The Fierce Five Challenges Completed

This is a video I put together which summarises the challenges, the charities I fundraised for and how much in total I raised.
It also importantly highlights the fact that I would never have been able to do any of this without the support of my amazing wife Angela – The nights and weekends of not having me there with our 2 year old whilst I was off training or competing – She has been an absolute rock!

Fundraising Breakdown

If you don’t want to find out in the video, I raised in total £4,519.88 for the five charities which I’m massively over the moon about, considering that if I added up all of my fundraising targets it would have come to £2,600.00 – so I raised an additional £1,919.88 more than what I thought was possible. I smashed all of my fundraising targets thanks to the amazing generous donations from friends, family and even people I’ve never met before (a special mention goes out to Steven – you know who you are).

Challenges 1 & 2: Swim 1,000 x 25m lengths of a swimming pool & The Great North Swim, Windermere
Charities: Daytrippers Bolton & Kidz2gether
Target: £1,000.00
Raised: £1,721.16

Challenge 3: Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast
Charity: Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital Trust Fund
Target: £1,000.00
Raised: £1,756.25

Challenge 4: Tough Mudder 2014, Yorkshire
Charity: AFC Masters Football Club
Target: £300.00
Raised: £425.00

Challenge 5: The Great North Run 2014, Newcastle
Charity: National Autistic Society
Target: £300.00
Raised: £617.47

Fierce Five Challenges – Hardest, Easiest, Most Fun, Best Moment, Worst Moment

Hardest Challenge – Physically
Overall it would have to be the Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast due to what it took out of me. The 1,000 lengths swim was probably as hard than the cycling part of the coast 2 coast, but the running/walking part was insanely hard – resulting in blisters, shin splints, long term injuries and strapping.
Order: Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast, 1000 lengths swim, Tough Mudder, Great North Run, Great North Swim

Hardest Challenge – Mentally
They were all mentally incredibly hard which I didn’t realise before I started training for everything. It is the mental endurance more so than physical endurance that gets you through each challenge.
Overall, including training I would say the 1,000 x 25m length challenge was the toughest mentally. The event itself was tough mentally but I was prepared due to the huge amount of training I did up to the event. There were many dark moments when training on my own up to 600 – 700 lengths for 10 hours in a pool with just my own mind and thoughts.
The Great North Run was the toughest event running on an injury and not being able to stop like I was able to in the Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast.
Order: 1000 lengths swim, Great North Run, Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast, Tough Mudder, Great North Swim

Most Fun
Tough Mudder was without doubt the most fun challenge I did. This event is not just about physical or mental endurance but the team spirit and camaraderie you get in your team is like nothing other I’ve witnessed.
I did have many laughs with Aidy though on the Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast – he was such a top bloke throughout and kept me going whenever I felt like giving up.
Order: Tough Mudder, Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast, Great North Swim, 1000 lengths swim, Great North Run

Best Moment
Too many to choose from – it was a great feeling beating the guy at breaststroke during the Great North Swim but I have to say coming down St Bees Head, the place I’ve visited so many times as a kid, and seeing my own family waiting for me at the bottom to congratulate me on completing the Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast.
It was also amazing cycling/free-wheeling 5 miles downhill over 30mph towards Robin Hoods Bay on a roasting hot day seeing the coast coming into view for the first time and then arriving at the sea – that would have been enough on it’s own but to return back again and to the people I cared about most was an amazing feeling!

Worst Moment
There were a few dark moments, one I’ve already mentioned when training for the 1,000 length swim and being completely lonely and bored and just angry with having to keep going.
The return part of the Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast when I was walking on injured legs was pretty rubbish but I had Aidy to help me and keep me cheery.
The Great North Run was pretty grim, the event was supposedly addictive, being told I’ll want to do it every year. My running training was so good up to this event but the injury I received just before the event meant that I had to run most of it in agony. At many parts I just wanted it to be over and didn’t know if I had 2 miles or 6 miles to go – but I persevered and got through it thanks to the positive mental training I had done up to this event and the other events – without it I may have not been able to complete it
…. OH YEAH the ambulance trip and hyperventilating after the 1,000 length swim was pretty rubbish as well.

…well that was a bit grim – OK now say something nice about each of the Five Challenges

1,000 lengths swim
The free swimming membership provided by Horwich Lesuire Centre for training. People swimming with me on the day

Great North Swim
My family who came with me for support and beating the fastest guy I’ve ever met at breaststroke also meaning I was the fastest in my wave.

Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast
Aidy keeping me cheery throughout as well as our Keswick night out the day before we returned. The woman who sold me some high grade walking boots for half price due to the charity challenge. The post challenge pub fundraiser was also absolutely fantastic raising over £500.

Tough Mudder
The team spirit was unbelievable and I really bonded with my top mate Jonny. Completing it and everyone hugging and laughing about certain obstacles.

Great North Run
Seeing Angela and Sebastian at the end, having a few teary moments during the run knowing that the Fierce Five Challenges was coming to an end.

Fierce Five Challenges Cost

I spent A LOT of my own money to ensure that I could do these events. I spread this cost over January to September and funded it with a part time graphics design and website development job I’ve been doing in the evenings. Without trying to sound like I’m glorifying myself the following is a brief breakdown of the costs of setting up the Fierce Five Challenges in case anyone is interested in doing something like this themselves – although of course it could be done a lot cheaper than how I did it:

Swim 1,000 x 25m lengths of a swimming pool
•  1,000 length swim pool & training gear – £36.00
•  Nutrition & energy supplements cost – £197.00
Total challenge cost £233.00

Great North Swim 2014, Windermere
•  Entry cost – £39.00
•  Wetsuit – £60.00
•  Transportation, parking and ferry costs – £40.00
Total challenge cost £139.00

Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast
•  1 night camping hire – £20.00
•  3 nights bed and breakfast hire – £125.50 (4 nights cost nothing)
•  Nutrition & energy supplements cost – £196.00
•  Walking boots – £70.00
•  Bike storage pouches, backpack, tubes, spare battery chargers – £76.00
•  Food/drink allowance – £200.00
Total challenge cost £687.50

Tough Mudder 2014, Yorkshire
•  Entry cost – £74.13
•  Nutrition & energy supplements cost – £45.93
•  New trail running shoes – £40.00
•  Transportation & parking – £30.00
Total challenge cost £190.06

Great North Run 2014, Newcastle
•  Entry cost – £50.00
•  Nutrition & energy supplements cost – £12.98
•  Transportation & parking costs – £40.00
Total challenge cost £102.98

Fierce Five Challenges Total Cost £1,352.54 

(Total entry costs – £163.13)
(Total equipment & gear costs – £282.00)
(Total nutrition & energy supplements costs – £451.91)

…Finally Special Mentions and Thank You’s

I could not have done any of these challenges without the kindness and support SO MANY people have shown me since the beginning of this year.

Suzi Moores & The Horwich Leisure Centre
Suzi was amazing with ensuring that I had everything ready on the day of my 1,000 length swim including my own swimming lane. She even swam my first lengths with me as support. The Horwich Leisure Centre gave me a free swimming and gym membership from March to May which Suzi sorted out so that I could go in whenever I wanted to train.

Tom Irving
Tom is a head dietitian and leading sports nutritional specialist. Tom gave me so much support and advice in terms of preparing myself for each event and what supplements to take in the run up to the challenge as well as just before, during and afterwards.

Tim Cromaty
I’ve known Tim since school but we become really close again recently and especially during the Five Challenges. Tim is a swimming legend who gave me loads of advice, a pair of his best goggles which I used for both swim challenges, and a heap of support and praise.

Lisa Eccleshare
Lisa spent hours and hours tirelessly contacting bed & breakfasts all around the route I was taking during the Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast challenge. In the end she was able to secure three bed and breakfasts which offered either free or heavily discounted rates saving me around £300 in B&B hire costs.

Adrian Thomson-Massey
The absolute legend who kept me cheery throughout the Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast challenge. From being positive, to stopping when I needed to rest my injured legs, putting on his comedy podcasts to cheer me up, having a top time each night after completing each day especially the Keswick night out we had on our penultimate day.

Gareth Macdonald
Gareth lent me his bike for the cycling part of the Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast challenge. I had no idea at the time but I damaged the gears from it’s excessive use. After I learned about this I offered to pay for the repairs and he kindly declined saying it’s no problem.

The Bowling Green Pub, Horwich
Nicola and Jason Monks, the owners of The Bowling Green Pub, have been absolutely amazing throughout the Five Challenges. Firstly they let me put a donations pot on the bar for the swimming challenges which came to around £70. Then most importantly they provided the Bowling Green Pub so that I could host a fundraiser after I completed the Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast challenge. They provided a free DJ, free pasties, two huge free cakes and most importantly the barrel of beer which was donated by Blackedge Brewery, every penny made from selling the beer went to the fundraiser. The fundraiser total came to over £500.

Blackedge Brewery, Horwich
Blackedge Brewery donated a barrel (firkin – 80 pints) of beer for the fundraiser I hosted at my local pub. They were so eager to support the fundraiser so I am massively thankful to them for this kind donation.

Samantha-Jayne Brady
Once I completed the Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast challenge I decided at the very last minute to do a raffle for the fundraiser I had planned at my local pub. For a raffle I needed prizes and I met Sam online after posting on a local website page about local companies wanting to donate any prizes. Sam, who I’ve never properly met before, went around my local town of Horwich and spent the whole day visiting shops asking if they would like to donate. Sam was able to get 13 raffle prizes which were worth over £500. What an amazing kind person Sam is I love her to bits 🙂

Fundraiser Raffle Prize Donators
I mentioned how grateful I was for Sam for searching for local companies but I have to thank those who actually donated prizes from beauty products to meal vouchers to bowling & cinema vouchers to champagne. Incredible stuff and goes to show how kind local businesses can be when supporting good causes.

Park House Bed & Breakfast, Ingleby Cross
Beverley & Michael Robins were absolutely unbelievable. Not only did they provide us with a free night’s B&B but they were so attentive when we arrived, making small repairs to our bikes, washing clothes after I accidentally rolled around in some dog doo doo and even when we returned back to Ingleby Cross on our return journey Michael found us in the local pub and afterwards drove us back to our alternate B&B and said Beverley had made us some homemade flapjacks.

The Fat Lamb Bed & Breakfast, Kirkby Stephen
Paul Bonsall gave us a free night’s B&B and a heavily discounted night’s B&B (busy Saturday) which we were so grateful for. However, Paul was unbelievably caring when we massively underestimated our first day’s cycle arriving at 1am instead of 9pm. Paul who was supposed to finish at 10pm waited up for us and still showed us to our rooms.

Bridgedown House Bed & Breakfast, Richmond
Jennifer was absolutely lovely and gave us a free night’s B&B. When we arrived she showed us to our room, provided ice for injuries and kindly left us to our own devices.

I didn’t want to give Stephen’s full name as he would probably think against it being his humble, kind nature. Before I started the Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast challenge I decided to go to each B&B dropping off supplies so that they were waiting for us before we arrived. I met Stephen at one of the B&Bs on one of the drop offs and I was in a mad rush to get around to each one. Stephen overheard the conversation I was having with the B&B owners about the challenge and when I bumped into him he wanted to know more details. He gave me some very warm words of praise and encouragement and off we went to the next B&B. What happened next was amazing – on a Facebook Radio 2 page I wrote what I was planning on doing for the challenge and Stephen’s better half Carole wrote a reply on my post saying that Stephen had told her about my challenge and recognised who I was from the conversation. Stephen and Carole are from the other side of the country and we have no mutual friends on Facebook. The link was incredible – and THEN they donated £120. Incredible kind and lovely people – Stephen and I talk regularly now on Facebook – he and Carole are such a lovely couple.

Mystery Great North Run Swimmer
Thanks to the guy who gave me the greatest race I’ve ever been in. The guy was massively muscular and I thought I wouldn’t have a chance of beating him until right at the end when I pipped him.

Angela and Sebastian Carruthers
I’ve already mentioned Angela in the video and at the top of this post but STILL, TRULY, she has been incredibly supportive these last 9 months. When I came up with the idea of doing the challenges Angela was very reluctant with me doing them as she knew that it would entail a lot of hours away from home training. I have honestly tried as best as I could to fit the training around her and Sebastian, such as doing it after Sebastian went to bed and Angela watching her nightly soaps marathon. But there were lots of times when I simply was not there and adding this to the times I’m already not there when I’m off doing my voluntary commitments she has been incredibly supportive. On a selfish note I’ve had to give up a lot of time with Angela and Sebastian, time which I’ll never get back but I knew the sacrifices before undertaking the challenges and I am more than ever making up for the lost time.

…and Finally…
Thank you to absolutely everyone who have supported me whether it being incredible donations or just asking how I’m getting on. There family members who were throwing in £100 donations each time for each challenge which was incredible – but there were also people such as Carole Brennan giving me a huge box of high-grade pasta for free as it was one of the only things I was eating at the time preparing for the challenges. Friends in the pub asking how I was getting on, random people in the pool asking about my swimming challenge, Jonny Turnbull for getting me through Tough Mudder – everyone you have been so kind and I would NOT have accomplished anything close to what I have achieved these past 9 months.

Now everything has finished I’m very restless at the moment and it’s very hard keeping the healthy eating regime. I still can’t do any running until I’ve fixed my leg which I injured during the Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast and made worse during the Great North Run.

I hope to do at least Tough Mudder next year, improve on my swimming & running and perhaps hope to do something huge in 2016. It’s all secrets at the moment and depends on if Angela would divorce me if I was away again.

I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved but most of all I’m just proud of the money that I’ve raised for the incredible charities I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know this year. I’ve made amazing new friends along the way and rekindled friendships with old friends which I will always be in touch with.

The Fierce Five Challenges has been an incredible ride!

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!!!

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 😦


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

Three Days before C2C2C

How do I feel? Excited, nervous, hopeful, cautious, terrified. As I write this now on the train my left ankle is a bit sore – I hope this sorts itself before I go.

Still so much to sort out including arranging three nights B&Bs, protein bags, Robin Hoods Bay arrival bag, water stops, bike shops, purchase a new rucksack, cheque I still have to make for Kidz2gether presentation tonight, arrange the fundraising event at Bowling Green for when we get back, posters for that, brewery, raffle prizes. My god the list never ends, I’ve never been this busy before!

I am secretly looking forward to it but my pessimistic side is constantly searching my memory banks checking for anything I might have forgotten which is exhausting!

Last night I spent two hours upgrading a GoPro bike mount to make it more stable. I’ll be glad I did this. I hope I have enough storage to capture everything. I might get Aidy’s folks at the Robin Hood’s Bay checkpoint to bring up my laptop so I can transfer my camera footage.

I’m mostly excited about the scenery and banter with Aidy and most nervous about the hills and my body giving up. I’ll could copy an Insanity stretch session to my phone which I can do every night at the B&Bs.

Overall I just hope I don’t let Aidy down nor let down everyone donating to the cause. We shall see how we do. I’ll look to do a blog every night to update everyone. I could read out people’s comments to Aidy that will get people commenting more. Nice idea!

Returning on TowerFM to update and promote my latest challenge

This morning I was invited back on TowerFM to give an update and promote my latest challege as their Twit Face of the day! As a reminder, the feature consists of three songs and then someone comes on to promote a cause and leave a Facebook or Twitter link so that people can find out more information. What was also amazing was the show was also being played live on WireFMPeakFM and WishFM, covering areas of Warrington, Wigan as well as Bolton.


Clip Length: 4 mins 00 secs

Click the speaker icon to listen


The Great North Swim 2014, Windermere

The Great North Swim 2014, what was supposed to be a simple day, an easy swim which wouldn’t be overwhelming. I practiced and had done many miles in the pool and also in Salford Quays……. so I thought I knew how the day would pan out – my predictions could not have been more wrong.

We left our house at 12:30 giving us four hours to get there in time – easy! En-route we picked up my sister, dropped off Seb at Ang’s mum n dad’s and got some fuel. It was 1:15 by the time we got on the motorway. Luckily my bruv was 30 mins in front of me and I asked him to let me know on his way to Ambleside if there were any traffic issues. We chose Ambleside because it was closer to the event location and didn’t involve us using the ferry saving us £££.

En route, my brother called to say not to bother with Ambleside as he was in a traffic jam and hardly moved for 20 minutes. So we parked in Bowness and decided to take the ferry.

After arriving at the ferry drop off, I was surprised to learn that there was a good 30 minute walk to the event location Low Wood Bay. We arrived at 15:50 so I decided to watch the 16:00 wave to get an idea of what goes on. After this and seeing Rebecca Adlington join in with this wave I noticed that there were a couple of people doing breaststroke so I was really pleased with this. At this point I decided to get ready.

I came out at 16:10, 20 mins before my time and was surprised to see that EVERYONE was already stood waiting at the start area. I thought I missed the acclimatisation and heard the guy on the mic “This is the very last time for people to check in for this final wave” – I was like AARGGGHH WHAT why am I so late? So I ran to the check in area (eventually finding the right side to check in), scanned my ankle chip timer with my wet suit that wasn’t zipped up, the guys helping me zip it up told me I hadn’t put it on properly and that I needed to pull the creases through so that they could zip up and close the wetsuit around my shoulders. They did this, I ran into the start area and my sister then said “Paul you’ve still got your trainers on”. I thought what an idiot the guys must have thought this when I scanned my chip.

At this point I was pretty annoyed at why I was so late even though it was still 15 mins before the swim start. I was quite stressed so I started to calm myself using my CBT and then I saw someone running into the acclimatisation area – I thought I’m coming too – asked the lady next to it if I could also and she said “You have like 30 seconds” – and 30 seconds later after getting used to the water, which didn’t feel massively cold, we were called out to start the body warm up with my wave.

Whilst focusing on the warm up I was thinking and comparing how I do warm ups with the AFC Masters and if I could incorporate some of the things with our guys. I was quite lost in the moment until during the warm up I could then see the floating marker points of the course…. MY GOD THEY WERE MASSIVELY SPACED APART!!! The half way point was a fair distance away you had to squint to see it! The weather at this point was very cloudy, a bit drizzly but warm enough. An Australian open water swimming champion gave us some warm words of advice of not pushing too hard initially and that the waters were very calm. He said the water is 17.9C and in Australia in the winter if the water is less than 20 degrees they refuse to swim it as it’s too cold. Lovely!

16:30 WE GO IN! First thoughts, yep not too bad the water, aim for that first 200m floating marker. It was a bit chaotic at first banging into people even though this was supposedly a small wave of people. My goggles started to steaming up but I was finding my rhythm early, getting my head underwater and pushing the stroke a little quickly at first around 90% pace, hoping that I would eventually relax into it doing longer stokes. I noticed a few swimmers were overtaking me doing front crawl, which was fine and a woman doing breaststroke who was a little faster than I was – I thought just do your thing Paul. You have your own agenda so stick to it – don’t worry about anyone else.

After the first 200m marker I stopped banging into people, and I eventually caught up to and overtook the breaststroke swimming woman. Then I noticed THE GUY who was also doing breaststroke. He was a big guy and very animated with his breaststroke – up and down with every stroke – quite impressive which started making me think about my own technique questioning it. The negativity creeps in ALL THE TIME and you have to fight it, ignore it or laugh it off and think of something positive.

Up to the 400m marker my mind was a constant tennis of good and bad thoughts. Good as in, wow isn’t this amazing, look at the  scenery, Paul you’re doing an open water swim, wow taking part in a challenge with loads of other people. Negative as in, PAUL this is fricking DEEP, you’re in the biggest lake in England, if you struggle here you’re going DOWN a long way!

Up to the 600m marker I realised that this guy and I were pretty well matched. I thought I was pushing a bit hard to be honest and this guy was a little ahead of me all the way up to the half way point so I thought I wasn’t racing him – again just focus on my own swim.

When we approached the half way point I noticed I was still with this guy, sod it I’m sticking with him. I’m being pushed here outside of my comfort zone and my pace was a little high, but I stuck with this guy because I thought if I let him go I’d just see a guy swimming away from me and I would be on my own swimming my own swim and it would seem a little pointless – I could at least see if I could beat this guy. NOW, what annoyed me the most is that this guy had the inside line all the way round the course so even at times when I was half a body ahead of him, every time we went around the floating markers he would make up the difference and level with me.

As we passed the half way point I noticed that I was tiring a bit and my back and legs would come in huge pangs of pain which I needed to ease off a little. I was choking a lot on the water, which resulted me in stopping in the water, panicking, getting my breathing back and carrying on. This allowed the guy to overtake me again. From the 200m marker I reckon we were never more than half a body length apart the whole way, chopping and changing with who was the leader. Reminded me of the Beowulf swimming clip:

Up to the final marker point, I started thinking I’ve been going around 90% pace all the way around, I reckon I have just enough energy to do him now. So at the final marker I went for it, around 95% pace before ultimately realising that I pushed too early. About half way between the final marker and the finishing area I realised I had no energy and I turned and saw he was still only half a body length away!!! NO!!! At this point I thought RIGHT he’s won it – I can’t compete anymore. So I let him go, I swam at around 80% pace and he was now a full body length away if not a little more than that. I was thinking at this point about planning talking to Ang and everyone else who came to support me that about how I tried but there is no shame in finishing second to this guy – the greatest breaststroke swimmer I’ve ever swam with (considering I’ve done thousands of lengths of breaststroke previously).

A third of the way left to swim between the final marker and the finish point, I realised that this guy wasn’t pulling away any more… so I thought OK I’ll up it a bit to 90% again for the final part… I was catching him! Just less than a body length away so I thought LETS DO IT!!! BOOM FULL 100% PACE I had a second wind and I was powering through, reeling him in…. I still thought I didn’t have enough time and approached a bridge finishing point. He was still a little bit ahead, half a body length in front. But I realised – it was not here that was the official finishing point, you had to get up the ramp out of the water – only there was your finish time made. AND GUESS WHAT… it was on my left…. I HAD THE INSIDE LINE THIS TIME! HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT PAL??? OOOUUUSHHHH!!!! I ran up the ramp with absolute no energy, and there were volunteers with smiles on their faces grabbing my hand pulling me up the ramp. There was Ang, Pete, Maria, Helen, Martin, Anna, Luke and his friend and I ran to them who were cheering! I said “Did I beat him?”. They said “YES you were the fastest breaststroke swimmer!!!”. GET IN!!!!

Finish time of 38:01

I said where is the guy? I want to shake his hand and I turned around and he was there and completely blanked me!?!? Fair play mate I felt nothing bad in my blood – if he beat me I would have still shook his hand and said “Good race buddy”. I then walked to the check out area and he was there again and still completely blanked me – I was a bit disappointed being honest! 😦 Oh well!

I got changed and it all started to become real. I just swam the fastest mile I could have ever done. I now wish I could thank the guy for pushing me and making it a brilliant race! I would have got a time of after 40 minutes otherwise. I got my goody bag which contained my t-shirt, medal and lots of food goodies. My shoulders were absolutely battered so I just crammed in the protein.

My brother showed me a video of me getting out of the water and I saw behind me running out of the water and up the ramp this guy was being carried out of the water by volunteers. It wasn’t just me keeping up with him – he was keeping up with me all the way. Wow I felt hugely proud of this. I also realised, scarily, that if my brother didn’t go ahead of me and realised that there was traffic I would have been stuck in it and missed my race!!!

I felt pretty good once we left the venue, getting sausage and chippy chips for tea before heading home for a celebratory beer session evening in Horwich with my best friends.

Now ends the fundraising of Daytrippers and Kidz2gether – two charities I’ve had the ultimate and incredible pleasure of meeting the most amazing people. What I did fair enough was tough at times – these guys crack on and give their time ALL THE TIME and have all been through some tough demanding times with their own kids or foster children. This has been an absolute pleasure doing this for you and is huge thank you for the incredible work you do. I’m sure that this is not the end of our relationship – if not it is just the beginning.

I’ll be presenting the cheques to the two charities on Wednesday – pictures and happy faces to follow soon!

Thanks for reading 🙂

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My Wave

GreatSwimResutlsI came 1679 out of 4000 – pretty happy with that consider it was breaststroke swimming, probably one of the fastest breaststroke swimming times

Bolton FM Second Radio Feature Update

Bolton FM have kindly updated their listeners on my progress with the Fierce Five Challenges. Andrew, the presenter updated everyone on my 1,000 length swim and that I’m doing the Great North Swim tomorrow! He also promoted the charities Daytrippers and Kidz2gether so that’s fantastic too!!!

Clip Length: 1 min 39 secs

Click the speaker icon to listen

A fantatic mention on Bolton FM – Thank you so much for the continued support you’ve given me.

C2C2C To Do

Still loads to do with 25 days to go before Aidy and I start this mammoth challenge.

Plan Route
We’ve got the provisional route sorted but need to plot the route exactly so I have the GPS waypoints stored so we can’t fail. Day One has been done already and I think Aidy and I are getting together this weekend to get the other seven days sorted.

Practice Day
I think Aidy and I are getting together this Saturday and doing Whitehaven to Keswick as a practice cycle to test nutrition etc. From this we can make any last minute changes we haven’t thought of previously.

Today I fired off an email to Tom Irving, my very own personal nutritional expert, and asked him about energy supplements I’ll need for the day. I did a quick calculation on this this morning and it came to 8.4kg of just EZ Fuel Endurance powder. That’s a lot of weight and a lot of costs (£60).

Extra Equipment
So I’ve recently purchased a waterproof phone holder and extra batteries. I’ll need a huge storage pouch for the nutrition AND probably an extra bottle. I’ll see if I can get hold of this from someone else. I also need to find my link repair tool and maybe extra puncture repair kits. Apart from this I think we are good to go 🙂

Water Stops
Obviously we’ll need constant hydration throughout the 8 days but I’ll also need water for so I can take in my energy supplement. I worked out my 1.5L Camelbak will last around 90 minutes so I will need to calculate pubs, shops or anything along the way which will provide free water.

Bike Shop Stops
We’ll need a full map of all of the bike stops along our three day route – just in case something bad happens to our bikes.

Bag Stops
Had a brainwave this morning – Aidy and I are going to be travelling super light throughout so I was concerned about having to carry clothes, nutrition, food etc. So instead we can make individual bags and drop them off at the B&Bs prior to our arrivals during the challenge. This will allow us to visualise the route and get to know the B&B owners prior to arrival. I could also perhaps set up some collection bucket/pots at each place. Once we complete the challenge we’ll then come back to pick up dirty clothes etc we left behind after each stop and reminisce of how successful we were. GENIUS!

Arrange final 2 nights B&B and finalise costs
Still need to finalise the B&B stops at Osmotherly and Keswick for the first and final running stops. It’s quite easy to think that this is another financial downer on us… BUT LOOK AT WHAT WE’VE GOT SORTED ALREADY!! Lots of free B&Bs so we’ll get this sorted. I’ll also need to finalise costs of evening food, daily nurtition and money owed to B&Bs.