30th challenge completed – Rugby

It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally moved on from 29 and completed my 30th challenge. As I’ve previously stated, whilst I’ve always been a big fan of rugby and regular spectator, I’d never actually played the game.

I decided that tag rugby 7s would be more sensible then playing contact 7s as the risk of getting injured and not being able to complete the challenge in time, or the New York Marathon (training started yesterday!) would have been a distinct possibility.

The tag rugby league that I signed up to was call ‘Try Tag Rugby’ based in Acton. They have a variety of mixed and men’s leagues of various standards, but all of the leagues are very social and many of the teams go for drinks after the matches. My team was call Uptag Funk and consisted of 5 guys and 4 girls, none of us having previously met. Luckily we all got on really well, but we weren’t exactly the most gifted rugby players so definitely took us a while to get up to speed, both regarding the tactics but also the rules.

The first game was a bit of a disaster, think we lost 17-3, but we were later informed that the team we played should have been in the league above so that definitely made us feel a little better. Over the next couple of weeks we improved but still remained winless, that was until we came across the team top of the league. Suddenly it all came together, not just the rest of the team, but I also had a blinder, scoring three tries in a comfortable win. Unfortunately, that was the only success we had all season despite a couple of other close matches.

It was really good fun and although I can’t commit to the summer league it’s definitely something that I would consider again once I have time.

2015-06-01 21.02.04

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Quick update

So I’ve been quiet on this site over the past few weeks. This is partly due to starting a new job, but mainly due to giving my body a bit of a rest after the marathon.

In reality the rest didn’t last that long and I started playing rugby a couple of weeks after the marathon. The first 2 matches, despite loosing, were really good fun and I’m in a team with a really good bunch of people. Unfortunately after playing the 2nd match, we had a bit of a practice and I managed to tweak both of my hamstrings. Luckily it wasn’t too serious and I’m back playing running and playing tennis and plan to play in my 3rd rugby match tomorrow. Technically I’ve completed the rugby challenge having now played a couple of matches, but I’ll save the full report until we’ve completed the season.

Hoping to start Water Polo this Thursday so watch out for updates shortly on this as well.

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The plan for 2015

I started 2015 in a way that sums up the new me. Instead of the usual going out on new year’s eve, we stayed in as I prepared for the Serpentine NYE 10k run. In fairness we had spent a week on the road over the festive period and we’d run out of energy come the 31st. My early night was rewarded as I bagged myself a new 10k PB of 43.51.


The first 3 months of 2015 will largely be dedicated to training for the Greater Manchester Marathon and my goal of sub-3.30, although I have found time to schedule the volleyball and rugby challenges.

So this leaves an additional 13 and certainly not the easiest of 13.

The two aquatic sports of synchronised swimming and water polo will prove a challenge. Sychro is not a male sport in the Olympics and water polo is often played at a very competitive level.

Next is basketball, there are plenty of social leagues around London so it should be just a case of finding the time to take part in one.

Boxing, well I’m not particularly looking forward to this one and decided against anything that involves me getting punched. I’ll arrange a training session at some point.

Then comes the three equestrian sports of dressage, eventing and jumping. I’m still not exactly sure how this will be achieved but some sort of course or series of private lessons is probably on the cards.

Gymnastics is another sport split into three; artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline. We have a couple of friends that are coaches so the plan will be to spend a day learning various routines. Hoping to rope in a few others as well.

Hockey in a similar way to basketball has a number of social leagues in London so it should just be a matter of time before I can find a date in 2015 to play.

Modern pentathlon is a combination of:

  • Fencing (completed 23rd Aug, 2013)
  • Swimming (completed 23rd Mar, 2013)
  • Pistol Shooting (completed 2nd Dec, 2012)
  • Cross-Country Run (completed 26th Oct, 2014)
  • Show jumping

Once I’ve completed jumping as part of the equestrian sports this will be complete.

Taekwondo is available in a number of places across London but it would be good to find a proper beginners course and really get into one of the martial art disciplines.

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Challenge update

Having injured my hamstring 3 weeks ago, I’ve been managing my recovery whilst still trying to progress with the Olympic sports.

For the first couple of weeks, I focused on gentle running to encourage blood flow and ensure that my legs were mobilised. Complete rest would probably have been more logical but I’m always conscious of losing fitness and especially in this case as I’d had a couple of easier training weeks prior to getting injured.

Luckily it hasn’t really affected the rowing or the diving too much. My first rowing lesson after the injury was on the ergo machines, so I could take it easy and I was able to dive without putting too much strain on the legs.

For the past week my hamstring has been feeling really good, so I’ve upped the effort. We had a great ‘learn to row’ session at the weekend. The 4 of us got into a great rhythm and I really felt like we’d made some significant progress. My diving lesson on Monday was also good fun. I started off with a lack of confidence, which is the worst thing you can do whilst standing on the edge of a dive board and unfortunately this resulted in some rather painful entries. I got it going though, towards the end of the session and completed a few hurdle dives, back dives and also a couple of falling dives off the 3m – all ready to be filmed next week at the final session! Yesterday I also felt confident enough to play in the Middlesex Winter League for Will to Win. We played indoors at Heston David Lloyd which was great, as the weather has been awful recently. The result wasn’t so good.

In between all of this the intensity of my running has started to increase in preparation for my 16 week training plan (starts 29th Dec) for the Manchester Marathon on 19th April. Yep – I’ve gone and made the challenge harder again by signing up for another marathon. I had told everyone that I wouldn’t be running a marathon in 2015 but the lure of potentially running a sub-3.30 marathon was too much to resist. It’s going to be tough but I’m going to give it a go. I’ve also decided that I might as well run a marathon every year of the Olympiad so 4 marathons in 4 years.

In the middle of this training I will also be tackling the rugby challenge. Rugby 7s is the newest sport in the Olympics (along with golf) and despite being a huge rugby fan, I’ve never played. I would like to compete in all of the team sports but realistically rugby as a contact sport could be a bit dangerous without spending appropriate time learning how to tackle and how to protect myself in contact. As an alternative I’ve signed up to ‘tag rugby’. Tag rugby is growing rapidly in London and there is a league starting at the beginning of March so for the last 8 weeks of my training plan I will be playing rugby every Monday in addition to running 5 days a week.

2015 is looking like a very exciting year. Watch this space.

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Rugby world cup 2015

Not really a challenge update, but I was delighted to have been successful in the Rugby world cup ballot this morning. I will be going to the following games:

  • NZ v Argentina
  • Wales v Fiji
  • Wales v Australia
  • England v Wales
  • Both semi-finals

Can’t wait.

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The Team Sports

For these sports I will be required to take part in a organised competitive match. The challenge for these events will be to persuade the relevant local team to allow me to play for them. I have played beach volleyball and water polo on holiday and I played hockey, indoor volleyball and basketball on the odd occasion at school. Rugby and handball are completely new sports for me, although I am a keen rugby fan.

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