Running The 2016 London Marathon

Hi everyone! I can’t quite believe that it’s pretty much a year since I last wrote anything on here. I’m not entirely sure where the last year has gone but nevermind… Anyway, the reason I’m clearing away the tumbleweeds and breaking the relative silence is that I have a massive favour to ask (or favor for my American friends).


Like 247,068 other people (a record by the way) I entered the 2016 London Marathon ballot more in hope than expectation. After entering the ballot a number of times over the years I knew that only with a bit of luck was I going to get a public running spot.

ldn magazines

A few months passed and the day finally came when the ballot results were released. It was only a few more (nervous) days later when I received my expected Spider-man magazine that informed me of my unsuccessful entry. This year though, instead of resigning myself to another morning of watching the race on television, trying to hide my jealousy at the number of runners taking part, I decided that 2016 was going to be different. I was going to run, or at least try to run, London.

As the ballot route has now closed I sat down and thought about applying for a charity running place. Just like millions of people in the UK, Cancer has cast it’s horrible shadow across my family and so I know that the impact the diseases have, not only at the time of diagnosis, but also through treatment and after. With this in mind, I went online and started looking at the which charities were involved.

As the father of two healthy, happy little boys, I can’t imagine how hard it must be for parents with poorly children so, Children with Cancer UK immediately stood out as the charity I wanted to support. I filled out the application form and was hopeful that as well as potentially running the Marathon I could really help raise much needed funds for such a well deserving cause.

Children With Cancer UKA week or so passed when an email hit my inbox asking for me to speak to someone at the charity to “confirm a few details”. I fully expected this to be just a case of confirming my name, address, reasons for applying etc. before being told they would let me know. After speaking to the team there I was shocked to be offered a place on their Superhero run team (I actually went so quiet when it was offered, that they had to double check that I was still on the line!).

So this is where we are today, I’m finally able to tick the London Marathon of my list and whilst I’m doing it I am also raising funds for a charity that I know will really appreciate the support and put the money to good use. Training has started and the clock has started ticking. If April arrives as quickly as this year has passed then it will be here before I know it!

You can help me raise much needed funds by visiting my Virgin Money Fundraising Page and donating whatever you can.


P.s. If you follow me on Twitter or are friends on Facebook I’ll try not to bore you too much with running posts and training updates but I will be reminding you of my cause (and expected pain) from now until April 24th 🙂

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Does Santa Wear Red Because Of Coca- Cola? – An Actual Coca-Cola FAQ

This week I’ve been reading about the upcoming John Lewis Christmas campaign & ad launch and it got me thinking about how successfully they have managed to positively associate themselves with the Christmas and the festive period with the general public.

The only other large business I’ve seen do this to this extent is Coca- Cola with their “Holidays Are Coming” Christmas campaigns. This campaign is so entrenched in the general public’s christmas psyche that this is actually the top FAQ on the Coca-Cola UK site:


There’s a longer post to follow (hopefully) on how these businesses have managed to position themselves in such a way that they are, in effect, the unofficial start to the festive period but for now this screenshot of the FAQ will have to do 🙂

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My Ice Bucket Challenge

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few weeks you will have undoubtedly seen your Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram/ YouTube feeds filled to the brim with people taking part in various incarnations of the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Ice activity really seems to have picked up recently with a whole host of ‘celebrities’ taking part and with this we seem to have hit a tipping point where people have started questioning those motives behind doing the challenges as well as how/ if/ why other businesses (read: Samsung) & charities (read: Macmillan) might be accused of hijacking the campaign for their own goals.*

What can’t be questioned is how this ‘trend’ has become one of the most successful viral fundraising campaigns ever to take place. I think at the last count the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge alone had raised over $80m dollars from over 1.7m different donors. Compare this to $2.5m in donations The ALS Association have said they received during the same time last year and you can’t really question how much of an impact the campaign has had. Couple this with the various other charities people have included and you really do have to applaud people’s generosity.

As the weeks rolled on I thought I had somehow I managed to avoid nomination and like many others I had started to say that I wouldn’t do a challenge but after reading about the charities & the amount of money raised I couldn’t really refuse when I was nominated by James at All Year Round Clearance – Thanks ‘mate’ 😉

My challenge was in aid of MNDa & you can quickly & easily donate to MNDa by texting ICED55 and your donation amount (e.g. ICED55 £5) to 70070 or by visiting their JustGiving page. You can also donate over the ‘phone by calling 01604 611860 & referencing the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’.

The most important thing to remember here is the original reason behind the challenge. To donate.

Wherever you decide your donation should go, please, if all these videos have made you laugh (or at least raise a smile), donate.


For more information on the MNDa visit

* We’ll leave the argument over whether the celebrities are truly doing the challenge to promote the charity or just get themselves some precious space in the Daily Mail sidebar of shame for others to debate.

Oh, and if you’ve got this far I’m guessing you want to see my actual challenge… Enjoy…

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FIFA World Cup 2014 Sweepstake Kit

world cup 2014 brazil

With just over 20 days until Brazil kick off the World Cup with their opening game against Croatia & we get a glut of 3 matches a day for about a month (Unless of course you’re an England fan who will lose interest in about 10 days) I thought now would be a good time to share the Sweepstake kit I have created. Everyone loves a good sweepstake and so if you’re planning on roping in all your work colleagues or just your friends down the pub, hopefully this kit will prove useful.

world cup 2014 groupsYou can download your copy of the sweepstake here >> FIFA World Cup 2104 Sweepstake

Whoever you’re rooting for over the next month or so let’s hope the stadia get finished on time and everyone can enjoy the football!

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Becoming A Tough Mudder For Macmillan Cancer Support

One in three of us will get cancer with one person getting the news every 2 minutes

I know that’s not the nicest way to start a post but I wanted to get that information in your head as soon as possible. Not nice is it?

Macmillan Cancer SupportThat’s why in just over 4 weeks, along with four crazy friends, I will be taking on probably ‘the toughest event on the planet’ Tough Mudder all to support Macmillan Cancer Support

Tough Mudder is a 10-12 mile assault course designed by the Special Forces that they say is set to test both the mental & physical state of the runners (I personally think they’ve designed it just to maximise the amount of pain they can cause us)

I’ve included a video of the even below so you can see the sorts of things that I’m going to have to go through,

To donate, please visit my Just Giving page or you can go via our Macmillan Mudders team page & see who is mad enough to do this with me.

If you can’t get to the Just Giving pages you can also donate by texting MHTM99 and your donation amount (e.g. £5) to 70070 (like in the picture) just giving sms code

Macmillan rely on their supporters for 98% of their income so they couldn’t provide their services without our help and donations. If you can, please dig deep and help us help this great cause. Some targets that we’re going to try & hit are:

bullet £15 – This pays for 32 copies of The cancer guide.

bullet £100 – Pays for a Macmillan nurse for four hours.

bullet £951 – Pays for a Macmillan nurse for a week.

bullet £1,474 – Operate their phone service for 2 hours – enough time to answer 54 calls and emails from people who need emotional, practical or financial support.

As you can see, any money we raise really will make a difference.


Oh, one last thing… If it helps squeeze a few more pennies out of you, I think this is going to hurt…


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The Top 10 Most Expensive Super Bowl Commercials Ever

With Super Bowl XLVII only a few days away, excitement is building & debate raging over whether it will be the Ravens or the 49ers holding the Vince Lombardi trophy aloft at the end and cementing their names in the history books (SPOILER: It’s going to be the 49ers).

For some people the Super Bowl is more than just the game it’s the commercials that air during the broadcast. Figures released by the NFL showed that last year’s Super Bowl (XLVI) attracted 111.3 million viewers and so advertisers are clambering over themselves to get their products in front of viewers with the cost of a 30 second TV commercial looking to cost a whopping $3.8m. Now this may seem like a lot of money to throw at a single advertisement, however, research has shown that a Super Bowl ad is 34% more memorable than an ad that was aired just one month before.

Here are the ten most expensive Super Bowl commercials ever produced. I’ll leave it up to you as to whether they were worth the investment.

1. Chrysler: Imported From Detroit (2011) $12.4m If you’re going to spend this much on a 2 minute commercial, you better hope it’s successful. Chrysler employed Detroit’s own Eminem driving their car around the city ending with the rapper facing directly into the camera to say “This is the Motor City and this is what we do”.

2. Pepsi: Joy of Pepsi (2002) $7.53m After having their other Britney Spears ad banned this one takes viewers from the late ‘50s through to the 21st Century and is actually pretty clever.

3. Budweiser: Delivery Truck Bridge (2010) $5.8m What would a town do if a bridge went out and they couldn’t get their delivery of Buds? Make a human bridge of course!

4. Audi: The Chase (2009) $5.6m Hire a top Hollywood actor (well, Jason Statham), film a car chase with several luxury cars and air it during the Super Bowl. Yep, that’s one way to spend over $5m

5. Coca-Cola: Stewie v. Underdog (2008) $5.4m In this ad, when Family Guy was still funny, a Stewie balloon races a dog balloon to a bottle of coke. Sounds brilliant doesn’t it? Luckily it actually works well on screen.

6. General Motors: Robot (2008) $5.2m Oh look everyone, a suicidal robot. What a great idea for a commercial…

7. ESPN: Sports Heaven (2006) $4.8m How else would you show off your new mobile capabilities apart from a guy walking blindly down the street whilst all the action takes place around him?

8. Cadillac: 0-6 in Under 5 Seconds (2005) $4.6m How about 0 – 4.6m in 60 seconds!?

9. Subway: Make Up For Eating Bad Not Being Bad (2004) $4.4m Apart from having a stupid name this ad introduced Subway’s “eat fresh” slogan.

10. Reebok: Terry Tate – Office Linebacker (2003) $4.2m Even after all these years this ad still makes me laugh WAY too much. IT IS HILARIOUS

Oh, and I know that this is the first post I’ve done for ages, but what with work, taking part in various endurance events and a new son, 2012 was a very busy year! I will be looking at annoying you all with random thoughts a lot more this year.

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The Apprentice 2012 Sweepstake

The Apprentice 2012 Sweepstake

Series 8 of the ever popular (if infuriating) TV show begins tonight in the UK and will no doubt lead to many countless weeks of people screaming at their televisions at the apparent lack of business acumen of all those involved.

Just to make the series a little more interesting we at Screaming Frog are running a sweepstake on the eventual winner.

Feel free to use our template if you want to run a similar thing wherever you are 🙂

Oh, and just because it makes me laugh every time I see it, here’s David Mitchell & Robert Webb’s sketch on the whole thing.

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The Greatest Penalty Shoot Out. Ever

After the Carling Cup semi final this week between Cardiff v Crystal Palace ended with a (poor) penalty shoot out I got talking with a few friends about the greatest penalties we had ever seen.

After some time (and a few drinks) we came up with what could possibly be the best shoot out you will never see. If a team ran through the following penalties I think it would be safe to say they’d probably do okay 🙂

1. Rik Coppens (Belgium v Iceland, 1957) The first two- man penalty famously later recreated by Johan Cruyff in 1982 and again (unsuccessfully) by Henry & Pires.

2. Francesco Totti (Roma Training Session) This back-heeled penalty was copied by Thiyab Awana from the UAE when playing against Lebanon and it drew quite a bit of criticism at the time not only from the opposing team, who were oblviously upset at the ‘disrepectful’ nature of the goal but also from the player’s own coach who immediately substituted him after the goal.

3. Antonin Panenka (Czechoslovakia v W Germany, 1976) This is the penalty that’s been tried & attempted many times, the original (and the best in my opinion) was scored by Panenka in the penalty shoot out that decided the European Championship Final

4. Ezequiel Calvente (Spain u19s v Italy u19s, 2010) The ‘switch hit’ penalty that confirmed the fears of the rest of the football playing world that the Spanish team is going to stay strong for quite a few years to come…

5. Stuart Pearce (England v Spain, 1995) Now the English aren’t known for their penalty taking skils but after taking into account the history behind this shot and the release of emotion behind it means I’ve got to include it.

Like I said above I’m pretty sure the shoot out would not get to sudden death but just in case here’s one extra.

6 (sudden death). Unknown Player Although this penalty wasn’t taken in a Euro final or a WCQ someone mentioned that they had seen in online & I think it probably deserves to be in the list just because it’s great to see the keeper’s reaction after he realises that the goal has been given. Lesson here is don’t celebrate too early!

Are there any others I’ve missed? If you think so let me know in the comments!

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NFL Wembley 2011

On Sunday the 23rd October (or October 23 if you’re from the States) I, along with over 80,000 other NFL fans will descend on Wembley stadium to witness the 5th NFL regular season game to be held in London. This year the Tampa Bay Buccaneers return to the capital to take on the Chicago Bears.

NFL Wembley 2008

NFL Wembley 2008

I’ve been lucky enough to have attended three previous of the four International Series games. the New Orleans Saints defeat the San Diego Chargers in a very entertaining 37-32 game in 2008.

NFL Wembley 2009

NFL Wembley 2009

In 2009 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers turned Wembley into a little slice of Tampa when they hosted the New England Patriots & Tom Brady. Unfortunately for Tampa they finished on the wrong side of a 35-7 result.

Each year the tailgate party before the game gets bigger and bigger and last year was no different as visitors where welcomed by a hug replica of the Golden Gate bridge. Once inside the party we were also able to walk around the ‘hall of fame’ which contains memorabilia from all the AFC & NFC teams. This year it proves be be even bigger with live music and events running all afternoon as well as the opportunity to get photos with the Vince Lombardi trophy.

NFL Tailgate Party 2010

NFL Tailgate Party 2010

Hopefully this years event will be as exciting as previous games and as a Dolphins fan, I would love to see the series carry on with maybe the ‘Fins returning to the stadium to banish any memories of their last visit when they lost to the New Your Giants in 2007 (The one match I didn’t get tickets for).

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The Top 10 Most Complained About TV Ads This Century

With the release of the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) annual report, they’ve again included details on last years most complained about 10. There’s plenty of articles floating around the web talking about last year’s complaint but seeing as the most complained about ad received enough complaints to put it at number 3 in the overall top 10 list I thought it might be fun/interesting to look at the rest of the ads that make up the top 10.

I’m not going to link to the ads below because as you can probably guess from the title of this post a large number of people decided that the ads listed below were offensive so although you might not agree with them I don’t want to risk upsetting any of you 🙂

1. Marie Stopes – Are You Late? (2010)     4,688+ complaints
(including 3,600 objections made before broadcast)

This was the first ad ever shown on British television for unplanned pregnancy & abortion advisory services. It was part of a larger campaign by Marie Stopes. As you can imagine the complaints made against this ad covered quite a few reasons, including that it promoted abortion

2. KFC – Zinger Crunch (2005)     1,671 complaints

The second most complained about ad this century does not contain foul language, excessive violence, in fact it doesn’t include any of the usual reasons behind the complaints made against TV ads.  A few of you might remember the KFC ad where a couple of call centre workers singing with their mouths full. The majority of the complaint said it encouraged bad manners. The ASA ruled it was unlikely to prompt bad manners in children and so the complaints were not upheld.

3. Paddy Power – Blind Footballers (2010)     1,313 complaints

This was last year’s most complained about ad with people worried that the ad was both offensive to blind people and could encourage animal cruelty. Even though the ad received over 1,000 complaints the ASA said it was surreal and light-hearted and it decided the advert was unlikely to encourage or condone cruelty to animals or cause serious or widespread offence and so did not uphold the complaints.

4. VW Golf – Clones (2008)     1,066 Complaints

In this ad the car designer has to fight ‘clones’ of himself to get to his car, which was supposed to represent how as a market leader VW only had themselves to beat. Complaints were made saying that is is offensive because the depiction of violence was excessive.

5. Dept. of Energy & Climate – Act on CO2 (2010)     939 Complaints

The story of the increasing amoutns of CO2 in our atmosphere was told as if it was a child’s bedtime story in this ad. The ad ended with the child asking if there was a happy ending after which a vocie over kicks in and says “It’s up to us how the story ends. See what you can do.”

6. Barnardo’s – Child Abuse: Break The Cycle (2007)     840 Complaints

This ad was particularly strong and I actually found it pretty difficult to watch when I first saw it broadcast. It shows the story of a young girl slipping into a life of crime after suffering domestic abuse. Barnardo’s has a reputation for shock tactics but in this case their graphic ad received over 800 complaints. Barnardo’s took the feedback on hand and actually published an apology for any distress caused by the ad, however, they stood by their decision to run the campaign as they felt it was their duty to “ensure the issue of child poverty in this country is no longer neglected and that is the reason we have run such a hard-hitting campaign.”

7. Mr Kipling – Nativity (2004)     806 Complaints

This ad for Mr Kipling Mince pies begins with a woman called Mary in labour and crying out in pain in what appears to be a hospital. It’s only as the camera draws back we learn that she is not in a hospital but is instead is on a stage surrounded by children and being watched by a horrified audience. A woman in the audience turns to a vicar also in the audience and asks in a concerned voice if Mr Kipling has ever directed a Nativity play before. The vicar, who is unfazed by the performance, responds: “No, but he does make exceedingly good cakes.”

After receiving so many complaints the decision was made to withdraw this ad.

8. Dept. of Health – Hooked (2007)     774 Complaints

The Department of Health was trying to highlight the dangers of getting hooked on smoking by showing people with hooks in their mouths. The ASA agreed with the complaints and said that they were likely to frighten people or cause distress.

9. Volkswagen Polo –Singing Dog (2007)     743 Complaints

This ad features a very happy dog ‘singing’ from the front seat of the car, apparently full of ‘Polo confidence’ all is going well so far with everyone smiling at the happy dog, however, the mood changes pretty quickly as the shot quickly changes to the same dog cowering by his owner’s legs, while quietly mumbling the song under its breath.

This image of the dog prompted the RSPCA to launch an investigation into the treatment of the dog as they were concerned of mis-treatment.

10. Pot Noodle – Pot Noodle Horn (2005)     620 Complaints

This ad was supposed to play on the guilt factor behind eating pot noodles and the supposed shame behind eating a Pot Noodle. It starts with a man walking into a bar with a noticeable bulge in his trousers, and his friends accuse him of “having the horn”. The man denies it at first but then admits that he does have the horn, at which point he pulls out a real hunting horn from his trousers and blows it loudly. After a struggle the man owns up and says “OK, I have got the Pot Noodle horn. It’s big, it’s brassy and I’m going to blow it”. Complaints made against this ad included issues that it was embarrassing whilst others thought it unacceptable to use such a blatant sexual reference to sell a food product.

If I’m honest, I think the ASA probably thought they might get some complaints about Pot Noodle’s advertising as they had already stopped the company running the tagline “The slag of all snacks”

As advertisers constantly look for ways to make them and their ads stand out I’m sure that the ASA will have plenty more ads to review, you never know this time next year I might even have to write an update to this list.

Are there any ads that you remember and wonder how they ever made it to air? If so, let me know below.

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