Thursday, 24 December 2015

PACT 2016

2016 Challenge to raise money for Birmingham Children's Hospital and their research and treatment of Child Brain Tumours (the most common form of childhood cancer). They don't only help the kids of Birmingham. Their work benefits kids nationwide!
Our Aim
500 Poppyfielders
500,000 miles
A simple, straight forward race to 500,000 miles! All we have to do is exercise everyday in 2016 and log our exercise miles. If we miss a day we pay a £1 fine to the cause (max £10 per month). Who's with me?
You define your exercise so it can be a 5 mile run or a 1 mile shuffle. It can be 10 press ups or a 2 hour weights session in the gym. It can be a Zumba marathon or a 20 mins yoga class. 30 mins on the exercise bike or 2 hours on the road in the rain! Its your challenge and your exercise so don't fret that you've got to break yourself everyday. Rest days are important and its easy to exercise on a rest day too.
The aim is for us all to improve our health and fitness and raise money to help improve the lives of others less fortunate than ourselves.
If you want to register and do nothing but pay a tenner a month then that's fine with me. Anyone can join at anytime so spread the word.
It is this simple:-
1. Pay a £5 registration fee at or simply text PACT57 £5 to 70070. It's easier for us if you tick gift aid and tell us who you are in the message!
2. Exercise everyday in 2016 and pay a £1 charity fine for each day you miss (up to a maximum monthly fine of £10). Pay on the above link in a monthly lump sum or text PACT57 £1 to 70070.
3. Rope in as many of your mates, colleagues, clubmates, family to join the challenge.
4. Log your exercise miles from 1st Jan 2016 (details of how will be confirmed before 1st).
All donations go straight to Birmingham Children's Hospital via Justgiving. Justgiving take a nominal percentage of online donations for providing their services however if you donate by text the full amount goes to the charity. This challenge is based on your circumstances and is judged by your honesty. It is your challenge! We will do our best to support, cajole, encourage and assist but if we are going wrong anywhere or something isn't working right or needs a tweak just let me know either on the FB group ( ) or on twitter @sidowski
Good luck with your miles and thank you sincerely for helping kids fight brain tumours, We know the difference you make!
Warning: Participating in this challenge will make you more awesome than you already are, it will give you a sense of achievement and pride, a warm toasty satisfaction that comes with making a difference.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Equinox Morph 2015

This is truly difficult to put into words although I will probably now ramble on and add quite a few. The essence of the event is a conglomerate of awesome kindness. If you took the 1300/1400 people involved in the event overall and asked them to run the country this nation would be filled with people holding doors open for others, allowing motorists to pull out in traffic, saying thank you and please, helping someone carry something heavy, treating everyone else with respect, saying good morning to each other and dishing out manhugs like sweets! I've said before that every 18-21 year old should be made to train for and complete an iron distance triathlon. As an alternative I would allow them to opt for Equinox as a solo. The amount you learn about yourself and others in the 24 hrs cannot be taught in any other arena. 

The stuff you witness and experience in the 24 hours is a world away from the daily shitty mind numbing grind that comes with being trapped in a job you hate, in a shit industry, where everyone is clambering over each other, its a world away from the motorist trying to kill you because he perceives his inability to overtake you on your bike as your fault and is prepared to end your life in momentary rage, its a world away from worry and stress and finances and sickness and illness!

Ironically being a solo is truly selfish. Concentrate on No 1 and just try to keep going is the key. The challenge for me is to see what I can do in 24 hours after last year slacking and stopping at about 10:30am. The will wasn't there to do just one more lap. This year I would crack on until the end.

Now, I am lucky, very lucky! I have a quite unbelievably awesome wife, Michelle, two cracking kids in Ellie and G Man and an extended family of Poppyfielders just about wherever I go. At Eqiunox Michelle, G Man and myself pitched the Team Poppyfields base on the back straight of the field on the Friday night. Soaked up some atmosphere while England knocked off Fiji and did a bit of mingling. I met some Outlaw pals including Dutchy who kindly said hello with a shoulder massage! His wife and kids looked set for some serious supporting and marshalling. I said hello to Glenn who I need to thank for most of the pics on here , Johnny and Laura who seemed remarkably chilled, Stewart Sale gearing up for some 'shot laps' in a relay team, Sarah who had won the Beer mile run, Lozza who was really looking forward to going solo for the first time and Kate who was back to defend her title. You wouldn't guess from the relaxed atmosphere that everyone was preparing for a 24 hour running race! After getting a snack (most fantastic burger ever from the exceptional Pop up Cafe) we ambled back to get some sleep. G Man asking on the way if I was famous because "everyone knows you are Sid".

After a night of extreme discomfort, lack of sleep, cold, howling dogs, singing sheep and crowing cockerels (do cockerels crow?) I was up at about 8.30am to a gorgeously sunny day. The next  few hours raced by as I pitched my solo tent, got my kit ready and looked after No 1. A kind solo let me use his car for my annual '90 mins 9 pairs of contact lenses' Morph vision prep and the rest of the time was spent meeting up with lovely kind people. Matt and Emma with the Pirate clan, Lena and Billy, Andy and his team pitched next to Team Poppyfields and just loads of well wishers for the 24 hours ahead as well as congratulations for the Outlaw BMX effort!

I tried (twice) for a lucky pre race poo. Body wasn't interested and once the Morphsuit was on I wasn't intending to go again for 24 hours! We listened to the briefing but really everyone by then just wanted to get cracking. Mich was taking the first lap for Team Poppyfields. She gave me the 'you've got this' hug and kiss and we were ready. Just before getting to the start a couple approached and asked if I was the BMX Bandit from Outlaw. I said I was and they asked if their lad could have his pic taken with me. The lad was wearing his 'Future Outlaw' T Shirt and had waited out in the rain to make sure I got the BMX back to t2 in time at Outlaw. What an ace lad! Of course I couldn't refuse.

I met Kaine and Bear in the starting pen and a few others. I moved towards the back with the intention of running 12 mins/mile. Took a moment to appreciate the fact it was 20 plus degrees under a scorching sun and I was in a Black Tuxedo Morphsuit!! Then we were off.

The run itself is a repeated 10.125km lap and it went a bit like this:-

Lap 1 - A steady pleasant plod round with Solo 59 Wolvo Paediatric medical man discussing all things Poppyfields and Childrens Hospitals!

Lap 2 - Somewhat more of a struggle as it became apparent early on that not only was it ridiculously hot but the new Morphsuit was acting as a cheese grater on the hairs on my chin!

Lap 3 - Was more of a struggle as the lack of running preparation became apparent and all of it became difficult.

Lap 4 & 5 however were positively lovely. Not sure why or what was different but I felt strong.

Lap 6 - Revealed to me that 4 & 5 were just toying with me as 6 was easily the most miserable lap of the day. Nothing was right. Stuff was hurting and mentally I was almost resigned to calling it a day. Indeed as I finished lap 6 my intention was to bail!

Lap 7 - The problem with bailing is that there are too many people willing you on and there is always someone to hold your hand. For me it was, as ever, Mich. She had sat me down and fed me a burger at the end of 6. She was very matter of fact that I would continue and she would walk 7 with me while the burger went down! We did and it was probably my favourite lap. 

Lap 8 - Was much better. Slow run/walk but I felt better despite my ass hairs doing their best to grate my inner cheeks!

Lap 9 - I have no idea but I think Mich joined me.

Lap 10 - No recollection at all which is odd as 10 was where I gave up last year so it was quite a milestone.

Lap 11 - Was a good one with Mich and Flamingo lady. The chatter being a great distraction. I ummed and arred throughout as to whether to do a 12th! I finished 11 at 11:20am. Johnny offered another lap...I accepted!

Lap 12 - Mich had rubbed my legs and set me up to go out on lap 12. She went off to wait for a team member to return so she could hopefully do a last lap herself. I marched (wobbled) on. It soon became clear that lap 12 wasn't gonna happen at least not on my own. As I rounded the first field I was all over the place. Very weak and uncoordinated. I had stopped for a breather and unzipped the hood of the morphsuit just after 1km. I had stopped. Truly wondering if I could do 12! I tried to pull myself together. A team caught me up and one of them offered to re zip me as I was clearly struggling. I got chatting to the guys telling them why I was suffering in a Morphsuit and I started to walk. The distances started to tick down as we passed 2km then 3km. We walked the hill reasonably well and from the top you know the back of the lap is broken with less than 5km left to go. Mich and Ken breezed by on their last lap ignoring my pleas to stay with me. (They marched on to be at the finish when I got there!) I was overtaken by 'Scottish Lady' who I had seen throughout ploughing on lap after lap. We chatted briefly as we tackled 'That Hill' for the last time. She was on her 18th and about to win with a new course female record! My adopted team saw me into the finish straight. The last competitor out there. Ellie and G Man ran me in as I carried the Team Bear flag with the motto 'Suffer but NEVER surrender'. Somewhat apt considering! As I approached the line the reception was truly outstanding. A humbling experience that I will enjoy for a long time. I applauded everyone as I finished as without all of them I wouldn't have got much further than lap 2!

What is missing from this recap is the massive impact everyone had on my 12 laps. I've name checked a few but that doesn't even scratch the surface of the help I received. Everyone who walked with me, ran with me, laughed at me, pointed at me, cheered me on, slapped me on the back, hi-fived me were equally instrumental in my effort. Mike Wells dropped in to support on each day and ran with me, Johnny walked me round the field from the crossroads at the end of a night lap, Shabba's let me warm up at their fire every lap as did 'solo support lady' just up from the finish and the group of blokes across the top by the field entrance, Cara and David (pairs) checked on me each time I passed & Kaine each time he ran by, Ade walked a couple of sections with me, the original Morphman Phillip Box gave me a nudge every time he went by, Suz and Tan took it in turn to do sections with me and Billy was both the provider of support at the top of the field and the deliverer of bad news when telling me how the Villa had got on, Cooker and the Alvechurch support crew kids were a constant highlight as was the varying levels of abusive shouts from Kate as she chased her way through the leader board, Wilko was his usual irritating tree hiding self and if the truth be told I preferred Barrister dancing with Mrs Wilk anyway, rapid Scottish guy delivered a good luck message from Colin Thompson at home in Aberdeed, Duane Roberts' words of encouragement despite him being gutted to have to pull out with a calf tear, Lena was a complete inspiration with a show of strength and determination I can only marvel at, every marshall was ace, Dutchy could manhug a grizzly, Disco Dave could Disco all night, The Peaky Blinder had Haribos, Laura making sure I was ok at the end of each lap, The Pirates giving me a constant shout, '1st time Ruth' and Amanda SBR and even Mr 'I'm gonna run through you rather than go around' kept my mind off the grind for a km or two, the sound of the Team Bear cowbells was one of the loveliest sounds to hear on the way down from the water stations, they provide superb hugs and the Team Bear Hoodie saw me through the night without a hint of the temperature issues I suffered last year. 

Of course, the highlight and most heart warming moment of each lap was seeing Team Poppyfields. Last year they were in the middle of the field so I didn't get to see them very often and they missed out on supporting. They made up for it big style this year and it meant I got to see Mich and the kids at least once a lap. All three of them taking it in turns to race over from the Team to my solo base to sort me out with whatever I needed and to give the emotional boost that means so much!

If anyone is in any doubt about how appreciated they are please don't be. I cant find the words to express how important you all are and I know I will have missed people out. That's not deliberate nor out of ignorance but just because my head is still spinning from the overwhelming kindness everyone showed towards me.

It is odd that we are called solo's as the team behind this solo makes us a very large team! I said to Johnny that whatever 'it' is that he and Laura do, whether by design or accident, however big this event gets, can they please keep doing 'it' because if they can keep hold of the atmosphere or the Soul of this event (as Lozza blogged it) it will remain the special event it has become.

A brief mention for some absentees. Chris Bennett who helped me so much last year was taking on the Brutal Ironman in Snowdon and by all accounts he smashed it. Particularly on my mind throughout and a great help in shutting up the legs was Doddi and JP tackling the Triple Brutal Ironman. 60 odd hours of intense brutality. When it began to sting at Equinox I only had to think of what they were up too!

All this nonsense in a Morphsuit is for Birmingham Children's Hospital and their treatment and research into child brain tumours. The most common form of childhood cancer. Without BCH Poppy wouldn't have been there this weekend to do a lap of her own. The true focus should be on the cause, the kids, the fundraising, the awareness. Don't look to me as a hero or legend or whatever other wonderful superlative you laid at my door. I am just an idiot seeking redemption. a menagerie of mistakes trying to atone. The true Heroes are the kids looking up and the adults holding up. True Heroes are all of you that have helped make a difference! 

I have asked a lot of family and friends of late and put immense pressure on Mich and the kids. Despite this and in amongst the turmoil of life Mich remains my one true constant, the true strength behind the idiot in the Morphsuit!

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Pre Event Morph plea

Morph on the course

The morning after

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Best Way To Spend A Sunday!

My head is still spinning as much as my legs are still phantom spinning the B’stard BMX! Putting this challenge into words (and pics) has been difficult, not least who i saw where and who said what? Needless to say, and know this, you're all truly ace whether you're mentioned or not. Your impact has been huge!

The condensed version is that I got the BMX back to T2 with 20 mins to spare before the cut off after a 7:56 bike leg! That means I hit the two main targets of the day. To get to t2 in time but to also go sub 8hrs on the bmx. I then took far too long to Morph the marathon and finished overall in 16hrs 33mins and 13 s and not last! In fact it was a 12 mins PB! Everyone went “Woo Hoo” and the fundraising went through the roof! Job done.

If you’re satisfied with that just pop onto - chuck in a few more quid for Birmingham Children’s Hospital and I’ll leave you with a truly sincere thank you for all your help and support! Thank you.

Of course, for anyone more interested in the nitty gritty, there is a lot more to the Outlaw BMX challenge than that. The idea was born out on the bike course in 2013 as temperatures peaked at 34 degrees and I was melting in the Morphsuit. Wondering how this could be made harder and knowing I struggle most with the bike leg, I thought a BMX attempt would be a worthy twist. I mentioned it to Outlaw MC Kyle at the Outlaw half in 2014. He laughed…..a lot but said that he didn’t think I would be allowed. I mentioned it to a few people that know about cycling. Good cyclists. They simply didn’t think it was possible. I respected their opinion, ignored it, got the appropriate permission from the British Triathlon Federation and then One Step Beyond who put on Outlaw. I signed up and then announced to anyone who would listen that I was going to BMX Outlaw as my 2015 challenge. I didn’t know if it was possible. I am a 16 hr 45 mins finisher on a lightweight 18 gear road bike with big wheels, gears (ahh gears…I miss gears) and thin tyres. So, as a challenge for a poor athlete like myself it was pretty huge! For any of the good competitors out there it wouldn’t be as much of a challenge. Lets face it, if you put Lucy Gossage on the BMX she would whizz it round in about 6 hours I reckon. For me though it was pretty huge. I then had to get a BMX and see if I could do it. Therein lay the true challenge. I was now laid bare to potential failure embarking on a challenge that I had no idea whether it was possible.

I did some training. I rode only the BMX for 8 months. My roadie is still tucked away. I got average speeds of nearly 17mph on short rides up to about 15 miles and a steady 15.5mph on a 64 mile hilly ride just 5 weeks or so before Outlaw. If the conditions were kind and if the last 40 miles weren’t too much of a shock ( I only trained up to 72) then the magic minimum average speed of 14mph was there. As long as the 'ifs and buts' were in my favour.

On Saturday 25th I took the BMX to HPP to rack. I took it round the lake first and sat for a moment paused at the finish. Looking down the fenced off red carpet wondering if perhaps I had pushed things too far. If indeed I had set myself up for a massive fall. The possible/impossible dispute in my head had raged for a week. Intensely so. As in flicking between the two several times a second. In the final few days I had lost control of my focus and emotions. Sat there, looking at the finish and in the hope of a moment of clarity that never came, I resigned myself to the inevitable. Get racked, do briefing, keep head down and accept whatever Sunday brings.

That’s when it started, the surge of support that swelled from that point on, that became almost overwhelming, that brings with it a pressure on a new level. I’d avoided people until this point, almost sneaked into registration undetected when straight away I get an “alright Sid, you all set for tomorrow?” He turns to his mate “ this is Sid, you know, that nutter I told you about that’s doing it on a BMX!”. As I leave registration to sneak the BMX into racking and sort my bags out another voice “ are you the BMX Bandit? Can I have a sit on the BMX?” Two rapid looking, fit, healthy and young athletes take a look at my bike and wish me all the best. They are unlikely to see me on the day. They look like 10/11 hour finisher types. A few pats on the back and “good luck you nutter” later and I have only made it 100 yds down by the finish and on my way to rack the bike.

I bump into Kyle. He is already on the mic due to the swimming events on at the same time. He seems chuffed to see me and stoked to have a go on the BMX. He hands it back to me with a look of ‘i truly wish you all the best but I’m not sure it can be done’ on his face. Straight away though he blows my cover (if walking along with a BMX was any cover at all) and announces that I am there, announces the charity and this is my confirmation that there is no backing out now. After a few people have had their pics taken and handed me the change in their pocket for the charity I get down to rack the BMX. It didn’t quite blend in next to the quality bikes around it. The comedy value was priceless but really? Was it really possible to complete Outlaw on a BMX? I still didn’t know.

Briefing was ace purely because of all the great people I met for the first time who wished me well but also old friends who’d battled this course with me before. After a whirlwind few hours I truly believed that every sentence said to me had to end with “ you nutter “ and my favorite phrase was “see you on the run”. Andy Holgate said that to me in 2012 when I had no chance of completing the bike let alone the run……I did of course see him on the run.  I struck deals with several friends to see them on the run. Not sure if I was using it to convince myself or to allay fears that others had for themselves.

The bike and kit were sorted, the world, it seemed, was with me and I went home to sort my nutrition and try and sleep. Focus still awry and emotions still too fluid for my liking but safe in the knowledge there was nothing left to do to prepare.

Sunday morning was a quiet drive to Nottingham and as tradition now dictates I sang along to the Joshua Tree much to Michelle’s annoyance. She laughed a couple of times when a tear sneaked down my face. Emotions still all over the place but this was the first time Michelle was going to be there all day so despite the emotions I held no fear for the day ahead!

As we pulled up to HPP the traffic queue was long. Mich gave me a kiss and told me that there was only two ways I was not going to do this. 1. If the bike is broken in half 2. If I was broken in half. With that she booted me out the car to go and prepare as she parked up.

Walking in was weird. A few Zombie like half rubber clad athletes armed with track pumps and kit bags wondered towards the bikes. The flip and flop of their flip flops piercing the sizeable irritability bubble in my brain. The sun was beginning to pierce the tops of the trees, the grass carried the lightest of dew and the smell was the fresh pitch smell of a Saturday morning 1st XV outing some 27 years earlier. A first timer was ahead chatting to a marshal. He was worried about the bike. I skipped past and told him to relax and to stay ahead of the guy on a BMX. If he does that I would definitely see him on the run. The marshal chuckled and I walked down to the bikes.

Checked the bike and offered to swap it with a few of the others. There were no takers. Everyone seemed relaxed. No real panic to be seen. I had a final look at the awesome sunrise over the lake. Emotions settled as I imagined swimming out to the first turn buoy. A focus that had been AWOL for a few days returned. No nerves, no fear just a determination and focus. The only way my day was going to finish was down the red carpet.

Once suited I walked to the start bays. On the way a medical marshal zipped me up and I got a wave from Mich who had parked and got to the start in time for the off. She’s ace but then you all know that because I keep telling you and many of you know that for yourselves. She always says she is with me every step of the way and she really is. As well as my feed station bike times written on my arm I had the Doer of Deeds speech on my calf and a Latin phrase on my knee. It translates to Pride Confidence Heart & Happiness. She is always with me.

Into the water on the edge of bay 2 towards bay 3 and I get a good luck from Chris Bennett and Vicky Clarke. It’s a strange place to meet but a weirdly comforting place to meet. I apologised to those around me as I warmed the water a little, shouted a Hello to the race director Iain who really does think there is something wrong with me and before I knew it we were off. I got into a good relaxed stroke straight away. Took a couple of smacks to the head and had to weave around some horizontalers but other than that the out stretch was unremarkable. The sunrise was guiding us up the lake and warming us at the turn. I found similarly paced swimmers either side of me on and off throughout the swim and at the turn I felt great. No cramps no twinges. Nothing to worry about. Focus was entirely on the turn buoys and then on the finish. I ticked off the metres in my head as the lake landmarks went by. I coughed a couple of times through the water towards the end and did my first ever underwater sneeze but I loved the swim. Loved it. There was a bit of argy bargy toward the exit which meant I was stronger placed in the field than before and I wobbled out to a 1:27 time! 10 mins better than 2013 and an 8 mins PB. Not the 1:20 I had dreamed of but I was happy. Drunk legs got me to the strippers who whipped off the wetsuit and in I went to T1!

In my head I blasted T1 in 5 mins. In reality the scoffing of the cheese wrap, can of Vimto, 3 top layers of kit and everything else had actually taken 16 mins. Something to amuse the IM Talk commentators I have since heard. I ran (walked) out to the bike, got a huge shout out from the MC, loads cheering me on from the crowd and got another wave from Mich. As I reached the BMX the camera crew were waiting ( I later found out they had been there when I got out of the water but had sloped off for a coffee and bacon sarnie because I had taken so long in transition).

MC Kyle came running over and looked so pleased for me. He so wanted me to get this done. He sent me on my way as Annie asked a couple of questions for the camera. I cant remember at all what was said. I stood at the mount line with cheers of “Shift in” ringing in my ears from the PFI crew. Smiled to myself. Got on the BMX and steeled myself for 8 hours of 100rpm cadence 14mph BMX spinning!

How can I describe the bike leg? I think it is probably beyond my limited descriptive talents. It was horrific and awesome in equal measure. I’ve done stuff in the past that requires persistence but this was something else. The bike is heavy and most of the pressure is on my forearms. I lose feeling in my hands after about 40 miles and I get ulnar nerve problems which give pins and needles or a constant smacking of the funny bone type feeling. Ironically named because it is in no way funny. I had to keep the cadence high throughout due to it being single speed so if I overtook you on a hill or incline I promise I wasn’t taking the piss it was just me trying to keep the cadence up. Once the cadence drops it is very hard to recover.

I set off around the lake with a ridiculous amount of support and cheers. My mind was seeking control. Don’t go off to fast! I overtook two roadies on the lake lap both of whom took me back later on. The adrenaline was a little out of control as I left HPP and hit the roads.

I was racing on feel and I had no timing or speed device on me. I could feel I was on the limit but I wasn’t struggling and banked a few fast miles along the undulating outward section to the islands and down to the Pirate feed station. I reached the Pirates but didn’t stop first time round. Slowed to give a thumbs up and grab a bottle but I cracked on. The official time shows I was at 16.11 mph ave up to that point. Ahead of what was required as a minimum and probably a little too quick for the long haul as my legs started to feel tired around the Southern loop. The only real doubt I had was during the first Southern loop. The Nottingham wind was with us and the legs weren’t quite blasting up the undulations like they had been in training. I passed a few roadies, they passed me back and this set a tone for the day. I would guess that off those I overtook at some point 70% got me back within a few miles. The other 30% I didn’t see again.

Two roadies had overtaken me just before the small lump towards the hairpin on the Southern loop. I took them towards the top and whilst one of them got me again just before the hairpin the BMX handling on the fast downhill section was an advantage. It flew down the winding downhill and it was these moments and sections that made the day such fun. Through Car Coulson off the Southern Loop was great as crowds had built up and Mich was there to cheer me through. What a difference it was to have Mich out on the course for me.

As I left the Southern loop the support at the islands was brilliant with Team Bear in full voice and cowbell mental! I blasted over the ridge and began the long road to the Northern loop. I began to feel good, to feel strong. I knew I was still 20 mins ahead of schedule having checked my time at the first two feed stations and I think this was a big help. I seemed to whizz down to the turn off for Oxton Bank. Every shout or thumbs up or double take from the riders going the other way was a boost. I felt great.

I switched the camera on for Oxton bank about a mile out. I was catching a roadie before we had even got to the hill. I think she had already allowed Oxton to beat her mentally before she got there. I was determined to attack it, I have no other option having no gears, but it soon found me out. My memory suggests I overtook 4 walkers and 3 cycling up. The video footage suggests it was two of each but I’ll take that. In the clip you can hear my cadence drop and me having to dig in get to the top without getting off, I tried to overtake Helen Barber but she managed to stay just ahead of me. I was truly chuffed with myself at the top but this was the first indication of a right knee problem. I had felt it strain as I neared the top. I stopped at the feed station at the top to regroup. Take on some fuel. Everyone was so kind and supportive it was ridiculous. A time check revealed I was still ahead of the game. My speed for the last section was down to 14.34mph ave but that’s still ahead of what was required and 15ish overall. Of course I didn’t know this at the time I just knew I was leaving the feed station ahead of schedule. I passed a puking roadie on the way down to Southwell and soon after the rain came. The batch of rain that stayed with me for the next 11 hours!

The Northern loop was a blur, partly due to my glasses being soaked so I could barely see, partly due to the volume of rain and partly due to the heat from my body hitting the glasses and steaming them up. Mentally I was focused and my emotions were in control. I told myself it would still be 13/14 degrees and whilst I was soaked through I had 3 layers on so I was warm. I think I talked myself out of a spell on the side dithering, sadly a fate that befell many out there! I yo yo’d most of the Northern loop with Andy 400, Phil and Easton. The main thing was I kept the legs spinning. On the Northern loop I had to shout at them a couple of times. Left had to take on a little more work than usual because of the strain to Right but each time I felt the effort dropping I refocused and picked it up. My fuel worked a treat and after each piece of flapjack I felt a real boost and return of strength. This year I think I got my fueling spot on.

The camera motorbike filmed alongside me for a mile or so as I approached the feed station. I think I spoke with them and asked how their day was going? Later on in the day someone asked the cameraman what the highlight of his day was. Apparently he said it was interviewing the BMX bloke. Poor fella must have been having a tough day if that was his highlight. The last feed station on the Northern loop was brilliant. They took the bike off me as I requested they check the tyre pressure. They encouraged me, took pics, willed me on and I got a huge shout from Whibbers that is still ringing a little 6 days on. It was a smooth pit stop and off I went towards the end of the loop and the blast back to the islands.

The rain was at its heaviest but I felt good. I whizzed up to the islands passing Pirate Matt on the way nursing a leg injury on the side of the road. I told him to dig in and to crack on and I hoped he would pass me later on. Before I knew it I was through the islands but conscious of a car very close behind that wouldn’t overtake. Eventually it pulled alongside and asked me to turn and give a thumbs up as they had a camera on their bonnet. Not one to disappoint I duly obliged and off they went as I turned for Car Coulson III.

CCIII was brilliant. Hammering with rain but the crowds were still out. The best pic of the day comes from here as Mich is stood at the top waiting for me draped in her supporters flag. The camera car followed me again and before getting to Mich my mates from Team PFI were stood in the road going crazy. I hi fived them all on the way through and it was as close to a TDF atmosphere as I will probably ever experience. I passed Mich and moaned about the rain and blew her a kiss. I didn’t think I would see her again on the bike as she would be bused back to HPP by the time I come back through. She had given me the confidence and a strange knowledge that I would do this.

By the time I hit the Pirates II I was well ahead of schedule still. I felt strong despite the knee and pulling my shoulder getting food out of my back pocket. Drew, Q, Jordy and everyone else were full of beans despite the conditions. They checked my tyres again for me and after another smooth pit stop I was away with just the Southern loop to do. 32 miles and 2.5 hours to do it in. My last section speed was 13.66mph ave but still an overall average nearer 15mph than 14mph.

The last loop was tough. I changed places with Zoe for about the fifth time just after the Pirates. I tried to stay within sight of her as I knew she would be doing a steady sensible pace. The wind and rain was relentless and despite my best efforts she whizzed off into the distance. It did seem to drag but I still felt good, I was still in control and my focus was unwavering. All I had to do was get to the final feed station with 90 mins to go and I would do it.

It took an age. Each turn gave me another long straight rather than a fluorescent ‘feed station 200 m’ sign. Eventually I made it and still with about 95 mins to do the last 16 miles. I asked them to tell me when it was 2:30 and I took a moment to chat, stretch, offer flapjack to fellow riders, check a woman who had fallen at the feed station was ok and then I was off. I overtook 3 roadies I didn’t see again. I like to think they all made it back in time and joined me on the run but of course we all know that not everyone does.

The undulating last 8 miles or so were a test of mind over matter. I kept spinning and dropped another couple of roadies before turning into the Stately Home and then out onto the HPP perimeter road. Pirate Matt flew passed with 1000m to go. I was so pleased for him.  My last section speed was 13.07mph which overall gave me an average speed a touch over the 14mph I needed. I was going to have completed the 112 miles on the BMX.. With time to spare. On a BMX. An actual BMX. A challenge that when I set it I didn’t know could be done. Indeed up until 5.30am that day I didn’t know if I could. In the build up, particularly the last week, I had a lot of thoughts about failure, not completing the bike leg. I really don’t know how I would have coped. I was so relieved as I turned into HPP to know it was done. That a challenge I had offered up to the world for failure was done. Ultimately I had repaid the blind faith everyone had in me with their support, encouragement and sponsorship. I had not let anyone down!

I got off the bike, and Mich was there cheering and so was Moo! Lee had brought Moo down and from under her umbrella she was cheering me on. She was on my arm for the event as she is an inspirational young lady battling a brain tumour herself! I waved to the crowd and went into T2.

That’s it. That’s as best as I can describe doing the 112 on a BMX. Its constant, relentless spinning. Its unpleasant and its hard but, and this is the bit everyone needs to know, absolutely anyone can do it. Indeed most could do it better than me. Decent cyclists could have taken the BMX round in a better time with minimal fuss if they were minded to. The challenge for me was my lack of cycling ability and my talent for never quite doing enough in training to be good. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy and it requires a different cycling mindset, perhaps its similar to 8 hours of Turbo training?, but if you wanted to you could. Anyone could.

Amazingly I was still in control of my emotions and now I only had a marathon to run. Before I could change MC Kyle ran in like a kid legging it down the stairs on Christmas morning! He was genuinely over the moon to see I had done it. A crushing bear hug later and some encouragement ringing in my ears he left me to get changed and bounded out of transition.  Chris Wild was a star in transition finding me a towel. I dried off, took the decision to Morph and suited up. I took an age as ever but being wet makes it very hard to put a Morphsuit on. I was stoked to see Pirate Poppyfielders Shaun and Justin who went out on the run before me. I thanked the transition crew and stepped out once more in the rain to run a marathon.

Out onto the run in the Morphsuit my legs felt great. The knee was fine, the shoulder forgotten and I felt good. Crisps and water at the feed stations on the lake and a hi 5 fest passing the grandstand. I saw Mich and the kids were there now too. The Titan fan club were cheering me on as were Team Bear who had been relentlessly supporting all day. Every marshal was encouraging, every feed station tremendous and every Outlaw just so kind. I saw nearly everyone I was looking for on the run and it’s a strangely overwhelming relief to see /hear that your fellow Outlaws are smashing it! Even those whose days didn’t go to plan its still a relief to know they are OK. You all know who you are that fulfilled our deals to see me on the run. That hugged me, smashed my arm off with a hi 5, shouted encouragement, gave me a wave. Thank you for sharing your strength as I needed it.

I ran the lap of the lake and was chuffed to see Colin Robertson heading back to his car after snashing the bike leg in a relay. A true gent and inspiration. Then it was out onto the first out and back I crossed the bridge and took on crisps and water as I did at each feed station. I did the first loop along the embankment and as I returned to the station I was in desperate need of a wee. Problem being that I was in the Morphsuit and once wet its impossible to get off and on! I asked if they had scissors or a knife. They asked what for and I explained I needed to cut a cock hole in the Morpshuit so I could pee! They handed me a knife. Much merriment ensued regarding who would cut the hole, who certainly wouldn’t, how big the hole needed to be, whether they should cut anymore fruit with it afterwards etc. It was a truly comical moment as I, with pins and needleated forearms and numb half hands, tried to cut a cock hole without castrating myself. A real pick me up of a chuckle was had. I ran on in torrential rain when a figure in a big yellow rain coat ran over to cheer me on. After some TR24 exploits Simon Reynolds had made it up onto the course to support in the worst of conditions.

The run continued with me running from station to station. The rain was constant, the path now a flood. Marshals encouraging and bright despite the conditions. No one could do enough for me. I hit the lake after shoveling my mouth full of Haribo from James Franco. I ditched my glasses as I couldn’t see out of them anyway and continued. Now unable to make out faces or detail. At the top of the lake I met up with Steve who was relaying the marathon for Team Bear. We ran down towards his finish and had a good chat on the way.

Rachel met up and was going to run Steve in to the finish. I kept asking Rach where Mich was and asked her to point Mich out because I couldn’t see. She assured me Mich was around but before I went right to carry on we couldn’t spot Mich. I knew she was there. Rach knew she was there. As I ran passed the grandstand I thought I heard my lad shout my name. I turned and gave a thumbs up in that general direction but I couldn’t make anyone out. The Pirate contingent cheered me through for another lap and the MC gave me another shout out. I think it was Kyle again. I set off for my last out and back.

By now the brain was mush so any mileage estimations we all over the place. I knew I had this even if I walked. I continued to run up to about 15 miles when I eventually succumbed to temptation and walked. I really wish I hadn’t! I walked from the Trent feed station up to the bridge and over determined to run after the next station. It’s so hard to run again after walking. It’s a mental thing as you’re never as tired as you think you are. Suzy Coates walked a mile with me telling me about Enduroman exploits and this helped as its gets lonely near the back. Back down the Trent and Rachel and Sally had saved me a piece of Pizza at the station. Hands down the greatest piece of food I have ever eaten. Rachel walked me a bit further on and then I started to plod/walk towards the lake.

Down onto the lake and this was it. Just the lake to do twice. Nowhere else to go. It was now getting dark and I couldn’t see anyway. Mich met me on the back straight having been worried I had been out for so long. I walked most of that lap to about 1000m from the grandstand. Mich held my hand while I walked actually trying to transfer energy and strength to me. Her will and determination are unwavering and her belief in me is ridiculous. G man and Belle joined me as well and then Ian and Dave from Team PFI.

We all had a little run towards the grandstand. Mich gave me a squeeze, you know one of those ‘you’ve got this and you’re ace squeezes’, then left me to run on promising to be at the finish. Dave decided he had done enough having had back surgery on the Wednesday!!! Ian told me he would meet me at the last feed station to run me in and I was to be running!

Just 5k left and the possibility of beating my previous times of 16:45! Grandstand gave it loads as I passed. I am sure I hi fived Jordy and Q and loads more. Kyle told me to get a move on and around the lake for the last time I went. Peter Whent....sorry Eminem was blasting from the music system as I neared the top of the lake. Weirdly I had quoted this just days before and a mate had done a video message for me with the song Lose Yourself

"You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yoYou better lose yourself in the music, the moment You own it, you better never let it go (go) You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo"

"Success is the only mother fuckin' option failure's not!"

True enough at the last feed I was greeted by Ian and a 2018 deal was struck…..don't ask! We were joined by Jason, Gary, Jamie and I had a Team PFI guard of honour to run me in. Jamie dancing his svelte like frame with the cowbells, Ian moaning we were running to slow, Jason mercilessly ripping it out of everyone and Gary wondering what the hell he was doing here with a Morph, 3 loons, cowbells on a dark showery summers eve! They all lied that the hut was the 500m point. I didn’t mind because by then I was putting a proper shift in and they were all struggling to keep up. With 1000m to go they all gave me a kiss and a cuddle (added another 2 mins to my time) and sent me on my way past the screaming Andy Holgate, Mel Glover, Hutch and Dave.

I should perhaps explain my team allegiances. I am a proud member of Team Bear #sufferbutNEVERsurrender and Team PFI a bedraggled A Team esque mess, as well as a part time Pirate. I wouldn’t have completed Sunday without the support, phenomenal support of all of them throughout this challenge. To have Mich and G Man and Belle with me as well as Lisa, Brian and Poppy and a crowd full of Poppyfielders (too many to mention) is indescribable. When you add to that the supporters, marshals, MC’s, tri club feed stations and everyone else either there or online and of course the fellow Outlaws you are looking at an overwhelming swell of support. The type of support that actually does push you through the water, it does turn the pedals when they want to turn no more and it does lift your feet when another step seems impossible.

As Ellie and George joined me at the top of the red carpet I was joined by all of you. Everyone there and everyone at home, everyone who had sponsored, doubted, trained me, built the bike, encouraged, clapped and shook their head in amazement. We smashed down the red carpet, we had nailed an 8:42 final mile and we dipped across the line to get the same time as Liam Hatfield 385 and we ruined his finisher photo with a Morph photo bomb for which I have been forgiven!

So, that's it! 16 hours 33 mins 13s and we had done Outlaw on a BMX and Morphed the run. Mental strength can overcome anything and that comes from your fantastic support, unwavering blind faith and belief. You have helped raise a huge amount of awareness for our fundraising and you have helped us smash our £2500 target by over £1000 and it is still going up. I may be the idiot figurehead but the strength comes from the team without which I wouldn’t have made it half way through this challenge. Take a bow because you are phenomenal. Thank you.

Everyone has been brilliantly kind to me personally and extremely generous to the charity. I have had a huge amount of praise heaped upon me but that praise lies with all those who are part of this Team. I look up to and I am in awe of all of you and particularly everyone battling a challenge, whether you choose it or have it forced upon you!

For Poppy, Moo, Harry, Kitty, Adam and many many more.

To Michelle, without whom i am nothing, thank you! Truly thank you. Superbia Fiducia Felicitus Animus.