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August 1st 2013

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August 1st 2013

TransRockies Inc. is a great supporter of Right To Play. Together they help kids.

August 1st 2013

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August 1st 2013

My Gary Fisher Sugar Plus 4 takes a rest during the arduous TransRockies Challenge.

July 31st 2013

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July 31st 2013

Mountain biking a trail through Frank Slide, Blairmore, Alberta.

July 26th 2013

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July 26th 2013

The Detroit Mower Gang clean up another park and allow kids to play.

July 20th 2013

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July 20th 2013

24 minutes of Adrenalin was a blast. The kids had a great time.

First Five Days Completed of RCQ630

Sunday, March 09, 2014 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 Completed of RCQ630

Across the Ocean

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 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 marathon before 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

Lost in the Yukon

Thursday, February 06, 2014 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 during the Yukon Arctic Ultra

Yukon Ice Fog

Born to Run Far

Tuesday, February 04, 2014 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

"Thou shalt smile and have a nice day. It frustrates those who have other plans for thee"

Anon

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

VO2 max testing


Scotiabank Calgary Marathon

Monday, January 20, 2014 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

The Finish line