Video - The OMM and Ramsay Record Attempt on TV Soon

I'm delighted to say I shot quite a lot of this Adventure Show.

It's currently on the BBC iPlayer.

The OMM is a superb mountain marathon event which was challenging to shoot, so I expect it was fairly challenging to race!

However, the photo alongside comes from an extended feature which I'm really keen to see.  Donnie Campbell (the guy in front of my camera) was trying to run 24 Munro mountains in 24 hours - the famous Ramsay Round.

I certainly did not run the whole way!  I covered the bits where Donnie reached roads and stopped briefly to resupply.  My GoPro cameras went further in the hands of Donnie's support runners.  I also had the enjoyable task of shooting an interview with Charlie Ramsay, the chap who devised the challenge.  There's a little clip from this feature at the end of the trailer below.

Highland Open Water Swims - More Info

We have firm dates, rough distances and very approximate start times for three charity open water swims I'm helping to organise this year.

I've been asked a few questions - all of which I promptly pass on to boss-organiser Jeff.

He is on Facebook at @Highlandopenwaterswim and who can be reached through the Highland Open Water Swim website.

Still, I thought I'd put down a few thoughts about how I see these swims in the hope it might answer a few more obvious questions.  If anything on here conflicts with the official website - I'm wrong and it's correct!

Firstly, these are not your normal organised events - the sort of thing run by Dirty Events or No Fuss Events.  These are about like-minded cold-water swimmers getting together to tackle a challenging swim.  Each individual is responsible for their own safety, just as when you head down to the loch to swim with your friends.

The main safety aspect is that we will be swimming as a group, and we will all be using bright tow-floats.  Tow floats are compulsory.  As organisers, we will try to provide additional safety cover in the form of a boat and some kayakers but no one should assume these will be available.

This is an entirely voluntary thing.  If some of the support kayakers abruptly decide they don't fancy going to the start (as happened last year) then they won't be there.  Nevertheless, we will do our utmost to provide a boat and kayak cover at each swim.

Entry is free.  We won't charge you because we guarantee nothing in return and you swim at your own risk.  However, in return for organising the get-together, for doing our utmost to keep you safe, and for laying a few comforts like soup at the finish, we hope you will donate to the charity Children With Cancer through Virgin Money Giving.  Right after you register.  There is no minimum donation - £30 is a lot to some people and not a lot to others.  Your call.

Head to the Highland Open Water Swim website now to register and donate.  

So here are a few more details as they are at the moment, but please be aware, these will probably change.  Every swim was tweaked last year in response to availability of safety cover and tidal and weather conditions.

Corran Narrows 440m  19th March 
Those coming from Ardnamurchan will take the Corran Ferry as foot passengers to the Nether Lochaber side and we'll swim from there across to Ardgour.  First ferry is 08:30.  Aim to start 9:00-9:30 to catch slack water at the start of the outgoing stream, taking swimmers away from the ferry route.  Precise timings nearer the day.

Loch Sunart 1.4km  22nd April
Assemble at Resipole campsite, take a RIB across the loch to a designated point, then swim back to the campsite.  Still working on times but I expect to be in the water about 10:30.

Sound of Mull  2.2km 6th May
Assemble Lochaline.  Last year we took the CalMac ferry to Fishnish then swam back.  We swam to the Morvern shore, then took a RIB back to Lochaline because it would be too difficult to swim against the tidal stream at the loch entrance.  This might be an early start because the best time to be in the water looks like being 09:30, so again we're still working on the timings.

Me swimming Sound of Mull in diver's hood!

Highland Open Water Swims for Charity

I've been asked to help organise this series of three swims.

Last year there were six in the series, which was ambitious and stressful for the organisers.

It took a lot of sorting to get boat and kayak cover at each, especially when volunteers pull out at one day's notice.

This year the organiser is starting later than previously so we're restricting it to three swims, although there may be more towards the end of the year.

I swam the Skye Bridge event and the Sound of Mull.  They are utterly superb training for triathlon.  The confidence these swims instilled in me meant I could stand on the start line of my first Ironman and have no doubts whatsoever about the 3.8km ahead of me.  I actually enjoyed it.

We're on the look out for kayakers who can help provide support.  Finding them is my job because of my kayaking background.  If push comes to shove, I'll be in the kayak rather than in the water.

The key thing is that not a penny goes to the organisers (us).  Entry is by donation directly to the Children with Cancer charity.  Check it out at Highland Open Water Swim and scroll down to read about last year's swims.

Bronze - Ironman, All World Athlete award

It is, of course, not even a piece of paper.  The certificate is an automatically generated PDF.

Yet I am rather chuffed that Ironman's points system has placed me in the top 10% of my age group for 2016.

2016 was only my second year doing triathlon competitively, and saw me compete in my first full Ironman.

It seems I'm position 34 in the UK and 604 worldwide after two of their events last year - IM Maastricht and IM70.3 Weymouth.  

This apparently puts me in the bronze category of their All World Athlete programme.  As yet I have no idea what that entails.  I suspect it allows me to spend more money on something with a bronze logo on it, we'll see.  But it's nice anyway.

Get Stuff Done (Like Replace Batteries)

With our local ferry off until 3rd January the roads around our part of Ardnamurchan are quiet today.

I saw only two cars on my rather soggy bike ride and no walkers on my subsequent run.

Many of us have a little extra time on our hands, so it's the ideal part of the year to take care of a little device-admin.

Plug your devices into your computer and run the update App to see if new software is available to download and install.

While you're waiting, hunt around in that kitchen drawer when you keep spare batteries and replace the ones in your heart rate strap.  A fading battery can produce some weird readings, so keep them fresh.  What's more, it'll be easy to remember the last time they were replaced.

Incidentally, the ubiquitous CR2032 batteries are relatively cheap in Ikea and big supermarkets.

My Current Favourite Podcasts

Winter means more time cycling indoors on the turbo, working out in the gym and low heart rate runs.

That means more time to listen to Podcasts.  I thought I'd share my current favourites.

I know some people need music to exercise, but that pumps me up too much.  I go too fast or too hard and blow the effect of Zone 1 training.  Although I start focusing on my effort, when I have someone talking in my ears I can rift off into their world.

BBC Radio 4 Friday Night Comedy - always tops the podcast charts, so I'm revealing no secret here.  Likewise my second favourite Desert Island Discs, although I tend to be picky about who I listen to.  The others are all triathlon related.

Our Medicinal Precautions for Seasonal Gatherings & Travelling

Large gatherings of friends and relations are part of what make Christmas and New Year special.

But along with the presents can come the unwanted gift of a cold.  That could ruin the first few weeks of new year training.

So these over the counter medicines are how we try to avoid the sniffles.  I'm sure my friend (a top pharmacist) will tell me where I'm going wrong [edit - he did - see below], but this seems to work for us.  We also use it when travelling on aircraft.