this graphic below to indicate how it felt like to jump from the top.

Bale Bonds
Erm, pretty pointless this one. I was expecting something like the image below…
….but this was me below… a bit of a difference and not really an obstacle – nothing really to say here…. meh!
You can still here my girly voice loving it though as I was still in such a good mood and didn’t want the challenge to end.

Some of the guys en-route to Everest

Running through the woods en-route to Everest

The mighty Everest obstacle, the one that Tough Mudder are most proud of and is splattered onto every video they do. I thought I’ve got a 50/50 chance of getting this right. Phil and Lee went straight up which was incredible and I thought I’d have a decent chance here. Gaz, Ian and Jonny failed on their first attempt…. so I put my full absolute speed into it, hands pumping in front of me as if I was a ginger Usain Bolt, flew up the ramp… and my last footing hit something slippery, the arms from above trying to grab me but I fell…. and I could hear the whole crowd behind me shouting “AWWWWWWW”…. “THANKS” I shouted “I did that one for the camera”…. no laughs…. embarrassing haha OK I’ll have another go. Next up Gaz, Ian and Jonny all fly up on their second attempts… OMG the pressure if I didn’t do it I’d feel horrible. So off I go, pumping fast but this time thinking about not slipping and my final footing – the lads are all there with arms out  – I jump early and BOOM they grab me… but it’s not over and I start to fall back down but they hold on tight and pull me up, one arm grabbing in between my legs and ass and pulling me up – YES! The team spirit was AMAZING! I felt so close to the boys and felt incredible for them helping and pulling me up! It was a very strange but wonderful feeling and situation to be in. Wow really good haha! Then we made it down towards our final obstacle and towards the finish line. At this point Ian Percival, having done the Tough Mudder previously went on a special Legionnaire’s Route which involved a final half mile course involving 3 secret obstacles and also Fire in the Hole which replaced our final Electric obstacle.
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Electroshock Therapy
The final obstacle, we were running back towards the Tough Mudder Village Camp hearing the microphone of the guy entertaining the guys inside. We were clapped by lots of people as if we were on a marathon with words of encouragement from families we didn’t know such as “well done guys” it was truly wonderful… wonderful until we came face to face with our final challenge. It looked deadly, it looked horrible. I thought we were all going to go together but I think we realised that it would mean being unable to dodge the deadly cables plus I think everyone was desperate to finish!
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Phil went first and without me knowing Jonny pulled up his hood and went for it closely followed by Gaz. I had no idea where they were and by the time I realised they had gone, Lee was looking at me – So I went for it, fast at first until I realised wow I need to dodge these cables… and I was doing so well until SNAP one cracked me on my back…. but I made it through. WE DID IT! After high fiving everyone and giving a lot of man hugs and bromance we started to realise that it was over – GUTTED! I learned that Jonny managed to miss getting zapped AGAIN! Haha he said “I’m well insulated” which made me laugh.

I absolutely loved Tough Mudder! What a test of endurance, both mentally and physically! My muscles were completely battered but I realised one thing, the course was never too big for me. I was definitely fit enough and strong enough to do it all along. My worries were never needed – I could have pushed harder and ran faster but it was never about how quick I could do the course in – it was about completing it as part of a team and it made complete sense. I got it now – the team spirit was alive and it was a pleasure and an honour to be part of it! We were given our orange headbands, a bottle of water, a protein bar and a pint of this Famous Grouse ginger ale. I was surprised it wasn’t a pint of beer but it was really refreshing with ice in it – it must have been good as I destroyed it in minutes.
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We did lots more team photos but still at this point Ian Percival wasn’t here. Because he was doing the Legionnaire’s Route he missed the first few team photos. It was a good 5 minutes but at last Ian came in – legend considering he did almost half of it with a horrendous blister which gave him agony all the way round (reminding me of my C2C walk blisters). Ian now earned his two Tough Mudders green headband. Hero!
I needed a shower, a warm one and we saw that there was an area for warm showers but only for campers? For everyone else it was a cold hose. We weren’t for having it and went to the camping area supervisors asking (begging) for some hot shower wristbands. He obliged to our relief and the tiny trickle of hot water was still enough to get a bit of life and energy in us, as well as the mud off us… a lot of it! We collected our Tough Mudder t-shirts and had a couple of beers in the beer tent and at this point the rain came down which for us mattered not as we had done our bit! We were all still so jubilant and full of bromance which was fueled into us from the constant need for each other to complete each obstacle – for me especially Everest!
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Apart from Ian (who already had plans) we all agreed to meet at The Bowling Green in Horwich for some evening beers so Jonny and I left for Horwich.
We had a fantastic evening back in Horwich with some players and coaches from AFC Masters joining us including Angela and Sebastian – until one by one they went home and I had way too much real ale – it was time to go home! What an incredible day – a difficult, testing but the most fun day I’ve ever had with a bunch of legends I’ll not forget! DEFINITELY DOING IT AGAIN NEXT YEAR!!!

Saturday 5th July – Day Eight of Coast to Coast – Run – Keswick to St Bees (30 miles)

Alas, Day 8 – the final day of our epic voyage – right back to where it all started! We had our usual healthy breakfast… Fry Up and headed into Keswick. I had a spring in my step… well not really I was still really sore but it was like a spring with a kink which made each step make me look like I was stepping on a brick!

On our way out of Keswick and walking towards Braithwaite and UP towards Whinlatter Pass Aidy had a fantastic idea. I told Angela and family that we were arriving via Whitehaven and taking the main road towards St Bees caravan site via the village. Aidy suggested that when we get to Whitehaven we instead take the Coast 2 Coast path around the heads and surprise them. So when they are waiting for us on the promenade coming from the main road we’ll instead surprise them last minute with LOOK UP AT ST BEES HEAD! Aidy what a GENIUS idea!


So we travelled past Braithwaite in good time and started to scale the steep roads of Whinlatter Pass. The steep road wasn’t too bad compared to the road we initially took on the other side when we cycled up. The views over Keswick were immense! I did a few Go Pro videos remembering that I did hardly any videos the last couple of days. I found a large branch on the road, pretending I was Gandalf and that it was my staff, screaming as loud as I could “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!… Whinlatter Pass”…. Yep I was a bit daft at this stage.

We arrived at the Whinlatter Forest visitor centre, had a little break here including a wee stop and started to descend Whinlatter towards the other side towards the West Coast. At this stage my feet were really sore again and started to think will my ignorance just get me through this final stage?

At this stage I was pretty miffed that we had only done 7 miles. I think the scale of Whinlatter made it feel more like it was an achievement plus my legs were as sore as a 30 mile walk.

We headed on towards Whitehaven but took a different route other than the Coast 2 Coast route. We passed High Lorton as we did on day one but then at mile 11 near Mosser we went South West between Mockerin and Branthwaite. The small paths were absolutely beautiful and the weather was beautiful. We started talking about the possibility of running past everyone at the bottom of St Bees Head and just running straight into the sea…. or running into the sea anyway and after a short discussion we decided against this.


We arrived at Whitehaven around 4pm and took a break here ready for the final leg of our 8 day challenge. The path back over the heads towards St Bees was the exact start of the Coast 2 Coast walk and in a way it felt quite fitting to end it in this way. But the going wasn’t easy, sometimes going down steep paths and hugging sheer cliff edges. I thought that this final stage would only take around 2 hours based on our normal walking pace but the going was slow work, but absolutely beautiful – again a fitting end to our challenge. To be fair I was just looking forward to getting back and stopping, not having to move anymore and staying still lol.

We passed the lighthouse and then passed down and out of Fleswick Bay. I’ve walked here many times, we were close now.

After 30 minutes at last we could just see St Bees promenade… where was everyone?? I called Angela to make sure they were waiting at the promenade as agreed and as our plan depending on…. they weren’t! They were instead all in their own caravans and they were preparing a BBQ! So I said to her so after all of this I’m just supposed to knock on the caravan door and say I’ve finished! Lol she said that my dad was having a kip but will wake him up!

At this stage I was just impatient and asked her to look up at the Head and asked if she could see a guy waving!… She said no…. What an anticlimax…. 10 long seconds later she said “OH WAIT I CAN SEE IS THAT YOU???” Awwww awesome feeling! Luckily at this point it still was another 10 minutes to the foot of the Head and enough time for Angela and family to get outside (and wake up) and meet us at the bottom. 

The bottom we arrived, the tide was in, I crossed the bridge next to the head and there was everyone Ang, Seb, Mum, Dad, Maria, Pete, Luke and Anna… and two random people sat there hoping for some peace… Oops.

Angela ran forwards and gave me a huge hug followed by Maria holding Sebastian. I then hugged everyone else and a Cocker Hoop beer was there waiting for me AND a bottle of champagne which I popped open and sprayed over everyone.

IT WAS DONE! The reality sinked in! Aidy was incredible throughout and I made sure he got as many hugs as I did!

Wow how do I begin to summarise the last 8 days. So many highs and lows! So many memories, laughs, moans, hills, roads, paths, sheep, beers ha oops!

A quick summary would be that the cycling part was a physical endurance test, doing it on mountain bikes in three days was a triumph! A great challenge with great memories and a great finish at Robin Hood’s Bay. The walk back was a torturous mental endurance test but still with great memories and an incredible finish at St Bees. I’d repeat the cycling part anytime but maybe on a road bike. The walking part? – Even with my new mega awesome walking boots would my legs still hold up? Maybe but I don’t think I’ll ever try to find out!


Friday 4th July – Day Seven of Coast to Coast – Run – Kirkby Stephen to Keswick (43 miles)

This was a very interesting day, as we knew that when we arrived at Keswick, and having the Friday feeling, we knew that we would be able to sink a few pints, watch the two World Cup games Brazil vs Colombia and France vs Germany and then head out around town!!!

We pretty much, again, were mirroring the cycle route from Keswick to Kirkby Stephen that we did on Day 1 – but my god everything feels much slower when you recognise everything around you and you’re walking at around 3 mph instead of cycling at 15 mph.

We set off early so that we could arrive in Keswick at good time and at 10 miles we passed via Orlton. The roads up to here were again country roads with no main roads to worry about. The feet were OK if not a little sore still but the shoes were holding out.

At mile 14 we had to join the A6 but thankfully the road had a pavement which allowed for safe walking without getting beeped at by 70mph lorries! We followed the A6 for 10 miles and unfortunately the road became pavementless and we were again back in the way of incoming cars which slows you down massively!

At mile 26 thankfully we were back in Penrith and we got some supplies. I was getting pretty excited here as I knew we were near Junction 40 which was where I always turn off from the M6 to go towards St Bees so from here onwards I was pretty much replicating my way there – but I was thinking about meeting Angela, Sebastian and family after not seeing them for at least 8 days!!!

Unfortunately for the next 16 miles it was the A66, one of the most dangerous roads in Britain and for most of it we again had no pavement and the cars here are stupid. How many times we saw cars overtaking and almost crashing into oncoming cars. There were sometimes little paths which I found and took us away from the A66 at times but they were rare and this was a slow and depressing route. I just wished my feet were better and that we could have taken the route via Shap as originally intended.

BOOM we finally arrived in Keswick around 7pm but my feet were REALLY bad! We found our B&B The Babbling Brook which was decent and got showered and changed. We then headed back out into Keswick town centre, got some fish and chips from the usual The Old Keswickian and then watched both football games, sat down on a sofa in a sports bar drinking plenty of Guinness. Afterwards we went to a pub (maybe Oddfellows) which had some live music in there. We must have sunk (well I did) about 6-7 pints of real ale – but not just any real ale – Jennings Cocker Hoop and Cumberland Ale – actual pints of the stuff whereas I’m usually used to just bottles.


I could hold my own though just – the singer looked like Paul Daniels so we kept laughing about that then we realised that a quite, pretty, lady was being harassed by an innocent but very annoying, very drunk punter. So I created a body dam between this girl and this gentleman and he eventually got the idea and buzzed off. I then carried on talking to this lady for most of the night whilst Aidy was talking to someone else (I can’t remember I wasn’t that sober at this point). At closing time I gave my best wishes to this lady and her friends then Aidy and I headed back to our B&B – staggering due to both alcohol and physical problems haha! On the way back Aidy started running circles around me like a hyperactive dog winding me up!


Thursday 3rd July – Day Six of Coast to Coast – Run – Richmond to Kirkby Stephen (38 miles)

OK we were in Richmond – a pretty decent sized town which pretty much has everything we need. So we destroyed our friend breakfast, thanked Jenifer for her kind and fantastic hospitality and headed off towards Richmond town centre… slowly. One of the things I knew I needed to purchase, before pain killers and blister plasters – was a decent pair of shoes/boots.

We went into a Mountain Warehouse store which sold proper walking shoes and equipment and as soon as I hobbled in slowly the lady behind the desk smiled as if she knew exactly what was wrong and how it happened. I explained/confirmed what had gone wrong and she pointed out the obvious that my running shoes were so battered that they were not providing any kind of support to my feet and hence why I was covered in blisters and injured. She also said that I was wearing cheap running socks and was a main factor for my blisters. She said that the moisture in my socks and feet had nowhere to go hence the blisters. She first of all gave me some different boots to try – BOOM what a difference!!! Straight away I felt my legs were supported and the pains were nowhere near as bad. I told her that a particular pair felt the best – some Grisdale boots. She said that she was not surprised as the insoles inside them are state of the art which provides better support. She said she normally sells them for £130 but will sell them to me for £70 which is pretty much cost price since I was doing the event for charity. What a diamond – plus Aidy was sweet talking her about when she went to Germany and Aidy has been all around the world and was able to hold a good conversation with her. She also threw in a pair of tall woolen socks – she said that these would help air out my feet and prevent any further blisters.

I paid the lady and we went to Boots to get the strongest painkillers they sold, some ibruprofen and three packs of Compeed blister plasters. Before we set off we decided to have a quick brew in a coffee shop nearby and as I sat down the sceptical part of me couldn’t help but think that perhaps these walking boots were not what I needed. I have never purchased a pair of walking boots before – I never pay for any shoes over £40 normally – plus Angela will kill me when she sees that transaction on online banking. Was £70 too much? – They certainly felt pretty good on my feet so whatever I’m pretty happy. As we finished our brews we got chatting to two walking couples who were sat chatting about a particular European city they’ve visited frequently (I forgot – again it was Aidy talking to them) and then suddenly the guy pointed at my boots and said “Hey that’s those new Grisdale walking boots with the state of the art insoles.” I said I paid £70 for them and explained why and he laughed saying “They’re worth around £150”. BOOM HAPPY DAYS!

We set off and walking is OK – the boots and strappage was doing its job. At mile 5 we hit the A66 which we knew we would be following for half of today. Most of the road was horrible to walk on with no footpaths, walking on the right side of the road so that we could see oncoming traffic. I felt a little down and especially for Aidy as his legs were fine, the road and views were rubbish, we SHOULD have been taking the huge scenic route but my legs just couldn’t take it. Aidy, however, was still being a rock and cheering me up – playing his comedy podcasts as usual.


At mile 26 we were back on the country paths which was a huge relief. The legs were still sore but manageable – the new boots were doing their job – GOD what I would have done if I had could have gone back in time and given myself these beauties before I set off!


Up towards mile 30 we were really chirpy surprisingly and the feet were sore but OK. We passed Winton at mile 32 knowing soon we would be arriving at Kirkby Stephen which we already knew so well. When we got to Kirkby Stephen we were both relieved that we had simply made it so far today – surprised also that my feet made it.


We went to the shop and got some supplies and headed off towards our B&B, duplicating the route we took on our bikes but this time in clear daylight and not at night time in streetlight with no bike lights.


At this point the weather got a little windy but it was OK – we were in the absolute middle of nowhere – again. I made a funny video of me and Aidy shouting at the camera because the wind was that loud you couldn’t hear us. I then found a patch of grassland amongst some trees which looked very much like something out of In The Night Garden…. randoms!


We arrived at The Fat Lamb B&B (this time not at 1am) at 7:30pm. We got our supplies from reception, went upstairs to get changed and went downstairs for some tea and real ales. I sunk about four pints since I was in a celebratory mood haha. I then started getting a bit daft and competitive when some guys turned up who had cycled from Whitehaven… on road bikes?? Pah only fools would ride normal bikes – unlike us two idiots who had to do it on mountain bikes. I later learned that they didn’t even go via Whinlatter Pass! BOOM but I didn’t say anything. The four pints of Dutch courage would probably get me knocked out! HA!

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Wednesday 2nd July – Day Five of Coast to Coast – Run – Ingleby Cross to Richmond (23 miles)

I woke up this morning and assessed my foot – not looking good lol! It looks like bloomin’ trench-foot with the white saturated skin covered in a box of Compeed blister plasters. The walk to the breakfast room was ridiculous, I needed to hold onto the banister for dear life when going downstairs. My shin was really sore on my right leg and something needed doing before we even thought about setting off.

We had our hearty breakfast, which for me made me smile that I promised myself a healthy one every morning – I just wanted some home comfort before we hit the road again. When walking on an injured leg it’s probably irrelevant what type of breakfast you have as long as you have a good sized one. I wonder if extra sausages and bacon repairs blisters?

Before we left I decided to strap up my right shin are using my zinc oxide tape. I watched a YouTube video about taping up a leg with shin splints although I had no idea if this was actually what I had??

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We set off from Somerset House Farm en route to Richmond – all I knew was this route was very flat and a lot shorter compared to the other routes. We stormed through part of this route when cycling through it – at least I’d be able to admire the beautiful little villages on my hobbled foot 😀

At mile 3 East Harlsey we started spotting things to do with the Tour de France which was due to take place next week and feature amongst the towns we were passing including this yellow taped bike.


We got cracking and after 5 miles near Welbury my foot was already sore, why the hell was I wearing these stupid old trainers? I should have invested in some proper shoes for this part – a real learning lesson for me.

Heading towards East and South Cowton between 10 – 15 miles our pace was slow and my right ankle was starting to become really sore. Aidy could see I was trying to avoid being pretty miserable so he got out his phone and played some properly funny Mitchell and Webb podcasts through it – it really was the tonic I needed and it really perked me up! At this point I was really popping the paracetamol and ibuprofen.

Around Scorton at mile 18 my right ankle was getting really sore and I was beginning to worry if I wouldn’t make it. Yesterday my leg muscles actually seized up due to not resting after the cycling. This was different – my actual tendons and bones in the shin was getting so sore. I decided that I needed to strap up my right ankle. I stopped by a grand entrance to a farmhouse with a huge driveway and looked around – no one was about – no cars on the driveway – so I jumped onto one of the pillars at the entrance, took off my right shoe and sock and began to strap it up around the ankle. As I finished and put my sock back on a car turned off the main road, turned into the grand entrance and gave me a horrible look – WHAT I’m only sat on top of the pillar of your drive entrance…. ooops. And off we went – ankle feeling better supported.


At mile 20 and after Brampton on Swale I was beginning to feel a bit depressed with the leg. I honed onto that mile 20 was the finish line and when we got there I realised that we had at least 3 miles to go. I kept saying to Aidy “We’re almost there now – when we go over this hill we’ll be able to see Richmond” even though I had no idea what we’d see or what Richmond would look like.

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Eventually AT LAST Richmond came into view…. WOOOOWWW…. Richmond is beautiful! It’s like a mini York to me! I was properly impressed with it and by eck they love their hills here.


One Steep Hill straight to Bridgedown House B&B and we arrived for about 6pm.  Jennifer who ran the B&B seemingly on her own with her daughters was lovely! She showed us to our rooms but what was great was that she just left us to it. She could see that I was a mess and I asked if she had some ice which she was very happy to get for us. I then stuck as much ice as I could in a sock and placed this over my ankle & shin hoping that it would do something.

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We got changed and got freshened up – I had a shower and stupidly starting thinking that removing the tape was a good idea whereas now I know you should leave tape on. Tearing off the tape which was stuck to my hairy legs was absolutely agonising! I’m shivering now as I type this remembering each ginger hair plucking away from my stupid legs.

After the shower we decided to go to get some food and luckily there was a restaurant just outside our B&B about 200 yards away. Unfortunately for me I couldn’t even move without the help of Aidy and I was moving about one footstep every two seconds. It took a good 10 minutes to get to the restaurant that would take me not even a minute to reach with good feet. Nethertheless we got inside the restaurant which was a refurbished old train station. I had a burger and a couple of beers and then we decided to head back to chill in our room.

Tomorrow is an interesting one – 38 miles to Kirkby Stephen when I’m walking 1 step every 2 seconds. Meh it’ll only take me 3 days to do tomorrow’s little walk 😥


Tuesday 1st July – Day Four of Coast to Coast – Run – Robin Hoods Bay to Ingleby Cross (39 miles)

So Aidy and I arrived back at Robin Hood’s Bay where we arrived yesterday afternoon. Going downhill into the village we could feel our quadricep muscles absolutely killing from the cycling, but I was glad of it, no more saddle soreness.


When we got to the bay, Aidy said not to dip our feet in the sea (as is customary for the C2C walkers) because we’ll get blisters, but I went to just dip the edge of my shoe in the sea and then a huge wave washed up and over our ankles. Never mind we’ll be ok!???

Aidy and I said goodbye to Aidy’s mum and thanked her then headed up and out of Robin Hood’s Bay. Already up the steep incline which takes you out of the village we could feel the aches in our muscles.


The weather was hot and sunny and our pace was good. On our way out of Robin Hood’s Bay and up the Cinder Track we came across a walker aged in his 60s. He was asking what we were doing and we told him humorously that we were walking to St Bees, like it was nothing. He gave us a grave stare and asked us if we were ‘army boys’. He indicated that he’s done the C2C many times and knows his stuff and advised how tough it would get. At this point I was still thinking ‘nah it’s only on foot it’ll be fine’. Even mentioning that we’re en route to Ingleby Cross made him stare on a scared state. Ha we’ll be fine pal but thanks for your concern… although the last time an elderly man gave us advice, when we were on Day One at the pub for our tea and he said we’d arrive at Kirkby Stephen after 11 when we said it would be around 10, he was right. Again in sure we’ll not hit any problems.


He wished us good luck and we went on our way up and off the Cinder Track, past Whitby and up towards the hills of the Yorkshire Moors. But this was our first problem, the huge road downhill from the top of the Yorkshire Moors to the coast was now uphill, uphill for a long long way. It was now when we realised our first niggle – walking takes a long way to get anywhere over long distances, especially when you’ve already covered the same track by bikes averaging at times between 10-20mph when we were walking between 2-3mph. We were taking about as soon as we scale The Yorkshire Moors but after 3 hours we hadn’t even got anywhere near them! – just this huge uphill road! Is was soul destroying.

At one point I had an ETA on my phone on what time we’d arrive at Ingleby Cross and changing the pace ever so slightly meant finishing between 3-4 hours later. The tiny fractions of pace resulted in huge changes in arrival time. At this point I upped the pace and we could eventually see the hills we needed to scale in the far distance.

My feet started to feel sore, get very warm and feel sticky. I was wearing my hardly used Aldi running shoes (already falling apart) which cost me £20 and I had already tied the laces too tight, resulting in zero space for my feet to move about and breathe. Luckily Aidy’s mum, who has decided to hang about in Robin Hood’s Bay drove past us and I decided to wear my sightly better Karrimoor shoes which saw me through the cycling part. I also relaced the shoes to provide more space for my feet but at this point I could feel blisters starting on both my stupid wonky little toes where they were squeezed up against the other toes the whole time.

We started to scale The Yorkshire Moors and after 5 hours of walking we were still pretty gutted we could still see the East Coast sea. Haha so jubilant to see it the day before, now wishing it would do one. We knew though we’d be soon decending The Yorkshire Moors and we’d never see it again, or at least for this challenge.


At this point not only was I stopping occasionally to put on suntan cream but I was checking my feet for the damage report…. Not Good! I went through a whole 7 pack of Compeed blisters plasters just in my left foot. The walking became more and more painful but I just plodded on. Aidy was really supportive ensuring that I was ok.

We started scaling down the Moors and through the villages taking our time. At this point it wasn’t just my toes and blisters causing me problems but my muscle aches in my legs… it was bloody agony. I pushed as hard as I could until it got to a point where the if I stopped my muscles just seized up and took a while fit them to become movable again. It got harder and harder each time and then when we got to about 5 miles from our destination when we came to a pub where we needed to get water – Disaster!! – my legs had completely locked up and I mean I couldn’t move on them. At this point after a short chat we decided to get a taxi from our location to the B&B. I felt a bit cheated but I had no other choice. To be fair, the final 5 miles was over a busy main road with no pedestrian pavements etc, just grass verges which would be agonising to walk on. Also any more walking would result in massive damage to my muscles.

The taxi arrived and we arrived at our B&B in Ingleby Cross at about 6:30pm. It wasn’t as amazing as Park House but it was pretty and clean and the room was modern and nice.
We got to our room and I checked in detail the extent of the damage. Both my little toes had blown up like balloons the blisters were that bad! I washed and changed into my evening clothes and we decided to head to a pub nearby for food and well deserved beers.


Even though the pub was about 300 yards away it took a bloody long time to get there with my stupid feet. We arrived and ordered a pint of Black Sheep and ordered some burgers. The Black Sheep made me think about the time I nearly flew into a sheep on the way up to the Fat Lamb on Day One. I thought How Far are we away from there!!! How am I going to do this with these feet?

At this point we were cheered up at bumping into Mike from the Park House B&B also having a beer. We updated him on our progress and he said he was sorry they couldn’t fit us in at such late notice. He had to nip back to the B&B and we had a couple more beers to cheer us (me) up. At 9pm we decided to get back for an early night and on our way out with me limping outside we bumped into Mike again and he offered to take us back to our B&B – Plus when he told Beverley about our arrival in Ingleby Cross she passed onto him two of her homemade cake for us to enjoy – Still Legends!!!

We’ve got back to our B&B for some early shut eye straight away. I’m hoping my body will miraculously recover overnight and in time for tomorrow’s Ingleby Cross to Richmond trek. I can’t tell you how worried I am 😦


Monday 30th June – Day Three of Coast to Coast – Bike – Ingleby Cross to Robin Hoods Bay (39 miles)

After our beautiful full / MASSIVE English Breakfast Aidy and I set off from the beautiful Park House B&B to a cloudless blue sky and with our optimism high knowing we were heading to our final bike destination.


The route we were taking was less roads and included some monster hills, awesome off-road tracks and a 4 mile downhill all the way down to the coast – who wouldn’t be happy?

Still, a meaty 51 mile over challenging terrain we had to prepare ourselves mentally, including also not setting off until after 9:30am….oops.

Ok so we took a main road for about 5 miles reminding us of yesterday’s route with the angry 70mph lorries overtaking us. Couldn’t wait to get this road over and done with and then we eventually came off the road and started flying through beautiful villages, stopping off at one village for water.


We started climbing into The North Yorkshire Moors and started hitting some of the hardest hills yet.

20140630_125119(0)20140630_124947At the top of a monumental hill we came to a crossroad where we could see THE EAST COAST AND SEA!!!

We took a break here in the hot sun and tried to work out where we were heading. After some time we realised our path was taking us via an awesome off-road track only passable by 4×4 vehicles and mountain bikes. This track was really fun and we eventually came to a high lookout point where we could see the full east coast, Middlesbrough and other coastal places and features.


At this point we realised that the rest of the journey was pretty much downhill which was a pretty cool thought. I attached my GoPro HD camera and recorded some high speed downhill off-road video.

At the bottom of the off-road track we came to a main road. This road was downhill and I mean downhill, and more downhill – it was bloody marvellous and I was thinking to myself how much incline over the past three days we had built up and now melting away beneath our wheels.

THEN, the coast came into view still all downhill and the view of the coast became bigger and bigger. This was really really cool, probably the highlight of the bike ride.

We came to about 2 miles outside Whitby which I’ve been to a few times with Angela and Sebastian on a family holiday so I was familiar with the surroundings. But we weren’t taking the road to Whitby but instead a road which took us to Robin Hoods Bay.

Now along this road and following my phone’s GPS to reel us in, we came upon an off-road path named the “Cindertrack” which apparently is an old Whitby to Scarborough coastal railway route. It hugged the coast and cliff tops, offering outstanding views, no motor vehicles, a quiet and amazing slightly downhill route all the way into Robin Hoods Bay.

Robin Hoods Bay came into view, OK it was probably this part which was the most awesome bit of our three day bike ride. The huge Coastal Head which dominates the area reminded me of when I was last there – with Angela and a very young baby Sebastian.

We arrived in Robin Hoods Bay village and Aidy’s mum was waiting for us. She seems a lovely lady and gave Aidy some well done hugs etc. We then made our way down the steep path that takes you deep into the village and towards the end of our route.

WE ARRIVED!!! We were outside The Bay Hotel and we were feeling jubilant…. well I was anyway, let’s not forget Aidy has already done Everest Base Camp so this probably wasn’t as massive for him as it was for me.


We got a real ale, signed the completion book which all of those doing the C2C must do as tradition, and talked about our journey. At this point I realised the bike made it without any problems. Didn’t need the puncture repair kit or the new inner tubes I bought in case. Even the chain didn’t snap haha (reference to last C2C attempt). The bike was a tank considering it wasn’t the most expensive one you could buy, said by the man himself who lent me his bike, the Legend Gaz McDonald.


At this point we met some cyclists coming in on mountain bikes who must have done something similar to us. My competitive edge burned inside me to find out what they did, no way I’ve come so far too find out that some other guys have just done something more difficult than us. After Aidy started taking to them and me joining in mid-conversation we discovered they had done a 4 day route, skipping Whinlatter and even had a pace/supplies car to carry their belongings so that they could travel light! We congratulatively and politely said well done and gave our tale of events including that we’re about to take on the 5 day run/walk from tomorrow. They looked in shock, the guy I was talking to could probably kill me in one punch and could probably bench press me so I really didn’t want to upset the him lol.

After here we put the bikes in Aidy’s mum’s car and headed off to Whitby where we were stopping. We’re staying in a hotel above a pub which wasn’t too shabby and we unpacked, showered and headed out for tea which was of course Fish and Chips at Magpies with a few more celebratory real ales.

Summary: I really enjoyed the cycling part of this challenge. Some amazing views and fun memories. I’ve proven to myself it can be done over three days on a mountain bike. It could have been done in two days on a road bike but that would have been just roads and no off road fun. I wish we did more off road routes instead of the roads but that would have meant more days. Maybe another time. It was a good mix and a very tough test.
Now begins the running/walking part of the challenge which will require patience with the slow speeds we’re doing compared to being on bikes. Wish us luck!


Sunday 29th June – Day Two of Coast to Coast – Bike – Kirkby Stephen to Ingleby Cross (57 miles)

Today was about going the quickest way to Ingleby Cross, no frills and all roads. After yesterday’s mammoth route which had EVERYTHING from mountains to off road and distance we were quite content with just getting to our next destination. We were still pretty tired and could do with not taking to too hard and understanding that we still had to do the run back yet so why punish our bodies now? We saw a lot of beautify sights yesterday so as I said we were quite happy indeed to just get there via the fastest route possible.

Still, this turned out to be pretty scary and worrying at times as we hit the A66 for 30 miles of the route and we had the tiniest cycle lanes with lorries going past us about 70mph missing us by only a few feet. Now I look back perhaps this route wasn’t ideal – especially on mountain bikes where there simply was no momentum on the roads and not much going compared to a road bike.

We set off from Kirkby Stephen and came down The Muge Hill that Aidy and I struggled with right at the end that we pushed our bikes up. I hit 41mph, by far my fastest ever bike speed (36mph previous) and we were on our way to the A66……


This bit, as I’ve said already, was scary, worrying, boring – just cycling up a huge road, sometimes being beeped at by lorries etc knowing how close they were to us. At one point one of the lanes on the dual carriageway was closed for roadworks and Aidy decided to cycle in this closed off cones off lane – which made the lorries even more angrier with me on the other side in the cycle lane. Now we look back at it YES we were a bit silly but we felt safe enough and there was absolutely no other way to Ingleby Cross apart from tackling the huge hills over The Moors.

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We saw signs all the way down the A66 for Scotch Corner. What the heck was Scotch Corner we asked ALL THE WAY down the A66 until at last we came off the A66 at Scotch Corner which was simply where the A66 met the A1 and had a few service stations – we then hit country roads – this was a good feeling knowing we were only around 10 miles from our destination. We arrived in Ingleby Cross just before 6pm which was fantastic and we made our way up the huge hill to the beautiful Park House B&B which sat high up in the woods looking down with a fantastic view.

When we arrived straight away we were greeted and treated like kings. Our bikes were taken away for us and we were made to feel relaxed by Beverley. Shortly afterwards Mike took our bikes to the garage and then showed us to the workshop where he has a dozen amazing bikes on display, each one costing more than both of ours put together. Mike found it amusing that we were attempting the C2C just using mountain bikes.

An hour later tea was served which was of course a Sunday Roast with Yorkshire puddings almost the side of your head with beautiful meats etc. We were also joined by four C2C walkers, two of which were Australian (perfect for Aidy) and another guy from FARNWORTH??? Small world. We then retired in the lounge area with a few beers and called it a night around 10pm.

Summary: Beautiful B&B and the last fifth of the route was most enjoyable – the rest rubbish lol but it wasn’t so tough and felt better than we did at 12am at the end of Day 1.



Saturday 28th June – Day One of Coast to Coast – Bike – St Bees to Kirkby Stephen via Whitehaven, Keswick & Penrith (88 miles)

After being woken up on a cool morning by lots of loud crows (not seagulls) and after being up already a couple of times in the night I was a little tired. Soon after I heard Aidy’s car pull up alongside my tent so I knew it was time to get cracking! – we had a huge day ahead (unknowingly knowing How Huge of a day it would end up).

By the time we got the stove going, had a cup of tea (needed brrrrr) and my porridge we were on our bikes and ready to go at 8am (not 7am) – ney bother! We got a quick photo outside the C2C walk sign and headed off to Whitehaven, already meeting our first hill just outside the Caravan Park which required 1st gear – Many MANY more to come… 20140628_080414

We arrived in Whitehaven and saw that there were already quite a large number of cyclists (all with road bikes except us two) queuing up to get their picture taken next to the C2C Cycle sign


So, we headed off towards Keswick, with me becoming already confused telling Aidy that soon we’ll be cycling over rivers on wooden bridges etc (not knowing that this would be after Keswick). We started passing town after town, Cleator Moor, Frizington, all feeling good knowing the miles were flying by under our wheels – we were averaging around 10mph overall with 16mph average on a straight which wasn’t bad for a mountain bike. At this point I recognised some tunnels and buildings from the previous time (disaster) I tried cycling just Day 1 of the official C2C cycle from Whitehaven to Keswick with my mate Rick Tattersall around 10 years ago. I remember being so unfit, overweight, massively under-planning the requirements my body would need though such a challenge. I think I just took a 700ml bottle of water with me then and a 5kg pack. This time I had 1 Camelbak containing 1.5ltr of water mixed with a high grade carbohydrate supplement to fuel me constantly and would last 1.5 hours. I also had a 700ml bottle of water mixed with a high grade protein supplement to repair battered muscles. My bike must have had around 5kg of stuff strapped to it and I also had a 10kg pack on my back. So not only was I carrying miles more than the previous time the Whitehaven to Keswick would only be a third of what we were intending to do today! Such a contrast!!!

20 miles away from Whitehaven we started hitting the beautiful heart of the Lake District, passing the north-side of Lake Loweswater and past the tall mountains of Grasmore and Grisedale Pike. At this point we were both a bit low on fluids and needed the toilet and were lucky to find a village hall-type-place with fifty or so runners about to begin a fell run. I asked the organiser if we could cheekily take on some water and use the toilets which he kindly offered us – Aidy almost pinched a ham sandwich they had set out to welcome back the runners haha – he said they looked too good!

So after being refueled we headed off towards the dreaded Whinlatter Forest Park/Pass, thinking that my previous experience of this place would serve us well when we approached it. We passed Low Lorton and started to scale up towards Whinlatter Forest Park on very steep roads, probably around 20% incline. We made it to the top (then amazed to see a local bus pass us shortly afterwards going up the same hill) and we headed on the straight road through the forest towards Whinlatter Forest Park. Aidy would have been so pleased to pass this place and get it out of the way as I spoke about it non-stop using it to reassure myself and how we would tackle it etc.


We arrived into the park with me thinking that I would suddenly remember which path we needed to go. Now, the last time I was here with my friend Rick I remember thinking that we had taken the completely wrong path which took us up the highest point, the climb which was relentless and agreed with Aidy that we wouldn’t scale this since we had so much more to go afterwards. We realised there was an official start point to the Whinlatter Forest Park cycle which I must have completely missed the last time I was here – there was a blue route and a red route, blue which appeared to be a bit timid, red which appeared to be a little more challenging – so obviously we took the red route. The route quickly became apparent that this was intended for absolute experts who were 100% confident and skilled to tackle it. Me and Aidy did fair pretty good I have to admit, cycling down paths just a little wider than your bike wheel and then a steep 200ft drop. The views were incredible and we were pretty happy with our progress until we saw the next part of the route which snaked steeply up this huge hill – me and Aidy thought NAH and instead started to look at paths getting down towards Keswick and so we can go onwards. We found a path, a fantastic path which looked like it was hardly used in many years, jumping over branches etc – until we found the latter parts of it – a very very steep uneven rocky path which looked impossible to cycle down unless you were cycling for Red Bull. So we wimped out and carried our bikes down – or should I say held on the back brake and used the bike to control our decent down the hill. It wasn’t long until we were able to cycle the rest of the way down and arrived at Braithwaite about 5 miles outside Keswick. We had a quick rest here and headed for Keswick for a good break, absolutely shattered and unable to believe this was just a third of our journey.

Because I had taken on so much carbs and protein on throughout the day, I had no stomach for a good meal – unlike Aidy who had a monster burger.


After an hour’s stop, which was much longer than we originally intended – just because we were so tired and needing a rest, we headed off towards Penrith feeling slightly refreshed (slightly). Here we passed at last over the rivers on wooden bridges and the views were fantastic . The C2C signs kept us pointing towards Penrith since we were still on the C2C path and we arrived in Penrith around 6pm, much later than we originally wanted. Here Aidy was only spotted by someone he went to Uni with!! He’s such a legend everyone knows him haha!

We left Penrith and started to head south-east towards Kirkby Stephen, starting to realise that the day would soon/hopefully come to an end, being able to eat some good food, have some beers and get a good night sleep. We thought we should end up at our destination at around 10pm and we called the Fat Lamb B&B to say we would be a little late. At this point I was lying down on the grass taking a break in a village somewhere until I realised that I was lying down in something very offensive and very smell, all down my back! Sorry I had to share this with you but this will later explain why I haven’t been wearing my jacket – only wearing my tiny skin-tight compression top.

At around 8:30pm we knew we needed some food in us and we stopped in a remote village pub, the residents all looking at us like we were completely foreign. We told an elderly couple near us we were still heading for Kirkby Stephen and hoping to get there for 11pm and the guy said it will be around 12am! – nah mate it’ll be 11pm.

We had no idea how much harder this final stretch would be with the insulting hills and the outright exhaustion me and Aidy had. At 10pm we were near but still so far away. When you think 15 miles, it’s not far away, not if you have a car handy. By bike this is an hour’s good pace, good if you’re not averaging 6mph up hills. Darkness started to creep in, drizzle started and me without a jacket started to get very cold indeed. I had no lights on my bike – I lent the bike from my awesome friend Gareth McDonald and he never needed lights for his bike and I was absolutely certain I wouldn’t need them for this challenge.
How wrong I was, 11pm we were still 6 miles from our destination, again having to call the B&B explaining our delay. Thankfully someone was staying behind for us to wait for our arrival. At this point it was so dark, especially under the cover of trees I could barely even see the white lines on the middle of the road. At one point I glimpsed at my speedometer and I could just make out that I was going 30mph even though I couldn’t see the road or where we were going – just feeling the wind fly through me and trying to keep on the white lines on the road. Every car going past must have thought IDIOT, probably what I would have done at a guy cycling without lights. Being so close to our B&B it felt like it would never come. These final 10 miles felt by far the longest, hating the downhills knowing that it would result in an uphill eventually.

We arrived at Kirkby Stephen thinking this was our destination before we realised that Ravenstonedale (4 mile away) was our target – this was probably the lowest point of our journey. As we approached Ravenstonedale we hit a hill just leaving Kirkby Stephen which was relentless – Aidy wanted to get off and push and I was most glad to join him for a brief respite.

The final 3 miles still felt like a drag rather than a finish – there was no final sprint – there was nothing left in the tank for either of us. Some final HUGE hills to welcome us to our destination and trying to give positive advice to Aidy that we are so close – I think Aidy was probably just sick of hearing the sound of my voice. He said he was hallucinating at one point due to the darkness and his eyes trying to make objects out in the road.

WE ARRIVED – 12am precisely – Paul, the owner despite the late hour was still so hospitable allowing us to put our bikes safely in the back, taking us to our room asking if we wanted any hot drinks etc. We just wanted our beds and we had tea making facilities and wanted no longer to bother the owner and allow the poor guy to go to sleep himself. Aidy was out within 2 minutes and I still did my stretches like a good boy, plugged all of my gadgets in the wall to recharge, had a hot shower and then headed off to sleep just before 1am. What a day – what a horrible, wonderful, incredible day!

Day1_C2CClick here for Runtastic breakdown