Winning isn't about finishing in first place. It isn't about beating the others. It is about overcoming yourself. Overcoming your body, your limitations, and your fears. Winning means surpassing yourself and turning your dreams into reality.

Kilian Jornet – Elite Mountain Runner
Personal Peak Quarantine Backyard Ultra

Personal Peak Quarantine Backyard Ultra

Posted by martin.parnell |

Early Saturday, April 4th I was standing on my treadmill, in my basement, waiting for a race to begin. In total there were over 2,400 participants from over 55 countries and we were about to participate in an event the likes of which had never been seen before.

A couple of weeks ago, my wife Sue was listening to CBC when Dave Proctor, a Calgary elite Ultra runner was talking about an event that would connect the world. With the spring racing calendar being totally wiped out due to COVID-19 Dave was looking for something to pull the global running community together and he came up with the Personal Peak Quarantine Backyard Ultra.

Originally, Dave was planning a Trans-Canadian speed record for May, and his crew was going to be made up of the Personal Peak team. However, with the coronavirus outbreak, he had to cancel the attempt. Instead of letting his training go to waste, he decided to use it for a virtual race. Along with Personal Peak, an endurance training company, he organized the Quarantine Backyard Ultra and sent invitations to the world’s best ultra-runners. The event was also open to non-elite runners.

For the Quarantine Backyard Ultra, all runners had to log into Zoom. Racers had a choice between running on a treadmill or running outside as they had to complete a 6.706 km lap in less than an hour and prove it by showing the Zoom audience their GPS data if they ran outside or their treadmill screen inside. Then they could move onto the next lap with every lap starting on the hour.

Having had my Boston Marathon cancelled, I was looking for something to fill the space. I certainly didn’t want to waste my weeks of training. The other thing I wanted to do was to use the race as a fund raiser. I decided to combine the donations I raised from my Year End Run with the Backyard Ultra and see if I could hit the $10,000 fund raising target for the Boys and Girls Club of Cochrane and area.

So at 6.45 am MST and with 15 minutes to go, my hydration and nutrition were prepared and I set up my laptop so that the camera could view me on the treadmill. I then logged into Zoom. The screen was filled with 30 runners from around the globe, just a small fraction of the 620 that were in my starting group.

At 7.00am MST a bell rang and we were off. I decided to watch some TV and my friend Wayne suggested “The Kindness Diaries” on Netflix. I had set a pace of 7:30 minutes per kilometer and with 6.71 kms to run it took me 53:40. Now the goal I had set myself was to run a marathon (42.2 km) so if I ran for 7 loops (7 hours) that would give me 47 kms. The first 5 loops went well. I started to struggle on loop 6 and Sue told me that I was too close to the back of the treadmill. I was definitely having a hard time holding my pace.

I had toyed with the idea of doing 10 loops but on loop 7 I knew that was it. I didn’t want to get spat out the back of the treadmill and splatted against the back wall. At the end of the 7th loop I got off the treadmill and logged of Zoom. That meant that I got a “Did Not Finish” (DNF). In fact every participant would get a DNF other that the winner.

Over the rest of Saturday I followed the event and learned about several of the participants. There was “The Living Room Guy” who ran around his sofa, “Coffee Shop Matt” who did loops inside a closed coffee shop and Anna who was running in Northern Sweden through the ice and snow. By 7.00pm that night there were 671 runners remaining.

Sunday morning, after a good night’s sleep I checked the You Tube live feed at 7.00 am MST. A total of 24 laps had been completed for 160km and 71 runners remained. Over the next 12 hours a number of the top contenders had pulled the plug including Dave Proctor who was dealing with a hip flexor issue. At 7.00pm MST, 36 loops were done for 242 kms and the final 14 remained. Time for another sleep.

Monday morning at 7.00am MST I checked the Personal Peaks Facebook page. A total of 48 loops had been completed, 322 kms covered and only two runners were still going. Mike Wardian from Arlington, Virginia was doing loops around his neighbourhood and Radek Brunner, from the Czech Republic, was running on a treadmill he had purchased a week before.

I checked the feed every hour and this epic battle continued until 9.00 pm MST. Mike and Radek had both finished lap 62 and were about to head-out on lap 63. The start bell sounded and Mike headed off. Radek was on the treadmill but wasn’t moving. For 2 minutes he stood there and then he started to run. However, the rules state that you must start running right away and Radek was disqualified. A very tough break.

Mike finished his lap in 31:05, his fastest lap of the entire race. Mike wanted to keep going to break the record of 68 laps but he was told that the rules required he could only do one lap after the other person had dropped out. In total Mike ran 422.3 kms over 63 hours and was awarded the grand prize: The Golden Toilet Paper Roll. 

It had been an amazing event bring people together from all over the world in this very difficult time. There was a real connection that is so important in this time of social distancing and isolation.

And the cherry on top was that my combined Final Year End / Backyard Ultra fund raiser hit the $10,000 target for the Boys and Girls Club of Cochrane and Area. Now that is worth celebrating.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Set Goals, Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Outstanding Results” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” was released in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

Read More

The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.

Pierre Alexandre Jean Mollière - French playwright
How some Good News can Brighten your Day

How some Good News can Brighten your Day

Posted by martin.parnell |

My wife keeps a journal and, every Saturday, makes a point of including a “Good News Story” e.g. “Koalas are re-entering the wild after wild fires destroyed much of their habitat... ... Sydney-based wildlife conservation organization Science for Wildlife announced that four rescued adult koalas and one baby joey would, at last, be released back into the New South Wales national park Kanangra-Boyd.” 

During these times of global fears in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic. I thought I’d try and come up with some other good news stories and quotes to lift our spirits: 

In parts of America, people are filling their Little Free Libraries with cans of food and rolls of toilet paper. 

“Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”
Charles R. Swindoll  -   Evangelical Christian pastor, author, educator, 

In Morristown, N.J. — Nurses, doctors and staff at the local Medical Center were left in tears as a mystery man held up a sign to the hospital window thanking them for saving his wife’s life. As staff tended to a busy emergency room, the unknown man stood outside the back window of the emergency department, placed his hand over his heart and held the poster sign that read: "Thank you all in emergency for saving my wife's life I love you all." 

“It is only in our darkest hours that we may discover the true strength of the brilliant light within ourselves that can never, ever, be dimmed.”
Doe Zantamata - author, artist, and photographer 

Sophia Thomas, 8, from Southampton, England, was unable to celebrate her birthday as normal following the government’s announcement last week that people should stay home. So the people from her entire street assembled outside Sophia’s  home to sing “Happy Birthday” to her on 25 March, whilst social –distancing. 

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”
Harriet Beecher Stowe   -   American abolitionist and author.  

In Edmonton, Alberta, Cara McLeod turned her condo balcony into a stage to share the beauty of opera with her neighbours. McLeod, a soprano with the Edmonton Opera, performed to passersby who gathered while maintaining a safe distance from each other. She was inspired by the videos of Italians singing on their balconies and from their windows as that country began locking down. "Just seeing how, in such a stressful time, that people can come together and use music and raise their voices and have a light spirit even in the pain, was really beautiful," she said.

“When written in Chinese the word “crisis” is composed of two characters – one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.”
John F. Kennedy   -     35th President of the United States 

All 78 elephants at Maesa elephant camp in Chiang Mai were set free on as their owners scrapped the heavy wooden chairs that are tied to their backs for carrying tourists. Camp director Anchalee Kalampichit said this was the first time in 44 years that the elephants had not worn the seats at the start of the day. She said the park will now change their business to allow the elephants to roam freely in the grounds and operate as a place for visitors to observe the animals. They will never wear chairs again.

 “Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”
Thich Nhat Hanh    -   Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist,

A 90-year-old woman who contracted Coronavirus at a nursing home in Seattle has recovered. Geneva Wood, a resident at Life Care Center is now a beacon of hope, especially for people over 65. Health officials have said elderly people are especially vulnerable to the disease. Wood tested positive for coronavirus on March 6, her grand-daughter-in-law, Kate Neidigh said. When Wood tested positive for COVID-19, the family was "stricken, and in shock," and "mad," Neidigh said. Wood, however had a different outlook. "I'm going to fight this for my family and make everyone proud,"

I found this story posted by Mark Rice-Oxley on The Guardian website, March 27th. 2020: “Rolo, the dachshund has been so happy that everyone (in our household) is home for quarantine that his tail has stopped working. The vet told us that he had “sprained his tail from excessive wagging.” 

And, if you feel the need for more good news stories, to brighten your day, why not check out the Sunny Skyz website www.sunnyskyz.com and Readers Digest Canada, website https://www.readersdigest.ca/culture/good-news-stories-world/

Stay well.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Set Goals, Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Outstanding Results” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” was released in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

Read More

Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.

Barry Finlay, Kilimanjaro and Beyond
Day 8 of 95: Climbing Everest – One Stair at a Time

Day 8 of 95: Climbing Everest – One Stair at a Time

Posted by martin.parnell |

Mount Everest is Earth’s highest mountain above sea level located in the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas. The International border between Nepal (Province No. 1) and China (Tibet Autonomous Region) runs across its summit point.

The current official elevation of 8,848 m (29,029 ft), recognised by China and Nepal, was established by a 1955 Indian survey and subsequently confirmed by a Chinese survey in 1975.

In 1865, Everest was given its official English name by the Royal Geographical Society, as recommended by Andrew Waugh, the British Surveyor General of India, who chose the name of his predecessor in the post, Sir George Everest, despite Everest's objections.

Mount Everest attracts many climbers, some of them highly experienced mountaineers. There are two main climbing routes, one approaching the summit from the southeast in Nepal (known as the "standard route") and the other from the north in Tibet. While not posing substantial technical climbing challenges on the standard route, Everest presents dangers such as altitude sickness, weather, and wind, as well as significant hazards from avalanches and the Khumbu Icefall.

Mountaineer Martin (aged 64) and Nanatuk Nathan (aged 10) are climbing Mount Everest 200 stairs per day. It will take them 95 days including 4 Camp rest days.

This is their journal:

Day 8 of 95: Tuesday, April 21st 2020 (Elevation 18,600 feet: Stairs 1,600: Vertical height climbed 1,000 feet) 

Mountaineer Martin (MM): 

The first 8 days have been tough going for Nanatuk Nathan and me. We are tackling the Khumbu icefall which moves at such speed that large crevasses open with little warning, and the large towers of ice (called seracs) found at the icefall have been known to collapse suddenly. Huge blocks of ice tumble down the glacier from time to time, their sizes ranging from that of cars to large houses. 

Nanatuk Nathan (NN): 

Papa Martin (MM) and I are leaving base camp and continuing up Mount Everest. It was tough but we knew the only way was up. We were faced with huge snowstorms but Papa Martin (MM) and I are holding our ground. On our way up we also saw a snow leopard and had to find a way around it. 

Funds are being raised for Support the Sherpas. They have lost their jobs and livelihood with the closing of Everest on March 15th: https://ca.gofundme.com/f/HighHimalayan 

Thank you. 

Onwards and upwards.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Set Goals, Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Outstanding Results” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” was released in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

Read More

To touch the sky, you just have to get that little bit closer.

Anthony T. Hincks
Day 15 of 95: Climbing Everest – One Stair at a Time

Day 15 of 95: Climbing Everest – One Stair at a Time

Posted by martin.parnell |

Sir Edmund Hillary was a New Zealand mountaineer, explorer, and philanthropist. On 29 May 1953, Hillary and Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers confirmed to have reached the summit of Mount Everest. They were part of the ninth British expedition to Everest, led by John Hunt. From 1985 to 1988 he served as New Zealand’s High Commissioner to India and Bangladesh and concurrently as Ambassador to Nepal.

Hillary became interested in mountaineering while in secondary school. He made his first major climb in 1939, reaching the summit of Mount Ollivier. He served in the Royal New Zealand Air Force as a navigator during World War II and as wounded in an accident. Prior to the Everest expedition, Hillary had been part of the British reconnaissance expedition to the mountain in 1951 as well as an unsuccessful attempt to climb Cho Oyu in 1952. As part of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition he reached the South Pole overland in 1958. He subsequently reached the North Pole, making him the first person to reach both poles and summit Everest.

Following his ascent of Everest, Hillary devoted himself to assisting the Sherpa people of Nepal through the Himalayan Trust, which he established. His efforts are credited with the construction of many schools and hospitals in Nepal. Hillary had numerous honours conferred upon him, including the Order of the Garter in 1995. Upon his death in 2008, he was given a state funeral in New Zealand.

 

Mountaineer Martin (aged 64) and Nanatuk Nathan (aged 10) are climbing Mount Everest, 200 stairs per day. It will take them 95 days including 4 Camp rest days. 

This is their journal:

Day 15: Tuesday, April 28th 2020 (Elevation 19,475 feet: Stairs 3,000: Vertical height climbed 1,875 feet)

Mountaineer Martin:

The weather has been getting worse and Nanatuk Nathan and I have been making slow progress. Fortunately we are through the Khumbu icefall and heading towards Camp I. On our journey we have been joined by Sherpa Jyamchang Bhote. He has over 20 years of mountain climbing experience, including 7 summits of Mt. Everest! He told us that he runs a Nepal based climbing company that employees dozens of local Sherpa mountain guides and porters. 

Nanatuk Nathan:

After meeting up with Sherpa Jyamchang Bhote we continued up the face of Mount Everest. After a few hours it got colder the higher we went, and avalanches were able to happen at any time. Plus we had to watch out for Himalayan bears. On our journey up we saw a group of Himalayan Tahr blocking the path and we had to figure out a way around. 

Funds are being raised to Support the Sherpa's. They have lost their jobs and livelihood with the closing of Everest on March 15th:  https://ca.gofundme.com/f/HighHimalayan 

Thank you. Onwards and upwards. 

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Set Goals, Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Outstanding Results” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” was released in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

Read More