Chris Worfolk's Blog


TCD Olympic and Paralympic exhibition

April 23rd, 2024 | Distractions

It’s less than 100 days until Paris! TCD put on a small exhibition last week and had some cool stuff: Olympic torches, kit, medals and display boards on famous athletes.

Westport

April 22nd, 2024 | Travel

We went to Westport last weekend. It wasn’t the stunning success we hoped for.

The idea was to get there in plenty of time and have some exploring time on Friday. But it took 5.5 hours to drive across the country meaning we were not there until late and was late to bed.

In the morning I did the marathon and recorded my first run DNF. I wasn’t in a great state by the time I got back I had a shower, changed and went down to collect my bag. But then we got hit by another rain storm and got soaked again.

We went to the beach on Sunday but it was freezing. Then we headed over to Croagh Patrick for a little walk in the foothills but when we got there the car park didn’t accept card or mobile payments so we couldn’t pay. And then the rain started again and properly lashed it down.

There were some highlights, though: Westport itself is a nice place with plenty of bars and restaurants and we had some good meals in The Wyatt, Servd and Woodfire.

Westport marathon

April 21st, 2024 | Sport

I booked this race a while ago as a chance to take a trip to Ireland’s west coast. Then I picked up an injury and haven’t run much for the past two months. Still, I was armed with some good distance in me and sign-off to run from two physios. I actually suggested I should skip it but they said it would be fine: must be the first time a phyio has talked a runner into running!

The race starts in the quay and takes in a two laps of the green way before heading out along the coast road. The course is described as having some hills but probably nothing that counts as a hill in Yorkshire. There was sunshine before the race. But then the gun went and the rain arrived. It rained a lot for the first hour and it was real stinging rain pelting you in the face.

The rain wasn’t the worst of it, though. I couldn’t shake the feeling that my ankle would give out at any moment andI would be stranded. I knew that was ridicious but it kept distracting me and no amount of psychological tools was shifting the feeling. I tried to keep going as long as I could, which took me through the half way point, but with another 7k to go until the turnaround to come back into town I decided it was too much and called it a day. A big thank you to the marshal and Kevin for giving me a lift back.

It was disappointing as I don’t think I have ever had to DNF on a run before but I live to fight another day.

Triathlon For Beginners reaches 100,000 members

April 9th, 2024 | News

In 2018, I launched my course Triathlon For Beginners and subsequently set up a Facebook group to facilitate peer support. Six years later and I am pleased to announce the group has now hit 100,000 members.

My Running For Beginners group did the same in January.

I have some battle stories from what spammers will try in a group that size đŸ˜†. But it has been wonderful to watch so many people sharing stories, encouragement and support.

Royal Canal parkrun

April 7th, 2024 | Sport

With Storm Kathleen sweeping over our islands I wasn’t sure what parkruns would be on. There was a nervous wait from 8:00 to 8:30 as I refreshed all of the Facebook pages hoping to see someone would confirm their parkrun was on. Royal Canal parkrun were the first to confirm so was delighted to join them.

The course is an out-and-back that starts from the town centre. It is pan-flat with no locks on the course. I set off thinking I would not be able to match last week’s time, especially as there would be more of a headwind coming back. But as it happens, I managed to set another walking PB of:

33:38

It was my first visit to Kilcock and it looks like a beautiful place.

Strength and conditioning course

April 6th, 2024 | News

I’m a British Triathlon certified strength and conditioning coach and I teach a course on using bodyweight exercises to build strength that you can do at home. It has been available via the Resilient website for a while but yesterday it became available on Udemy, too.

Malahide parkrun

March 31st, 2024 | Sport

After five weeks of resting and physio, I’m still not able to run. So, thinking about what old man sports I could do, I decided to watch a race walking tutorial and see if I could improve on my 5k walking pb of 35:38 set earlier this month.

It turns out that with only a basic understanding of the technique, the answer is yes! I managed to take over a minute and a half off my time and achieve a new pb of:

33:57

I was expecting some soreness after and I did get it but not where I expected: my arms were the most sore and continue to be so.

Tolka Valley parkrun

March 27th, 2024 | Sport

I’m delighted to be running again.

Tolka Valley was the last parkrun I needed to tick off the Dublin set. A nice small affair with a field of 38 runners and plenty of volunteers braving the rain to support the event. Nice views over the city, too.

Vaughan Gething becomes First Minister

March 26th, 2024 | Religion & Politics

Last week, Vaughan Gething became the First Minister for Wales. This made him the first black leader of any European country. But also marks another diversity milestone: all four of the top jobs in the UK (prime minister and three first minsters) are held by women or persons of colour.

For international context, Rishi Sunak is currently prime minster while Humza Yousaf is first minister of Scotland and Michelle O’Neill is first minister of Northern Ireland.

Barkley Marathons 2024

March 25th, 2024 | Sport

She’s only gone and bloody done it!

The Barkley Marathons is a notoriously difficult race. If you haven’t heard of it, it is a nominally 100-mile race (nobody is sure how long it really is) that consists of five 20-mile laps through Frozen Head State Park, Tennessee. The elevation gain is huge and much of it is off-trail running. It contains many cult elements: the start time can be any time from midnight to noon for example and is announced an hour before when a conch is blown.

There is a 12-hour cut-off for each lap, giving athletes 60 hours in total. The terrain is so tough that most years nobody finishes. Though, if you manage 3 laps within the first 40 hours, you at least get a “Fun Run”. There have been various documentaries made about it including The Race That Eats Its Young, Where Dreams Go To Die, and Last Woman Standing which followed British ultrarunning legend Nicky Spinks trying to be the first woman to complete the race.

Enter the 2024 race where a star-studded line up. This included last year’s winner, AurĂ©lien Sanchez, Jared Campbell attempting to get a record 4th finish, and Jasmin Paris who had a Fun Run under her belt and until this year held the out-right course record for the Spine Race which she famously set while expressing milk for her baby at the aid stations.

Either conditions were good or the field is getting stronger as a record 12 people achieved a Fun Run this year. It may have also helped that the race started at 5:17, allowing the first, third and final lap to be done in daylight. This meant a record 7 athletes were able make it to lap 5 before the 48-hour cut-off. The most finishers ever had been three, set in 2012 (the year The Race That Eats Its Young was filmed) and repeated again in 2023.

Sebastian Raichon and former Spine men’s course record holder (still two hours slower than Parsis’s time) Damian Hall dopped out leading five athletes out on the course. The only way to follow it is to follow Keith Dunn’s Twitter feed. Elon must have been delighted that people were briefly using it again as we all desperately refreshed for news and chatted on WhatsApp.

Ihor Verys was the first to come home with an hour and a quarter still to go before the 60-hour cut-off. John Kelly arrived 30 minutes later to briefly equal Jared Campbell’s three finishes until 15 minutes later, Campbell himself arrived back to set a record 4th finish. Greig Hamilton came in 9 minutes later, leaving Paris the only athlete left on the course with 19 minutes to get home.

We continued to madly refresh the Twitter feed as the 9:17 pm GMT deadline passed. No news. Then, a few minutes after the cut-off had passed, Keith tweeted to say Paris had made it home! At 59:58:21, she made it home 99 seconds before the deadline making her the first ever woman to finish the race!