Paul wins the Alan Smith Challenge

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The Alan Smith Challenge is held by Phillips 66 every year since 2003 in memory of an employee (Alan) who was tragically killed on site.

It consists of a 13 mile run from the refinery to Barton followed by a 26 mile bike from Barton back to the refinery. There are also options to bike the whole route or do a half distance challenge. It raises funds for different local charities each year.

We were set of in waves according to the predicted finish time. It turned out the person that was supposed to set off with me had set off early so I was on my own. The run was lonely and I found it very gruelling as the humidity was high and the closer I got to Barton the more hilly the route became. I made good use of the 3 water stations on route. The run wasn’t completely lonely as I had plenty shouts of encouragement from competitors doing the bike only option who came past. It was a relief to arrive in Barton and I was looking forward to getting on the bike. I foolishly though things would get easier on the bike.

As for the bike it was also harder than I anticipated. I have cycled further distances before but not after doing a 13 mile run. A mile into the ride was the first hill and that is when the cramps in my calves started and continued for the rest of the ride. All I could do to battle the cramps is to keep myself hydrated little and often as I did on the run. I managed to catch up with some other cyclists about half way which was a nice morale booster.I could eventually see the refinery on the horizon and I knew the finish was not too far. All this way and I had no idea how I was doing against my rivals. However I still pushed as hard as my cramping legs would allow until the finish line.

All that being said it was a most enjoyable event and very well put together by the P66 volunteers. Turns out I got the quickest time so I had to hang around to collect a trophy! J

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