Young at Heart

Posted by martin.parnell |

Florence Storch started throwing the javelin 16 years ago and has won a number of provincial and national titles in the sport. That’s pretty impressive. But, what’s really outstanding is the fact that Florence was 85 when she started and at 101 she has just competed in the Canada 55-Plus Games, in Strathcona County, east of Edmonton.

Florence grew up on a farm and worked as a teacher in a rural schoolhouse, where she often played sports with her students. She “accidentally got into this javelin thing” while helping organize the seniors games, when the event was held in her home town. She noticed no one had signed up for javelin, so she wrote her name down.

I can’t hold a candle to Florence but I came to a number sports later in life. I started playing hockey at 22, running at 47, triathlon at 48, ultra-running at 52, netball at 55 and lacrosse at 56. Now with my 10th and final Quest “Canada Quest for Kids” approaching it’s time, at the age of 58, to tackle a new sport: Quidditch.

On September 22nd I will be participating in a Guinness World Record of the biggest exhibition game of Quidditch at the University of Calgary. After its appearance in the JK Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series, the non-flying version of the sport was created in 2005 at Middlebury College in Vermont. It has grown into its own separate and distinct sport, after sevenpublications of rulebooks.

The sport may have its roots in the United States, but has grown, internationally, arriving in Canada through Carleton and McGill Universities, in 2009. Since then teams popped up in Australia and soon spread across Europe, arriving in Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands the UK and France and to the Americas, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil.

I’ve read all the books, watched the movies and I’m still trying understand the game. Here is a brief explanation: “Quidditch consists of two teams of seven players each mounted on broomsticks played on a hockey rink-sized pitch. The pitch is rectangular with three hoops of varying heights at either end.

The ultimate goal is to have more points than the other team by the time the snitch, a tennis ball inside a long sock hanging from the shorts of an impartial official dressed in yellow, is caught.”

Fortunately the University of Calgary are having a training day and I’m sure after some practice it will all become clear.

If this sounds like fun then you too can be part of this incredible event. Just go to www.canadaquestforkids.com  and register. Anyone can take part whether you’re in school or Florence’s age. Remember, everyone has the right to play.

And, just in case you’re wondering, Florence won the Silver medal, edged out of the Gold medal place by Doreen Erskine, from Mouse Jaw, a mere youngster of 87!

Next steps: What new challenge are you going to take on before the end of the year? Why is it important to you and what do you hope to learn from it?

Quote of the Week

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."

John Quincy Adams

The Canada Quest for Kids Cake. Sports and games for all tastes.

Cake 

 

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Born To Play

Posted by martin.parnell |

The International Calgary Running Symposium was held from August 14th to 16th. This event was in celebration of the retirement of Dr. Benno Nigg, one of the early pioneers of biomechanics research. Over 200 of the world’s top authorities on running research were in one place and it was an opportunity I was not going to miss.

The format was panel discussions and keynote presentations. The panel discussions covered running injuries, running performance, theoretical models and data mining and barefoot and minimalist shoe running. Several interesting nuggets came out of the discussions: The need to establish a definition as to what exactly is a running injury; what role does genetics play in injury frequency; the use of ice baths and why in the longer term it’s not such a good idea and barefoot running verses shoes, it’s whatever works for you.

Keynotes were presented on some fascinating topics. Dr. Alberto Minetti’s presentation was “Giant strides are what you’ll take, skipping on the moon”. He explained that skipping was the optimum gait in a low gravity environment. I’ll definitely keep this in mind when I sign up for the Rock and Roll Moon Marathon. Dr. Martyn Shorten’s topic was “Runners in their natural habitat – biomechanical field study”. Dr. Martyn highlighted a running gait between walking and running called “grounded running”. This is one used by a number of ultra-runners including myself.

The talk I was most looking forward to was from Dr. Daniel Lieberman. Dr. Lieberman had co-authored, with Dr. Dennis Bramble, an article in 2004, in Nature magazine called “Endurance Running and the Evolution of the Homo”. The theme was picked up in Christopher McDougall bestselling book “Born to Run” and the rest as they say is history. Barefoot running is not really my cup of tea but I am intrigue by the science behind it.

One area that I found particularly interesting in Dr. Lieberman presentation was on energy conservation in the hunter-gatherer society. Energy intake had to balance energy expenditure which included such tasks as foraging, hunting and making tools. Energy could not be wasted however there was one exception, play. This was a way of learning new skills and surviving in a harsh environment.

After his presentation I had a chance to chat with Dr. Lieberman. We talked about the role of play in today’s society. Health challenges such as heart disease, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes are at epidemic levels. We need to get people moving and he pointed out that play should not only be for children but also for adults. Never underestimate the power of play, your life may depend on it.

Quote of the Week

"Jogging is very beneficial. It's good for your legs and your feet. It's also very good for the ground. It make it feel needed"

Charles Schulz - "Peanuts"

Who needs biomechanics research. This drawing by my grand daughter, Autumn, age 10, captures my running form perfectly.

Born To Play 

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July in Cochrane

Posted by martin.parnell |

July can be a tough month. I remember in 2010, when I was running 5 marathons a week, after a brutal winter and wet spring, I was so looking forward to long summer days running along the Bow. It didn’t happen. July and August were wet, wet, wet. However, this year was different and I managed to get some long- overdue yard work done. I have one of those “zero” maintenance gardens. Not a blade of grass just lots of shrubs and rocks. However, weeds don’t know it’s a zero maintenance yard and they pop up everywhere.

After three days of removing the little devils, it was time for the “piece de resistance”, 12 cubic yards of mulch. Now that’s a lot of mulch. Wheel barrow after wheel barrow of the chopped-up bark was carefully laid and the front and back garden were soon a sea of mulch. Weeds-be-gone. Hopefully I’m good for a couple of years.

July is also a busy month for events in Cochrane and area. Last year, I won a registration for the TransRockies Gran fondo Highwood Pass and this year’s event was scheduled for July 12th. Gran fondo means “Big Ride” in Italian, and this is one of the biggest. The route was 134kms, starting at the Stoney Nakoda Resort, and heading out along highway 40 to the top of Highwood Pass. This is the highest paved section of road in Canada. At 8.00am a group of 400 of us headed out. The winner came in at 3hrs 48mins and 31 secs and I rolled in at 7hrs 10mins and 50secs. Good value for money.

The next two events were on the same day, July19th. In the morning, I headed down to Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park. This was the setting for the 5 Peaks Riversong Run at the Ranch. Volunteers from the Rotary Club of Cochrane organized the parking and participants were shuttled down to the event site below the Park building. Over 400 runners were involved in a number of races including a 3km for Kids. 8km trail Sport, 13km trail Enduro and a half marathon. I tackled the Enduro. Starting at 9.30am I was finished at 10.50am and hiked my way back the parking lot. Time to head to Canmore.

The annual 24 hours of Adrenalin has taken place in Canmore for the last 16 years. Teams and individuals cycle the Canmore Nordic Centre trails, nonstop for a day, starting at 12 noon on Saturday and finishing at 12 noon on Sunday. The highlight of the weekend for me is the kids 24 minutes of Adrenalin. This year we had over 150 children aged 2 to 12 participating and we raised $3,895 for Right To Play.

July has also been a planning month. I have one Quest left in my “Quests for Kids” initiative, to complete 10 Quests in 5 years and raise $1m for Right To Play helping 20,000 children. So far over $600,000 have been raised and now it’s time for one final effort.

On Monday, August 11th at 6.00pm I will be announcing my 10th and final Quest at the Town of Cochrane Council Meeting. Stay tuned

Quote of the week:

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all"

Helen Keller

Participants in the kids 24 minutes of Adrenalin came in all sizes and with every style of bike. Fun was had by all.

 24 minutes

 

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IdeaCity

Posted by martin.parnell |

In June 2011 I was invited to speak at the IdeaCity11 conference in Toronto by Moses Znaimer. Moses heads up ZoomerMedia Ltd which includes Zoomer magazine, Vision TV and CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons). Six months earlier I had completed running 250 marathons in one year and Moses wanted me to relate how and why I had taken this on. The presentations are along the lines of a TED talk, each speaker has 17 minutes. In total there were 50 topics over three days and some of the speakers included Conrad Black, Jeffrey Simpson and Deepak Chopra.

In February I received an invite to be a guest at this year’s IdeaCity. I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to catch up on some great speakers and I said yes. One of the main reasons I was keen to attend was the appearance of Janette Wakelin-Murray and Alan Murray. During 2013 I had followed Janette and Alan’s exploits across Australia.

Their plan was to run a marathon a day and circumnavigate around the continent. They left Melbourne on January 1st and one year and one day later, after completing 366 marathons, they arrived back in Melbourne. A couple of key facts about Janette and Alan, they are both in their 60’s and they eat a completely raw diet.

On the first morning of the conference I arrived at registration and bumped into Alan and Janette. They spoke later on in the day and did a terrific job. We spent time together over the three days and discussed the role of medicine/science versus a healthy life style.

Speaker topics included 3D printing of body parts, drugs to reduce bone loss and organ banking through a flash freezing process. Moses joked that it would be great to “refresh organs” as needed. Alan, Janette and I wondered that instead of switching out body parts maybe a healthy life style would allow us to keep the ones we have a little longer.

At the end of the conference I said goodbye to Janette and Alan. They were heading back to Aussie the next day so I gave them a copy of MARATHON QUEST for the journey. They have a book, “RUNNING OUT OF TIME”, coming out in mid-August. Can’t wait. What an inspirational couple.

Quote of the week:

“If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.” 

Alberta Einstein

Hanging out with Alan and Janette at IdeaCity conference in Toronto

IdeaCity

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Banff Marathon

Posted by martin.parnell |

The first Banff Marathon was scheduled for last June. The route was marked, aid stations readied and people, not just from Canada, but all over the world had arrived in town to run. Then the rains came. The Bow River flooded causing massive damage to Highway#1 and towns and cities along its route.

Friends of mine from the Sudbury Rocks Running Club, in Ontario, had flown in to run the race. One of them, Vince, was my mentor when I had started running in 2002 and I had most recently run with him in the 2011 Prince Edward Island Marathon. They ended up on flood watch.

But, you can never hold a good marathon down and the folks who organized last year’s effort were back for 2014. This would definitely be the inaugural Banff Marathon and hopefully nothing would stop it. The scenic course runs through one of Canada’s iconic national parks. The planned route follows the Bow Valley Parkway, the Legacy trail, and finishes in downtown Banff.

Banff national park is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site and, because the area is protected, the race is limited to 1,500 entrants. This is the only marathon in North America contested completely inside a national park.

This year’s race was on Sunday June 22nd and the night before I received an email from the organizers. The heading caught my attention, IMPORTANT INFORMATION: ROUTE CHANGE. We had had no flooding this year so what could be the issue? I soon found out. The message stated that “We have a female grizzly with two young cubs in the Vermilion area. It appears that she is successfully hunting elk calves and is seeking security from three large males. It is probable that she will have a very low comfort level near any humans due to her wary nature”. The race was still on but we would run in the opposite direction. Good move.

My running buddies had returned from Sudbury and on a sunny Sunday morning I met up with Vince at the start line. The gun went off at 10.00am and we headed out, on the alternative route, toward the park gates on the outskirts of Canmore. This path runs parallel with Highway #1 and is fairly flat. This was good because the day started to heat up and I was beginning to suffer. Being an out and back course we cheered on the front runners as they blew past us and wished that we were that much closer to the finish.

At the 32km mark Vince and I were passed by a woman dressed in green. She stopped a few metres in front of us and introduced herself as Lindsay Woodcock. She said she had read my book MARATHON QUEST and that it had inspired her to run, her first, marathon. Fantastic. Vince and I said goodbye to Lindsay and we plodded on. We were now both paying a price for the hot weather and were very happy to reach the finish line.

 The inaugural Banff marathon was in the bag. Beautiful day, well organized and great people. I will definitely be back for next year’s event and maybe this time we can run the planned route. Third time’s the charm.

Quote of the week:

“Always respect Mother Nature. Especially when she weighs 400 pounds and is guarding her baby.” 

James Rollins

Vince making good time along the route of the inaugural Banff Marathon

Banff Marathon 

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Little Africa

Posted by martin.parnell |

Last week I travelled to Ontario. The trip included a 25 year reunion of a Rotary Group Study Exchange to Australia and the three day IdeaCity Conference hosted by Moses Znaimer. However the highlight was definitely the time I spent playing with my grandchildren, Autumn and Nathan.

Autumn is 10 years old and loves arts and crafts. After Saturday breakfast we opened up a painting kit she had received as a present. It included eight tubes of acrylic paint and a canvas of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Bedroom at Arles”. Van Gogh said of the painting that “Instead of trying to reproduce what I see before me, I make more arbitrary use of color to express myself more forcefully”, and this is exactly what Autumn and I did. We took half the painting each and the paint started to fly. Forty five minutes later we were finished and I think Van Gogh would have been thrilled by the result.

Then Autumn wanted to go for a bike ride and we headed to the playground. As she rode and I walked, we chatted about my Quests and the trip I made to Kilimanjaro last year. I told her that I would like to take her to climb the mountain in five years when she is 15. She loved the idea and wanted to know what she had to do to get ready. I explained that endurance was important and we would start at the playground.

Over the next hour she pretended that the climbing set was part of the route up the mountain; leaped off the swing set, jumping 15 feet over an imaginary raging river; shinned up the swing set stations as if they were trees in the jungle and balanced across a teeter-totter defying a 300’ drop into a canyon below. As we left the park she said that it was her “Little Africa” and she would be back.

In the afternoon it was time to play with 4 year old Nathan. The day had turned out warm and into the pool we went. Nathan loves the water and wants to be thrown around. The pool is a large circular structure and is perfect for swimming around the outer wall. The game turned into “Roller Coaster”. I would throw him up into the air and then he’d go down under the water. He loved it. He gave me a break after eight loops but we were back in after 10 minutes.

That night, there were three sleepy heads in the house all thanks to a great day of play.

Quote of the week:

"Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity"

Kay Redfeild Jamison

Play time with Autumn, Papa Martin and Nathan.

 Little Africa

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Little Free Library

Posted by martin.parnell |

Sometimes you shouldn’t be too quick to clean out your junk mail. The other day I received a poster from Wordfest Calgary. It said “Dear Mr. Martin J. Parnell, we’d like to invite you to join us on June 9th, 2014, at noon in the centre court of Eau Claire Market for the opening of Wordfest’s Little Free Library. Please click to RSVP. I was intrigued.

I went to the source of all knowledge, Google, and found the following: In the beginning—2009–Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading. He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard. His neighbors and friends loved it. He built several more and gave them away. Each one had a sign that said FREE BOOKS.

Rick Brooks, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, saw Bol’s do-it-yourself project while they were discussing potential social enterprises. Together, the two saw opportunities to achieve a wide variety of goals for the common good. Each brought different skills to the effort, Bol as a creative craftsman experienced with innovative enterprise models and Brooks as a youth and community development educator with a background in social marketing.

By January of 2014, the total number of registered Little Free Libraries in the world was conservatively estimated to be nearly 15,000, with thousands more being built.

Sue and I headed into Calgary on Monday not sure of what to expect. A group had gathered outside The Bean Stop in Eau Claire Market and there stood the Little Free Library, shrouded in a black sheet, between the Information Kiosk and the Photo Booth.

It was explained to the group that the Little Free Library was basically, “give a book, take a book”. A number of these “Libraries” can be found across Calgary including Colonel Walker School, Ramsey School, Chevron Canada, Mount Royal University and in a number of front yards around the city.

Jo Steffens, Wordfest, Executive Director, stepped up and unveiled the latest Little Free Library in Calgary. I had brought a copy of MARATHON QUEST and placed it on the top shelf. Looking at the various titles I selected “The Smithsonian Institution” by Gore Vidal. I haven’t read any other books by this author but the blurb stating “Vidal’s gift for storytelling and mimicry remain in peak form” Chicago Sun Times, caught my eye.

So next time you want to enter the world of words why not check out your local Little Free Library are see where the journey takes you.

Quote of the week:

"So many books, so little time"

Frank Zappa

The latest Little Free Library located between the Info Kiosk and the Photo Booth at Eau Claire Market in Calgary. "Take a book, return a book."

Little Free Library 

 

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With a Little Help from my Friends

Posted by martin.parnell |

Completed Quest:

Rotary Coastal Quest 630 (Quest #9)

  • 630 miles (1014 kms) around the SW coast of England

  • March 4th to April 1st 2014, averaging a marathon a day.

  • 20,000 dollars raised for Right To Play

  • Check out: Rotary Coastal Quest 630

When a large project is undertaken, it requires many hands to make it a success. My “Quests for Kids” initiative encompasses 10 Quests, to be completed in five years, with the aim of raising $1m and changing the lives of 20,000 children. I began on January 1st 2010 and so far have completed 9 Quests and raised over $600,000. This would not have happened without the help of many people, along the way. One group that have provided valuable support, are eight local companies, who also want to make the world a little bit better.

I met Tobi McLeod in 2009, before I’d even started Marathon Quest 250 (MQ250). Tobi works for Back on Track, a company which produces a line of clothing, geared to stimulating recovery after activity. Tobi gave me several long sleeve T-shirts, socks and  long johns. Every day, after I had completed a marathon, I’d put on the gear, to aid in the recovery of my joints and muscles.

In 2010 during MQ250 I ran at 60 schools in the Cochrane and Calgary area and the Rotary Club of Cochrane produced a virtual “Across Canada” map of my 250 marathons. This map was pinned up at all the schools and the children followed my daily progress. Rotary have continued to support me, in all my endeavors.

Jason Webb was a sponsor of my second Quest, Netball Quest 61 and wanted to know what more he could do. Jason not only helps with my travel for the Quests, through his company Downunder Travel, but has organized a yearly “Fun Run” in support of Right To Play.

4iiii Innovations is a company based here in Cochrane. 4iiii’s have developed a line of products to monitor athletic performance, in real time. I’ve used these products to monitor my heart- rate and pace, in a number of my Quests and races.

Lau Mafuru is a friend of mine and owner of Boma Africa, a trekking company which takes people to the top of the highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro. It was with his help and guidance that in 2013 Quest #6 was completed, climbing the mountain in 21 hours.

In the summer and fall of 2013 my ninth Quest entailed completing all nine of the TransRockies race series across North America. The company’s owner, Aaron McConnell, not only supported this endeavor but set up a donation page which raised $45,000 for Right To Play.

The owners of Ink’d Graphics in Cochrane, Greg and Elena Alan, have always been there to make up boards or posters, promoting a variety of Right To Play events including the Annual December 31st MQ 250 run / walk.

Finally, in early 2011, after completing MQ250, I was contacted by Don Gorman, owner of Rocky Mountain Books. The idea of a book about my journey was agreed and a year later “Marathon Quest” was published. This has not only brought awareness to my cause, but generated additional funds for Right To Play.

To achieve something extraordinary requires help. We can’t do it on our own. It’s a great feeling when people believe in what you’re doing and offer their unconditional support. The companies above heard the call and have stepped forward. All I can say, on behalf of the thousands of children that have been given hope, is a very big Thank You. 

Quote of the week:

"Life is a solo act. It's a huge collaberation"

Tim Gunn

TransRockies were one of a number of local companies that have supported "Quests for Kids" and Right To Play. Much appreciated.

 

Partners

 

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Today We Play - Rights of the Child

Posted by martin.parnell |

Completed Quest:

Rotary Coastal Quest 630 (Quest #9)

  • 630 miles (1014 kms) around the SW coast of England

  • March 4th to April 1st 2014, averaging a marathon a day.

  • 20,000 dollars raised for Right To Play

  • Check out: Rotary Coastal Quest 630

In September 1990, the United Nations ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In total 194 countries signed off on this document. Some of the rights include the right to privacy, the right to an identity, the right to protection and the right to play.

Over the last fourteen years the humanitarian organization Right To Play has developed play-based, educational programs, helping over one million disadvantaged children in 20 countries. A key component is the training of Junior Leaders. These are boys and girls aged 8 to 16 and to date there are over 9,000 Junior Leaders worldwide.

I first saw Junior Leaders in action in 2011, when I visited five schools in Benin, West Africa. As an Honorary Athlete Ambassador for Right To Play I traveled with two other Athlete Ambassadors, Caroline Ouellette, four-time hockey gold medalist and Heather Moyse, two-time bobsleigh gold medalist. At Dogoudo School, Junior Leaders taught us a relay game aimed at promoting team work and at the Vedoko School for the deaf, we participated in a dodge ball game learning about protecting ourselves and each other.

Now, for the first time, Right To Play is training Junior Leaders across Canada. This program is being rolled out at 150 schools across the country and on Tuesday April 15th and Wednesday April 16th 2014, my wife Sue and I attended the “Play Academy” at Elizabeth Barrett School in Cochrane. The objective of these sessions is to develop a group of Junior Leaders and have them teach Right To Play games back at their schools. This is all leading up to a national “Today We Play” day on May 8th. This will be Canada’s biggest celebration of play, promoting children’s rights, led by Junior Leaders.

The “Play Academy” was led by Jaye and Colin from Right To Play. They are both teachers and had spent the past three weeks travelling the country conducting “Play Academies”. At 9.00am students started to roll in. They were from five schools in Cochrane and area, Elizabeth Barrett, Holy Spirit, Westbrook, St. Timothy, Glenbow Elementary and Ecole Notre Dame Des Valles, with grades ranging from 3 to 10.

The change in the students, over the three hour academy, was incredible. Jaye and Colin soon had them playing games and interacting. After some introductory activities, the students were put into groups, mixing the schools and grades. They then were given games to learn and teach such as “Hungry Spiders”, which demonstrates children’s rights to security and safe shelter, and “Protector Dodgeball”, in which they focus on how to protect themselves and others. The students had to teach the rules of their allotted game and its objectives, demonstrate how it is played, set perimeters, organize the other students and answer questions.

Sue and I monitored and participated in the games, making sure all students were actively involved and defining their roles for the presentations. It was amazing to see them grow in confidence. We watched as a child in Grade 3 and one of the smallest in the session, at first held back, but once she was in a group and saw that the others would listen to her she came into her own. Standing in front of all the students she explained the game, and its key objectives. Definitely one of Right To Play’s first Canadian Junior Leaders in the making. 

Quote of the week:

"The true object of all human life is play"

G.K.Chesterton

This group of students participated in Right To Play's "Play Academy" at Elizabeth Barrett School, Cochrane

 Today We Play

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Rotary Coastal Quest 630: The End

Posted by martin.parnell |

Completed Quest:

Rotary Coastal Quest 630 (Quest #9)

  • Run 630 miles (1014 kms) around the SW coast of England

  • March 4th to April 1st 2014, averaging a marathon a day.

  • Attemping to raise 100,000 pounds for Right To Play

  • Check out: Rotary Coastal Quest 630

It’s done. I started Rotary Coastal Quest 630 on March 4th at Minehead, Somerset  and finished the South West Coast Path on April 1st at South Haven Point, Dorset. I must admit though two weeks ago I didn’t think it would happen. I had completed 300 miles around the North Coast of Devon and Cornwall and Kurt Kowalchuk, President of the Rotary Club of Calgary Sarcee, had joined me on the run.

That morning we were crossing the beach at Porthallow to look at the half way marker when I bashed my left shin on a boulder. I didn’t think too much of it but the next day it started to ache. The day after the muscle was inflamed and the repetitive strain injury I had had in 2010 was back. I tried to run but it was no good and that night it was time to get acquainted with an old friend, frozen peas.

Every night we were picked up by Rotarian hosts and taken back to their place. Rotarian David Laud had organized this and he made sure they knew about my medical needs. During the trip I talked at a number of Rotary clubs including Minehead, Bude, Brauton Caen, Bideford, Launcetown, Wadebridge, Perranzabuloe, St.Ives Bay, Plympton, Plymouth, Torbay and Ringwood.

They call this route the South West Coast Path however I must question the name. To me a “Path” is two people wide, gravel and rolls up and down hills. What I came across was more like a goat track. The route would head up a cliff, sometimes with steps, then straight down the other side through brambles and large mud puddles. Daily mileage ranged from 20 to 32 miles and instead of the planned 7 hours a day I was on the trail for 9 to 11 hours.

My shin slowly improved but because I compensated for the injury my left knee and hamstring started to seize up. This situation wasn’t helped with the large number of diversions I came across. The cliffs had been hammered by the winter storms and particularly along the Dorset coast rerouting was the norm.

The last day I walked up Shell Beach and Sue and her sister Lynne came to meet me. We arrived at South Haven Point at 11.30am and were greeted by our friends Stephen, Marlene, Pip and Bev, Logistics Manager David and George.

It was over, 4 weeks and 630 miles completed. It wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Rotarians across the South West. Why did we all push ourselves to the limit? To support Right To Play and help kids. Now that’s the best reason in the World.

To support Rotary Coastal Quest 630 please go to www.righttoplay.com/rcq630

Quote of the week:

"Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties and obstacles vanish."  John Quincy Adams

Picture of the Week:

The end of the South West Coast Path: South Haven Point, 630 miles from the start, Minehead.

RCQ630 The End

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First five Days of RCQ630

Posted by martin.parnell |

Current Event:

Rotary Coastal Quest 630 (Quest #9)

  • Run 630 miles (1014 kms) around the SW coast of England

  • March 4th to April 1st 2014, averaging a marathon a day.

  • Attemping to raise 100,000 pounds for Right To Play

  • Check out: Rotary Coastal Quest 630

Five days on the path and I'm taking a break. Rotarian Tim has very kindly let me stay at his hotel, The Falcon in Bude and I'm grateful for the hospitality because I'm totally bushed. So far I've covered 137 miles, spent 46 hours on the path and climbed 22,569 feet in elevation.

Rotary Coastal Quest 630 started in Minehead, Somerset on Tuesday March 4th and as the clock moved to 8.30am I did a count down from 10 and blew the whistle. My wife Sue, friends and Rotarians from various clubs cheered as I headed off along the coast. The route took me to Porlock Weir, 10 miles from the start. The heavy rains had soaked the marches and it was slow going. A little further on the sea had thrown boulders on to the path causing a diversion along the beach. The second half of the route was up and down the cliff mile after mile. A very enjoyable section was through the Culbone Wood. However I somehow ended up at the Foreland Point Lighthouse and had to ask the lighthouse man how to get back on the trail. I found the conditions very difficult and my pace dipped to 3 mile an hour. After 21 miles of mud and marches I arrived at Lynmouth, time for a pasty.

Next day I had 26 miles to run so I had decided to start at 7.30am instead of 8.30am because of the slow going. Ro and John, my Rotary hosts, took me to the Lynmouth and I was off. Another tough slog up the coast, the climbing was relentless. At Combe Martin I popped into a café and had a pasty. I was being fuelled with Pasty Power. The pastry is fat which is fuel, the meat is protein for muscle recovery, veggies are good for you and the gravy is turbo fuel.

From Combe Martin it was a 5 miles to Ilfracombe. More huge elevation gain and I finally arrived at Morte Point however no sign of my lift. I spotted the town of Mortehoe in the distance and plowed on. Finally I saw Phil up on the hill.

It was drizzling the next morning as I hit the road. Today was meant to be a fairly easy day. Long mileage but nothing like the elevation gain from the previous two days. The first section was along Woolacombe Sand. I spotted a number of surfers heading down to the beach. The wind had picked up and the waves were crashing into the shore. The route took me around Baggy Point and the path along the backside of the point clung precariously to the cliff. After that it was pretty flat all the way. I hooked up with the Tarka Trail and entered Barnstable. I met up with some runners from the Bideford Running Club and by 4.30pm we had arrived at Bideford Rail Bridge, the end of Section 3. In the evening I made a presentation to the Rotary Club of Bideford and Luke, another presenter, donated £30 to give one child a RTP program for one year.

On Friday morning I was joined by four runners. One of them was Eric. He's done 20 marathons and next up is the Dublin race. His average time is 5 hours and he hopes to maintain that for a few more years. Eric is 79. The route took me along the River Torridge, past Appledore and Westward Hoe. Initially the going was good over gentle hills by the beach. I must admit I ducked once when I heard a golf ball being hit on the 3rd tee next to the path. After 10 miles I said goodbye to the club runners and headed towards Clovelly. I had been there many years ago and it is one of the loveliest villages in England. The thick mud created traction problems as the path plunged down to the sea then back up to the cliff top. I finally arrived at the village ready for a pasty and spotting the New Inn was open I went in.

Two women at another table, Cathy and Anna, asked me what I was doing and I explained about Right To Play. I told them at the PLAY initiative with over 50 First Nation Communities and Anna explained how she had worked with the Dene and lived in Yellowknife in the Early 80's. I was there at the same time. Small world. As I was leaving Cathy gave me £5 for RTP. I soon left but progress was slow. Bernie and Sarah, my next hosts came looking for me and we finally made it to my destination, Hartland Point as the sun went down. Too close for comfort.

David Laud, Rotary Member of the Perranzabuloe Club is my logistics manager. He's been organizing all the accommodation with Rotarians along the route, making sure I get picked up at the right place at the end of each section. He also put together a technical manual for the entire South West Coast Path (www.righttoplay.com/rcq630 The Route) with a description of each day's section. Here is what he said about Hartland Point to Crackington Haven "Said to be the toughest part of the SWCP, this section can feel very remote and isolated. A day of hard ascents and descents, along with fantastic scenery, is one to look forward to."

With that in mind and learning from yesterday's late finish I started at 7.30am. Bernie and Sarah waved goodbye as I headed over the hill to Hartland Quay. My first target was Bude some 15 miles away. The wind had picked up overnight and I was battling it all the way. At one point I had taken off my jacket and hooked it on my hydration pack. The wind grabbed it and it went flying off. Luckily the arm caught on a barbed wire fence before it had a chance to head off back over the Atlantic.

I reached Bude at 2.30pm and was running way behind time. I phoned Rotarian Simon and let him know I wouldn't be arriving until 6.00pm to 6.30pm. Even that I wasn't sure of. It had been a beautiful day but the sun was setting fast. At 6.22pm I crested the last hill and as the sun set I dropped in Crackington Haven and was met by Rotarian Jay and his wife. Time for a rest.

Stunning views along the South West Coast Path

First Five Days of RCQ630

 

 

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Across the Ocean

Posted by martin.parnell |

Next Event:

Rotary Coastal Quest 630 (Quest #9)

  • Run 630 miles (1014 kms) around the SW coast of England

  • March 4th to April 1st 2014, averaging a marathon a day.

  • Attemping to raise 100,000 pounds for Right To Play

  • Check out: Rotary Coastal Quest 630

My suitcase is waiting, ready for me to pack, as I prepare for my trip to England. On Saturday I’m heading over to the UK and on Tuesday, March 4th I start my attempt to run 1014 kms around the South West Coast Path. Trying to decide what to take has been difficult. Over the last three months England’s been battered by pounding storms and gale force winds. Most of my running gear is for -25C conditions and I don’t think wellies, a rain coat and a brolly will be appropriate for running.

I checked out the long-range forecast for the area from March 4th to 18th: Current indications point towards unsettled conditions persisting for much of this period but not to the same severity as we have seen recently. Southern and eastern regions should tend to see longer spells of drier and brighter weather than previous weeks, although still with some periods of rain. Not much help.

The South West Coast Path passes through five areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, seventeen Heritage Coasts, a National Park, two World Heritage Sites, a UNESCO Geopark and Britain’s first UNESCO Biosphere reserve. There is some fascinating history along the route, both ancient and modern. Here are some of the highlights. The path starts in Minehead, Somerset at the mouth of the English Channel. At the 145 mile mark is Tintagel, Cornwall, the home of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. At the 154 mile mark is Port Issac. This is the setting for the TV show “Doc Martin”. The series is set in the fictional seaside village of Portwenn and stars Martin Clunes as the brilliant surgeon Dr. Martin Ellingham.

At the 291 mile mark is Poldhu, Cornwall the location of the famous Poldhu Wireless Station. It was Guglielmo Marconi’s transmitter for the first transatlantic radio message sent on December 12, 1901 to Marconi's temporary receiving station on Signal Hill, St.John’s, Newfoundland. At the 553 mile mark is West Bay, Dorset. This is the location for the TV series “Broadchurch” starring David Tennant. One of the highlights of the show is the cliff footage. The path finishes after 630 miles at South Haven Point on the shores of Poole Harbour, Dorset.

This is the 9th Quest in my “Quests for Kids” initiative and it’s the one I’m most looking forward to. I was born in Buckfastleigh, Devon and spent many a Sunday afternoon with my mum, dad and my brothers and sisters building sand castles at our favorite beach, Bigbury-on-Sea, Devon. I’ll be revisiting this beach during Rotary Coastal Quest 630 and maybe I’ll build a sand castle or two for old times sake.

If you want to support this Quest and follow my every step then go to www.righttoplay.com/rcq630

Quote of the Day

"You have to forget your last marathonbefore you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming"

Frank Shorter, Runner

A map of the route of the South West Coast path in England

SWCP Map

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Lost in the Yukon

Posted by martin.parnell |

Next Event:

Rotary Coastal Quest 630 (Quest #9)

  • Run 630 miles (1014 kms) around the SW coast of England

  • March 4th to April 1st 2014, averaging a marathon a day.

  • Attemping to raise 100,000 pounds for Right To Play

  • Check out: Rotary Coastal Quest 630

It’s 3.30pm and won’t be long before darkness falls. The ice fog is rolling across the trail and frost hangs from the trees and bushes like a white blanket. I’ve got enough water for a couple of hours but there’s a small hitch, I don’t know where I am. Should I continue on this road or turn back? Am I heading towards Whitehorse or Dawson City? Time to make a decision.

The day had had an auspicious start. Due to the unusually warm weather the organizers of the Yukon Arctic Ultra had changed the start location from downtown Whitehorse to Takhini hotsprings 30 kms away. Buses were waiting to leave and Cal, my stepson and I were running late. To get to the bus I took a short cut through the hotel parking lot, tried to hop over a wooden rail, slipped and bashed my shin against the barrier. Not a good start. As I sat down I was pleased to see that we weren’t the last to get on. Simon Donato, star of the TV series “Boundless” rolled up a couple minutes later and we were off.

The Yukon Arctic Ultra consists of three races, a marathon, a 100 miler and a 300 miler. In the latter two events competitors can either run, ski or bike. Also, they have to pull a “Pulk” (sled) with all their gear for overnight camping. I had signed up for the marathon as I was looking for a good workout before my 9th Quest, Rotary Coastal Quest 630, in the UK in March.

At 10.30am we were all lined up at the start line and I took a spot at the front of the pack to get a fast get away. Next to me was Paul Trebilock AKA Turbo, the other half of the “Boundless” duo, on a fully loaded fat bike. Event organizer, Robert Pollhammer did a count down from 10 and we were off. The route was an out and back and I made great time to the turnaround point. The aid station had hot water so I filled up my CamelBak hydration pack.

I was ready to head home but I had a concern. My Garmin GPS indicated that I had only gone 19.5 kms which in total would give me 39.00 kms for the race, this a marathon does not make. I talked to Glenn, one of the volunteers and he confirmed the distance. I asked him if it was OK for me to continue down the trail and make up the extra distance. He said fine and as I headed off I heard him chuckling and saying “Crazy bugger”.

I did 1.6 more kms and headed back. In this short distance the hose on my hydration pack had frozen but I wasn’t concerned as I would soak it in the vat of hot water. As I ran up to Glenn he told me the bad news, they had just dumped the water. I continued for another hour and was getting a bit light headed. I hadn’t seen a route marker for a while and there were no signs of the other competitors. I needed water so I cracked open the top of the pack and chugged the contents.

I was lost and had to do something. Calling on all my Boy Scout tracking knowledge I looked at the ground: no shoe prints, no pole marking, no sled tracks. Conclusion, going the wrong way, turn around and head back. Three kms later I found the turn off. Homeward bound. I arrived at the finish at 6.00pm in the dark, seven and a half hours from when I started.

This is what Robert posted on the website: This is just a quick message to let you all know that all athletes are fine. We were starting to worry a bit about Martin Parnell. He was late and reports we got indicated he took a wrong turn. Glenn and Spencer headed out to look for him and sure enough, 20 minutes later he reached the finish. Martin did take a wrong turn on his way back. So did two more marathon runners. They were cruising and possibly so confident that they stopped looking for the markers for a while. All of them realized at some point, turned around and finished. Possibly they also just wanted to run an ultra rather than a marathon.

Post-race report. I was last in the 39 km race, third in the marathon and first in the 48 km Ultra. Not a bad day’s work.

Quote of the Day

"Only mediocrity is sure of itself"

Paulo Coelho

Surrounded by ice fog we made our way along the trails in the Yukon Arctic Ultra

Yukon Arctic Marathon 

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Born to Run Far

Posted by martin.parnell |

Next Event:

Rotary Coastal Quest 630 (Quest #9)

  • Run 630 miles (1014 kms) around the SW coast of England

  • March 4th to April 1st 2014, averaging a marathon a day.

  • Attemping to raise 100,000 pounds for Right To Play

  • Check out: Rotary Coastal Quest 630

In a recent edition of the New York Times, journalist Gretchen Reynolds highlighted the findings from a study published by the Public Library of Science, under the heading “What Ultra-Marathons Do to Our Bodies”

In summary, the study established that that there was a lower prevalence of serious medical issues, including cancer (4.5%), coronary artery disease( 0.7%), seizure disorders(0.7%), to name a few. It also looked at the incidence of diabetes, asthma and physical injury amongst a group of ultra-marathon runners.

An ultra-marathon is a foot race longer than the standard 42.2km marathon distance. The reason why I was so interested in the findings of this study is because I have run a few ultras during my running career, including the Blackfoot 100km, the 125km Canadian  Death Race , the 146km Sinister Seven and the 160km Lost Souls. In addition and perhaps most interesting, in 2010, I ran 250 marathons in one year, averaging 5 marathons most weeks and covering a total of 10,550 kms (6,550 miles).

I was regularly monitored by my family physician, a physiotherapist and a chiropractor. My blood work was done on a weekly basis. At the beginning and end, of my year of marathons, I underwent a VO2max test and in the month after I had finished, was given a 3D bone-imaging analysis at the University of Calgary.

There was a lot of medical terminology in the reports, so I’ve paraphrased and added-in some points of clarification:

Chest: Appears within normal limits. The heart is normal in size, the lungs and pleural space are clear with no active intrathoracic disease detected. Meaning: Looks good.

Hips: Appear well maintained. No significant degenerative changes identified. Bony pelvis is unremarkable. Who says it’s unremarkable!

Knees: Shows good maintenance of joint space with no specific arthropathy apparent. No joint fluid or radiopaque loose bodies. No acute fracture or dislocation. Meaning: Not bad for an old fella.

Bone Density: Researcher, John Schipilow at the University of Calgary stated, “Overall, I would say your bone health is very good. I was not surprised by the results, mainly for the tibia. The one thing that really surprised me was the values for your radius. I did not think they would be as high as the tibia, but your wrist bones were looking a lot better than I expected. My initial thoughts are that there may be some sort of whole-body effects occurring with your extreme lifestyle over the past year.” Meaning: Further tests would be carried out in six months, and one year’s time. Stay tuned.

Heart: Normal left ventricular size, wall motion and wall thickness with an estimated left ventricular ejection fraction of approximately 60 per cent. No other significant abnormality is identified. Meaning: The ticker’s still going.

I was pleased with the results of the tests and with all the medical testing I’ve undergone since. I continue to run long distances and in March of this year, am looking forward to my next challenge, running 1014kms (630 miles) along the South West Coast Path in England. I’m calling it Rotary Coastal Quest 630 and is the next event in my “Quest for Kids” initiative, to raise $1,000,000 in five years for Right To Play and, in the process help 20,000 disadvantaged children. Not bad for a guy who began his running career ten years ago, at the age of 47.

Quote of the Day

"Motivation follows behaviour, not the other way round"

Michael Greenwald, PhD

VO2 Max testing with Serge Tessier during Marathon Quest 250 in 2010

VO2 Max Testing 

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Scotiabank Calgary Marathon

Posted by martin.parnell |

Next Event:

Rotary Coastal Quest 630 (Quest #9)

  • Run 630 miles (1014 kms) around the SW coast of England

  • March 4th to April 1st 2014, averaging a marathon a day.

  • Attemping to raise 100,000 pounds for Right To Play

  • Check out: Rotary Coastal Quest 630

I love the Calgary Marathon. I first ran it in 2003 and the only reason I entered was because my brother Peter had challenged me to. At the age of forty-seven, running wasn't part of my life and I really wasn't that interested. However, when the gloves are thrown down by a younger sibling, you don't say no.

I had seven months to go from zero to 42.2 kms, so no time to lose. At the time I was living in Sudbury, Ontario. Not having a clue about training for any race, let alone a marathon, I joined the Sudbury Rocks Running Club. The club President, Vince Perdue could see I was in need of some guidance and became my running mentor. During the winter of 2002 and spring of 2003 I'd head out every Saturday with Vince and the gang. We'd trudge through the snow-packed streets of Sudbury and I'd be given tips on clothing, nutrition and hydration. Over the months Vince introduced me to hill repeats, tempos, intervals and the long slow run.

July 2003, I found myself at the start line of the Calgary Marathon alongside Peter and my other younger brother, Andrew, who had flown in from England. The gun went off and I flew through the first two kms. Then disaster struck, I stepped in a pot hole and went flat on my face. Not a good start. Getting to my feet, I picked myself up and finished in 3 hours 50 minutes. Brilliant

So far, I've completed six marathons in the city. I qualified for Boston at the 2009 race and, in 2013, attempted a Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon in full lacrosse gear. This year being the 50th anniversary, there's a special 50kms race and I'm going to give that a go.

It's important to me that I use my love of running to help others and in this case it's disadvantaged children. This year, Right To Play are one of the featured charities at the marathon. Their goal is to have 50 runners sign up and raise $50,000. All it takes is $50 to give a child a Right To Play program for one year. Their motto is "Look after yourself, look after one another" and we could all aspire to that.

So, why not make this year's Scotiabank Calgary Marathon event a first for you? Whether it's a 5km, 10km, half marathon or marathon (sorry, the 50km is sold out) pick a distance that's right for you, give it a go and help kids.

To sign up, please go to:

http://www.calgarymarathon.com/charity-challenge/right_to_play.html

Quote of the Day

"Resentment is like taking poison and then waiting for the other person to die"

Malachy McCourt

Guinness World Record attempt for the fastest marathon in full lacrosse gear at the 2013 Scotiabank Calgary Marathon

 Lacrosse Marathon Finish

 

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Jamie McDonald Fundraising Adventurer

Posted by martin.parnell |

Next Event:

4th MQ250 Annual Run / Walk

  •     Date: Tuesday, December 31st 2013

  •     Location: Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre, Cochrane.

  •     Start Times: 9.00am Marathon, 12.00noon Half Marathon, 1.30pm 10k, 2.40pm 5k, 2.40pm 2.5k, 3.00pm Finish.

  •     Registration: On the day (8.00am to 2.30pm) with a donation to Right To Play.

  •     Route: 2.5k loops along the stunning Bow River.


Next Quest:

Rotary Coastal Quest 630 (Quest #9)   

  • Run 630 miles (1014 kms) around the SW coast on England

  • March 4th to April 1st 2014, averaging a marathon a day.

  • Attemping to raise 100,000 pounds for Right To Play

  • Check out: Rotary Coastal Quest 630

In late July, Amanda Powell, my contact at Right To Play in Toronto, told me about a crazy Brit who was crossing Canada, unsupported, in aid of children hospitals in England and Canada. He had given a presentation at the Running Room to which Amanda belongs, about his hope to get to Vancouver by Christmas.

Jamie calls himself a “fundraising adventurer” and started his cross-Canada trek in St. John’s, Newfoundland on March 9th. The next I heard about Jamie was from my running mentor Vince Perdue in Sudbury, Ontario. He had arrived in the city in the second week of August and received a huge welcome from the community. Vince emailed to keep an eye out for the runner in a “Super hero outfit” pushing a baby carriage.

The months ticked by and Jamie kept going. Fall turned to winter and Jamie battled his way across the wind swept barren prairies towards Calgary. He’s well set up on social media and I followed him on Facebook and Twitter. On December 18th he had reached Chestermere just 12kms outside of Calgary and the following day I headed out, with my step-son Calum, to find him. We didn’t locate him on our first pass of the town but as we swung out to get back onto the TransCanada #1 highway we spotted him coming up the ramp.

He had quite the entourage with him, including two fire trucks and three members of the Chestermere Fire Department. After introductions and a big hug I pushed Caesar, Jamie’s running chariot, for a while to give him a break. A crowd had gathered at the “Welcome to Calgary” sign and a huge cheer went up as he entered the city. I stayed with him for a while longer and as we ran along the #1 highway we chatted about the biggest challenge he would face on the entire trip, the Rocky mountains. He said that he would take it a day at a time and somehow he would get through. After three more kms I wished him all the best and headed home.

Over the previous two weeks I had been in touch with Maryn Edwards, Jamie’s PR person. Concerns had been raised about his attempt to cross the Rockies, on foot, in the middle of winter. Maryn wanted to discuss the options with Jamie and I agreed to meet with them on a conference call with Brenda DeMone, Acting Field Unit Superintendent Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks. The discussion focused on the Glacier National Park. This 54 km section of the TransCanada contains numerous snow sheds and avalanche paths. Brenda had major concerns for the safety of Jamie, motorists and snow plough operators. The alternative route would be south along #2 highway and then west on the #3. However, this route would add another 320 kms to Jamie’s cross Canada trip. By the end of the conference call, nothing had been resolved

On Sunday, Parks Canada sent Jamie an application form for a special one day permit to complete, if he wanted to run through the Glacier National Park.

 Conditions included:

  • The Special Event must include a support vehicle with flashing lights travelling immediately behind the participant.
  • The participant must travel in the support vehicle through the five snow sheds in Glacier National Park.
  • The participant must travel in the support vehicle when crossing the signed Avalanche Area – No Stopping zones on the highway.
  • The support vehicle must not stop within the signed Avalanche Area – No Stopping zones on the highway.

Jamie spent the weekend in Calgary and headed out on Christmas Day, spending the night at the Western Heritage Centre on #1 highway.  I headed out at 2.30pm on Boxing Day to find him. I figured he would have passed the #1 and #22 junction so I headed towards Morley. No sign of Jamie. I turned around at Morley and headed back to towards the centre. I finally found him between the intersection and the Centre. He had only travelled about 14 kms.

I took a turn pushing Caesar, and as we ran, I asked him if he had done anything with the permit for the Glacier National Park. He said not yet.

We stopped two kms up the road at a Petro Canada gas station and Jamie asked the attendant if he could stay the night.  I had offered, several times for Jamie to stay with Sue and I, but he wanted to keep to his rule of not venturing more than 1km off his planned route.

The attendant couldn’t help him, so he phoned a friend to bring a car for him to sleep in. Noel Eddy from the Cochrane Times dropped by and we had a great chat. It was time for me to head home. It is definitely going to be an interesting month for Jamie as he traverses the Rockies and heads for Vancouver. All the best mate.

Support Jamie as he raises funds for children’s hospitals in England and Canada: www.jamiemcdonald.org

Quote of the Day

"It's not what you do, it's what you do with what you do"

Anon

Running with Jamie on the #1 highway from Chestermere to Calgary on December 19th 2013.

Jamie McDonald 

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Last Chance Resolution Day

Posted by martin.parnell |

Next Event:

4th MQ250 Annual Run / Walk

  •     Date: Tuesday, December 31st 2013

  •     Location: Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre, Cochrane.

  •     Start Times: 9.00am Marathon, 12.00noon Half Marathon, 1.30pm 10k, 2.40pm 5k, 2.40pm 2.5k, 3.00pm Finish.

  •     Registration: On the day (8.00am to 2.30pm) with a donation to Right To Play.

  •     Route: 2.5k loops along the stunning Bow River.


Next Quest:

Rotary Coastal Quest 630 (Quest #9)   

  • Run 630 miles (1014 kms) around the SW coast on England

  • March 4th to April 1st 2014, averaging a marathon a day.

  • Attemping to raise 100,000 pounds for Right To Play

  • Check out: Rotary Coastal Quest 630

New Years Resolutions are a pain in the butt. On January 1st you get all enthusiastic about the changes you're going to make. Maybe quit smoking, drop a few of pounds or eat more fish. The classic is joining the gym. In fact people are very good at joining the gym, they have no problem signing up, they just don't keep going for very long.

But let's stop beating ourselves up. The fact of the matter is you have a full year to complete the resolution. As long as you do it within the 12 month period, no one can call you a slacker or laggard. To help those of you who've left it until the last minute, you'll be delighted to know that I am offering a "Last Chance Resolution Day (LCRD)" and that day is December 31st.

Here's your chance to fulfil that New Years Resolution you set on January 1st 2013, just 364 days ago. Many people resolve to complete their first 5 km, 10 km or maybe it was a half marathon or even the big one, the marathon, so I have the perfect event for you

The 4th Annual Marathon Quest 250 Run / Walk will be held at the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre, Cochrane and is scheduled for the last day of the year. The first running of this event was on December 31st 2010 and it was the last marathon of the 250 marathons I completed that year.

Last year we held the 3rd Annual event and families and friends used it as a way of getting a little exercise before the New Year festivities. This year we are hoping to get more people out to enjoy the 2.5km loop along the majestic Bow River. I've put a call in for good weather. The last year it was -10C so I'm hoping for more of the same.

The format is a little different to most Run / Walk events. The marathon runners start off at 9.00am and are joined by the half marathoners at 12 noon. At 1.30pm the 10 km runners join up and they are followed by the 5 km runners at 2.15pm. Finally the "One Loopers" (2.5 km) come out at 2.40pm and everyone finishes at 3.00pm.

The aid station is provided by Pat's Palette Pleasers, so runners can expect coffee, hot chocolate and cookies, to keep them going. For the young and young at heart there are bouncy castles. Registration is on the day, from 8.00am to 2.30pm, with a donation to the children's charity Right To Play, at the table in the foyer.

Just think, you will feel amazing having completed your 2013 New Year's resolution and then 24 hours later you can start all over again, with a new one.

Quote of the Day

"Experience is not what happens to you. Experience is what you do with what happens to you"

Aldous Huxley

A cold and snowy day on December 31st 2010 during the final marathon of Marathon Quest 250.

Last Chance Resolution Day

Last Chance Resolution Day

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First Winter Run

Posted by martin.parnell |

Next Event:

4th MQ250 Annual Run / Walk

  • Date: Tuesday, December 31st 2013

  • Location: Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre, Cochrane.

  • Start Times: 9.00am Marathon, 12.00noon Half Marathon, 1.30pm 10k, 2.40pm 5k, 2.40pm 2.5k, 3.00pm Finish.

  • Registration: On the day (8.00am to 2.30pm) with a donation to Right To Play.

  • Route: 2.5k loops along the stunning Bow River.

.

Next Quest:

Rotary Coastal Quest 630 (Quest #9)

  • Run 630 miles (1014 kms) around the SW coast on England

  • March 4th to April 1st 2014, averaging a marathon a day.

  • Attemping to raise 100,000 pounds for Right To Play

  • Check out: Rotary Coastal Quest 630

I knew this day would come, sooner or later. The two runs I had completed earlier this week, were around zero Celsius and the weather forecast for the weekend was cold, very cold. It's 6.30am on Sunday morning and I'm looking through frosted glass at the outside thermometer. The red mercury line is at -22C, and I later find out its -26C with the wind chill. Time for my first winter run. I feel I've forgotten what to wear for this temperature despite all my previous experiences.

In 2010, during my Marathon Quest 250, I ran five days a week through an Alberta winter. The coldest day was -41C. Today, I throw on everything just in case, two toques, thick neck warmer, merino wool long sleeve shirt, long sleeve tech shirt, wind jacket and Boston 2004 running jacket. On my legs, merino wool long johns and winter running tights. On my feet, Smart wool socks and a new pair of Salomon Gortex trail shoes. On my hands, a pair of wool gloves and a huge pair of insulated mitts. I hate cold hands.

I give Sue a kiss goodbye, open the front door and get hit by the first wave of cold, crisp air. It's a beautiful morning and the sun is just coming up. Before I start my run I jog down to the post box. I'm sending off my application and registration cheque for the Yukon Ultra Marathon on January 30th 2014. It's a fairly thick envelope and I'm not sure of the postage. I've stuck three Superman stamps on it and hope for the best. Surely The Man of Steel will make sure it arrives.

I head back to the house and my start point. Today, I plan to go out for a couple of hours and I'm well prepared. I have my fuel belt with four, eight ounce bottles of water, containing my Carbo Pro for fuel. Each bottle is good for half an hour and has 150 calories mixed in. On my fuel belt I also have a pouch with electrolytes, a camera, and a cell phone.

I switch on my Garmin 310XT GPS. 200 kms above planet earth three satellites triangulate my position. I'm locked in. I hit the start button and, as I cover the first 100 metres, the information starts to appear. Time, pace, heart rate, elevation. My route takes me over the railway lines and up to the 1A highway. I cross the road and head along a familiar route, Horse Creek Road. I don't listen to music and love the rhythmic crunch, crunch of the trail shoes on the snow. I'm toasty in my winter gear, the only place I'm cold is two spots on my cheeks, which are numb.

I run nine minutes and walk one. During the walk I take a drink. After 30 minutes the water turns to slush as I finish the first bottle. Ten minutes later I try to take a drink from the second bottle. Trouble, it's turned into an ice cube. All three bottles are like hockey pucks. Maybe Sue can knit little booties for them to keep them warm.

I've been steadily climbing and in the distance I watch the mist roll over the huge expanse of the Rocky Mountains. The peaks stretch as far as the eyes can see all topped off with white icing. I take out my camera to get a photo of this vista. I switch it on and the screen reads "Battery Exhausted". I know it was charged and I can only think that the cold has done a number on it. At 57 minutes 27 seconds I hit 8 kilometers. My Garmin tells me I've climbed 400 feet and it's time to head home. The sun has been at my back and now it's blazing into my eyes.

The first thing I spot is the glitter. In the rays of the sun the super fine ice / snow mist dances in the air. Flashes of colour sparkle and disappear. But there's always more. The snow in the ditch is sparkling. A car drives by and I'm caught in a vortex of mist and colour. I spot animal tracks, rabbit, fox, deer and dog. I'm not sure which are which other than the rabbit.

At 1 hour 06 minutes 12seconds (10.2 kms) I have to answer the call of nature. Tricky in the cold. I have to be quick. Also, this is cowboy country so I watch out for barbed wire and electric fences. The road sweeps down and swings towards Cochrane. I get into a smooth rhythm, running down this gentle slope. I cross the 1A and arrive at the finish. 1 hour 52 minutes and 26 seconds (16.01 kms) from when I started. I switch off my Garmin and the satellites can now go back to more important things.

The payoff for this morning's effort is a hot tub, cup of tea and toast and marmalade. Plus one of the most amazing feelings you can get when you go running on a winters day.

Quote of the Day

"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not the absence of fear."

Mark Twain

My camera died during the run so here is a photo from the same day, November 17th, in 2010.

First Winter Run

 

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National Geographic Workshops

Posted by martin.parnell |

Next Quest:

Rotary Coastal Quest 630 (Quest #9)

  • Run 630 miles (1014 kms) around the SW coast on England

  • March 4th to April 1st 2014, averaging a marathon a day.

  • Attemping to raise 100,000 pounds for Right To Play

  • Check out: Rotary Coastal Quest 630

I've often thought that Marathon Quest 250 would have made a great reality TV show. One man, 250 marathons, one year, attempting to raise $250,000 to help kids around the world. There would have been blood, numerous falls on trails and roads with scrapes to knees and hands; sweat, hour upon hour of pounding the pavement 5 marathons a week, and tears, a bad leg injury early on, would that be the end of the Quest? Would I let down the 5,000 children I had pledged to help?

Fortunately it all worked out. Marathon number 250 was completed on December 31st 2010, $320,000 was raised and over 6,000 children helped with Right To Play programs. I must admit that since then I have wondered if anyone would be interested in following the subsequent Quests. In early 2012 I met with Michael Jorgensen from Myth Merchant Films. I explained to him the concept of the 10 Quests in 5 year to raise $1m for Right To Play and help 20,000 children.

Michael gave me the follow equation for success, a "Great Story" equals an engaging character plus an active Quest divided by high stakes squared. Michael said that it was critical that there was a 50 / 50 chance of failure in whatever I tried. More recently I've chatted with film makers about doing a mini documentary on my footage from Kilimanjaro and my run around the South West Coast of England next summer. However so far no deals.

On Sunday November 3rd Sue and I headed up to Banff for the Banff Film and Book Festival. On the festival website I had spotted two workshops put on by National Geographic. One was on pitching stories to Nat. Geo. Television and the Channel, and the other on sharing stories on Social Media. Katy Wynn, Development and Production and Erin Krozek, Development Producer, gave an excellent overview of what Nat. Geo. TV is all about in 2013. It's a challenging market and success has been found with shows like "Brain Games" and "Life below Zero".

The second workshop focused on sharing effective techniques for telling your story digitally. Jason Orfanon is the Senior Producer and he gave a number of examples of how video can drive a story. He showed a clip of a jaguar attacking a caiman. Nat. Geo had shown a set of photos of the attack in an earlier news story and then were approached by an individual who had videoed the attack. They added some narration and posted it. To date it's had over 35 million hits.

Katy, Erin and Jason were happy to take questions from the floor and afterwards said they would be pleased to receive an idea for a story from me. Last night I sent in my pitch to them. Fingers crossed.

Quote of the Day

"Good stories entertain, great stories allow people to discover themselves or some hither to hidden aspect of themselves."

National Geographic Workshop

Suggestions from a National Geograthic panel on the use of Youtube, facebook, twitter and instagram in getting a story out in social media

Nat Geo digital

 

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RTP National Inspirational Speaker Series

Posted by martin.parnell |

Next Quest:

Rotary Coastal Quest 630 (Quest #9)

  • Run 630 miles (1014 kms) around the SW coast on England

  • March 4th to April 1st 2014, averaging a marathon a day.

  • Attemping to raise 100,000 pounds for Right To Play

  • Check out: Rotary Coastal Quest 630

The Right To Play National Inspirational Speakers Series kicked off on September 30th. Thanks to generous support from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD), RTP is offering free educational and inspirational presentations in schools, across Canada, throughout the month of October. This series will span 24 days, collaborating with more than 30 School Boards, reaching 330 schools and over 100,000 students.

The focus of the presentations is two-fold. Firstly, to expose RTP Athlete Ambassadors and their life-changing stories to students, in the hope that they will be inspired to get active, set goals and follow their dreams. Secondly to have RTP representatives share stories of hope from children and youth in Western and francophone Africa.

I've been an Honorary Athlete Ambassador since 2011 and I was thrilled to be asked to go to Prince Edward Island to speak at 10 schools. On Sunday October 20th I arrived at Charlottetown airport and was met by Matt Appleby. Matt is a RTP representative and we would be together for the week. Matt had been on the road since the beginning of October and this would be his fourth week of presentations. As our guide on the island, we were fortunate to have Basil Favaro, a Professor at the Faculty of Education, at the University of PEI. I have never met a more passionate educator.

As we visited school after school, Basil would introduce us to teachers he had taught. The schools were mostly in Charlottetown and we had a couple of country schools as well. The group size ranged from 50 to 450 and grades 3 to 9. We had an hour to present and Matt had the students up and down playing games and learning about children from around the world. I spoke about my marathons and Guinness World Records, hoping to inspire them to pursue their goals and engage in an active lifestyle. I asked them for ideas for my 10th Quest. Responses included running the Great Wall of China, swimming around PEI and climbing up Mount Everest then skiing down. My favourite was running a marathon on the moon.

On the Friday morning I went to Sherwood Elementary. There I met up with Tyler Heggie, whom I had met two years ago at the PEI marathon. He was nine years old at the time and running his first marathon. He is now eleven and had recently run the Waterfront Marathon, in Toronto, completing the race in an amazing 4 hours and 1 minute. Last summer he ran PEI tip to tip in seven days. The reason he did it was to raise money for multiple sclerosis. I brought Tyler up to the front of the assembly and explained to the students that it was not what Tyler done but why.

He is a great kid and a fine example of the Right To Play motto, "Look after yourself, look after one another."

Quote of the Day

"Experience is not what happens to you. Experience is what you do with what happens to you."

Aldous Huxley

Tyler Heggie recieves a copy of MARATHON QUEST. Tyler, aged 11, ran 280km from one side of PEI to the other in seven days. He did it for Multipal Sclerosis. Good lad.

Tyler

 

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