The Wall 2019

0700 And they’re off!

Pascal and Sim (being highly trained Ultra athletes) spent The Night Before loading their bodies with carbs and trying to get a good night’s sleep.

Pascal and his pint of beer
Pascal loads some carbs
Lasagna and pasta meals
Lasagna (apparently) and traditional pre-race pasta

They’ve arrived at Carlisle Castle with hundreds of others and now have 69 miles “to work out whose stupid idea this was”!

Pascal and Sim at the start line
On the start line but who is listening to the briefing?

If you want to follow them on the Rat Race live tracking, the link is here:

RatRace Live Tracking

I’ll post updates as and when I hear from the athletes so please keep checking back until he finishes sometime overnight. the cut off times are very generous so as long as they keep moving at slightly more than 2.8mph then they’ll be allowed to go the entire crazy distance.

Fingers crossed that the weather doesn’t repeat the Ride24 journey from Newcastle 3 years ago when he had to pay to have his bike frame drained off water after he’d finished!

Remember to shout out “Keep going Pascal and Sim!” at random intervals throughout the day. If you shout it loudly enough, they might even hear you (especially if you live near Hadrian’s Wall).

0904 10 miles complete

They’re whizzing along (relatively – I’m sure it’ll slow soon enough) and averaging 5mph. Sim is an experienced half marathon and marathon runner so I suspect they’re treating this as “how far can we go with it feeling hard but like a normal run”. I don’t know how it’ll feel later on when they’ve got nearly 3 back-to-back marathons to complete. *gulp*

Looking forward to an update when they get to Lanercost Priory for the first proper pitstop.

1013 Pitstop 1: Lanercost Priory (15.2 miles)

They’ve reached the first pit stop and the first loo queue. Pascal’s old bones are struggling already (right hip in case you’re wondering) but they’ve had hot sausage and are off and running again.

Sim is full of beans despite both of them being told that the stop was at 12 miles. They’ve done 15.2 miles to get here and Pascal wants me to understand that “the point two counts”.

Pascal at Lanercost Priory with Sim
Pit stop 1: Lanercost Priory
Pascal and Sim next to old stone wall
Walls! We’ve found walls!

1144 Lone runner

He’s running on his own now. Well, when I say on his own, there are still 800 other runners out there who just happen not to be Sim. The views are spectacular. He thinks Sim is miles ahead but he’s ready to be surprised.

Hadrian's wall
Hadrian built this – with a little help
A river
Beautiful beautiful scenery

1249 Pitstop 2: Walltown (23.9 miles)

Pascal has now run nearly a full marathon but is far from half way there. He still hurts but is carrying on.

1547 Pitstop 3: Barton Mill (32.4 miles)

So much for Sim being 4 miles ahead. It looks as though when Pascal arrived at the stop, Sim was just heading out. Of course they missed each other but there isn’t much in it. Pascal managed to wolf down 4 ham sandwiches to keep him going which was all washed down with some very sweet tea.

Pascal feels pretty broken but there are lots of lovely runners all helping each other to carry on. The lovely Helen gave him a salt tablet to help him out too. Her husband is running as well but apparently has decided to quit at this stop when he gets there. Here she is. “Thank you Helen!”. Personally, I think her husband is showing more common sense than mine but these are the differences that make life interesting.

Pascal and Helen
Helen – Salt of the Earth

Living in a home counties vale doesn’t train you brilliantly for hills and it is seriously hilly out there. The next leg is apparently very, very steep and the next pitstop is 13 miles away (just a little half marathon). It’s not going to be easy. Did I mention he thinks he’s broken already? Clearly, being Pascal, he’s just going to carry on until he actually collapses under the weight of his water, survival kit and his delicious homemade flapjacks.

At the moment, he is really looking forward to going to bed. He’s hoping to finish around 4am tomorrow. I can see his pace is dropping fast so I hope he can keep going until then but, boy, that is tough.

1857 The bus beckoned

For anyone following Pascal on the live tracker, you’re probably wondering what I was wondering – has he been helicoptered to emergency first aid? That isn’t running pace and why when I send a message does it tell me that he’s driving?

After 42 miles and a lot of hip pain and foot pain, Pascal spotted a local bus outside The Red Lion pub and “had a massive case of the f*** its”. He hopped on the bus (“Are you going to Hexham?” “Why-aye!”) and sped past Sim to get to the town centre and walk to the next pit stop.

At the moment, he’s having a massive wobble and isn’t sure whether he’ll finish. His plan is to have lots of hot food, change his socks and then see how he feels. Apparently Sim is Action Man. You decide.

80s action man and Sim
Sim vs Action Man – who’s who?

Hopefully Pascal has rejoined the runners entering the pit stop by now and is about to refuel and refresh and then make the decision whether or not to go on.

I’m sure the lack of sleep last night hasn’t helped. There were hotel drunks banging on the door at 4am when they were both up at 5:45. All the way to Carlisle they had joked about having to share a double bed and when they got there… yes, you’ve guessed it. They were told on check-in that the hotel was full, despite having pre-booked. Pascal said the bed was so uncomfortable that he chose to sleep on the floor for preference and leave the bed to Sim. He cannot recommend an Ibis.

So, maybe it’s that. Then again, 42 miles is further than his feet have ever had to carry him in any 12 hour period so he could also recognise that this is a phenomenal achievement and anything from here on is just a bonus achievement. He’s got a local 10k in 2 weeks and the next of three more RatRace event is 3 weeks today so a broken Pascal on the first event is going to make the next four very uncomfortable.

2012 They say it’s all over…

Pascal has made the very difficult decision to stop. He’s feeling like a fraud despite having achieved an enormous physical challenge. I’ll put it down to the sheer exhaustion and the desperate need for some “fresh, clear, well-seasoned perspective” as his favourite restaurant critic would say.

42 miles. 42. It’s the answer, of course.

And now we’ve answered that question (again) it’s time to look forward to the next post in the Stupid Stunts category – Man vs Coast. This time he’ll be running along the Cornish Coast from St Michael’s Mount up to the North coast and all the way round to Sennen. It’s about 23 miles in total. Sim will be with him again (they’re making sure they get good value from their RatRace annual race passes!).

Three weeks to recover/get fitter depending on your own perspective and hopefully this will feel much more achievable from the off, knowing that they easily covered that distance in about 6 hours today.

Pascal and Sim eating hot food
Pascal “I’m only here for the scampi fries” and Action Sim at Hexham

Sim still has 24 miles to go but that’s less than a marathon and he definitely wants to finish Go Sim!!


Please post words of encouragement or otherwise in the comments. I’ll pass them on during the race and Pascal loves to read it all when he’s finished.

Creative – Richard Hanson

I find it interesting to find out more about what creatives do, and how they use their tools. Many people don’t create anything – the same cannot be said of you, Rich (Tricky DJ), and I think that the stuff you do is awesome, and I think that it’s work writing about. Some of the questions aren’t entirely applicable to you, so we’ll have to adapt slightly – so ‘What was your first Mac’ becomes ‘What was your first computer?’

So what was it? What was your first computer? Continue reading “Creative – Richard Hanson”

Cutting Costs

The private sector has a bee in its bonnet about cutting costs, to the extent that it is also trying to pare its workforce to the bone.  Only by doing this, it is thought, will they recover to economic growth and stability. It’s accountant logic.  After a point, it’s also utter bullshit. Sadly, the public sector seems to be catching on to this fatuous idea too. Continue reading “Cutting Costs”

Docker Lab – Containerising your website, Part 4 (Let’s Encrypt)

If you’ve been following along with this series of tutorials, you’ll have built a LEMP stack capable of handling multiple vhosts. That’s all very well – but if you expect your users to enter their username and password into the site then you’ll need to provide them with a little security. The only way to do that is with ssl, certificates for which used to be pricey or came with strings attached.

Let’s Encrypt is a certificate authority started by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla Foundation, University of Michigan, Akamai Technologies and Cisco Systems to provide ssl certificates for free, and to simplify the process of securing your website into the bargain. They take donations though – and this is one project that you really should consider supporting. Continue reading “Docker Lab – Containerising your website, Part 4 (Let’s Encrypt)”

Docker Lab – Containerising your website, Part 2 (PHP)

In the previous instalment (Docker Lab – Containerising your website, Part 1), we installed Docker and Docker Compose, and set up an Nginx container. If all you need is to serve a few static pages there’s no need to read any further. But if you need your website to be dynamic, if you need PHP and, perhaps, a database, read on…

These instructions assume that you have followed the steps in part 1. Continue reading “Docker Lab – Containerising your website, Part 2 (PHP)”

Docker Lab – Containerising your website, Part 1 (Nginx)

For many years now, 45RPMSoftware has maintained its own webservers (hosted on virtual machines by Rackspace).  These webservers have been set up in the ‘traditional’ manner, with a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) stack.  They’ve worked well and so I’ve ignored them, which isn’t the right way to run a website and especially not one which hosts your business.For many years now, 45RPMSoftware has maintained its own webservers (hosted on virtual machines by Rackspace).  These webservers have been set up in the ‘traditional’ manner, with a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) stack.  They’ve worked well and so I’ve ignored them, which isn’t the right way to run a website and especially not one which hosts your business. Continue reading “Docker Lab – Containerising your website, Part 1 (Nginx)”

NSString – components separated by case insensitive string

The latest version of MailRaider greatly improves its handling of base64 encoded or quoted printable strings – the previous version could get confused if, for example, it encountered ‘=?UTF-8?B?’ instead of ‘=?utf-8?b?’. The problem is that NSString only has componentsSeparatedByString – which isn’t much use if you don’t know what case to expect. Hmm. Continue reading “NSString – components separated by case insensitive string”

A Calculator For Your micro:bit

You may remember that, a little over a year ago, I wrote a clock for the micro:bit (read it again here if you need a reminder).  I pondered adding alarm functionality to it but, in the event, I didn’t get around to it. In keeping with that tradition, I now offer you a calculator for the micro:bit – this one has unimplemented improvements too!

I run a computer club for the kids at the local school where we teach them how to code – free from the constraints of the National Curriculum. It’s no secret that I don’t like Scratch, and I think that one of the reasons that the British Isles produced so many great coders is because they learned Basic on the ZX Spectrum and BBC computers from an early age. Continue reading “A Calculator For Your micro:bit”