Thursday, 24 May 2012

Two runners training for an ultra...

...when one of them falls down a deep hole.
'Have you broken anything?' asks the first.
'No,' replies the second, 'there's nothing down here to break.'

I could've gone with 'can you call me an ambulance?', 'Dave, you're an ambulance' but the former links better into the fact that  AE Dave's stress fracture of the shin is as confirmed as stress fractures generally are; it will be me and 21 other hardy souls tackling the trip down the Severn.

The taper provides too much time for thinking. On Sunday, my daughter had spaghetti hoops for lunch (yes, just spaghetti hoops; the NSPCC phone number is 0808 800 5000.)  She has long since graduated from Alphabetti Spaghetti, but it got me thinking:

assuming that all 26 letters are included in AS (as aficionados call it) and are included equally, there's a 1 in 26 chance that any given letter is an 'O';
assuming that all letters are made in different moulds, then mixed together before being put in tins, there's a high probability that an individual tin will contain more of one letter than another;
assuming that there are (say) 200 letters in a tin, there's a 1/26 ^200 chance that a particular tin of AS may, when opened, turn out to be indistinguishable from a tin of spaghetti hoops.

Now briefly consider the good 'ole British National Lottery; if you buy one ticket, your chances of hitting the jackpot are just a little better than one in 14 million, or about 0.000007%. This means that to 4 decimal places, the odds of you winning whether you buy a ticket or not are exactly the same at 0.0000%.

My odds of winning the Severn Challenge, with 22 competitors are probably marginally better than those of hitting the jackpot in the National Lottery or opening a tin of Alphabetti Spaghetti and finding it's actually Spaghetti Hoops, but I'll settle for my highest ever race placing; I was once 25th in a Santa Dash, so I'm in with a decent chance.


  1. I agree, too much time for thinking!

  2. Blimey - that's come round quickly.

    I think stuff like that... glad it's not just me!