Return of the ‘Real Boys’

By | Biking, Uncategorized

Breaking the Law… The heavy metallic door clanged slowly open, in stark contrast to the frantic barking from within.  Tony froze, already committed to the far side of rusted razor wire that littered the floor, whilst the rest of us quickly weighed up options and decided to talk our way out of this trouble.  A tubby soldier in sweaty fatigues exited the building, already waving a single hand in the classic dismissive Italian gesture.  Playing dumb is an art and fortunately few play dumber than our crew; spluttered words of broken Italian, vacant expressions and a rapid exit past several…

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Life Begins – The World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships

By | Running

Getting Wood… Was the original title for this blog, a cheap innuendo based around avenging last year’s sprint-finish defeat by Team GB’s Jack Wood, by pipping him high on the misty upper-slopes of Mount Sniezka in this latest edition of the World Champs.  But although many careers have been forged on puerile humour, it’s a poor way to encapsulate the suffering, drama and satisfaction of being part of the premier event in the mountain running calendar, particularly when Jack is young, fast and will have his revenge many times over.  And so instead, something more serious will form the real…

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Prioritising Pain

By | Running

I had an interesting conversation today with a mate I’ve not seen in a while.  He’s signed up for a half Ironman this year, and also a full Ironman next year, guaranteeing well over twelve months of self-motivation.  Like Aidy, I’m a huge believer in having future goals, reasons to drag yourself out in the lashing rain and cutting wind over the dark months beyond the simple wish to not get fat or unhealthy. I could see he regretted telling me that completing the course was his sole aim as soon as the fact left his lips, instantly realising he’d…

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Fluctuating Fish – The 64th Yorkshire Three Peaks Race

By | Running

Big Fish, Small Pond I love the Northern Irish mountain running scene, although of late I’ve been rather invisible within it.  It’s buoyant, flourishing and boasts many brilliantly organised events, from the iconic Slieve Donard race to the prestigious Mourne Skyline, with many other classics between.  With evening club races attracting over 350 runners, it’s clear to see that fell running in N.I. is no longer solely the preserve of the grizzled minority, and many new faces are being lured away from the gimmick laden world of compulsory finishers medals and garish t-shirts towards the purity of the open hills….

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The Theory of Evolution – Stanton Switch9er First Impressions

By | Biking

I love living in Northern Ireland, the people are friendly and the trails are superb, but it can be a melting pot for extreme viewpoints, from individuals who otherwise appear moderate.  A few years back I was surprised to discover how many here take a literal reading to religious doctrine, firmly believing that Earth is a mere handful of thousand years old, shunning accepted theories of Darwinism and genuinely contesting that one busy week for their deity was enough to create all we see.  These Creationists have infiltrated the upper-strata of society in worryingly prominent positions of influence, despite the…

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JFDI

By | Running

Many years ago I had a boss called Ed, a brash, self-assured Mancunian, a man both larger and louder than life.  Ed had a catch phrase, JFDI (just f***ing do it!), regularly reeled out to silence hapless staff as they stuttered out excuses over solutions.  There was no comeback, no argument, resistance futile to the connotations of the sentence, the final vowel dragged out long enough to drown the most vehement protestations… ‘JFDIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII’ I liked Ed, my kind of leader, a zero bullshit type in an industry full of perpetual talkers.  His ‘can and will do’ attitude echoed and shaped…

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Bitten On The Arse

By | Running

Sometimes you just have to let the fitness come to you… Recently, in defiance of notable leg-speed limitations I won a Cross Country race.  And not just any race, it was a national title, albeit the Masters title (for moderately more mature athletes) but still a prestigious and highly competitive event.  It was a huge surprise to me and no doubt also to the gathered experts of Northern Irish running, given that I have virtually no pedigree in the discipline barring an Ulster Intermediate team gold medal acquired several years back that owed a lot more to the strength of my…

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Travels With The Tranny – Biking The Tour Of Mont Blanc

By | Biking

F*ck, f***********ck screamed Brian, hurling his bike into the dust, the naked spindle of his SPD staring back up at him where the pedal body should’ve been.  Instinctively I began to run down the steep, rooty trail, sensing that this was a pivotal moment in our attempt with morale and motivation hanging in the balance.  The pedal part was easy to locate and not for the first time I thanked my running fitness as I jogged back up to my beleaguered friend.  The mood lightened fleetingly until we realised that hand tightening was insufficient and we’d no sensible option but…

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All Dressed Up With Nowhere To Go

By | Running

Personal Bests I broke a PB today.  Actually, re-phrase that, I smashed a PB today, decimated it, tore it a new hole, and not just any PB, it was the test piece route that I return to time and again, and have done for many years now.  Brilliant! My ‘Tollymore Boundary Route’ is an 8.1 mile circumnavigation of the whole of Tollymore Forest, tracking the boundary over two shapely lumps that provide 355m of climbing on stony, gritty and sometimes greasy forest trail.  Over the years times have dropped rapidly, stagnated, dropped again and sometimes risen but been on a…

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The Power Of Certainty

By | Running

I wake groggily, the weak grey light forcing through a crack in the curtains.  Gusting wind driving rain at the window in sheets, flexing the perspex and sapping my will to rise.  Slipping back out of consciousness I shelve the planned early morning session, later, later… The next time I’m truly aware of what’s going on is about 45 minutes later.  I feel myself rejoining my body, vision becoming clear and I’m no longer in my bed.  Heart rate is pumping and hamstrings a touch tight, I’m a quarter of the way into my eight-mile testpiece and moving well.  Obviously…

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