Chris Worfolk's Blog


Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee

July 11th, 2020 | Sport

When COVID-19 struck and everything started getting cancelled, Barklay Marathons organiser Laz Lake stepped up and announced a 1,000 km Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee. Of course, it was Laz, so the distance was actually 1,022 km, but then it would be somewhat unreasonable to expect Tennessee to be exactly 1,000 km from the south-west corner to the northeast corner.

I entered the race in order to get the t-shirt, intending to make it halfway. But then I signed up for the EveryMayDay 10k Challenge and by the time I had completed that I was 40% done and thought I might as well finish the thing.

Runners need to average 8.3 km per day to make it by the 31 August deadline. 10 km gets you there three weeks early, though, and I thought I better do that in case I got COVID-19 and couldn’t get out of bed for three weeks. Then I realised that one additional kilometre, 11 km per day, would get me there on 1 August, and a double run the day before would allow me to finish in July, within three months of the race start. Things spiralled out of control from here.

Days: 69
Average distance per day: 14.81 km
Position: 2,174 / 19,605 (provisional)
Biggest effort: 86 km at Endure24
Recovery days (sub-10k): 2
Calories burnt: 74,080
Weight lost: None

I ran most of the miles in my Nike Next% shoes, with some easier miles in my Hoka Clifton 6s when the Next%’s speed-over-comfort approach became too much for my poor feet to bear.

The elite runners managed to complete the course in less than two weeks, and have since done BAT (Back Across Tenessee) and Race That Never Ends (the 3x crossing), but I am perfectly content with a single. Especially with a surprise Ironman now less than seven weeks away.

Garmin HRM-Dual review

July 11th, 2020 | Reviews, Sport, Video

The Garmin HRM-Dual heart rate monitor finally adds Bluetooth to their range. Is it as good as the HRM-Tri, and how does it stack up against the Polar H10? Find out in the video below.

Mugiro neck protector

July 9th, 2020 | Reviews, Sport, Video

If you are experiencing wetsuit chafing on the back of your neck and lube isn’t doing much for you, you may want to upgrade to the Mugrio neck projector. It’s a thick rubber collar that sits between your skin and your wetsuit and does a great job of protecting my precious skin.

How to inflate the Huub tow float

July 8th, 2020 | Sport, Video

I recently purchased a Huub safety tow float so that I could swim in lakes with slightly less fear of drowning. All very well and you would think it would be obvious how to inflate it. But it wasn’t and took us a bit of time to figure out. To save anyone else the hassle of how to do it, here is a video on it:

TL;TR is the valve can be stuck at first, so use the crap to press it up and down a few times. Then make sure you’re blowing as hard as you can as you need to press the valve down with the pressure of the air before it will begin inflating.

Ironman VR13

June 30th, 2020 | Sport

My long-awaited return to Ironman VR racing. I completed all of one to eight (except five, so not all one to eight), but then had my first ever DNF in multisport racing when my rear mech exploded 30 km into the bike route. Since then, my Bianchi has been at Woodrup getting repaired. Thankfully, it is now back in my possession and racing again.

I did the run in a 13 km on Saturday morning and then settled in on Sunday for the 40 km bike ride. Stormy winds eventually convinced me to stay inside on the turbo, but only after I had stopped at 27 km on the Saturday after the Zwift race. I should have thought that one through.

I had a look around the Watopia courses and settled on big loop. At 42 km it was the closest match to the distance and, compared to the others, did not seem that hilly at 650 metres of climbing.

It was very hilly. The first thing it did was take me up Epic KOM, which took 35 minutes. On the flat, I can nail that distance in 1:20:00. I was still peddling at around 1:33:00 after the jungle loop also included a long and sustained climb. And because of GVRAT, I still had to get off the bike and do a 10 km run, even though I had already finished the run for Ironman VR13.

Oh well, lesson learned. Next time I might just grit my teeth and do four boring laps of the 10 km flat route.

93 minutes on the turbo wasn’t too uncomfortable. Having the smart trainer gives a bit more wiggle, but I did have to get out of the saddle a few times to give my ass a break. Less unpleasant than previous training sessions, though. I’m not sure whether it’s the smart trainer, the change in evaluation or the new shorts but it feels a bit less unpleasant than previous 90-minute rides.

Grand Canyon virtual ultra

June 24th, 2020 | Sport

Just as my medal arrived for Hadrian’s Wall, yesterday I crossed the finish line on the Grand Canyon challenge. This one was somewhat longer: 450 km but with all the running I am doing for GVRAT, I managed to get through it in 28 days. Pretty happy with that.

GVRAT t-shirt

June 23rd, 2020 | Sport

Important Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee update: my t-shirt has finally arrived!

I’m just over two-thirds of the way across now. I keep checking Street View and it is mostly farmland and some woodlands. I am about to arrive in Knoxville so that may liven things up a little.

Hadrian’s Wall medal

June 17th, 2020 | Sport

I finished the Hadrian’s Wall virtual ultra three weeks ago. Yesterday, my medal arrived. I’m impressed by the quality. It looks great, has a chunky feel with the cut-out edges at the bottom and a lovely soft strap.

Endure24 NHS

June 15th, 2020 | Sport

With COVID-19 cancelling this year’s Endure24, the organiser’s created a virtual version to raise funds for the NHS Charities. I only found out about the race a few days before but it sounded fun so I thought I would give it ago.

The race takes place from noon on Saturday to noon on Sunday with the object being to run as far as you can. I set my car up as a basecamp with spare clothing, food and drink. I spent Friday night testing out potential routes and decided on one up the call and down Kirkstall Road, giving me a 5 km loop where I could return to the car each time for nutrition.

I started by running the first four laps before taking my first break. After that, I ran another two laps, then switched from my Nikes to my Hokas for a bit of added cushioning while I walked the next two laps. By this point, it was 6 pm, so I started cooking tea (there’s no escape from parenting) while I ran another swift 5 km before taking a proper break to eat.

I managed another three loops but by this point, my hip was starting to hurt. At 10 pm, I decided to walk a final two laps as the sun went down.

At midnight, I headed home to grab some food and get some sleep before getting up at 6 am. Between being wired and in pain, I didn’t get much sleep, but that’s pretty standard after a long day. I managed to get a bit of breakfast in me and back running again just after 6:30 with a best-case scenario of running another six laps. I ran the first two, but my hip was increasingly unhappy and by the third loop my run, turned to walk, was a slow limp so I decided it was time to throw in the towel.

In total, I managed 86.44 km. Not bad for my first 24-hour race. Fair play to everyone who managed 100 miles, which is almost twice what I managed. As the time of writing, the JustGiving page has raised £17,602 for NHS Charities Together.

Doctrine ORM course

June 8th, 2020 | News, Programming

My new course on Doctrine ORM is now available. If you are a PHP developer, adding Doctrine to your CV is a much=sought-after skill to have, being used by Symfony and thousands of other projects.

Here’s the trailer: