Category Archives: ultra marathon

Run (x2), push-ups (x638), turbo, plus tigers, Welsh, a proper marathon man and a fail. Happy New Year!

Full of Christmas food and drink, day 1 of week 5 of the 100 push-up challenge made for a tough start to Boxing Day. It required sets of 36, 40, 30, 24 and 40+ which I (just) managed (45 for the last set).

We’d had a great Christmas Day and had managed to have a video call with our older son in who was in Quito for a few days before setting off for the Galápagos Islands. Interesting(?) fact: most of what we know as Panama hats are made in Ecuador.

The only blot on the weekend was me sneezing and wheezing somewhat – but not otherwise feeling too bad. In a bit of a kill or cure exercise I ran with our younger son on a cold but bright Boxing Day morning. He got a place for the London Marathon through the ballot and will soon be starting a training plan but we just ran a fairly gentle 6.3km (nearly 4 miles).

In the afternoon the two of us (my wife declined to come) went to watch our nearest football league team (Swindon Town, in Division 2). Swindon were probably the better team in the first half (but horribly lightweight up front), scored but then conceded the equaliser (an own goal) in stoppage time just before the break. The second half was fairly even but Swindon looked like they were running out of steam and ideas and Walsall scored a very late winner, again in stoppage time. Humph!

We all took it easy on a wet Tuesday dedicated to domestic things but the Hundred Push-Up Challenge threw a bit of a curve ball on Wednesday as it suddenly went from 5 sets to 8 (and shorter rests between sets) – I have no idea why. I’m hoping that there is some clever science behind this programme – otherwise it just looks like ‘if we get the idiots to do a silly number of push-ups, they are bound to get better at them’.

Whatever the thinking, my job is just to follow blindly, so I did. Sets of 19, 19, 22, 22, 18, 18, 22, and 45+ (I managed only 48) were dispatched with increasing desperation and decreasing style for a total of 188 push-ups. It’s getting seriously difficult now but I’ve come this far so I’ll carry on until I can’t do any more.

With an uncertain rail service (and a lot of luggage) I drove our son back to London on Thursday and we then put Christmas back in its many boxes – it has been a good one, despite missing our older son.

Still with the 8 sets of push-ups for Friday: 20, 20, 24, 24, 20, 20, 22, 50+ making a minimum target of 200 (I managed 205). I staggered through it and that’s week 5 of the 6 week challenge finished – apart for the usual ‘push-ups to exhaustion’ test which I will try over the weekend.

On the turbo on Friday early evening – 30 minutes @29.5kph (18.3mph). At least it’s easy on the arms.

Push-ups to exhaustion on Saturday – I could have done with another day’s rest but the target was ‘only’ 60 – and postponing to Sunday would just make Monday’s harder. I managed 70 but made the mistake of looking at next week’s programme which is a bit scary. Is another week and then a couple more days of rest going to be enough to make up the current shortfall?

Up to London later in the morning – we hadn’t got our act together early enough to get a table anywhere for the evening but had an excellent late lunch at a pub in Fulham (but it is the only Michelin-starred pub in London) and saw in the New Year at the flat.

I kicked off 2023 with a run along the Thames Path in London on Sunday morning – nearly 7.7km (4.7 miles) .

That’s a wrap for 2022. For exercise, it saw nearly 1500km of running, only 1200km of cycling, 70km of walking but over 40km of swimming, ‘active’ for more than 280 days. The 100 push-up challenge is work in progress.

Most importantly, we are all healthy and solvent (despite the Michelin-starred pub) and the year saw our sons settled in relationships and careers, even if the older is currently on a sabbatical – and is now in the Galápagos Islands (may they have a great trip and return safely). Despite the inevitable ups and downs life throws at us, I hope anyone reading this has had a good year, with an even better one to come in 2023.

Thank you for reading, be kind, stay healthy and be happy.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Dine with a stranger but save your love for your family

2. BBC News website: Tension fail of the year

In October, all eyes (no, not mine) were on The One Show as viewers waited to find out whether Glasgow or Liverpool would be hosting Eurovision 2023. The host was about to reveal the winning host city, building the tension with the kind of needlessly long pause that is standard when announcing anything on television.

The tension would have been palpable if some viewers hadn’t already spotted the words “Eurovision Song Contest Liverpool 2023” on the back of his card.

3. BBC News website: Welsh language schools in Patagonia need more teachers

The first Welsh settlers arrived in 1865 aiming to build a safe haven for the language and today it is estimated that between 2,000-5,000 Argentines speak Welsh.

Welsh is spoken mainly in the Gaiman area of Chubut province some 650 miles south of Buenos Aires, as well as in the towns of Trevelin and Esquel close to the border with Chile. The British Council funds three Welsh language teachers in the Wladfa settlement, but recruitment has been a problem since Covid.

I like traditions and culture being kept alive but hadn’t guessed Argentina and Wales shared anything much. According to the 2021 census, the Welsh-speaking population of Wales aged three or older was 538,300 (17.8%) and nearly three quarters of the population in Wales said they had no Welsh language skills

4. BBC News website: Suitcases, check; bags, check; tiger …

Police in Mexico who stopped a couple on a motorway for a minor traffic offence were surprised to find a tiger cub in the car boot, wedged in between suitcases and bags. Officers said they grew suspicious when the couple reacted “aggressively” after being flagged down. They also found four guns and almost 100 cartridges.

It is not illegal to own an exotic animal in Mexico, as long as the owner can prove it came from a certified dealer and was born in captivity. However, many of the animals seized in recent years were bought illegally or had been smuggled. Mexican law also bans the walking of tigers in public.

I remember the 1960’s Esso ‘Put a tiger in your tank’ slogan but this is taking it too far

5. BBC News website: A marathon a day for 2022

A man who vowed to complete a marathon on every day of 2022 to raise £1m for charity has begun his final run. The 53 year old from Cumbria often ran his 26.2-mile (42km) route before starting work. He has gone through more than 20 pairs of trainers and will have run more than 9,500 miles (15,300km) by the time he finishes his final marathon at about 14:00.

Sadly missed and died in 2022

This is the time of year the newspapers print list of celebrities who died during the year. Of course, each is its own tragedy and family loss but for me Queen Elizabeth II, Sidney Poitier, Angela Lansbury, Nichelle Nichols, Vangelis, Christine McVie, George Cohen and Pele stand out simply as being people I remember particularly well.

I like what former Hungary great, Ferenc Puskas, said about Pele. “The greatest player in history is Alfredo Di Stefano. I refuse to classify Pele as a player. He was above that.”

Push-ups (many and often), gym (x2), walk, turbo, plus (insufficiently) fast food and persistent staring

My back ached on Sunday – to fail the push-up challenge for anything other than inadequate muscles would be cruel but, happily, it eased overnight and I started week 2 of the challenge on Monday. Session 1 required sets of 14, 14, 10, 10 and 15+, I did them all (20 for the final 15+) but my back was getting a little unhappy by the end.

I’ve found that fantasy football leagues can rather spoil the game. I put three of England’s attacking players into my team on Sunday and found myself hoping we would concede a goal (but still win) to deny clean sheet bonuses to competitors with England defenders. How pathetic is that for a low-key fantasy league with a £10 entry fee?

My three forwards managed two goals and two assists, before two were substituted off after about 64 minutes. Does the manager not care about my fantasy team?

I was going to the swim doctor session on Monday (honestly, I was) but it got cancelled. To celebrate I had an hour in the gym on Tuesday (largely to feel better about not wanting to run in the cold). It was tough as I put up the weights across the board with increases between 10% and 20%.

I think my painful back is due to bringing in over 30 potted geraniums, 2 lemon trees and two olive trees on Saturday as I could feel it again when moving a third, larger, olive tree to a more sheltered position on Tuesday. I bought a fleece jacket to protect the large olive tree – I’ll buy some more for next year so more plants can stay out.

On Wednesday we woke to the first proper frost of the year – and a couple of colder weeks to come. The push-up challenge is ramping up – it required sets of 14, 16, 12, 12, 17+ (press-ups find out if your back is not 100%!) but still OK – I did 25 for the 17+.

In the evening we went to the theatre in Oxford. Our last two visits were for the opera (Tosca) and Bob Dylan – I am ashamed to say this time it was Mamma Mia. Benny and Bjorn wrote many fine and catchy pop songs but cramming 22 of them into just over 2 hours was a bit much for me. Not exactly my thing but I’d promised my wife that I’d take her and a promise is a promise. It was a very good production and a very strong cast – and my wife loved it which was the main purpose of the exercise.

Thursday was even colder but we’d arranged for a walk with friends so we braved the freeze in what was otherwise a lovely crisp, bright day. A fine walk nicely followed by a very good pub lunch – 8.7km (5.4 miles).

Friday was week 2, day 3 of the 100 press-up challenge and required 16, 17, 14, 14, 20+. I worked hard to get to 30 for the final set, making it 238 for the week so far. I now have to do a test to see how many I can manage in one go – and that determines the programme for the next two weeks.

To the gym with my friend and training partner after the push-ups, neither of us was feeling the love for the weights but, in my book, that means the effort counts double.

I took the push-up test on Saturday morning and managed 38. I’d hoped for 40 but it was just a day after doing 91 of them and a gym session, so perhaps the small amount of muscle I have was not fully recovered. The programme has different plans for people managing between 16-20, 21-25 and over 25 in the test – so I guess it’s OK. Later, 30 minutes on the turbo @ 28.8kph – 17.9mph.

In the evening, England were knocked out of the World Cup at the quarter final stage. We had more possession than France, more shots than France, more shots on target than France, more corners than France … sadly, it appears that it’s the goals scored that really count. Ho, hum.

It was snowing when I woke on Sunday (but not as badly as the picture which is of the garden a few years ago). To commemorate the occasion I repeated the ‘push-ups to exhaustion’ test and managed an improved 45. That’s 321 in the week.

Our older son and his girlfriend have done the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, shared photos of their meal of guinea pig and chips and are now on the Amazon.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Love is a despot who spares no one

2. Comedian John Bishop: Being an England supporter is like being the over-optimistic parents of the fat kid on sports day

3. BBC News website: No sex please, we’re Indonesian

Indonesia’s parliament is expected to pass a new criminal law this month that will punish sex outside marriage with imprisonment of up to a year. Cohabitation before marriage will also be banned and those convicted could face a six-month prison sentence.

The law, if passed, would apply to Indonesian citizens and foreigners alike and business groups have expressed concern about the damage the rules might do to Indonesia’s image as a holiday and investment destination.

4. BBC News website: When fast food isn’t fast enough

The Kraft Company markets microwaveable cups of Velveeta Shells and Cheese as “ready in 3.5 minutes” but a Florida woman is suing them on the basis that it takes longer.

The $5m (£4.2m) lawsuit claims the time advertised does not include preparation time – opening the lid and sauce pouch, before adding water and stirring.

What? $5m for a few seconds is one heck of an hourly rate

5. BBC News website: The madness continues

Twenty-five people have been arrested across Germany on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government. The group of far-right and ex-military figures is said to have prepared for a “Day X” to storm the Reichstag parliament building and seize power.

The plotters are said to include members of the extremist Reichsbürger [Citizens of the Reich] movement and QAnon adherents who believe their country is in the hands of a mythical “deep state” involving secret powers pulling the political strings.

6. BBC News website: Are you looking at me …?

Sexual harassment on the street will be made a specific crime in England with jail sentences of up to two years. Wolf-whistling, catcalling and staring persistently will be criminalised under government plans.

Sexual harassment is already illegal but it is hoped creating a new offence for street harassment will encourage more people to report it to police.

Of course, any harassment is unacceptable but it’s a sad society that needs to legislate against persistent staring

Drive, clean, gym (run), drive, walk, scramble, ride (France and the Lake District), plus fraud, foie gras and turtleneck sweaters

We set alarms for silly-o’clock on Monday 14th November and were out of the house shortly after 4.30 to drive to the alps.

We were a bit nervous as, the previous week, ‘stop oil’ protesters had caused a few days of rush hour traffic chaos by climbing onto overhead gantries and so blocking the M25 motorway. They said they were calling a temporary truce to the action – we hoped the early start would make sure we were safe but we didn’t really relax until we had passed through the battleground part of the motorway.

We got to the tunnel in time to be put on an earlier train and we rolled out into Calais just after 8.30 (our time, 9.30 theirs). The journey is about 713 miles (1147km) door to door and, after the break for the tunnel, we pushed on without trying to set any speed records – but stopping only once. Thirteen hours after setting off, we arrived in Les Carroz.

I had felt a bit foolish the previous week when I’d taken the car, in a very mild 12℃ (54℉), to swap its normal wheels and tyres for the winter set. For years I battled with snow chains – which are truly the Devil’s own work. One fight too many, in the dark, with dirty, wet and freezing hands and soaking sleeves and trousers convinced me that winter tyres were the way to go so a change of car brought a set of steel hubs with winter tyres a few years ago.

There was no sign of snow on any of the roads and it was fairly mild, even up the mountain, but I was relieved when I remembered that some alpine regions (including the Haute Savoie where we were) now make winter tyres mandatory from 1st November to 31st March.

As always at this time of year, most of the village was shut. The things that can be relied on are the two supermarkets (though not necessarily with fully stocked shelves or full opening hours) and one or two restaurants taking it in turns to open.

Every year, we do the trip to check the apartment prior to the ski season, so we spent time cleaning and replacing – I took running kit but never got close to using it. Normally, we take 5 days for the trip but only had 4 available this time which made it a bit of a rush with so much driving, but it was a great change of scenery and very enjoyable, even with the return 713 miles on Thursday (at 61mph and 62.9mpg for data lovers).

On Friday I went to the gym, rather bleary-eyed but the weights quite well and I also did a sub 5 minute km on the treadmill to stretch my legs.

After that we got ready for trip number two and set off for the Lake District (again very early) on Saturday – a mere 260 miles (nearly 420km). Another delightful ritual, this one a weekend with the two couples that we ‘do’ the Lakes and Bournemouth with each year. We got away early enough to miss the traffic that often builds up around Birmingham and arrived in Ambleside before 10.

We went out onto the fells by midday and took on Stickle Ghyll and then Pavey Ark, a challenging route above the tarn. From the car park it’s more of a random stone staircase on the way up to the tarn which was reasonably hard work but it was somewhere between a scramble and almost climbing above there around Pavey Ark. Coming down was probably even harder and we ended up descending the last bit to the car park using mobile phone torches which was very testing. Only about 5 miles but with the equivalent of climbing around 160 flights of stairs.

On Sunday I borrowed a mountain bike and our host and I rode to Tarn How’s and joined the others (who, sensibly, drove) on a lovely walk up Black Crag. The ride there was only about 6 miles but very hilly and tough in cold wether walking kit. After the walk we had the short ride to Coniston for a late lunch – flatter, but by then it was raining.

After lunch we rode back to Ambleside in the gathering dark – only about another 8 miles but hilly again and raining stair rods so we were soaked almost immediately. Not completely lovely – but what can you expect of the Lake District in November … and the rain didn’t manage to spoil a great day in excellent company.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: The quarrel of lovers is the renewal of love

2. BBC News website: Reality edges in to advertising?

As ever, many Christmas TV ads conjure up sentimentality, nostalgia and joy but as the cost of living soars, some retailers have opted for a more muted approach to their campaigns this year. John Lewis said its advert, featuring a foster family, was less about buying things and more about kindness.

Retailers have to strike a balance between recognising that consumers are facing financially challenging times, but also acknowledging that people still want to have a brilliant Christmas, particularly after the past couple of years during the pandemic.

Marks and Spencer’s advert cuts to a table set with a huge spread of festive food and Sainsbury’s advert also ends on a display of a vast festive buffet. Such indulgent and expensive-looking scenes have drawn criticism for being at odds with the more modest offerings many families will be able to stretch to this year.

3. BBC News website: What’s the price of fraud?

10 months ago, Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes was found guilty of defrauding investors. Her company was once valued at $9bn (£7.5bn) but now it’s a byword for corporate fraud.

She, claimed the start-up could diagnose hundreds of diseases with just a few drops of blood. That wasn’t true and in January a jury concluded she had deliberately misled investors. She was convicted of four counts of wire fraud – with a maximum sentence of 20 years.

Her legal team was arguing for 18 months of house arrest while the prosecution wanted a 15 years in prison and an order to pay back the best part of a billion dollars to investors. The judge had a big decision to make and Silicon Valley executives will be watching with interest.

She has been sentenced to over 11 years in prison

4. BBC News website: Death of the world’s oldest primary school pupil

99 year old Priscilla Sitienei started developing health complications after attending class on Wednesday. She, and her 12-year-old classmates, had been preparing for final exams set to start next week.

She started learning to read and write – an opportunity she never had as a child. At first the school turned her away but soon understood how committed she was to learning.

5. BBC News website: Truly, a man of the people

There will be no foie gras served in royal residences, a letter from Buckingham Palace to animal rights campaigners has confirmed. King Charles is understood to have been a longstanding opponent of the food, made from the liver of a duck or goose, that campaigners say is cruel because of force feeding.

That’s force feeding of the ducks or geese, not the palace guests

6. BBC News website: Well, that’s the energy issue sorted

The governor of Tokyo has urged city residents to wear turtleneck jumpers this winter to reduce energy consumption. Workers at city hall will be told to set an example by adopting the jumper.

Ms Koike said “They’re warm and overall energy consumption is reduced so we can link it to lowering CO2 emissions,” she said.

7. BBC News website: One man’s pheasant is another’s unicorn

Some 140 years after the black-naped pheasant-pigeon was last sighted by scientists, researchers have “rediscovered” the rare bird. In September, a team captured footage of the species deep in the forest of a tiny island off Papua New Guinea.

It felt like “finding a unicorn”, said expedition co-lead John Mittermeier.

Run (x3), swim (x2), gym, (plus landfill, mountains and carparks)

I ran with my wife on Monday morning – 5.7km (3.5 miles). In the evening, as ever, I went to the swim doctor class – 1km of drills and swimming.

It’s now 3 weeks since the ultra and I think I’m closer to getting back to more exercise and training for the triathlon next month. In that spirit, my training partner and I went to the lake on Tuesday. It was a little fraught as there were more than 30 kayaks and paddle boards on the lake – some of which were piloted by people who didn’t understand the concept of keeping out of the swimming area.

I swam about 1800m – in no great style but better than usual. I think my swimming has progressed – but not as much as I’d have liked. I’m still slow and it takes a lot of strokes to get anywhere but the absence of pool ends every 25 metres is not an issue, the buoyancy of the wetsuit is still lovely and I swim in (slightly) straighter lines than before. My biggest issue is that I still don’t love it.

My wife and I ran again on Wednesday – 7.4km (4.6 miles) on another very humid day which made a gentle run a bit harder than it might have been. On Thursday we drove to Surrey for lunch with friends – an excellent day out and a sensible day off exercise, even though we did go for a post-lunch walk.

A normal Friday saw a trip to the gym (by car as I was pinched for time), the usual stint in the charity bike shop and some gardening. The dry spell has hit the lawns hard – the only things growing are the weeds so I’m trying to treat them now to give the grass the best chances when the rain returns – hard work.

I ran on Saturday – 4 weeks on from the ultra. I felt reasonably good and pushed on for just over 12km (7.6 miles) at a little better than 6 minute kms. Not fast, but the longest run I’ve done in those 4 weeks.

More gardening on Saturday and Sunday both of which which were hot. On Sunday I mowed, not to cut the grass but to remove the seed heads from approximately a billion plantains that have appeared in the back lawn. If I was trying to grow them would it be a plantation of plantains?

The Austrian, Christof Strasser (six-time winner and record holder for the fastest time in the Race Across America) won the Transcontinental Race on Wednesday. In his first unsupported race, he rode 4578.33 km in 7 days 18 hours 54 minutes of moving time (81%) with only 1 day 19 hours 24 minutes (19%) stationary. A total of 9 days and 14 hours, averaging 480km a day. Wow.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Wisdom is wealth

2. BBC News website: Strike over price hike to see Komodo dragons

Visitors will now be charged 3,750,000 rupiah (£206.40) to visit the main islands in Komodo National Park – up from 200,000 rupiah (£11) before.

The Indonesian government hopes to limit visitor numbers and protect the endangered lizards from overexposure to humans but local workers say it will scare off tourists completely, causing their income to dry up and 700 who depend on tourism are going on strike until the end of August.

3. BBC News website: Farming on the top deck of a car park

Singapore is small – it has some of the world’s most expensive property but has many car parks.

The Singapore government started leasing out the rooftop farms in 2020 as part of its plans to increase local food production. The country of 5.5m people currently imports more than 90% of its food and at least a dozen of these rooftop farms have now sprouted up across the South East Asian city state.

4. BBC News website: Treasure in the landfill?

Almost 10 years ago James Howells threw away a hard drive during a clear out – forgetting about the Bitcoin on it. Now, with the Bitcoin worth an estimated £150m ($184m), he is planning to spend millions digging up a landfill in a bid to find the lost hard drive.

If it’s found, he said he would give 10% of the proceeds to turn the city into a crypto-currency hub – but the council says excavating the site would pose an ecological risk.

5. BBC News website: ‘Climb every mountain’ (but not this one)

The mayor of Saint-Gervais, a village at the foot of Mont Blanc, says conditions on the mountain are now so dangerous that climbers should pay a €15,000 (£12,640; $15,370) deposit to cover rescue and possible funeral costs.

Mont Blanc is Europe’s highest mountain, with a summit at 4,807m (15,774ft).

I’ll stick to cycling – I’ve cycled through Saint-Gervais often and never needed rescue or burial

6. Congratulations to my favourite named British athlete (the wonderfully named Cindy Sember) on her bronze medal in the 100m hurdles at the Commonwealth Games.

Swim, run, gym, run, plus detective work, ties and football’s coming (come) home

After the weekend in Bournemouth, the swim doctor session Monday evening was a mixture of different strokes and drills for 1,100m – my leg kick is still terrible (when I remember to do it).

On Tuesday I did the weekend’s washing and ironed the easy stuff. I am almost adequate when it comes to handkerchiefs and pillowcases.

I’ve still not regained my appetite for a lot of exercise since the ultra. When it became clear on Tuesday that there wasn’t going to be any lake swim this week, I didn’t replace that with anything. It’s good that I have the weekly swim doctor session, had the cycling out in the alps, and walked and cycled during the weekend in Bournemouth or I would have done even less.

On Wednesday I drove up to London to see your younger son and helped him with a couple of jobs around his flat. Orders placed for a new transformer for the lights under the wall cupboards in the kitchen, and a new washing machine to be delivered on Sunday.

Thursday felt like it was time to get back to some more regular exercise and I ran to the gym and back with my training partner (a total of 5.8km – 3.6 miles) and did some weights while we were there. I’m not sure I love arriving at the gym already sweating but it does feel more sensible to run there than drive.

I ran with my wife on Saturday – a gentle 5.7km (3.5 miles) – as she gets back to running after twisting an ankle a few weeks ago. Three weeks since the ultra and I’m only just getting back my appetite for running. I have no intention of getting back to the amount of running I was doing earlier in the year and will try to be more balanced with the swimming and cycling ahead of the triathlon in September.

Back to London on Sunday to fit the new washing machine and kitchen light transformer for our younger son, then back to watch the English Women’s team win the 2022 Euro Championships in a tight final against an excellent German side – well played the Lionesses. I hope this provides a great boost for women’s sport in the country.

Last weekend the Transcontinental Race started – a self-supported ride from Belgium to Bulgaria (over 4000km – 2500 miles) with no prescribed route, just four compulsory checkpoints on the way. It’s possible to ‘dot watch’ by tracking live progress of every competitor.

In the first 26 hours, the early leader stopped for only 35 minutes and rode 760km (472 miles). On Friday, 4 and a half days into the race, he had been stationary for less than 13 hours. Astonishing.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Don’t be so in love that you can’t tell when it’s raining

2. BBC News website: Personal statements less than personal

An education firm which specialises in helping Chinese students to study in the UK has been advertising to pay people to write university applications for students, including their personal statements.

A spokesman for the firm said it didn’t write personal statements for clients: “We offer a personalised proofreading service to help students, whose native language is not English”. The firm has now withdrawn the job advert, saying it could be “confusing”.

Ah, would that be ‘confusing’ as in ‘perfectly clear but objectionable’?

3. BBC News website: The final wag of the tail

One of the most talked about (and tedious) celebrity disputes has now come to an end. Rebekah Vardy (wife of footballer Jamie Vardy) has lost her defamation case against Coleen Rooney (wife of former footballer Wayne Rooney) who had accused Mrs Vardy of leaking private stories about her to The Sun newspaper.

The ‘Wives and Girlfriends’ of prominent footballers are often referred to as Wags. Colleen Rooney did some smart detective work when she first suspected a close contact was leaking stories about her to the press – leading to the case being referred to as the Wagatha Christie trial.

4. BBC News website: Stop wearing ties to save energy

The Spanish Prime Minister said his government will adopt “urgent” energy-saving measures as European countries suffer record temperatures and strive to become less dependent on Russian gas in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

At a news conference, Mr Sanchez pointed out that he wasn’t wearing a tie and said he wanted ministers, public officials, and workers in the private sector to do the same. He said the move will ensure people stay cooler and therefore lower energy costs, because air conditioners will be used less often.

If only the solutions to all problems were as simple

Run (x2), swim, walk (x2), cycle (plus bulls, AI and kitchen cabinets)

Vicious things those kitchen cabinets

Monday I took a car to the garage and ran back – my first run post-ultra – just 4km (2.5 miles) but it’s a start. Swim doctor session in the evening – I dodged the drills and swam a gentle recovery 1km.

I spent the much of the day on the dismal task of mopping up dirty water. The dishwasher outlet pipe had blocked leading to a couple of days when, unseen, it spewed out water under the kitchen units. A very messy job but fingers crossed that all will be well thanks to a bottle of drain cleaner and a lot of bleach. Perhaps the best thing about the current heatwave is that everything dried well.

On Tuesday, an attempt to run the dishwasher revealed that all was not well as the pipe still failed to drain away the water it discharged. Bit by bit I had to dismantle the whole outlet pipe which was actually blocked in several places. A horrible job reaching under and to the back of the carcasses of the kitchen units, in dirty water and emulsified fat! I ended up with very sore arms and shoulders.

Also on Tuesday one of the friends I’d been cycling with in the alps posted a message on Whatsapp to say he’d just tested positive for Covid. I did a test but it came out negative (the ‘we’ve had Covid’ camp seems to be increasing rapidly but I’m very happy still not to have joined it).

Wednesday showed two things – the dishwasher was sorted and is now sharing its dirty water with the drain outside instead of the kitchen floor – but my arms had suffered in the cause. Both shoulders were sore and both biceps were raw and bruised. It the same way that I need bigger hands and feet for swimming, I need longer arms for kitchen DIY.

With rather reduced arm mobility, I cancelled the week’s planned lake swim and gym session and resigned myself to a low key week for exercise.

On Thursday, my arms were improving, but still a rather fetching black and blue and still sore. I ran in the morning – 5.8km (3.6 miles). With just a 10km run in September’s olympic distance triathlon, it’s good to be able to run because I want to, rather than because I feel that I must.

We drove down to Bournemouth on Thursday night and spent Friday getting the house ready for a weekend with friends who drove down early on Saturday. When they arrived we went for a walk across Hengistbury Head with a picnic on the beach and then walked to Southbourne for supper in the evening – total walking 15km (9.3 miles).

On Sunday we cycled to visit the lovely gardens at Compton Acres – about 24km (15 miles) with stops at Sandbanks and Bournemouth pier for ice cream. Roast chicken Sunday lunch in the evening. Back to Oxfordshire after an excellent weekend.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Don’t set sail on someone else’s star

2. BBC News website: Heatwaves and solar panels

The UK’s heatwave is helping to generate large amounts of solar power – but, ironically, it’s actually too hot for the highest levels of electricity generation.

For solar power generation, the amount of sunshine is more important than the amount of heat as heat brings down the efficiency of solar panels slightly. In the UK the record for peak half-hourly generation is always in April or May, when we get sunny but relatively cool weather.

3. BBC News website: And I thought the ultra was tough running

In 24 hours three men have died from wounds suffered during bull-running festivals in Spain’s Valencia region. They had taken part in the traditional ‘bous al carrer’, when bulls charge through towns, often with people running ahead of them (but sadly, not always far enough).

The three men who died had all been badly injured during events in the past two weeks. 20 people are said to have died in the region in the past eight years.

The mayor of Meliana said the bull was an animal and chance accidents of this type were a risk that people took.

Ah, the bull is an animal …

4. BBC News website: AI – too smart for its own good?

Google has fired one of its engineers who said the company’s artificial intelligence language technology system is sentient and should therefore have its “wants” respected. He said that the system showed self-awareness and could hold conversations about religion, emotions and fears and this led him to believe that behind its impressive verbal skills might also lie a sentient mind.

Google, plus several AI experts, denied the claims and on Friday the company confirmed he had been sacked.

Race to the Stones – race report

The Ridgeway, not a lot of shade …

The Race to the Stones 2022 happened over the weekend of 9th and 10th July. It came in 4 flavours: first day only (50km), second day only (50km), both days with overnight camp or straight through.

Having done the second day last year I was one of over 900 souls tackling the 100km straight through this year. Training went pretty well and I ran 751km in 20 weeks – a little further than the training plan required. The main issue was that holidays and an injury meant that I did not do the two longest runs in the training plan – and everyone knows that those are the important ones.

The injury was caused by very tight quads just three weeks or so before the race so I got two sports massages to sort them out and that seemed to have done the job as far as the quads, ITBs and hips were concerned.

Although my confidence took a bit of a knock because of the injury, my bigger concern as the race approached was the increasing likelihood of hot weather which had been noticeable by its absence throughout the training.

My wife was kind enough to drive me to the start in Lewknor (Oxfordshire, not far off the M40 junction 6) for my 8:10 scheduled start. The organisers set people off in waves based on projected running speed. I had estimated 14 – 16 hours for the run but (apart from it not fitting in with my aversion to very early mornings) would have liked to get away earlier. Even the official starters were taken aback by the late starting time when everyone in the pen turned out to be on the 100km straight through option.

The safety briefing was good but as the countdown to the start began I realised that I had left my Gamin in my wife’s car. Hurdling the barriers to get out of the pen I had a run back to the car park and so started a few minutes after everyone else.

Despite the heat warnings it was very pleasant for the first few miles because of some cloud cover. There was also quite a bit of shade early on – just when it wasn’t needed – but as the cloud was burnt off, the temperature started to rise.

The race takes place along the Ridgeway (often described as Britain’s oldest road) – it has a few bit of tarmac and a few bits along roads, and I don’t think the route is very technical. There is an early section through a wood with innumerable exposed tree roots, which was lovely as long as you kept both eyes on the track, and a nasty descent into Ogbourne St George later on, but otherwise it’s fine apart from some sections where 4x4s have left ruts that need to be treated carefully.

The early part of the run went well. I kept to the ‘walk up the hills’ mantra and, despite the increasing heat and lack of shade, I was enjoying the section alongside the Thames when, at 27km, I got cramp in my left calf. I hadn’t had any cramp during training runs much longer than that so I assume, despite drinking on the move and at the two food stops I’d already visited (and where I’d had pretzels and crisps for the salt), I hadn’t been able to take in enough fluids.

I walked off the cramp but as soon as I broke back into a jog, it returned, sometimes in the left calf, sometimes in the right calf and sometimes, just for variety, in both.

There are 7 food stops but, because of the heat, the organisers had put an additional drink station in Streatley so I drank yet more and had the benefit of a walking section up from the river – about 135m of gain over 5km.

With a bit of experimentation, I discovered that by landing more on my forefoot, the stretching effect on the calf meant that I could run off the cramp – although it would return on recommencing running after any walking sections, so I had to run through it again.

I was also getting some cramp in the tibialis anterior muscles that run down the front of the lower leg. It’s particularly interesting when the front and back muscles in the lower leg cramp at the same time – deciding whether to raise of lower the toes is quite an issue.

I have my doubts that it was doing my cramping muscles any great favours but I got to the half way point in under 7:30 elapsed time (interestingly, over an hour faster than the fastest over 60s time for those doing just that day). That was about 6:20 moving time as I was trying to take it slowly at the stops to cool down and drink. Given the muscle problems I’d run with for 23km, and the increasing heat (over 26℃ – 79℉), I was happy with that.

I was very lucky at about that point because my friend and training partner (who was prevented from running the race because of an injury that had only just cleared) and his wife, appeared as support crew. Had they merely brought some extra supplies and encouragement it would have been great but, way beyond that, they took turns to run with me for the second half of the race – and that second half was tough.

I don’t know if it was age, the distance, the heat, the dehydration, or the wear and tear of constantly running through the cramping muscles (or, more likely, all of the above) but the running reduced and the walking increased over that second half.

Eventually, the late afternoon got cooler. By early evening I seemed to catch up with the necessary fluid intake and the cramps stopped but I think the damage had been done to my legs and the latter stages, in the dark, were more of a walk than a run – but the philosophy of ‘one foot in front of the other’ held firm.

I was doubting that I’d finish after the cramps started but as they eventually faded, I got more optimistic. However, at the last food stop, about 12km from the finish, the doubts returned in spades as I started shivering as a bit of hypoglycemia set in. Eventually, I managed to get a couple of chocolate bars and a banana down and those did the trick. The struggle to eat and drink enough was a constant issue – I think I needed much more than my stomach ever wanted.

I finished in Avebury (hence the Stones in the race title) at about 2am – on my 67th birthday. I took a little under 18 elapsed hours (15.5 hours moving), and was still accompanied by my friends whose support was absolutely invaluable – I do not know if I’d have made it without them. They were also kind enough to drive me home (my wife was at a concert booked 3 years previously and postponed at least twice due to the pandemic).

Post run

The shivers returned in mild form while I was getting ready for a bath at about 3 am but a coffee with sugar sorted that out – the first sugar I’ve taken in coffee for 45 years. I won’t pretend I sprung up the stairs but I got there and slept well. Although I’d set the following day aside for immobility and groaning, I got up OK and could move quite well, if rather slowly.

It was a very tough run. If we assume that the 20 odd people shown on the results website as still to finish (!) are actually DNFs, I reckon that about 20% of people attempting the run straight through did not complete it. The final finisher is recorded at over 35 hours.

Of course, the maddest part of me says that it would be good to do it again, in cooler weather and without the cramp, to see what I might be capable of. The slightly less mad part says that if I run any more ultras, it would be sensible to make them no longer than 50km – last year’s 50km, and even this year’s first half, were eminently doable and even rather enjoyable – but let’s wait and see about that.

On the Monday a friend and I drove down to the alps for a few days cycling up mountains. The drive was OK except that I was walking like an old man when I got out of the car having slightly seized up with the immobility. Yes, I know that I am an old man but, in general, I try not to walk like one. I managed the cycling (slowly) but it is possibly not the best way to treat very tired legs.

All in all, one heck of an experience and I think that the mere fact that I finished means it was a success. I got only one blister and avoided sunburn and heatstroke and I’m grateful for that. I ran with a hydration pack which was very good for carrying the necessary stuff – but I didn’t much like the bladder for drinking. I wish I had put more effort into practising eating and drinking strategies on long training runs

I ran in road shoes (being so hot the ground was bone dry) and used a short sleeved top with white arm warmers to offer a bit of protection from the sun, until they had to be jettisoned due to the heat.

I was in 478th place out of 746 finishers and over 913 starters (I know of some runners who did not complete the 100km but are not included in any of the results). I was (just) in the top half of entrants in the 60+ category – but I don’t think that is very important, just finishing was enough for me.

The event was very well organised, the volunteers at the food stops were magnificent and there was very good camaraderie between the runners. Next year I’m more likely to be supporting my friend who managed to defer his entry from this year and, I hope, his wife. She enjoyed the experience so much that she has entered the ballot for a place. I’m so pleased I wasn’t in too bad a state to have put her off for life.

The supporters who were driving around to meet runners at various points were terrific and formed a bit of a bond, I’m looking forward to experiencing that in 2023.

How (not) to recover from an Ultra: 1. Ride up mountains!

The cirque at Sixt Fer-a-Cheval (with my bike on the grass in front of the restaurant)

My birthday on Sunday was a reasonably low-key affair after Saturday’s very tough ultra, moving slowly but improving through a day spent rehydrating and packing.

A friend arrived on Monday morning and we set off for the Haute Savoie in the French alps for a few days cycling. The journey was uneventful and we shared the driving although I was walking very slowly and stiffly when we stopped but I managed to extract myself from the car.

We arrived at midnight, joining the three others who had arrived at the apartment on Saturday. I certainly felt better on Tuesday morning but dipped out of the planned ride which would have taken me up the Joux Plane.

It’s a climb described in my Tour Climbs book as ‘hard as nails’ and one which famously gave Armstrong one of his toughest ever days on the bike in the 2000 Tour. I’ve ridden it three times before but this didn’t feel like the right day for attempting my fourth ascent.

Instead, I did domestic stuff around the apartment in the morning and sat on the balcony in the sun, drinking a cold beer and watching a dozen swifts feeding on the wing in front of me. Dirty work but someone has to do it.

I got on the bike later and thought of riding down the mountain to see if I could watch Le Tour come past up the Cote de Châtillon, just above Cluses. I decided that cycling down would be burning my bridges and the day would not end well if I couldn’t ride back up.

Instead I rode up to the top of the Col de Pierre Carrée – just about 12km (7.5 miles) of ‘up’ with 743m (2,440 feet) of climbing. I reckoned that at least I’d be able to coast back down to the apartment if my legs failed on the way up. I was happily surprised at how well they responded but it did leave me wondering how I managed 12 reps of that route when I ‘everested’ it in 2017.

On Wednesday we drove to Flumet and did a pretty demanding loop (in 33℃ – 91℉) which my Garmin recorded at only 44km (27 miles) but with over 1350m (over 4400 feet) of climbing. The legs don’t feel at all powerful but are holding up reasonably well.

Thursday was even hotter and harder. We rode to Le Bettex – there’s a particularly nice restaurant at the top – and it was OK until we turned off the main road above St Gervais and hit a forestry type road with several long sections at 20%. My out-of-power legs had been struggling manfully and managed to put up with the first section (standing on the pedals in bottom gear) but then downed tools and, for the first time in recent years, I walked for a bit.

When we regrouped I discovered I was not alone and only one of the 5 of us had ridden the route without stopping – pretty well unheard of … but it was a hell of a stretch of road. It was a short day with only 59km (37 miles) but packing in 1150m of climbing (3,800 feet).

Friday was the traditional visit to the Cirque at Sixt Fer-a-Cheval for a great lunch looking out at the spectacular cliff face running around, I guess, about 270°. It’s not a hard ride out there but the return requires a climb back to Les Carroz – about 72km with 950m of climbing, in about 35℃ (45 miles and over 3,100 feet in 95℉).

I was the slowest up all the climbs and that’s a bit of a theme in the recent years that we’ve been able to get out to the alps. I have handicapped myself very effectively after I everested in 2017, rode 880km (550 miles) out to there in 2018 and had ridden little after 2019’s Rotterdam marathon. I expected to have little in my legs this year after the ultra – but I made it up all the climbs and am more than happy to settle for that.

Before I went out I’d ridden only 550km this year – much of it on the turbo trainer. I only added 200km but I guess that’s another reason for a very modest cycling performance on my part, to be added to the effects of the ultra. One other effect of having done little cycling – my backside was not well hardened to the carbon fibre saddle.

We drove back on Saturday arriving late at night – a shorter trip than usual but great fun with a lot of food and drink and a very sociable group of friends.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Even as the archer loves the arrow that flies, so too he loves the bow that remains constant in his hands

2. BBC News website: Smart mouthguards

Players at this year’s women’s Rugby World Cup will be offered the use of ‘smart’ mouthguards to help monitor the risk of head injury. The microchipped protective shield measures head impacts to assist with diagnosis of things like potential concussions.

Apposite with the horrible news just released that former Wales’ captain Ryan Jones (at only 41) has been diagnosed with early onset dementia. My very best wishes to him and his family

3. BBC News website: Wrapping the bridge

I’ve included pictures of Hammersmith Bridge on many occasions as it’s part of one of my favourite runs in London. Currently its chains are wrapped in silver foil insulation to reflect the sun and stop them overheating.

The chains are anchored to the river bed and regulated to be kept under 13C (55.4F) in the summer. If any of them reach 18C (64.4 F), safety engineers will shut the bridge.

The foil and a £420,000 cooling system, installed following the 2020 heatwave, are being used to keep the pedestals safe so it remains open to pedestrians and cyclists (it is still shut to vehicles because of other structural issues).

4. BBC News website: More about petrol shortages in Sri Lanka

I’ve previously mentioned the temporary ban on petrol sales for non-emergency vehicles in Sri Lanka.

Huge queues of vehicles waiting for fuel have become a common sight, with one queue, beginning in the commercial heart of the capital Colombo, and snaking round alongside a seaside strip of road, stretching for 5km (over 3 miles). The driver of a minibus close to the front has been queueing for 10 days. He said “I’ve been sleeping in the car since last Thursday. It’s so hard but what can I do… I won’t even get a full tank.”

Final week of the ultra training plan and then the small matter of the run itself

The Ridgeway – part of the Race to the Stones

You can look at this week in two ways: either the final 7km of training – which feels very easy … alternatively, there are 107km to be run this week – which feels a bit harder.

I got a run in on Monday – just 5.7km (3.5 miles) with a couple of hills – and both legs felt OK. I appreciate that many different parts of me will hurt on Saturday but the scare with the quads and the ITBs a couple of weeks ago was a real concern and I don’t feel any great need to get to the start line injured.

Monday evening was the usual swim doctor session (850m but including some leg only drills so it was tough) and I swam with my friend at the lake on Tuesday afternoon and managed 2150m. I still don’t love swimming but at least I have hope for the 1500m in the Olympic triathlon in September. Interestingly, it was the first time the collar of my wetsuit rubbed my neck – was I doing something different or was I just in it for longer?

My wife and I had brunch with our younger son on the way to Wimbledon on Wednesday. We were on Centre Court and had a ladies quarter final and Nadal v Fritz in the men’s quarter finals. Nadal is a great player and how he won through in 5 sets carrying an early injury was phenomenal – but, my word, his obsessive routines are annoying and if I never hear another ‘Come on Rafa’ I’ll be delighted.

After an overnight stay we drove back home on Thursday and I had final run of 3.6km (2.2 miles) to complete the ultra training. I got a nasty reminder that heat could be an issue – it was probably only about 20℃ (68℉) but I was hot. Friday saw the usual trip to the gym followed by the bike shop.

I never really followed the event’s 20 week training plan – in the early weeks I was ahead of the plan just with normal running. I’ve run further than the plan required but haven’t been up on the Ridgeway since February and haven’t really tried eating and drinking on the go, so those are gaps in the training.

The biggest failure has been not doing the two longest runs towards the end of the plan – I was on holiday for one and had the leg issues during the course of the other.

Week (of 20) Event’s training plan (km) My actual (km)
20 7 9
Cumulative total 716 751
Final week of the training plan completed, the ultra itself not included

Have I done enough? Who knows, but I’ll find out soon enough. At least the weather looks like being reasonable – about 16℃ (61℉) at the start, a little higher at the finish (as if I know when that’s going to be), with a maximum of 24℃ (75℉). There should be a gentle breeze, mainly at 90° to the route. I’m hoping that the breeze might help with the temperature. (If only I’d known what was actually going to happen when I wrote that).

For the umpteemth time, I went through the kit I would be wearing and carrying and packed and repacked the box I later delivered to my friend and his wife who, being incredibly kind, are going to meet me with supplies and encouragement a few times on the run (and he’s going to collect me at the end).

The ultra – 100km of fun, fun, fun

Saturday morning arrived and my wife was kind enough to drive me the 50 minutes to the start, just outside Lewknor (Oxfordshire) – and away I went at 8:10 ….

I’m writing this bit on Sunday, my 67th birthday – so here’s a bit of a spoiler alert … I did not kill myself and am not still out there lost on the Ridgeway.

I had fully expected to spend today lying in bed, immobile and groaning – as it turns out I’m up but moving around very slowly. Another spoiler alert, I finished.

The big story was the heat – once the early morning cloud disappeared it was hotter than predicted (probably 26℃ – 79℉) and I found it impossible to get enough liquids in – the result was cramping from 27km. Every time I broke into a run the cramp returned but I found I could run through it, with effort. I don’t know if it was that, or the heat, or the distance, but while the first half was OK, my legs were shredded for the second.

My friend and training partner and his lovely wife were magnificent. They took turns to run (more accurately, ‘walk’ for much of it) with me for the whole of the second half and made all the difference – I doubt I’d have done it without them. What terrific friends!

I was wondering if I’d finally taken on a challenge I couldn’t do. I think the answer is ‘No’, I could do it (and better in kinder weather) … but it was close.

I’ll do a report later.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Love is a painkiller

The Omil’s less wise words: … Paracetamol probably works better for an ultra marathon

2. BBC News website: Quarks and exotic matter

Scientists have found new ways in which quarks, the tiniest particles known to humankind, group together making new structures that exist for just a hundred thousandth of a billionth of a billionth of a second but may explain how our Universe is formed.

Atoms contain smaller particles called neutrons and protons, which are made up of three quarks each. “Exotic” matter discovered in recent years is made up of four and five quarks – tetraquarks and pentaquarks.

Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider have discovered one new pentaquark and two tetraquarks taking the total number discovered there to 21. Each is unique, but researchers are excited about the qualities of the three new finds.

Confused? You will be

3. BBC News website: Two football matches with 187 goals investigated

The two second-tier Sierra Leone games saw Kahunla Rangers and Gulf FC of Kono defeat their city rivals in Premier League qualifiers on Sunday. Kahunla won 95-0, and Gulf FC won 91-1 – after the half-time scores were just 2-0 and 7-1 respectively. Both results have been annulled on suspicion of match manipulation.

Things took a dramatic turn over the course of the second halves when it became clear that the team with the better goal difference would go through – with Kahunla netting 93 goals and Gulf scoring 84 times.

93 goals in 45 second half minutes hardly gives time to get the ball back to the centre circle to kick off again

4. BBC News website: Sugary cereal special offers restricted

In-store promotions on food and drink high in fat, salt or sugar will be restricted in England, from October. This includes ‘location promotions’ at checkouts, ‘end of isle’ and entrances.

Kellogg’s had taken the government to court arguing the rules did not take into account the nutritional value of added milk to cereals, but the Royal Courts of Justice ruled in favour of the government.

5. BBC News website: Woman took driving theory and practical tests for others

Inderjeet Kaur, 29, was jailed for 8 months after admitted taking about 150 tests between 2018 and 2020. Police said she was taking tests for people who had difficulty with English.

The report had no pass rate details but I bet she knows the theory and drives pretty well

Pre-Ultra thoughts

I’ve done the final runs of the training plan – it requires just 7km this week (or 107km if you include the ultra itself). The first 7km has gone OK – the remaining 100km is in the lap of the Gods.

I’ve (unwisely) been thinking about Saturday’s 100km. It’s rather daunting – not least because a young chap I know (a vastly superior runner – in the sense of ‘I am not fit to tie the laces to his trainers’) – took over 17 hours for one last month.

I hope you’ll forgive me if I get a bit technical here, but my experience tells me that a marathon is ‘a very long way’ to run. Similarly, last year I discovered that a 50km ultra marathon is ‘even further’. That means that Saturday’s 100km ultra is, officially, ‘twice as far as even further than a very long way’.

I hope that I haven’t lost anyone in the detail.

I’ve (sort of) done the training. I front-end loaded it because I was already running further than the plan required in the early weeks – but I’ve missed out on some of the more recent very long runs (yes, the really important bits of the training). That means that, although my mileage over the 20 weeks is above the plan, I’ve probably not done enough really long stuff.

Coupled with the recent major hiccup with ITB issues, that leaves me unsure of what to expect. I doubt that the training plan was written with old folks like me in mind – but I like to think that age is an advantage because of the added maturity it brings (what’s that I can hear – is it whistling in the dark?).

I fear that running on maturity might not be as useful as running on young legs, at the 75km point.

My wife is driving me the 40 miles to the start, before going to see Bananarama in concert in London. No, it’s not true that I’m only doing the ultra to avoid that concert but that is a side benefit, I’ll admit.

My friend and training companion (who would have been running with me, had it not been for a ligament problem in his ankle that’s only just improved) has (way beyond kindly) volunteered to be my support crew on the day. I feel bad that my start time of 8:10am means that my friend will be collecting me from the finish rather late … assuming I make it to the finish … and assuming I don’t take so long that collection turns out to be mid-morning on Sunday.

This doubt is rather familiar territory – I thought I probably was going to be able to do the Cinglés du Mont Ventoux back in 2015 but I was very worried about the everesting in 2017, the solo, unsupported, ride out to the alps in 2018 and the 50km ultra last year.

As it turned out, I completed those challenges, but those worries are going to turn out to be well founded at some point as I age and push myself physically. This could be the step (or several thousand steps) too far.

On Saturday, I suppose I’m going to find out if this challenge is the straw that breaks the camel’s back – is this the challenge that proves that determination and bloody-mindedness are not always enough?

Two apposite African wise words for this post:

  • A feeble effort will not fulfill the self
  • To try and to fail is not laziness