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markdowds
Alamo, California
Entrepreneur and Disturber of the Peace
Interests: Endurance Racing and Start-ups
Recent Activity
We got up early again and for the third time drove to Glenorchy in the hope of decent weather to do the Ride of the Rings which was a huge success. We had perfect weather and loved meandering through the Dart river on horseback. One of the horses was a star in LoR and the one I was riding was apparently the horse Prince Caspian rode out of the water in the Chronicles of Narnia. I am getting mocked by the family already about that one. We drove back on the amazing Glenorchy road to Queenstown and Shaughan and I grabbed downhill bikes for a few hours to experience the local bike park. We did the gondola up 3 times and rode the trails down. We should have done this for one whole day of our trip. This will be an excuse to come back. The girls picked us up from the bike store and we headed straight to the airport to catch a plane to Sydney. We landed in Sydney at 5.30pm and got picked up by the owner of the Airbnb we are staying at in his Tesla. It was my first Tesla S experience which was amazing.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2015 at Adventure Playground
This day rates as probably the best so far on our trip. I cannot believe we were able to make so much happen in a single day. We got up around 7.30am, had breakfast and did a drive by Starbucks downtown Queenstown on our way to the Shotover Jet which is about a 10 minute drive out of town. This is a must do experience as your rip through a canyon at 80 KMH inches away from the rocks. It will make you scream and you will most likely get wet but worth every moment. I think the entire ride was about a half hour. We were on the 9.15am boat. We headed back to the apartment right after for a cup of tea to calm our nerves. We were then picked up by the folks from Air Milford to bring us over to the airport for a scenic flight over the Southern Alps to Milford Sound. We flew out of Queenstown with a half dozen other people in a tiny plane around noon. The flight lasted about 45 minutes over some of the most spectacular views. After landing in Milford Sound on the west coast, we were escorted to... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2015 at Adventure Playground
We woke up early and headed out to Glenorchy for a second attempt to do the Ride of the Rings. It was another cold and rainy day but we thought it may clear up like the day before so we made the 45 minute trek around the lake. To be honest it was a miserable morning for us all. We were all put in the back of an old Landrover in the kid seats facing each other and driven on dirt roads for a couple of hours unable to see anything out of the steamy windows. We did get out of the truck on a few occasions and saw glimpses of some spectacular sites but we were all so cold and miserable that we didn't really enjoy it as much as we normally would. We arrived at the location where we were supposed to transition onto horses and we were given the option to bail and rebook for a better day which I chose when seeing the kids shivering in the pissing rain. We will go back again when the weather in nicer but only for the horseback riding. We will go an explore the sights in our own 4x4... Continue reading
Posted Nov 27, 2015 at Adventure Playground
We woke up to rain and the aftermath of a storm. We were supposed to head over to Glenorchy for some horseback riding and kayaking but the roads were closed. We called the companies, cancelled the kayaking and rescheduled the horseback experience for the next day. We headed up towards the gondola and had breakfast at an excellent little spot called Bespoke Kitchen which reminded us of Sideboard, our local breakfast spot back in Danville. We took the Skyline Gondola up to the peak around 9.30am, explored the views and got first in line for the Luge. We did 3 runs down the hill and had the time of our lives. The kids won't stop talking about it and want to go back and do it again. I must admit, even for adults it is a good laugh. In hindsight I should have booked 5 runs instead of 3. We came back down the gondola and took a Segway tour around the town which was excellent. We had originally booked it for later in the week but they were fine with us going earlier. This was something my daughter has wanted to do for quite some time, so doing it... Continue reading
Posted Nov 27, 2015 at Adventure Playground
We got up early and left Cambridge to drive a couple of hours north to Auckland Airport to catch a Jetstar flight down to Queenstown. We made sure to time the drive after rush hour as the motorway is a bit of a nightmare towards the city at the wrong time. The flight was uneventful until arriving close to Queenstown where the winds came in strong and forced the pilot to pull up and give it a second try to land. We were all quite happy to get off the plane in one piece. We rented a nice SUV from Firefly/Hertz at a decent price (pre-booked) which took only 20 minutes to get to the 3-bedroom apartment we rented for the 5 days while down here. We booked this place via Airbnb but it is a professionally managed set up. It is clean, the views are spectacular, it is a 5 minute walk into the heart of downtown and lacks only wifi. We took it easy day one as we arrived later afternoon and just explored the town. I had booked a nice restaurant about a month in advance as it came highly recommended and is hard to get a... Continue reading
Posted Nov 27, 2015 at Adventure Playground
We got up at 5.30am and packed up our bags to leave the Auckland Airbnb by 6am. We faced a 2hr 30min drive down to Waitomo to do their 3 cave exploration. We toured the Ruakuri Cave at 9am which was a good one and a half hour experience. We then made our way over to the Aranui Cave which was more cavernous and about a 30 minute tour. We rounded off the morning at the Glowworm caves on their boat tour which was fun, dark, and mind boggling. Being in the pitch black with glowing worms (maggots) above is really breath taking and well worth the trip down. At 1pm we headed over to the cottage we booked called Earth House. This is hands down one of the coolest places I have ever stayed at. Alistair and Suzy who run the place are just legendary. Alistair had us busting a gut with endless stories and Suzy made us home made food that makes me want to stay for a month! This is the place where Sir Ian McKellan resided when making the Hobbit movies. The cottage is half an hour away from Hobbiton. We did the the 3.30pm tour... Continue reading
Posted Nov 25, 2015 at Adventure Playground
This was our last day and evening staying in Auckland so we packed it in. We got up early and went to Woodhill Mountain Bike Park for some exercise. The girls did the family route and the boys took the longer route called Torpedo 7 which was a fun 15km ride with 95% single track. The climbs were easy and the downhill was fun and flowing. We rented the bikes and helmets which was all pretty affordable. We then headed back to the house and got cleaned up and jumped in a cab downtown around noon to catch the 1pm Fullers ferry from Auckland to Waiheke Island for the Eco zipline tour. There are three ziplines that get more intense as you go. All of us loved it and would do it again tomorrow. You get to fly over the forest which is quite something. After the zipline the bus driver offered to drop us off at Cable Bay Vineyard. It was such a trendy place with great music, beanbags on the lawn and a great indoor/outdoor dining area where we enjoyed some great Sauvignon Blanc and snacks. When done, we walked 10 minutes down a single track trail to... Continue reading
Posted Nov 24, 2015 at Adventure Playground
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I kicked off an early morning at VBike indoor cycling studio which reminded me of my experiences with Athlete Lab in London and Sydney. If you want a good ass kicking on a bike it is a good spot to train at. I spent the remainder of the day working with the folks from Suncorp and Vero walking through the steps of what it would mean for us (Trov) to launch in NZ. One of the fun things about today was having my son shadow my last couple of meetings. He was mad keen to come with me to learn and he made me proud. The last meeting of the day was at a cool bar/restaurant near the water called Soul, which is a perfect location for end of day drinks and snacks. I met up with the family end of day. They had been hanging out with old friends from Muskoka Woods during the day as well as exploring the city. We decided to do a quick tour up the Sky Tower for some spectacular views of Auckland. All aspects recommended. Continue reading
Posted Nov 22, 2015 at Adventure Playground
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Sunday 22nd was our first full day in Auckland. We had a pretty lazy morning recovering from the flight, then headed out to explore the area we are staying in Point Chevalier which is about a 15 minute drive outside of the CBD. It is a lovely area with lots of modern renovated homes that are right on the ocean beside the Yacht Club. We had 25 mph winds so it wasn't a day for a swim. We did loiter and watch a bunch of crazies windsurfing and kiting in the big wind. After a late morning coffee and snack we walked over to meet the family of one of the guys I am working with over here. We had a brilliant afternoon eating great BBQ food over a few beers. For our evening entertainment we headed downtown to the movie theatre to see the final Hunger Games movie which was fantastic. Best one yet in my opinion. I had not got around to finishing the last book so the end came with a few good twists. Continue reading
Posted Nov 22, 2015 at Adventure Playground
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We found this place to stay in the Point Chevalier area of Auckland which is a nice quiet neighborhood just outside of the downtown area. We arrived last night and love it. Loads of space with 3 bedrooms (a necessity for traveling this long with two kids). We had thunderstorms last night that were insane. Today looks like a decent day so we are going to explore the area this morning before going over to a work colleague's home for BBQ and beers. The reality of being homeless on the far side of the world has set in and is quite exciting. Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2015 at Adventure Playground
It has been quite a while since my last post. Twitter and Instagram have become my default for daily logging over the past season. I have had several friends ask me to document this next stage of our adventure in more detail so I will be posting here for a while again. We just left N.America after 17 wonderful years and are on our journey back to N. Ireland. It takes 6 weeks for our stuff to get shipped back in a container on the high seas. We thought that it would only be reasonable for us to have as much adventure on the way home so we decided to go the long way around. We have decided to spend 6 weeks or so touring New Zealand and Australia. This is what the overview looks like: Nov 21-25 - Auckland 25-30 - Queenstown December 30 -7 - Sydney 7-13 - Melbourne 13-16 - Tasmania 16-20 - Brisbane 20th - Airlie beach 21-26 - Sailing Whitsundays 26-27 - Scuba Diving Barrier Reef 28-31 - Burleigh Waters (Surfers) 31 - Sydney January 1-2 - Sydney 2-5 - San Francisco 6 - Belfast! The coordination of this effort includes combined total of 52... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2015 at Adventure Playground
So I haven't used my blog much this year. The basic update is that I had a major accident on my road bike leading me to have a steel plate and 8 screws in my right tibia. This happened on June 29th and I have been in recovery since. I have decided to do no official new years resolutions for 2012 but instead am going to take it one day at a time and see where things end up. The list of races below are some of the ones I want to do. There are a few other trips and endurance races I would like to go for and will keep this post updated as they evolve. There are a group of us doing most of these races. Let me know if you want to join in on any or have any others you think I should consider. I have a lot of training to do over the next few months to get into any form of shape as I have done little since the accident. Here is hoping... January: The main event will be getting off the couch and prepping for a February start February 5th TBF XC Race... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2011 at Adventure Playground
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This week while I was in Toronto I had an idea which I think I like. I get to live quite an adventurous life and I really don't document it well enough. One of my favorite party games is "I Have Never". There are various iterations and versions of this game but the basics are that you have to think of something you have never done and share it with the group. If someone has done it then they swap places with you in the centre of the room and tell the story. There have been many bust-a-gut evenings playing this with friends over a few drinks. The biggest issue I have had playing this game of late however is that there seem to be few things that I have never done. So I have now set myself a challenge to start blogging these and sharing stories about new "Firsts" as they surface. These will come in a random order and will all be tagged under the category of "I Have Never". Last weekend I did my first triathlon. It was a Half-Iron distance in the Napa region. That means it began with a 1.2 mile swim in open water,... Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2011 at Adventure Playground
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It is that time again to publicly communicate my plans and goals for 2011 as I see them today. I will likely add to this list but hopefully not subtract anything. This past year was full of accomplishments on the sports and adventure side. I came 1st in the ultra distance Coastal Trail Blazer Awards for winning and placing on those stupid long runs. I feel good about that and that the 14 ultramarathons actually won me something. I am going to continue to run ultras but not as many this year. I still have to choose which ones I am going to take on in between my other racing schedule (below). Here is what I have set out for this coming year: 1. I am going to be a better husband and father. 2. I am going to lead Brainpark to become very successful. 3. I am going to do my first Ironman in Cozumel Mexico on Nov 27th. To accomplish these 3 significant goals is going to take even more discipline in my life. The old adage of early to bed early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise is going to be a mantra this... Continue reading
Posted Jan 1, 2011 at Adventure Playground
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It has been a while since I posted anything here as I have been doing more writing on the MileASmile and Brainpark websites. A couple of years back I made a personal vow that I would look for something adventurous to do everyday even if it only took 15 minutes. I have been true to doing this for the most part and wish I would have logged it all down. Well, there are somethings I couldn't write publicly about but it would have been good to have a record of events. Adventure for me is when my heart pumps a little faster and I am reminded that I am still alive. Over this past season I have ridden motocross, jumped out of a plane, won an ultramarathon, ran 100 miles, biked Mt Diablo, Jetskied Shasta Lake, got a tattoo, sang karaoke, mooned a restaurant, turned 40 and laughed until my heart is content to name a few. I think I may start doing some shorter posts to log some of the stupid things I get myself into. I hope that I can still keep this rolling as old as I become. I always want to be caught with a sparkle... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2010 at Adventure Playground
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Dylan, well done sir. That is impressive. Hopefully we get to run one of them together soon Mark Sent from my iPhone
Toggle Commented May 31, 2010 on Sequoia Ultra Trail Run at Adventure Playground
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Mar 15, 2010
When I woke up yesterday to the sound of rain my heart sank. My last ultra 3 weeks ago was in the rain and mud and I was hoping for something different this time around. The event was 25 minutes from where I live but I had never been in the park. The event was run by Pacific Coast Trail Runs again, these folks are amazing. The elevation gain was over 5,000 ft throughout the duration of 50KM. This being my 4th race I am getting more familiar with what to expect. This course was a tough one and very technical in places. The majority of the course is single track in the midst of trees. It has breathtaking scenery which is what I enjoy most about trail running. I did well and was keeping up my normal pace for the most part. Then I was faced with some really tough and slippery climbing which burned out my quads for a while. I never stopped going but I felt this one physically more than the previous ones. This course was slower due to climbing under trees, navigating boulders, traversing streams, and at one point wading through a small lake (caused... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2010 at Adventure Playground
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Tomorrow I face my 4th ultramarathon this year. It is another 50K in the mountains. This time it is in Sequoia park which I think is near Piedmont (Oakland). My training and eating is getting more precise and I feel strong as well as fit for this one. I have ran 122 miles over the last 12 days in varied conditions and speeds to build capacity and feel good today. I really do hope it is a nice day tomorrow after the last mud bath run. It is getting gray and windy outside right now and I really want to have dry dirt under my feet tomorrow. I will report back tomorrow evening with the fine details and debrief. Wish me luck as these runs do not get less intimidating the day before. Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2010 at Adventure Playground
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So another race down and I am learning a lot. I have deduced more about how much to train before each event and what to do for recovery. One of the big differences for this run was that I had built myself up to running 70 miles a week until the week before the race where I eased off and just did 4 or 5 miles each day. I also ate less on the morning of the race as on the other ones I had felt a little bloated. This meant that I relied more heavily on the aid stations and my intake during the run. It was pouring rain from the start in the Woodside mountains (just NW of Palo Alto). I started the race wearing a fashionable bright yellow poncho (no joke) which got interesting stares. I was soaked to the skin even with this before the half-way mark so I peeled it off and donated it to one of the aid stations. My shoes and socks were soaking wet within the first half hour so I have a nice blister to show as a result. I was dreading running in the rain but to be honest it... Continue reading
Posted Feb 7, 2010 at Adventure Playground
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Over the years I have learned from many consultants that you don't actually need to know anything to help someone. In fact the one's that pretend to know the most (experts) end up being annoying and their opinions grating. Great facilitators have the knack of letting the person/people in question wrestle with the problem and solve it themselves. I am not suggesting that there is no co-creation in solving a problem with someone but rather that it is much better to ask questions and nudge things along instead of directing. Joel Spolsky has a decent in this month's Inc. Magazine called 'How hard could it be?' that resurfaces the Five Whys problem solving technique developed by Toyota after World War II to improve its manufacturing process. The basics of this process is to ask "Why?" five times to get to the root of any failure/issue in order to solve the core problem instead of the symptoms. For instance, imagine the problem you are facing is that you have a dissatisfied client. Why? because the job is only 3/4 complete in their mind. Why? because their expectations were different that what I understood. Why? because I assumed I understood what they... Continue reading
Posted Dec 11, 2009 at Adventure Playground
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