Andover Park Run

Yesterday I did the Andover Park Run for the nth time with a fabulous array of people. I don’t do it as much as I used to but still appreciate this movement.

There are a handful of elite lunatics who sprint round in 16-18 minutes then a score or so of good runners at 18-22.

Then ~275 others including me, we vary from 23-61 minutes.

My best ever was 23:53, today was 27:42 (excuses = gin, a bottleneck in 3rd Km, an injured ankle and not being all that bothered about fast anymore).


People with dogs (actually, not on the winter course we did yesterday)

Obsessed people (I do the occasional event, go to the occasional fitness class, I always see these people, briefly in 2014 I think I was one, that’s when 23:53 happened).

Sociable people.

Lonely people.

Quiet people. (Where I think I am).

Show offs. (Where I probably am really).

Helpful people.

Probably 2-3 psychopaths.

Old people.

Injured people who can’t stay away and should probably volunteer while they get better.

And lots of other overlapping pigeon holes because it is full of ordinary people.

Most run, some jog, a few walk.  A handful are athletes.

When I first went I was blown away by the diversity and the openness.

I still am.

There are fuss pots and busy bodies. Cake and coffee. There’s a lunatic who runs in flip flops and the man who set it up and who is always there whatever the weather, to whom I am silently grateful.

For me, there is a car park, some people watching and a bit of love for how awesome and varied people are. I occasionally do Newbury, once did Winchester and I particularly like the Christmas Day event in Leeds.

I used to be self conscious. Now I turn up, nod at a few people, smile at a few others, sometimes randomly chat to one or two more, but otherwise just run.

Then I go shopping in my silly knee length socks, drenched in sweat, with steamed up glasses, to buy mountains of vegetables from Kenyons a family run green grocers where it is impossible to spend more than £25. I have tried.

Park Run is an accessible 5K, fabulously diverse, simple and well organised. The bloke who invented it, who I think got a CBE or MBE, and who is stubborn by some accounts, ought to get a knighthood.  As well as getting people fit,  it gets them together in a way that is easy, it gets people into volunteering (even I have) and makes you feel great for the rest of Saturday.


Nowhere To Hide


I kept my trap shut publicly after our successful RAAM experience in June. I’ve talked to the team, family and close friends. To really understand it, you had to be there.

There was an interesting mix of characters, lots of little stories, challenges met, highs, lows and out right wonder at what we saw and experienced. There will be a book and video which will tell those stories.

The fund raising for ECPAT continues with the race as a powerful back drop. I’m fiercely proud of what we did and especially of why.

As some time has passed, it has all sunk in. Some lasting themes have surfaced. It appears to have changed me.

These themes don’t relate to the story or specific events or places. Nor to any particular individual. They relate to the nature of the experience and how that has changed how I think and behave.

The first thing to emerge was a sense of calm. At first I thought this just relative to the intensity of the race. It is now almost three months since we got back. I still feel calm, relaxed and simply quite happy.

The preparation, the race and the days of clear up after were a crucible. I’ve experienced a few before. They changed me too. This was easily the most intense. Bloody hell I enjoyed it.

We faced a hundred challenges in each stage. All had one thing in common. They simply had to be faced and resolved. Usually right there and then. Almost always with just the people and tools we had to hand. On perhaps just one occasion, I threw a little money at a problem, to buy a tool (that was not for sale, but in the tool kit of a bike shop) to fix a bike.

The unending sequence of problems nagged at me. Especially as we raced. There were so many, that at the back of my mind was this knowledge that at some point a problem may arise that we could not solve. There were a couple of times when that looked possible. On each occasion, we solved the problem and kept the team moving. Sometimes inelegantly, but always moving. We also kept getting better and better at the basics and at anticipating problems.

Through all that, there was a common theme that made the impossible, the stressful, oddly easy.

Put simply, there was nowhere to hide. No alternative than to work the problem, solve it, however clumsily, and move on.

Logistically, RAAM is a sleep management exercise with some extreme cycling thrown in to make it even harder. You get up every 16 hours as a rider and crew and every 8 hours as Crew Chief and on the RV team. Except when the crew send you to bed, as happened twice to me. Once after I’d got 2 hours sleep in 40 and again when I did something similar and had to just go sleep.

I learned a lot about fake work. You can’t waste time on RAAM.

I learned about the value of connections. Arriving somewhere new every 8 hours, we always made friends with whoever was there as a priority. We very often needed help and equally often gave it back. Competing teams helping each other out was literally a joy.

The way the team built trust and interdependence flowed straight out of the knowledge that there was mostly just us and that we knew conflict would kill us. The number of times I saw exhausted disagreement resolved through raw intelligence and the shared resolve to never ever give up was heart thumping to watch.

There was no let up. No leeway. There was just us and a few people we bumped into.

I’m sure that back at the office we’d have kicked the can, asked for more people, time or money.

It was a great lesson on what can be done when there is nowhere to hide.


Good To Great (Again)

I have lost count of how often I have to go back and read this again (usually when I don’t know the answer to a question):

Joining The Dots

I wrote this summary of Good To Great in 2012 I think.  I look it up every now and then.  I posted it here ages ago.  Today I read it again.  What a great book.  Today I could replace the opening with something about how,  I am on a train, thinking about work, I suppose.

“…I woke up at 0100 last night, thinking about work. This is rare. One of the more challenging aspects of my new role is establishing the facts about how it all works so we can confront and deal with them. “I need facts!”, I thought, as my mind raced and the LED clock seemingly stopped.

I remembered how important the confrontation of facts is in Good to Great by Jim Collins. I reckoned at 0100 that facts must be the most important bit, the idea that trumps all the others.

Then I remembered I’d clumsily…

View original post 583 more words

RAAM – Why?

Today after a 5 long days of hard work and endless problem solving by the wonderful CWT RAAM Crew, we got race clearance. I must share the stories of the commitment, intelligence and attitude of the crew some time. I’m utterly blown away. It feels like we have been here for weeks.

We set off from Oceanside tomorrow. I’m reflecting on why we are here before I go to bed.

We got talking to the BA crew on the flight out to San Diego. They were great, took a real interest in what we are doing and why and looked after us really well.

As well as the scale and complexity of the race and diversity of Team Endeavour, we explained the charity we are supporting, ECPAT. They seek to eliminate trafficking and sexual exploitation of children. It’s not an easy topic.

The BA crew knew all about the subject, telling us they’d been trained to spot it and had protocols about how to intervene, notify the authorities at their destinations and rescue the children involved.

One explained,

“Since we were all trained we’ve spotted a dozen instances and been able to trigger interventions to save the kids.”

He then went on to say what I was thinking but didn’t dare say,

“I’ve been flying in cabin crew for 18 years. It makes me wonder how many we missed before we learned how to spot and deal with it.”

Of course, RAAM is a huge adventure and an amazing privilege, but the aim is to raise more money so more gets done to keep the children of the world safe.

All donations are gratefully received and can be made here:

Tomorrow our adventure begins for real.



The Inevitable Bob Geldof Moment

Yesterday, after months of training, Brendan Cox, Lisa Akeroyd, Charles Allum and Andrew Jordan variously left Australia and the U.K. for San Diego to get ready for this year’s Race Across America (RAAM). In case you missed it, RAAM is a 3000 mile coast to coast bike race which must be completed in less than nine days. That makes it a 24 hr per day dash from Oceanside in California, over the Rockies, across the Nevada Desert, through the plains, over the Appalachians and on to Annapolis in Maryland.

Team Endeavour (T415) are supported by 12 crew from the UK, Australia, France and the USA.

For their sins, I am Crew Chief.

The Pod leads (more on what that means another time) are Barry Doggett and Glen Cook and the RV is led by Kate Cook, further supported by a fabulous group made up of:

Hannah Owen
Tony Ilbery
William Monroe
Amanda Murphy
Kat Barton
Ben Griffiths
Kate Skraba
Jim Grindeland

We gather over the coming days, the final contingent joining the group on Wednesday.

This week will be spent collecting four support vehicles, a huge amount of additional supplies (nutrition, bike spares etc), having bike, vehicle and crew inspections and briefings, all of which culminates in the race starting at noon next Saturday.

We’ve been asked for all the ways that you can follow us so here goes:

The main Team Endeavour site:

This is the homepage for the event:

This is where you can track us live once the race has started:

Our Instagram and Twitter hashtags are #cwtraam2017
and our Facebook page is:

We are also going to add pins and photos to this Google map as we go to create a document, which while at first is just a very close approximation to the route, I hope will eventually form a record of our adventure.

Finally, and most importantly, is the primary reason we are putting ourselves through a gruelling, 24 hour race across 3000 miles. We want to raise as much money as possible for our charity ECPAT International (

All donations are gratefully received and can be made here:

Please share with your family and friends and help us raise as much as possible.

Wish us luck and get ready for a lot of social media noise but with a purpose. Dig deep (and often) and think yourselves lucky I didn’t have a full blown Bob Geldof moment.

Thanks, we hope you enjoy the ride.

RAAM Learnings

I’ve learned an astonishing amount trying to get a team ready for The Race Across America.

Maybe the long version will appear some time. Maybe not, it’s just a long list of weird stuff, like how many power sockets there are in a Town and Country Mini Van and a thousand other things I’ve neither needed nor wanted to know before.

Today’s bizarre nugget was discovered while getting everyone insured, a painful process.

I learned that you can insure against getting a hole in one in golf. That can cost you a fortune in the club bar, or so it seems.

I thought the mere existence of such a policy amusing enough.

It turns out, Barry, pod chief (what on earth that is is another long story from which I’ll spare you) and fabulous support, has not only taken out but actually claimed on such insurance.

If you knew Barry, you’d not be surprised.

He very nicely taught me the other day not to say, “over and out”, apparently it’s either over or out. Never both.

As to why, we are raising funds for ECPAT, who aim to eliminate the sexual exploitation of children:


More Amazing People


The process of getting  Team Endeavour ready for the Race Across America (RAAM) is quite intense.   We set off to California on 11th June and the race starts 17th June.

The riders and crew are amazing people, as are some of the others who have helped us so far.

In real life I have a coach (of the work variety) a lady called Sue Webb.  She knows me quite well. She is very good at what she does. She generally works with teachers and children.  Those of you who know me can be forgiven for the smile you are currently trying to suppress 🙂

When we first met we did an exercise to help she and I work out what makes me tick (or sometimes not tick).

The question was something like, “Draw me a graph of the times in your life when you have been most happy”.

The graph went right back to 1989 at that time, that was I had my first proper job, or so I thought (*).  The timeline I drew filled a whiteboard and had several characteristics:

It was not just up and down, it was very binary.  Not a curve.

The peaks were almost all the same height.  They didn’t get higher in any way that correlated with what I earned or where I might have sat in a hierarchy.  The height of peaks did not trend upwards over time.

One of the higher peaks was quite early when I worked with an ace development team at BT.  Another was more recent and related to work we did at Thomson Reuters in building communities to get better at what we did.

It was a very interesting and useful graph.

Once we had talked through the whole thing I went back to white board and added another detail.

At the top of each peak I added one or two sets of initials. The friends for life I made in each of those experiences over more than 25 years.

I get a huge kick out of going to new places, to do new things, to learn and work with great people.  I insist on enjoying what I do.  You tend to make new friends along the way.

My experience of RAAM so far has been quite intense.  It is ticking all those boxes.  It is a huge privilege. There aren’t many things that drive me to a laptop at 0700 on a Sunday morning.  When I extend that graph, I am sure there will be a few new sets of initials on it.  The people I am meeting in this process are amazing.  While I am in awe of the riders and crew, I am most amazed by the people who contribute despite not being in the core team.

One is Michelle Beattie.  Based in Sydney she had to drop out of the crew for the race but has continued to support the team as we prepare and has secured our rider and crew kit.  I don’t think any of us knew how complex that would be.  Thank you Michelle.

Another is a man called Mike Griffiths.  How we met Mike is a long and quite unbelievable story.  Mike has got >100 people through RAAM.  It is part of what he does for a living.  Despite that he spent 3 hours with me on Friday reviewing our plans and advising us on how to be successful and safe.  Thank you Mike. His organisation is here.

There are many others.  Not least the many (>100) who have already sponsored us.  So far we have raised ~$18k (inc a one off $10k not shown on the donation site).  Thank you to you all also.

It is all the better when we get to do things that matter.  We are doing the RAAM ride for ECPAT, a charity dedicated to eliminating child trafficking and sexual exploitation.  Our donation site is here.


(*) It has occurred to me that my first proper job was actually in 1986 as cox for the Reading University Women’s Boat Club.  The short version of that story is that that is where I began to learn how to work with other people.