Archive for July, 2022

Anxiety Leeds is closing

Tuesday, July 26th, 2022 | Foundation

Anxiety Leeds is closing. Since 2013, we’ve had thousands of people attend our support groups at the Leeds General Infirmary, supporting each other practically and emotionally. We hope that everyone who has come through our doors found some support from doing so.

Since the pandemic, we have been unable to hold face-to-face meetings. With myself and Chris having to step away from the organisation for personal reasons, we now do not have a venue, facilitators, or capacity to train new volunteers, and therefore it makes sense to close the group and allow others to take our place.

In terms of where you should go for support:

If you would like to access resources yourself and find out more about what is available in Leeds, MindWell remains the best place to visit.

In addition, you can access support at Linking Leeds. They provide Wellbeing Coordinators who can review your situation and help you access the most appropriate support.

I would like to extend a personal thank you to everyone who has attended, volunteered with, fundraised for, or otherwise been involved in Anxiety Leeds over the past nine years.

Castle Howard middle distance triathlon

Monday, July 25th, 2022 | Sport

I did Castle Howard standard distance back in 2019. This year, I was taking in the middle-distance version known as The Gauntlet.

They run a huge range of events which means races starting at different times and a rush to get bikes out of transition to make space for future races. Doing the longest race of the day made this easier: we arrived before everyone else, had reserved racking all day, and the roads were back open by the time we left.

The swim

The lake at Castle Howard is not deep. It is filled with mud and plant life. It really makes you appreciate how nice Waterloo Lake at Roundhay Park is. More annoyingly, the swim cap would not stay on my head. I had to stop several times on the first lap to try and pull it back on my head and re-arrange my goggles. This left me at the back with all the swimmers who keep switching to breaststroke causing a domino effect as everyone behind them also switches to breaststroke.

After a lap of wrestling with the swim cap, I stood up in the deep mud and pulled my goggles under my swim cap. This left me a good 50 metres off the back of the field but by the 100m buoy, I was back on their feet and going past them. As we rounded the top buoys I found myself sitting on three people’s feet with two other swimmers to each side of me, boxing me in. I zig-zagged trying to find a way past but they were swimming in perfect synchronisation. In the end, I dropped right off and went around the left side.

At this point, my swim cap went sailing away. This meant all of the water filled my hair which made me surprisingly less aero. I headed for the final buoy while the rest of the swim pack incorrectly headed back towards the start despite the many warnings during the pre-race brief that they should head straight for the final buoy.

Lacking my swim cap, I came out looking like the creature from the Black Lagoon.

The bike

The bike course starts off on The Stray and I headed down the hill carefully avoiding any comfort breaking. Then a gust of wind blew a leaf into my arm and almost gave me a papercut. That sums up long format racing: one minute you are on top of the world, the next you are close to crying because you’ve been beaten up by a particularly aggressive leaf.

The course then goes out into the Howardian Hills. And they are hills. There are over 1,000 metres of climbing over the 90k which is about the same climbing as the full course at IRONMAN Copenhagen. Climbing really gets to my back when I’m putting out any kind of power so I spent most of the bike course with a lot of lower back pain. Thankfully, the second half of the course flattens out slightly and I could get down on my aero bars a little more.

The run

The run course also starts with a lovely downhill. My stomach hadn’t really settled all day and I was feeling sick by this point so I reminded myself that I was here to get the distance in and have fun. The course is entirely inside the castle grounds and is all off-road making it very scenic but difficult to get a good footing. There are only two real fills but it does go up and down a fair bit.

The weather was a weird mix of warm with a bit of rain occasionally. To cool me down, I took two cups of water at each aid station: one to drink and one to douse myself in. This worked well for the first two aid stations but on the third, I got the tables mixed up and managed to pour isotonic all over myself.

I went through the first lap in 55 minutes but made a decision to back off a little and under fuel to keep my stomach a little happier. I gave a “well done, keep going” to everyone I went passed but there wasn’t any chatting as everyone was hurting by this point. I pushed a little at the end to ensure my half marathon time was uncomfortably under two hours.

Post-race we got a massage and a chicken salad (both included in the entry fee), and I also ran into Jack and Kirsten who were running the yoga tent. After I went into the food tent, the heavens truly opened. Nice timing for me although everything in transition, including my towel, ended up soaked.

The result

I finished in:


Good enough for 76 out of 135. Here are my splits:

Section Time 2019
Swim 43:07 41:59
T1 7:02 4:12
Bike 3:34:28 1:58:51
T2 4:34 2:20
Run 1:54:39 58:41

I’ve included my 2019 times for comparison even though that was a standard distance. I’m pleased with the swim time was I was almost as fast as 2019 despite doing 400 metres more, and having to fiddle with my goggles and swim cap. My bike was 10 minutes quicker per lap and my run laps were faster, too.

Not quite Outlaw X but pretty much what I expected: a hillier bike course makes for a slower time. It had a similar course profile to Weymouth but I was a good 20 minutes faster despite a longer swim here.

This was my 50th triathlon. Does anyone know where I get my t-shirt?

Triathlon For Beginners book

Monday, July 18th, 2022 | Books

My new book is out! It is aimed at people who are looking to do their first ever triathlon and answers over 50 of the most common questions. It also includes swim, bike and run workouts, and 12-week training plans for both sprint and standard distances.

Exclusively available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle format, ISBN-13: 979-8840393970.

Manvers Lake swimrun

Wednesday, July 13th, 2022 | Sport

Manvers Lake swimrun is an event organised by As Keen As Mustard that takes place in Rotheram (at Manvers Lake, as you can probably guess). It’s a swimrun so consists of multiple stages of running and swimming with no transitions: you wear the same thing for the whole event.

This event is very beginner-friendly: they offer a 5k and 10k options that are 80% running and 20% swimming. Compare that to Breca Loch Lomond where the “sprint” features 6k of swimming and 15k of running. Unlike Love SwimRun Llanberis, the run at Manvers Lake is flat (pretty much) and the water is a lot warmer than 14 degrees!

It also has a lot more sections. While Llanberis had an 8k run up a quarry and two swims of over a kilometre, Manvers Lake’s longest run section was 2k and the longest swim was 320 metres. To make up the distance, the course featured 13 run sections and 12 swim sections.

The race

It was over 20 degrees air temperature on the day so plenty warm enough not to be in a wetsuit. Most of us opted for it anyway to help with our swim. They used ankle tags rather than bibs which made it much easier to zip down the front of my wetsuit while running. Flooding the suit before the end of the swim helped a lot as well.

My main aim was to have fun so I took it steady. People generally overtook me on the swim sections but the 2k run section at the end of the park was a good chance to take some places back. In fact, I frequently saw the same faces as we traded places between the swim and the run.

The course was a two-lap affair with an aid station on the second lap so I stopped to get a drink. It was “bring your own cup”, which I had stashed in my wetsuit back pocket along with a Mars bars and an energy gel. But no phone: yes, I a millennial, survived two hours without my phone.

I did overtake at least one person on the swim as I put in a push to finish the final swim strongly.

The lake

Manvers Lake is not my favourite lake. It was murky, like the Blue Lagoon, except that some parts were extra muddy so it was like a blackout when you put your face in the water.

Other parts of the lake were clear and you could see all of the weeds. These were not too bad except for the final swim section of each lap where you were grabbing and kicking handfuls of the stuff even more so than at Ripon race course.

The result

My total time was:


Good enough for 34 out of 56 athletes. I’m happy with that as swimming is not a strong discipline for me and I don’t have a perfect swim setup: no pull buoy, hand paddles, and I even bypassed my calf sleeves because it was so warm. So, to still end up mid-pack feels pretty hood.

The event was well organised and a great beginner event. It felt like less of an adventure than Llanberis as it did not have the wilderness or beautiful scenary, but that is ideal for someone new to swimrun.


Friday, July 8th, 2022 | Life

Elina and I spent a few days down in Penzance. It was a chance for a little getaway while Venla had a sleepover at the grandparents, albeit one where I went racing in the middle. It is a long drive but luckily we avoided any queues so we made it down there and back in about eight hours each way.

The weather was nice, too. We spent the first day on Porthminster Beach and did some standup paddleboarding and sea swimming. The lifeguards said the water was 13 degrees but it was a very warm 13: I was a little cold when I started swimming but warmed up within a few minutes. The water was super clear and I could see all of the crabs scuttling about below. It made the bottom look really close which was unnerving when paddleboarding, but it was much deeper than it seemed.

Day two was Man Vs Coast.

Day three started with us going back to the beach. The wind was stronger today and I struggled to get stood up on the paddleboard, but it was still fun. After that, we headed over to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary to see some seals, sea lions, penguins and goats.

Round Sheffield Run

Thursday, July 7th, 2022 | Sport

Round Sheffield Run is a multi-stage trail race that starts and ends in Endcliffe Park, Sheffield. It is a stage race in that there is 20k of timed stages with another 4k or so of walking in between. It’s Sheffield, so it was pretty hilly. I finished in:


Happy with that. The course was busy, especially on the single-track sections, so there was a lot of getting stuck behind people. It also made it difficult to see upcoming roots and quite a few people took a tumble. The feed stations has bananas and jelly babies. I’m not sure I would do the event again, but it was okay. I think they missed me on the race photos. Or maybe just decided I’m not photogenic enough, lol.

Man Vs Coast

Wednesday, July 6th, 2022 | Sport

Man Vs Coast is a 36-40k adventure race from Marazion Beach to Land’s End. It’s my A- event for the year: not as important as Copenhagen but still one of the big events I have been focusing on.

It’s predominantly a run but includes six trips into the sea (be it wading or jumping in), a very small amount of climbing and a couple of rope bridges to traverse. Rat Race describe it as one of those obstacle course races except that the obsticals are the Cornish coastline.


Registration took place the day before in Penzance. They have quite a long mandatory kit list and checked everyone’s kit before we were allowed to pick up our numbers and satellite trackers. The queue took quite a while but luckily it wasn’t raining while we queued.

Race day

I parked up at Land’s End and took the shuttle bus to the start. I felt a bit sick at this point so when we arrived at Marazion I got a hot chocolate and a brownie which helped settle my stomach. It rained most of the morning and there wasn’t much shelter. I got the 7am bus but you could have got on the 8am but and still got to the start comfortably, even if you were in the 9:00 wave as I was.

They had an open-topped trailer where you could drop a finish line bag so I kept my warm clothing on for as long as possible before sticking it in my bag and handing it in. The rain did stop before the start, which was nice.

Part 1: 0-14k

The race starts with a run along Marazion Beach including wading out to waist-deep water and climbing over a sea wall. There was a second sea-based activity further down the beach where we had to dip under an inflatable so this was a full immersion. At each of the sea-based activities, there is a bag drop so you can keep your kit a little drier.

After this is turned off the beach. To get under the main road into Penzance we climbed into the river and walked up the river under a set of two low bridges. It wasn’t quite hands and feet crawling but pretty low. I nearly knocked myself out on a pipe coming out of the bridge; a moment the photographer was good enough to document.

After this we were onto tracks and roads. I stopped to empty the sand out of my shoes before we took the long climb from the south coast to the north coast. At the top, the first feed stop was waiting for us. They were well stocked: crisps, cakes, sweets, fruit, flapjack bars, water and electrolyte drinks. Finally, there was a cross-country stretch to bring us to the north coast.

Part 2: 14-20k

This part was hard. We dropped onto the South West coastal path but calling it a “path” was generous. The terrain was very technical with the route being filled with rocks and often at steep inclines. I felt like I was moving really slowly here with each kilometre taking anywhere from 8 to 12 minutes.

There was a water activity where we had to wade out and around an inflatable. The water seemed a lot colder on the north coast and the rocks were super-slippy so it was slow going.

At one point, we either left the path or it disappeared completely and we had to climb down a very small cliff and back up again. it was only maybe 4 metres, so if I slipped I would only fall my own height. But that feels like quite a lot when you have only been bouldering once!

At least the views where beautiful, overlooking the rugged coast line below.

Part 3: 20-33k

Mercifully, the trail got better from here. it was still very up and down but the paths tended to be gravel and far more runable. We went passed some of the old tin mines and ruins of old stone buildings.

I was slightly delayed in getting through one gap in a wall when a horse decided it was going to block it. Thankfully, it did eventually moved when I asked it to. Some of the paths are cut into the cliffside themselves so a little nerveracking being so close to falling down a cliff.

One section was the “vertical kilometre”. Honestly, if It had not been labelled I couldn’t have told it apart from the rest of the hills on the course.

Part 4: 33-38k

As we approached Sennen the route dropped down onto the beach and we were running in soft sand again. The first activity here was body boarding: you had to grab a body board, run into the sea and board back in. Unfortunately, most of the body boards were snapped in the middle and there were was not much surf to be had, so I didn’t get very far.

At the end of the beach there was a large rocky section where we had to climb or jump for rock to rock. This was a long section that took a while to traverse. At the end, there was another water activity where we had to duck under a line limbo-style.

The final activity was just around the corner and involved climbing down another little cliff and traversing two rope bridges. They move a lot! There were only a couple of metres above the rocks but that felt pretty high at the time. Finally, it finishes with a cliff jump which again was only 2-3 metres high but that’s a lot when you’re standing there, so I treated myself to climbing into the water lower down and swimming over the other side.

After this, there was a climb back up the hill that brought the Land’s End visitors centre into sight.

The finish

The route took us up past the buildings around Land’s End and into the event village to go under the finish arch. Everyone gets a free finisher photo (the others you have to buy) and a cup of “award-winning” soup. Rat Race admit they don’t know who gave the soup said award but it was probably for the weakest soup in the world 😂.

My official time was:


It is a run, not a race: Rat Race publish results in alphabetical order and any comparison of the timings are meaningless because the activities are all optional so you could go much faster by skipping the trips into the sea. That said, I was moving faster than most participants: 116 out of 800.

My watch clocked the total distance as 37.95 km with 1,222 m of elevation gain. Technically, it is not even a marathon, but I would rate the difficulty as up there with the shorter end of ultra races.


The event was challenging and well organised. A lot of people asked me “was it horrible” on account of the cold water and having your shoes filled with water and sand. But not of that really came to pass. The water did not feel cold (except on the north coast) and I soon warmed up again. My shoes soon drained and although they stayed damp the whole time, I didn’t pick up any blisters. I was sore on Sunday but not overly so.

Some of it was fun. But I really signed up to push my comfort zone: trips into the sea, wet feet, climbing, cliffs, rope bridges, point-to-point races, all of that was uncomfortable and I wanted to push myself, which I did.