Chris Worfolk's Blog


Slim PHP 3.12.3

December 6th, 2019 | Programming

If you’re using the Slim framework in PHP, there is a breaking change between 3.12.2 and 3.12.3. You’ll need to change where you are inheriting your class from.

- use Interop\Container\ContainerInterface;
+ use Psr\Container\ContainerInterface;

Copenhagen

October 28th, 2019 | Books, Food

Copenhagen Food is a cookbook by Trine Hahnemann. This book looks beautiful and demonstrates a lot of plain but tasty Nordic cuisine. But that said, I have only made a couple of recipes from it, even though I went through and indexed all of the ones I wanted to try.

Prawns will and homemade mayo is the only recipe I regularly use, which is like twice a year. The only modification to the mayo I have made is to add a little bit of lemon.

Since then, it has languished on my sideboard waiting for a review, which I have not written because I did not really know what to say. So, this is me saying very little.

In fairness, it is titled Copenhagen Food: Stories, traditions and recipes, so the sparsity of recipes is clear from the title.

Goole Triathlon

October 20th, 2019 | Sport

Goole Triathlon is a sprint race that takes place at the start of October. It starts with a 400 metre pool swim in Goole’s leisure centre (which has a massive slide in it!) before taking in the pan flight sights on a 20km bike and 5km run course.

My dad was there, along with his friend Tim, to do their first sprint distance. I clearly need to stay on my toes as their times were not too far behind mine! Venla came along to cheer them home.

The Deep

October 19th, 2019 | Life

The Deep is the world’s largest submarium. It is also the world’s only submarium because they made it up. Simply put, it is an aquarium that is partially submerged into the sea around it. Does that mean you can look into the ocean and see a bunch of fish? No. Nor could you see anything in The Humber even if they put a window in.

As something to do, it was okay. Aggressively mediocre. It was a sea life centre that they have padded out with a lot of information boards. A lot of the windows are looking into the same fish tank. That said, it was cheaper than the Sea Life Centre in Weymouth, so for value for money, it is reasonable. But it is not better than a Sea Life Centre, so do not make the mistake of getting your expectations sky-high.

The food in the cafe was a low point for me. I once bought a fish and chips ready meal that you had to oven cook. But I microwaved it anyway because it was a ready meal. That is the closest I can come to describing their fish and chips. And the toilets being closed meant we had to change Venla in a corridor.

The jellyfish were nice, though. It is probably worth a visit as long as you are not expecting something amazing.

Venla’s 3rd birthday

October 18th, 2019 | Family & Parenting

It seems only last year that Venla was a toddler. Now she is a three-year-old. We worked hard to prevent her from having any screen time for the first few years of her life. But now she’s discovered Peppa Pig and wants Peppa Pig everything. Which, thankfully, can be obtained for reasonable prices.

Chicago Marathon 2019

October 17th, 2019 | Sport

Chicago is one of the six marathon majors in the world, along with London, Berlin, Tokyo, New York and Boston. Why this is, is unclear. Nobody turns up to Chicago. The London route is lined with supporters the entire route. In Chicago, you can hear the footsteps of the athletes on the TV camera because there is no other sound.

That did not stop Brigid Kosgei, however. The London marathon winner shot out of the gate and refused to slow down, coming home in a new world record time of 2:14:04. This smashed the previous record of 2:15:25 that has been held by Paula Radcliffe since 2003 by 1:21.

On the finish line, Radcliffe congratulated Kosgei and said she always knew this day would come. I think collectively, as white people, we all knew this day would come, too. Radcliffe’s previous record was itself phenomenal, being over 3 minutes ahead of Catherine Ndereba’s 2001 world record time. It had stood for 16 years. The nearest anyone has got to it until now was Mary Keitany with 2:17:01.

Notably, of the 10 fastest marathon times ever for both men and women. Radcliffe’s time was the only one not set by a Kenyan or Ethiopian. Whatever genetic or cultural factors allow Africa to produce the world’s best distance runners, Radcliffe has been the only person in the world who was able to keep up with them. On the men’s side, you have to go back to before I was born to find a non-African world record holder.

But all records fall eventually (except Jerry Rice, obvs), and Brigid Kosgei’s incredible performance puts her nearly three minutes ahead of any time other the Radcliffe. That’s a huge gap. Will it too stand for decades, or give other runners the self-belief that they can run faster, too? I’m excited to find out.

1:59 Challenge

October 16th, 2019 | Sport

Back in 2017, Eliud Kipchoge led the charge at the #breaking2 event, the first attempt to run a sub-2 hour marathon. On that occasion, we came up 26 seconds short. A the time, I was desperately trying to run a sub-2 hour half (for the record, I did).

Two years later, and Kipchoge arrived in Vienna for the 1:59 Challenge. If the attempt in Italy was well-planned, it was nothing compared to this. Sponsored by INEOS, Dave Brailsford from British Cycling was brought in to mastermind the entire operation.

The perfect location had been selected: a straight road with two roundabouts at each end. The perfect time of year had been selected, with a 10-day window to get the right weather. A team of seven pacers would run with Kipchoge at all time, in a Flying V formation with two runners at the back. The idea was that this created the perfect shape to protect Kipchoge from the wind. A team of 41 world-class runners were brought in, each asked to run a 5km in 14:10 (2:50 per kilometre). A car in front of the runners projected lasers on the ground telling each runner where to be.

In the end, Kipchoge finished in 1:59:39, making it the first-ever sub-2 hour marathon.

It won’t stand as a world record. This is because pacers were swapped in and out, nutrition was delivered via a bike and there was only one “competitor”. This makes it much easier than a real race where you would have to have your face in the wind once the pacers dropped away, and dodge around other runners to pick your nutrition up from a table at the side. I also heard a rumour that the special Nike shoes may not be legal in a marathon, but I am not sure if this is true or not.

Regardless, though, running 26.2 miles in under two hours is an incredible achievement. I’m a little disappointed as I always wanted to be the first person to run under two hours. But, realistically, it is starting to look like I won’t be able to do that anyway. Since I have been a runner, there has been a lot of debate as to whether sub-2 was even theoretically possible. Many people said it wasn’t. Now we know.

IRONMAN’s technology problems

October 7th, 2019 | Tech

Last week, I wrote about how IRONMAN, as an organisation, do not always have the best reputation among athletes. I do not think this is justified at their events. However, it is frustrating that nobody within the IRONMAN organisation has ever used a computer. Here are some of the problems we have run into.

Registration not working

It was a pain to get through the registration form to create my profile. When I came back a few months later, they had changed their registration system and I had to re-register. Their new form did not work at all. There was no error; the form simply did not do anything.

When I emailed support, they asked me to re-try it. This time it did not work because something had been created in the background and now I could not register with the same details.

Profile problems

Once I was registered and logged in, my upcoming race was missing. I had to email support to get them to sort it out. It took a few emails back and forth to get it sorted.

When I turned up in Weymouth, my date of birth was incorrect. It was a simple matter to get it sorted with the team there, but again frustrating.

Club registration

You cannot just enter your club in your registration form. You have to get the club to give IRONMAN a bunch of personal details for them, too. Graeme was kind enough to do this so that I could list Hyde Park Harriers as my club.

However, they never sent the email confirmation and when I contacted support a month later, they said they had lost of the club registration and we would have to complete it all again if we wanted the club to be listed.

Online store

The online store does not work. I have tried to buy some stuff several times and each time it says that the item is in stock but when I try to add it to my basket it says they have no stock left.

Website design

Oh my, have you ever seen a website designed as badly as IRONMAN?

It is not a mobile-first design, despite mobile traffic overtaking desktop traffic years ago. In fact, if you try to access many of the pages on the website, you do not even get a terrible desktop-designed page. You get a page saying “not available on mobile” like it is the Nineties.

The website is slow.

The navigation is confusing. If you go to a particular race, you have the main website navigation across the top and you have to click a little red button at the bottom of the page instead to access the pages about that particular race.

It is hard to get the information you want. I was trying to find the results for IRONMAN Wales from last year. They are not there, as far as I can tell.

Their SEO is also terrible. Every time I searched for IRONMAN Weymouth, I would get the discontinued full distance race, rather than the half distance that is still running. This would be a relatively easy fix in a sitemap or a robots.txt.

What does a year in triathlon cost?

October 6th, 2019 | Religion & Politics, Sport

If you have done some triathlon, you may have noticed that it is dominated by white people. There is very little representation for minorities. One reason could be the cost. Triathlon is expensive. I am not talking about the super-aero bike, or fancy wetsuit, or all the other gear you need. You can get by without most of that. But just entering races is expensive.

In this article, I will break down just how expensive it is, based on my 2019 season.

Registration fees

The biggest cost is registering for races. I did 15 races this year.

Race Fee
Skipton £38
Driffield £54
Tadcaster £45
Leeds £95
Yorkshireman £285
Allerthorpe sprint £54
Castle Howard £99
Redcar £42
Allerthorpe Classic £64
Coalville £46
Sundowner sprint £54
Evolve sprint £40
Nidderdale £47
Ironman Weymouth £281
Evolve mixed relay £20

That makes for an eye-watering total cost of £1,263. Bear in mind that my registration fees are slightly lower than some other people’s because I have already paid for a British Triathlon race licence, that typically saves me £5 on each race. That cost me £40 but has since increased in price.

It is also worth noting that almost half of my fees came from two races: my full distance race and the IRONMAN 70.3. So, if you wanted to stick to short format racing, you could 10 races a year for £500. This is still a lot of money, though, and requires you to avoid big-brand events like World Triathlon Leeds and the Castle Triathlon Series.

Are these fees justified?

On the whole, yes. Some people have argued that £50 is too much of a race. But if you think of the logistics of triathlon: water safety crew, swim caps, a secure transition to avoid bike theft, timing chips, aid stations, bike mechanics and (often, but not always) free photos, there are a lot of costs.

Once you move up to full distance, there are even more considerations. You have to have changing tents, overnight security so people can rack the day before, marshalls on the course for 17 hours, a tonne of nutrition, 180km of road to cover, massages and food after the race, toilets everywhere just to mention a few.

That said, some fees are suspicious. Why does the Castle Howard triathlon cost twice as much as other standard distances races? Why does IRONMAN 70.3 Weymouth cost twice as much as other middle distance races?

Other hidden costs

As well as race registration fees, there are some other hidden costs that I think often get forgotten about.

Transport. Most triathlons take place in rural locations where the roads are quiet. This means you have to drive to them. It is difficult to car share because you need to fit the bikes in the car. So, you need to be able to run and fuel a car.

Parking. About half the races I did had free car parking. The others charged extra and while it was typically a small amount, that is another £30 to add on over the course of a year.

Nutrition. This is not a big issue in short format racing. But starts to add up when you are doing long format (or running a marathon). For my full distance race, I took 18 gels and 4 energy bars. At around £2 a pop, that is £44 worth of nutrition in a single race. For Weymouth, I took 8 gels and 1 energy bar, so a much more reasonable £18.

But then there are the drinks, too. I take two 750ml bottles filled with a carb drink. I often discard these bottles at the aid station bottle drops, which means an additional £15 per race. Plus, you need to do long training runs and rides. Which means you need to pay for nutrition for these, too. I did two 100-mile rides and an 80-mile ride as prep for my full distance, and those could well have been £30 per ride in nutrition.

Conclusion

Twelve hundred pounds on registration fees, plus several hundred of nutrition, is an incredibly large amount of money. People can spend a lot on their hobbies, and that is arguably justified if it brings them a lot of pleasure. But that is not even including all the equipment and fancy bike stuff I buy.

Of course, few triathletes race as much as I do. And many stick to short format racing. But I know there are people who do not race as much as they would like to because they cannot afford to. I do not think this is because event organisers are ripping people off (maybe some are). But it is no surprise that the sport is full of rich white people.

2019 UCI Road World Championships road race

October 5th, 2019 | Photos, Sport

The final race of the World Championships was the men’s elite road race. Road races are not always the most exciting because the peloton rides together, so you get one big bunch and it is all over in under a minute. However, as it started from Leeds city centre, walking up to The Headrow at 9am did not seem too big an ask.