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!

Two days after GNR, A&E trip no. 2

Back to A&E, second time since after the 1,000 length swim but this time there was no ambulance I am pleased to announce. The leg is still as painful as it was yesterday so I needed to get it checked out. I called 111 NHS Direct and they ordered me to go to A&E as they thought I might have had a stress fracture resulting in around 6 weeks out of action! Please God No!

Thankfully A&E confirmed that it was just tissue damage. The doctor assessing me REMEMBERED me from the last time I was in there, asking me “You do like punishing yourself don’t you?”.

So now I’m just caked up on painkillers and ibuprofen which has shot up my anxiety levels which isn’t nice. I’ve had to take the day off work which the boss has been cool about and I think I’ll need tomorrow off as Ang has the car and no way I can get the train in.

Post GNR Pain

Since yesterday I’ve had a sleep and I’ve woken up to the most agonising pain in my left leg. I can’t put any weight down at all on my left calf muscle. My sister is saying go to A&E but I’ll refrain from ever going to that place if I can. I’ve asked to see if I can borrow my dad’s crutches for the short term and at the moment I’m just wheeling about on my computer chair making brews and keeping busy whilst I enjoy the day off work.

Now with hindsight would I have done anything differently? No not really – the injuries are a result of over training when I should have been resting and walking on injured legs during the C2C2C challenge. The over training is the nature of the beast of doing Five Challenges in such a short period of time, that had ALSO been a huge challenge for me physically and mental to fit everything in.
I don’t regret running the GNR with a sore leg and I’m still proud of completing it without stopping. The time doesn’t bother me as I knew it became a completely different race after the half way mark when things started to hurt and it was just a matter of getting there in one or as little pieces as possible (drama queen).
I am tempted to do it again and aim to do it around 1:45 and NOT get an injury lol! I’d probably do it with someone else though who could push me around.

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.

20140907_023614_Crown Ln20140907_030040_Leicester Ave

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.

20140907_030813_King St20140907_031934

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!

20140907_084800_Barras Bridge

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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T’was the night before GNR

Probably the least difficult of the ‘Fierce Five Challenges’ being honest, but the stress levels since Tuesday have been on another level and I mean REALLY stressed and anxious where I’ve had a dull sick feeling in my chest all week. Today it was the worst having headaches and being irritable and panicky and horrible. WHY? I don’t know!!!
Perhaps it’s to do with the fact that last night I posted my travel plans of parking at the finish line for 7am – everyone replied you’ve no chance parking at that time and cutting it short with getting to the start area in time. It wasn’t just that it was the way some spoke to me acting a little sinister and not nice. So today I’ve had to decide that we’re getting up at 2am to set off at 3am to arrive there for 6am. MADNESS! I met up with Jonathan Turnbull, the guy who did the Tough Mudder with me and we went through some hotels last minute. Not a chance. £200 a night in Newcastle and the £69 hotels 30 miles out were all booked. I was stressed because I didn’t particularly want to stay in a B&B the night before but I admit that getting up at 2am for a 10:40am start run is crazy.
Perhaps also the anxiety is also due to that my injuries have made a slight dull return today, my left hamstring, ankle and knee having been doing my head in. I bought some state of the art tape as recommended by Johnny and I’ve got everything ready.

Jonathan gave me some good advice and said to stop worrying about everything and just start concentrating on the race and on how much you’ll enjoy it! He’s absolutely right! I was buzzing and excited before the Great North Swim so I need to get into the same mentality for tomorrow.

I just hope my legs stay in there and I can put in a decent time of around 2 hours. A sub 2 hours was once achievable but now with the injuries and lack of running and fitness I’ll be happy with a 2 hour finish or there abouts.

4 days before GNR – Legs much better

The pains have almost completely gone from my calves and quadriceps, still a bit there on my left ankle bit in hoping that will also clear for Sunday.



The weather forecast looks perfect for the run. Not too hot, light winds – but again this is the North East and anything can change in terms of weather in the next 4 days.

I’m feeling relatively less anxious about it now although on Monday I was having a particular rubbish day with my anxiety getting me down, probably a mixture of pre-run nerves, being behind in work with my main job and also being behind in work with the extra part time work I also do including graphics work for a bar and teaching a guy about the basics of IT.

Today I feel much better and after tonight I can start to relax and think about the run and calm my mind.

I just don’t want to get another injury or niggle which will ruin my run and I just want to enjoy the day.

6 days before GNR – Progress/Injuries Report….

Legs are getting there but are still a bit sore at times around the left ankle and left quads. The left calf seems OK now and my right leg is absolutely fine. I’d LOVE to go out for a run but terrified of picking up an injury or stressing my legs ruining my chances of doing the GNR on Sunday. 

So I don’t plan to run this week which will be 3 weeks or around 12 runs I’ve missed out on because of the injury. 13 miles is going to be so tough but like the other four challenges I’ve done this year I am SO mentally strong and I WILL complete this on Sunday unless I receive a horrific injury. The good news is that Angela and Sebastian will be there so this will encourage me massively to get it done when comparing it to having no one there.

The weather is looking pretty decent for it although this is 6 days away AND being the North East which is unpredictable. 


I’ve already said I’ll have missed 3 weeks of running because of the injury and it’s beginning to show, putting on 7lbs of weight due to still eating and drinking like a king. Friday I didn’t have any beers but I more than made up for this on Saturday’s pretty much all day session football and a surprise 30th party. Yesterday I was hungover, had huge oven fish and chips and Eaton mess which I made for me and Ang – so I can’t COMPLETELY blame the injury for the weight gain. It’ll all come off though pretty quickly as my metabolism is still decent at the moment.

I suppose because I know I can’t do Sunday to a high pace I’ve just been laid back with the diet and not being able to train – I’m just going to go for it at an easy 70% pace and enjoy the day – this is after all the cherry on the top of a hard summer of events for me!

And still the legs are broken :oops:

It’s now been 15 days since my last proper training run which was only an 8 mile run. My legs, ankles etc are still not right which is really concerning me. It isn’t ache pain either but a dull injured pain which flares up when getting out of a chair or walking down to the station.

I feel stupid knowing the cause of it was the 10 mile run 8 days ago which I cancelled 3 miles into after forcing myself to run on sore legs. Silly boy. I’m definitely not going to be able to do the Great North Run elegantly in 11 days but I shall give it my all even if I’m limp/walking.

Legs still sore… COME ON! I need to run!

Both legs are now really sore, this is the third rest day and it’s still bad. Was hoping to complete that 10 mile run this weekend but if I see no signs of recovery soon it could be next weekend when I should be toning down my runs PLUS I don’t want to injure myself just before the GNR.

Calm down Paul, remember the week before Tough Mudder when your left hand was in a brace and you ended up being OK……

Legs still sore… COME ON! I need to run!

Both legs are now really sore, this is the third rest day and it’s still bad. Was hoping to complete that 10 mile run this weekend but if I see no signs of recovery soon it could be next weekend when I should be toning down my runs PLUS I don’t want to injure myself just before the GNR.

Calm down Paul, remember the week before Tough Mudder when your left hand was in a brace and you ended up being OK……