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Why HipHip?? Because hip replacements give a new lease of life!

I am in the middle of a mid-life crisis (now arguably an old age crisis).

In 2012, after many years of relative inactivity due to a hip problem, I completed an Ironman distance triathlon and raised £2,056 for charity.  It gave me the bug for endurance events and in September 2014 I attempted to swim the English Channel, only to be stopped 3 1/2 hours in because of thick fog.

I had another go in July 2016, but it was not to be (again). Unfortunately there was a bigger ‘tidal push’ than expected on the day of my attempt and I was not fast enough to get across the tide. I was stopped after 10 ½  hours having swam approximately 20 miles, but had been pulled off course by the strong tide. On the plus side, I raised £1,666 for Rockinghorse and would like to thank everyone for their generosity.

2017 Update

I am still undecided about whether to have another attempt at the Channel, but if I do it will not be for at least a couple of years as the support boats are booked up so far in advance.

In the meantime, I went back to running and completed the Centurion 100 mile South Downs Way run on 10/11 June 2017. You are allowed 30 hours to get from Winchester to Eastbourne, so for all bar the elites, it involves running through the night and whilst I say run, you walk up the hills. I was delighted to finish in 28 hours 50 minutes, but owe a big thank you to my ‘support crew’, including my brother, daughter and son, who between them ran with me for the second half of the race. A ‘pacer’ was allowed after 51 miles and whilst I had never intended to use them, having had a ‘wobble’ at Amberley 47 miles in because of the heat (it was a fairly hot day), my crew made it clear that someone was going to run with me. The race report is here.

Not for charity this time, just for fun!

I followed this up in late November with a 50 miler in Wendover Woods near Aylesbury. An up and down 10 mile course that you had to do 5 times, with virtually all of the last 2 laps with head torches in the dark. A really tough, but enjoyable event.

It was been a busy and good 2017. The only disappointment was not achieving a sub-4 hour marathon, although I did improve my PB and all told there were 14 runs of marathon distance or more during the year. Not too bad for an old timer, but the bug is still not out of the system. Barring injury 2018 will be even busier!

2018 Update

It has been a busy year so far. I improved my marathon PB at Brighton in April, but still not quite under 4 hours (now just 2 minutes 28 seconds out). Since then I have been unlucky with the weather. First, a 100 mile run along the Thames Path from Richmond to Oxford over the early May Bank Holiday, when incredibly hot conditions meant the sub 24 hour target was almost a non-starter from the beginning and with a 42% drop out rate, I was just pleased to finish. Then the Outlaw ironman distance triathlon in Nottingham at the end of July, this time in extremely windy (40 mph +) and wet conditions and a finish well outside my PB. But they were just warm ups and I now have the main challenge of the year, a double ironman distance triathlon over the weekend of 15/16 September. It is in Snowdonia and involves a 4.8 mile lake swim, then a 232 bike ride (8 laps of a 29 mile route round the base of Snowdon, including a 4 mile climb), following by a 52 mile run comprising a trip up and down Snowdon and then 8 laps of a 5 mile course. It called the ‘Brutal’ for a reason, although having recently done a recce of the bike and run routes, the scenery is also spectacular.

Post Double Ironman Update – September 2018

For the third time this year, extreme weather made an ultra event that much tougher and this time 40 mph+ winds and torrential ran meant that The Brutal Triathlon was dubbed ‘the most brutalist brutal’. But I made the finish line in 41 hours 38 minutes, just inside the race cut-off. The full race report is here.

2019 Update

It was back to the swimming this year with a ‘Windemere Double’ attempt, that’s 2 lengths of the lake, a total of 21 miles. However it was a ‘moment of realisation’ rather than a success. Conditions on the day were not dreadful but a stiff breeze meant it was choppy and we set off against the wind (to make the return leg easier). Unfortunately that meant that virtually every stroke I made hit a wave and after just over 6 hours of slow progress it was obvious that I wasn’t going to make. There was also the realisation that unless I was extremely lucky to get perfect conditions on the day (highly unlikely) another attempt at the Channel would also end in disappointment. So, I have deferred the 2020 attempt and gone back to basics: that’s learning to swim (differently) again with a better stroke to deal with adverse conditions. I won’t make a decision on another Channel attempt until I know that the new stroke will be good (fast) enough to get me across whatever the conditions.

2020 Update

It was all nicely planned out. Brighton Marathon in April and another go at a sub 4 hour time, back to back (one on the Saturday and another on the Sunday) ironman triathlons over a weekend in May and then the South Downs Way 100 mile race again in June. All being a warm up for the main event a ‘one a day Quin’ in Buchs, Switzerland, that’s an ironman triathlon 5 days running. But the main event in Buchs was cancelled until 2021 and all the others went as well.

But it hasn’t been a complete disaster. I have done a ‘virtual’ marathon (you run it on your own and send in your garmin/strava etc proof) and did finally manage to break 4 hours. 3 hours 58 minutes and 08 seconds, so was really pleased with that. I also managed a ‘DIY’ ironman triathlon. That was tough without the support that you get in races and I supported myself from my car on Worthing seafront. In particular, the sea swim took longer (my previous ironmans have been in nice tide free lakes) as did the transitions from swim to bike (struggling to get an old wetsuit off without help) and bike to run. The bike leg wasn’t too bad, although I hadn’t chosen the greatest route with numerous traffic lights and obviously no closed roads that you get in races. On the run it was a combination of carrying food and drink with back up supplies in the car, not quite the running light with aid stations every 3 mile or so that you get in races, but I managed to finish, albeit in my slowest ever time.

The South Downs Way 100 was deferred but set to go ahead on 7 November until Boris locked down again and it was cancelled 5 days before the race. As I had done the training I decided to have a go on my own (with Mary as my crew support) and set off from Winchester but struggled with my pace when it got dark and realising I would not achieve the 30 hour time limit stopped at Washington after 54 miles. Disappointing but I was persuaded that I should ignore the time limit and it would be an achievement to finish as it was a winter run with 14 hours of darkness rather than just the 6 hours when the race is run in June. So we decided to have another go 2 weeks later on 21 November. I started from Winchester at 5.30 am on Saturday morning in the dark but had nearly reached Amberley before it got dark on the Saturday evening. This time I used running ‘poles’ after Harting Down and they helped when it got dark especially on the tricky hard underfoot downhill sections. I still tried for the sub 30 hours but after half way it was obvious that I was still feeling the 54 miles from 2 weeks before and I just concentrated on keeping moving and finishing. I finally reached the usual race finish at Eastbourne Sports Park but was a mile short and did the last mile running round the car park finally finishing in just over 32 hours. All done with the help of fantastic support from Mary who crewed on her own bar a couple of deliveries of extra tea and coffee from friends and family.

2021 – Another strange year for obvious reasons and the disappointment that the Buchs Quin was cancelled again but I also failed at a 100 mile run and then an ironman. Both were on hot days and I subsequently realised I had been an absolute idiot. I had switched my main ‘feed’ to a non-electrolyte brand in 2019 when I was swimming (you do not need additional salt when you are in the sea) and forgot that I decided to use it up, so was still doing so through 2020 and 2021, although it was only really a problem when doing the ultra events on hot days. Once I switched back to an electrolyte everything improved and I did complete the Autumn 100 (mile) race in October to finish the year on a high. Hopefully events will get back to normal in 2022 and I plan to be attempting either a Triple or possibly Quin ironman distance triathlon in July. That is either 3 or 5 times the usual ironman distance.

2022 Update 

Just finished (July) a Continuous Quin, that is a 5 x ironman consisting of a 12 mile swim, 565 mile bike ride and a 132 mile run with the bike leg on the 2 extreme heat days (40+ degrees). We were allowed 6 days and for once I completed it with a comfortable 7 hours to spare. It was obviously tiring but a fantastic experience and I will put a race report together at some point.

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