All posts by Sam Duck

It’s the big day today!

It’s the big day and I am N.E.R.V.O.U.S.!

So I managed an early night last night thanks to a long, hot bath with Neal’s Yard Relaxing Bath Soak, my favorite if anyone ever wants to treat me. I attacked my webs with the pumice stone, all this running and swimming has taken its toll and I fear I am developing a callous to rival Victoria Beckhams’ famous disfiguration.

Anyway, I digress, it’s the nerves you know.

Michelle told me I must eat breakfast, even a small amount is good she said, so I took her at her word and tucked into cereal, yoghurt, fruit, full English, toast and tea. Feel much better if a little heavy around the middle which I hope doesn’t result in me sinking….

Anyway I digress again, it’s the nerves you know.

Michelle says to take 5 minutes to think about what I’m going to be doing, visualise success! She says if you feel nervous try deep breathing, breath in for a count of 5 and out for a count of 7. Iiiiiin, ouuuuuuut…..that’s better. Calm now.

So I need to allow plenty of time to get to the start…that’s me off….see you all on the other side!

Sam the Duck

It’s pre-race day!

Wow, its pre-race day already!

How fast did that go…..

Today I don’t plan to do too much, I am going to try to relax, do things that will take my mind off the event….maybe weed the course or wax my webs, for aerodynamic purposes only you understand.

I wonder if my personal trainer Michelle Green can fit me in? Michelle is a qualified Sports Massuer and believe me, she can knead the knots out of anything.
Michelle has been working for SouthDowns Health and Fitness since February 2012. She leads and manages the RunClub and RunKids as well as offering Sports Massage. I wonder if she has a slot……
There is one thing I do need to do though, that said!

I need to check my kit, make sure I’ve got everything ready, try it on so I am prepared.

High-technology swimwear fabrics are scientifically advanced materials used for swimwear in competitive water sports such as swimming and triathlon. Materials of this type are normally spandex and nylon composite fabrics with features to reduce drag against the water. The fabrics include features that increase the swimmer’s glide through the water (said to mimic marine animal skin) and reduce the absorption of water by the suit as opposed to regular swimsuits. For example, Speedo claims their line up will increase one’s swimming speed by 3–7%.

The other thing I need to think about is how I’ll be getting there, so there’s no panic on the day.

Duck HQ is the FOSS store cupboard at Storrington First School and normally we get a lift with the lovely mummies, daddies and teachers who help make the day such a success.

So, if you have a few hours spare on Sunday morning, please let Sharon or Delia know as we would love some help getting all of us ducks, gazebo’s and stuff to the Riverside Walk PLUS you get first choice on the cake stall but shhhhh, I didn’t tell you that.

So, all that remains is to say see you there and I hope you have a great day!

Look out for me and all my chums thrashing down the stream to racing success for the good cause that is Storrington First School….

Sam the Duck

Less than a week to go!

So with less than a week to go, I am more focused than I have ever been.

Training regime wise, it’s all about the “taper but don’t get confused. This is not about the style of trouser I plan to wear on the day.

My personal trainer Michelle said “a week before the event, cut right back on the amount of activity. No long or heavy sessions” which sounds great to me, not quite putting my feet up but definitely planning to rest up at Duck HQ.

She has also told me all about carb loading. She says that 3 days before the event I need to increase the amount of carbs I eat at every meal. I need to make sure I hydrate well too so I will be sipping water throughout the day.

So, with this in mind I thought I would share my favourite pasta recipe with you all: SPAGETTI CARBONARA, the clue is in the name.

§ 1 Tbsp olive oil or unsalted butter
§ 1/2 pound pancetta or thick cut bacon, diced
§ 1-2 garlic cloves, minced, about 1 teaspoon (optional)
§ 3-4 whole eggs
§ 1 cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
§ 1 pound spaghetti pasta (or bucatini or fettuccine)
§ Salt and black pepper to taste

1 Heat pasta water: Put a large pot of salted water on to boil (1 Tbsp salt for every 2 quarts of water.)

2 Sauté pancetta/bacon and garlic: While the water is coming to a boil, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bacon or pancetta and cook slowly until crispy. Add the garlic (if using) and cook another minute, then turn off the heat and put the pancetta and garlic into a large bowl.

3 Beat eggs and half of the cheese: In a small bowl, beat the eggs and mix in about half of the cheese.

4 Cook pasta: Once the water has reached a rolling boil, add the dry pasta, and cook, uncovered, at a rolling boil.

5 Toss pasta with pancetta/bacon: When the pasta is al dente (still a little firm, not mushy), use tongs to move it to the bowl with the bacon and garlic. Let it be dripping wet. Reserve some of the pasta water.

Move the pasta from the pot to the bowl quickly, as you want the pasta to be hot. It’s the heat of the pasta that will heat the eggs sufficiently to create a creamy sauce. Toss everything to combine, allowing the pasta to cool just enough so that it doesn’t make the eggs curdle when you mix them in. (That’s the tricky part.)

6 Add the beaten egg mixture: Add the beaten eggs with cheese and toss quickly to combine once more. Add salt to taste. Add some pasta water back to the pasta to keep it from drying out.

Serve at once with the rest of the parmesan and freshly ground black pepper.

If you want, sprinkle with a little fresh chopped parsley.

If pasta is not your thing, don’t forget on Duck Race Day that the ever-popular BBQ will be “on-fire” and the cake stand is shaping up to be the best stocked yet. There will also be sack loads of sweets and copious bags of candy floss so something to tickle every palette.

Mmmmm my taste buds are racing!

Sam the Duck

Brrrrr, have you bought your ducks yet?

Brrrr, I’ve been out for a paddle this morning and I have to say that whilst the stream is looking stunning with the daffodils in full flower and the sun shining, I was not expecting snow yesterday nor the temperature to have plummeted so much!

But you are not to worry about me, I luckily have not put away my winter wardrobe yet and I was able to fluff up my feathers and get in the water for a final last push to get my time up to the P/B I am aiming for on race day.

On that note, have you bought your ducks yet?? Far be it for me to tell anyone what to do, but buying your ducks ahead of the day means you can enjoy all the “fun of the fair” without needing to queue to place your bets.

Keep an eye out for our helpers rattling tins and waving clip-boards, you will spot them in the village and they would love to see you.

But before I go, I have been onto the Met Office as the snow yesterday worried me.

It is hard to believe that last week saw the warmest day of the year so far when Porthmadog in Wales reached 20.3 celsius but by the end of the week we had snow showers across the north of the UK and sleet and hail showers elsewhere!
As for the snow in Storrington, apparently it is more likely to snow in spring than at Christmas so we shouldn’t have been so surprised.

Statistically, it has snowed on average for more days in March than it has in December, according to the Met Office.

Snow or sleet falls on average for 3.9 days in December, compared to 4.2 days in March.

And while April is a bit of a different story, with only 2.3 days of snowfall on average, it’s not entirely unheard of.
Have you ever heard the old saying: ‘Ne’er cast a clout, until May is out’?

It basically means, don’t throw away your winter clothes until June, because May has always been a bit of a weather free-for-all.

So don’t worry – only two more months and then all this confusion will be over.

As for Sunday, I would keep your options open as the BBC long term weather forecast leading up to Sunday says:

There is a change afoot?
The pressure pattern looks set to change and this will lead to a subtle shift in wind direction. Weather systems will have more of an Atlantic influence, rather than a straight northerly influence, and this will mean that by day temperatures will slowly become less cold and eastern areas will at times see temperatures creep above normal. However, on balance the UK average temperature is likely to fall below average for this time of year. We are expecting to see weather systems to affect the whole of the UK with everyone at some point seeing outbreaks of rain pushing through with the continued risk of Scotland seeing some snow over the mountains so I pity anyone North of the Border.

Sam the Duck

Ducks on sale and the 401 Challenge

Quack quack!!! Sam here. Well what a week it’s been and its only Wednesday!

The other day saw the fab Ben Smith of the 401 Challenge run a marathon in Storrington, I didn’t know there were that many miles in the village, the Duck Race course certainly isn’t that long, thankfully!

Ben is aiming to run 401 marathons on 401 consecutive days all around the UK in order to not only break a record but also to raise £250,000 for charities Kidscape and Stonewall. By the time he got to Storrington on Tuesday he was on marathon number 232, having started last September.

And he had such a hot day for it!

As he pounded the pavements he managed to speak to BBC Sussex twice. He visited our lovely primary school Storrington First where he got the chance to run round the school fields with loads of the school kids! And I hear that they had great fun.

He did a two lap course through some beautiful towns in Sussex with some amazing people! Lots of new PBs and lunch stops.

Ben says “Thanks to everyone who took part, was such a lovely day!”

So, well done Ben, you have set the bar high for our race day on 8th May which is coming around very fast.

So fast in fact that it’s time to start placing your bets ladies and gents!


So, keep an eye and a beak out for our lovely supporters selling ducks all over the place in the coming weeks. Feel free to approach them, they don’t bite, and they will be only to happy to sell you a duck for the big day….

So if you’d like to make a duck very happy (while helping the school too!) please come along to the Henry Adams car park this Saturday 23rd or next between 10am & 12 noon to buy some of my little friends!!

In the spirit of fair competition, I won’t be telling you which race I am in or what my number is as I would hate to be accused of race fixing but trust me, there are some real contenders in the pack this year and any of us stand a good chance of making it to the last, all important, cash prize race but you’ve GOT TO BE IN IT TO WIN IN so buy as many ducks as you can……

£1 a duck, a bargain if I say so myself.

And good luck!

Push yourself, one mile more

Gosh it’s harder than I thought all this getting into shape but without the encouragement of a good trainer I wouldn’t have made it this far, proof that having the right team is half the battle.

This is what we have been doing this week, please feel free to follow my regime at home if you like and let me know how you get on….

So, for week 3, I need to push myself, one mile more.

Michelle says “when you’re training for an event be sure not to push yourself too hard too fast. A good training plan will ensure that you can achieve your goal without injury or burn out. As a general rule increase your efforts by no more than 10% per week.

“So Sam, the goal is a river of approximately 100m and with 4 weeks to go you want to be adding a little bit each week so by the end of April you can comfortably paddle about 90m. Try and combine your paddling with some waddling to get the added benefit of cross training. Simple body weight exercises like lunges and squats will help to increase your strength. With your feet hip width apart, spread your webbed toes for balance, bend your knees whilst sticking your bottom out behind you, wings out in front to steady you.

“I know it’s a very busy time for you in the run up to the big day. Rest should also be an important part of your training. Schedule a rest day every week when you can just curl up in the nest and let your body recover and become stronger.”

So, I am going to keep on pushing through the pain barrier and aim for the 90m paddle on 8th May.

How are you all getting on with your training for the big day?


It’s all about style

After the sun comes the storm and I don’t know about you, but now the clocks have changed it really feels like Spring is around the corner and that can only mean one thing, that Duck Race day is fast approaching so best get on with the training regime….

Michelle has been pushing me hard this week in my quest to throw off the winter weight and get fit for 8th May.

This is what we have been doing this week, please feel free to follow my regime at home if you like and let me know how you get on….

So, for week 2, its all about style over substance and how the right gait supports you.

Now that my training is well under way, it’s time to consider my form as well as my effort. Poor form can not only slow you down but also leave you susceptible to injuries. Move well before you move often!

There are several ways you can check if you’re moving well. If you can, get an expert to help you. A qualified duck trainer will be able to encourage and advise you through your training. Maybe train with a buddy, get them to video you. I know this may feel uncomfortable at first but you’ll be surprised what you can see when you look at yourself from different angles. Just check the feathers are all in place first!

Some tips to help you out; when you’re paddling it should look effortless, neck held high, wings back flat to the body and a long smooth glide. When you’re waddling try to put the middle part of your foot on the ground first and make sure your knee bends over your toes not in to the centre. Use your wings to drive yourself forwards.

Michelle says “You’re doing really well Sam, the flock and I are proud of you!”

Warming up and stretching


I thought I would let you all know how I am getting on!

So, I secured the services of a tip top trainer this week in the form of school mum Michelle Green who is a whizz at exercise, diet and sports therapy so she has offered to oversee my training regime.

I know I am in good hands.

Please feel free to follow my regime at home if you like and let me know how you get on….

So, for week 1, its all about warming up and stretching:

You can make or break your training session before it even starts! Prepare your body and your mind for what you are about to do to get the most out of it and make sure you don’t injure those wings.

Start gently with a waddle or a few laps of the pond to get the muscles warm and think about what you’re going to do. After a few minutes increase the pace a little, you should start to feel your heart beating a bit faster under your feathers.

Time to move on to some specific exercises so get those wings circling, beak to feet, wing tips to the ground at the side of you. Repeat each of these 10 times. The important thing to remember about a warm up is that it should be ‘dynamic’ so keep moving. After a few more minutes of these you should feel ready to hit the pond for a good workout.

Wow, I feel great now, ready to take on the world……what’s next Michelle??

Training starts now


I know, I know, I know…..

It’s been a while since I last posted anything but I have been travelling in warmer climes since my heroic efforts in last years’ Storrington Duck Race.

You see, I was spotted by an elite Duck Racing Crew (DRC) and I was invited to travel to their top secret training camp in America (where one of my lesser known relatives called Donald is from I think) to hone my skills ahead of this years’ event on 8th May from midday at the Riverside walk and Library Car Park.

So this year it’s going to get feisty…..I am out to win!

Yes, I am going to enter into each of the 5 races to give myself 5 chances to get into the final race and take that cash prize…..!

So, join me over the coming weeks as training starts for real and I get into shape for the big day.

Now, where did I put that wet suit…..? Come on….its still a bit chilly out there you know!

Sam xx

Sam the Duck’s Diary – Wednesday 29th April

Well, what a week it’s been. I am one shattered Duck in need of a rest…..

You see Simonetta Cole wasn’t the only Storrington representative in London at The Marathon on Sunday.

What? You didn’t see me? How could you have missed me…..

Yes, I made it round the 26 mile course in a new P/B of 4hrs 27 mins and there are holes in my trainers and my poor little webbed feet are blistered and battered.

So, with only one week to go, its rest and recuperation for me in the last few days before the big day on Sunday 10th May.

But not all of us ducks are taking race day so seriously, I can tell you a few of our number are far more interested in the ice-cream sales at the school and unless they get a wiggle on they will be carrying a few extra pounds on the big day.

That is unless they get themselves to Nancy’s weigh in’s!

There’s still plenty of time to get in shape that’s what I keep telling them.

And far be it from me to tell you which of my number are in need of a few jogs and sit up’s…..I wouldn’t want to spoil my chances on race day….!

Right, where’s that pumice stone…..?

Original photo credit to Petr Brož