More Virtual Running Medals

The brother of a work colleague set up Run for the World, where medals were available if you ran a certain distance (read about my previous blog here). When the company was started, it wasn’t uncommon for there to be only a dozen people ‘racing’ for each medal. However, during lock down, virtual running has come into it’s own, with over 200 people for some of the more popular medals.

A year ago I joined a couple of multi-medal challenges, which I have only just finished. The first was to run 400km every three months, or each season, for the very nice set of jigsaw style medals seen below.


The other challenge was to run 100km every month with each medal representing a different Wonder of the World; Grand Canyon, Rainbow Mountain, etc. Again the medals were in a jigsaw style, which was a little harder to put together than the four seasons challenge. This bling was also very nice.


Both of these sets of medals are still available if you want them. Currently there is a continents set of medals, which I have Europe so far. Some of their other medals are a bit naff, in my opinion, which is why I am selective with which medals I go for.

Anyway, they can be found here if you’re after some nice lock down bling.

Book Review: Night Show by Richard Laymon

When I first started to read horror novels back in the late 80’s, Richard Laymon was one of my favourite authors. He didn’t try to write literature (Stephen King), or try to be too dark (Clive Barker) or try to shock for shocks sake (Shaun Hutson). Instead Mr Laymon wrote good honest scary horror novels with a plot that moved along nicely, with the odd twist, and a good smattering of gore. It must have been at least 20 years since I read Quake. It was with sadness that I found out that he’d died in 2001, so decided to download one of his e-books, especially as many of them were priced at 0.99p.

night show

The plot for Night Show is quite simple. A High School girl is tricked into visiting a ‘haunted’ house where someone else pretends to me a classic hockey mask wearing serial killer, scaring the hell out of her. She runs out of the house and into the street where she is hit by a car. After many months of convalescence she recovers with revenge on her mind. The other part of the story is a pair of lovers who work in Hollywood as special effects artists for horror films.

At times the book felt a little dated, however it was first published in 1984, and the story is probably more simplistic than what would be expected today. Despite this, I enjoyed the book and gave it 4 out of 5 on Goodreads. Next up I might look at reading something by Shaun Hutson, Graham Masterton or Peter Straub, among the many other horror writers that I used to read many years ago. Alternatively I could search out some of the best from the newer writers out there, possibly Joe Hill (who does look exactly like his old man), or maybe Oddjobs Part 2 (read my review of Part 1 here).

Book Review: Too Much and Never Enough by Mary Trump

or to give the book it’s full title – Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.


I’m not a fan of Donald Trump. As far as I’m concerned he has no redeeming qualities and should have been in jail many years ago, either for fraud, bribery or sexual assault. I have read a number of books about Trump, most recently I reviewed a couple here.

This book by Mary Trump is different as she is family. A granddaughter of Fred Trump Snr. and a niece of Donald. She refers to her uncle throughout the book as Donald, never as Donald Trump or The President. Fred Trump was a very successful businessman, but a very poor father, wanting his sons to have a ‘killer’ instinct, to win at all costs. Mary’s father, Freddy, wasn’t deemed to be ruthless enough and was constantly made to feel inferior by Fred Trump. Donald saw this as he was growing up and subsequently became a nasty bully, ignoring his mother and teachers to the point where he was shipped off to a Military Academy, which only made him worse.

Donald has always boasted about how he graduated college top of his class, although he sued his college to ensure that they never released his results. Mary goes further by saying that Trump paid someone else to take the entrance exam. Denied by Donald, obviously, but totally believable. After college Donald went to ‘work’ for his old man, although this mainly involved getting paid a lot for doing very little. As Mary exaplins, doing very little but taking the credit is a Trump family trait. When Donald branched out on his own, all of his early success was engineered by his father; the money, the contacts and then ensuring that Donald was surrounded by people who did know what they were doing. Once Donald moved into Casinos, and area Fred knew nothing, Donald started to fail, and fail big time.

There isn’t a great deal in this book which isn’t already known, but to hear it from someone inside the Trump family makes it more shocking, no wonder Donald tried to ban it. This brings me onto the Fred Trump will. Mary, her brother and their mother were completely left out of the will, and had to take the four remaining siblings to court. They didn’t have a great lawyer who ended up agreeing that the estate was only worth $30m. Four years later the estate was sold for $700m, with Donald receiving $170m to help pay some of his huge debts, even though the estate was valued at the time at $1,000m, another huge loss for Donald.

There are so many other stories in the book. Especially shocking is the treatment of Mary’s father, Freddy, who when he became seriously ill wasn’t taken to a hospital until it was too late, and then no one from the family went with him so he dies alone. Mary was at college at the time and wasn’t told how seriously ill he was. Donald went to the cinema to watch a film.

Donald has failed upwards his whole life and with the Presidency it is obvious that he defers to dictators, Putin and Kim Jong-un, while trying to create his own dictatorship in the US, (just look at the troops on the streets of Portland). On a recent interview with Fox News he declined to state if he would observe the results of the 2020 election. It should also be very worrying that he took a cognitive test. Only people with signs of dementia need to take that test. The 2020 election is less than 100 days away, and for the sake of the world Trump must be defeated.

I have to say that this book is probably the best book about Trump that I’ve read, along with the ones by Bob Woodward and the golfing book by Rick Reilly.  Well worth reading and another 5 out of 5 on Goodreads.

Book Review: Signalz by F Paul Wilson

I have avidly read most of Mr Wilson’s books, and all of his Repairman Jack books. Read my many reviews here, here, here and here.


Before we start on the review of Signalz, the first thing to know is that if you’ve not read most of the Repairman Jack books, this is not the one to start with. Add to the confusion, Repairman Jack isn’t even in this book, although everything in this book occurs days before Nightworld, the final Jack book.

Most of the characters in Signalz have appeared in other books as bit part players. We have Russ Tuit’s brother, Ernst Drexlar, the writer Frank Winslow and the Native American from The Last Christmas. There are three different stories in Signalz, but as with all good Paul Wilson books, their stories overlap and become entwined. However, sometimes it feels like you should now more about certain characters. It is possible that some of them have appeared in other books which I haven’t read.

The main thread is the ‘signalz’, other worldly communications emanating from unknown places, but having been recorded since 1941, the year that ‘The One’ escaped from his prison in a Romanian keep, as written about in The Keep, a very scary stand alone horror novel. Anyway, these signals are drawing together, implying that the end of the world is about to begin.

As I said, this is a book for the fans only, and I loved it, even without Jack. I also enjoy how Paul Wilson doesn’t worry about inserting new books into an established series. Signalz occurs days before Nightworld, even though the first version of Nightworld came out almost 30 years ago. There is a great deal going on in Signalz, which could indicate that there are more books to come. Last Christmas inserts itself into the series with another three or four books after it. One reason I like this is because it means that we might get more Repairman Jack books in the future. Here’s hoping.

Anyway, I gave the book 5 out of 5 on Goodreads.


I have my old friend The Prof to thank for encouraging me to head down dead ends. Longsleddale is one of the best dead ends around, with over four miles of undulating quiet road until you reach an old farm and a dirt track which continues up into the fells.


I’m getting ahead of myself. I have a habit of wanting to find new roads to cycle on and new footpaths to run on, with the aim of ‘getting’ new Veloviewer tiles (read about it here), which my lovely wife tells me is endearing. Last weekends camping trip snagged another half a dozen tiles (read about it here and here), but the lock down has meant that we haven’t travelled as far a field as we would have liked. Yesterday I decided to cycle up to Kendal and up Longsleddale to nab a few more tiles.

I headed north from Kendal up the A6, which is fairly quiet up here, before turning off just after Garth Row. The road drops down suddenly before passing the road on the left to Burnside. From here, as I mentioned earlier, the road undulates as it makes it’s way up the Longsleddale Valley, passing holiday cottages and farms. There are fells either side, first off Whiteside Pike, then White How, before looming in the distance is Shipman Knots and Grey Crag.


After four miles of some of the best cycling ever, the road ends at a small bridge and a farm, although a dirt track continues up and over before dropping down to Haweswater Reservoir. Alternatively you could run up and around the famous Kentmere Pike. There were a number of cars parked along the dirt track so it is obviously a popular spot for runners and mountain bikers, although if you wanted to run Kentmere Pike, Staveley is probably a better place to start and finish from. As I cycled back toward Burnside I was passed by more than a few cars, all of whom looked to be full of sporty types. Hopefully when the whole Covid thing calms down a bit, me and my lovely wife will feel able to head out into the fells of the Lake District or even make a long weekend of it.

Anyway, if you’re in the area, Longsleddale is a great little valley to visit, and don’t be afraid to cycle down the odd dead end, you never know what you might find.


Book Review: In Search of Robert Millar by Richard Moore

I remember as a teenager when TV in the UK first starting showing the Tour de France. It was incredibly exciting, although there wasn’t much home talent to cheer on. The came the mercurial Scottish rider Robert Millar, climbing through the alps to win that year’s Polka Dot Jersey. ‘Fame’ followed by appearing on the boxes of Kellog’s ‘Start’ cereal. It was also very obvious that Robert didn’t in the least enjoy the fame side of professional cycling. Some interviews with him were hard to watch as he gave single word answers, while other he could be very informative. This book is written by a former team mate of Robert’s. Initially he wanted to write an official biography with direct input from Robert, but as he became a recluse at the end of his professional career, the book became slightly detective in nature.


The author travels around Europe interviewing friends, colleagues and team mate of Robert’s, from his days growing up in Glasgow to his brief time as a team manager. Robert was definitely ahead of his time as he was far more focused on his diet, whereas all other professional cyclists were having steak most nights.

Over the course of the book we find out so much about Robert, and despite his reputation for being difficult, hardly anyone has a bad word to say about him. There are also many anecdotes throughout the book, including one where he is mentoring a group of young UK professionals and he tells them not to ask about the Tour de France as none of them will ever be going there to race. Harsh, but true. He didn’t mince his words. Also interesting is how he was ‘robbed’ of winning the Tour of Spain as the Spanish teams worked together for a Spanish win. Undoubtedly Robert should have been the first English speaking Grand Tour winner.

The book also touches on the controversy surrounding his hermit like status in the years after he retired, including being hounded by the tabloid press. The book was written in 2008, ten years before Millar re-emerged as Philippa York. The Wikipedia entry is far more interesting than anything the tabloids might say, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s none of my business. Robert/Philippa remains one of the greatest British cyclists of all time, and paved the way for many other talented riders from these shores to follow his/her footsteps. An amazing cyclist and an amazing person.

Strava Local Legends

Over the last month I had spotted a couple of friends in America becoming ‘local legends’, in that they had ridden or run a particular segment the most times in the last 90 days. This functionality has now been released in the UK, but only on the mobile App, and I think only to subscribers. If you go to your profile on the App, scroll down to Segments near to the bottom and you will find a tab with all of the segments where you are the local legend. Currently I am the local legend on one cycling segment and five running segments.

Over the last few years I’ve looked at segments less and less, as it has become almost impossible for me to reach the top ten. This function means that segment hunting rewards athletes of all abilities, as speed doesn’t factor into it. I also like how the graph illustrates how many different athletes have done each segment in the last 90 days. Yesterday I was the local legend on a segment that had over 900 athletes completing it. Alas someone else took my local legend status from me. I like how this encourages you to go out, but unlike KOMs, it doesn’t encourage reckless or dangerous cycling.

On the downside, I like to ride or run somewhere new. Whether this be tile hunting with Veloveiwer, or new streets with City Strides. Additionally, the segment above, ‘Bowerham work commute’ is one that once the University is fully open again I will lose. Commuters who ride the same route day in day out will obviously have an advantage for certain segments. You can also see that all of the running segments where I am the local legend I have only run once as they are fairly obscure. The local legend status also isn’t available for every segment; I’m not sure why.

Anyway, I think this is a brilliant addition to Strava as segments were definitely becoming a bit stale.


Book Review: The Hike by Don Shaw

Another booked that I picked up from the Free Little Library on the next street, and one that I took with me for our three day camping trip to Hebden Bridge, which you can read about here and here.

the hike

Three retirees meet up every Thursday for a hike around the Peak District, much like Last of the Summer Wine. Good long term friends they rib each other constantly, which is mostly what made this book so enjoyable. Each chapter is a different month of the year, and generally each chapter looks at a different hike. Phil likes to dash up the hills trying to beat his personal best, thereby staying fitter and younger. Freddy likes to complain, while Don is in the middle, trying to keep the peace.

They are a friendly trio and part of the fun is reading about the people they meet, including the President of the Trabant owners club, with his farmyard full of various Trabants and the ‘bodger’ who makes chair legs by hand in an off-grid cottage. They also manage to get lost over Kinder Scout, as have many people. Obviously Kinder Scout is near to one end of the Pennine Way, which we ran along and across a number of times when we camped at Hebden Bridge. My wife has also shown an interest in walking the Pennine Way, the whole 268 miles of it. I’d better start training.

Anyway, I gave the book 4 out of 5. It was very easy reading and perfect for a lazy afternoon on a campsite sitting in the sun with a beer.

Hardcastle Crags

The second morning of our little camping trip to Hebden Bridge we drove across the town to Hardcastle Crags. Read about our first day visiting Stoodley Pike here. I had looked at the map and spotted a car park and a route that looked promising. Unknown to me Hardcastle Crags is owned by the National Trust. The car park is therefore free to members. I didn’t have my membership card with me, and neither of us had any money. We left a note in the car and hoped that we’d be OK seeing as the car park attendants were not there yet. Anyway, Hardcastle Crags is a beautiful wooded valley with the 19th century Gibson Mill at it’s heart.

Our run headed up through the wooded valley, slowly climbing all the time. With tired legs we walked the steeper sections and ran the flatter bits, passing the Mill and plenty of other visitors. After a couple of miles we climbed out of the wooded valley and turned east up and over an unnamed hillock, admiring the views from the other side of the valley.


We weren’t in any rush as we ambled beside an old stone wall, before we came across an old derelict farm building. If you had plenty of spare cash I’m sure it would make a great holiday home, as long as you had a 4×4 to get there. Helen wanted to go inside to have a closer look, but it was my turn to be the sensible one, so I suggested that it probably wasn’t entirely safe.


The path then dropped steeply down onto a busy little bridleway, with walkers and mountain bikers. At a gate three older men on e-mountain bikes passed us. I loved seeing this, as it would be unlikely that any of them would have been able to enjoy cycling these hills without the battery powered oomph. I know that one day both me and Helen will be riding e-bikes.

From here the trail was downhill for almost two miles as we returned to the car  park. Helen had a very big smile as she loves downhill running. Both me and Nelly struggle to keep up with her once she gets into her stride.

Just under 5 miles with a little less climbing than the previous day, but another great run. As a bonus, the car park attendants looked like they had only just started work and hadn’t reached our car, so no ticket. Back at the campsite and we enjoyed a full vegetarian breakfast at the Honesty Box Cafe located in the campsite.

Stoodley Pike

Making the most of campsites being allowed to open again, me and my lovely wife booked three nights away at the Old Chamber campsite in Hebden Bridge. As much as we like the Lake District, we felt it wasn’t right to visit at this time. There have been a number of alarming news stories about people parking and camping all over the place, and then leaving a mess. Hebden Bridge seemed like a perfect alternative and not too far to drive from Lancaster. It is an area that apart from visiting briefly last year the day before I did Canalathon (read about it here) we haven’t visited.

We arrived nice and early on the Friday, set up our tent and settled on down with a good book and a couple of beers, before our usual first night camping tea of sausages and beans, which was made all the better with a quick visit by Helen’s eldest son on his way from Lancaster to Wakefield.

The view from the campsite was amazing, across the whole of the valley. The campsite was surrounded by bridleways so we could watch mountain bikers and runners going past, sometimes quickly and often a bit more sedately. I love how the valley from Todmorden to Sowerby Bridge is so narrow, with the river, road, canal and then railway all squeezing into it, along with houses perched all over the place.

Helen is in training for the final leg of the Bay Limestone Round (read about it here and here) and wanted to run at least two of the three mornings. I had managed to create a couple of routes for my Garmin 920 (read about how to do this here), one of which would head up to Stoodley Pike. You can read Wikipedia yourself for more information, but the skinny is that the monument was initially built to celebrate winning Waterloo in 1815. The first one collapsed due to weather and lightning, so a replacement was built in 1856. The monument is very visible standing 37m high on top of the 400m Stoodley Pike, and on a clear day can be seen for miles. The day we ran up to it the weather was wet and misty and we could only just see the top.

20200718_0936121836113243.jpgThere are steps going up inside, although we didn’t venture up, partly because of the smell and partly because it was completely pitch black inside.


Stoodley Pike is also on the Pennine Way, with the Pennine Bridleway skirting around the bottom of it. From the monument we followed the Pennine Way briefly before dropping down to Withens Clough Reservoir.


We met a few local runners in the other direction near to the dam, before we headed on up the steep and never ending hills, following old tracks and bridleways back to the campsite. 10km with almost 300m of climbing, but done at a very steady pace. A great little start to our Hebden Bridge break.