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Mick and Alex's - Adidas Terrex Race
Adidas Terrex Adventure Race (Forming part of the AR World Series) 26-30th Aug
How do I start my account for an event of this duration, before I present the gritty details, the headlines are: gutted not to have finished as a team, but I want to do another for sure!!!
The Start across Morecambe Bay
First Special Stage....
Going over the Stickles near Duddon....
First Special Stage.... Going over the Stickles near Duddon....
started with a 25km run across Morecambe bay, so apart from Karen who does
not do 'flat' running we all liked this, or at least the first half - with
the views to the fells and lovely blue skies, (it seemed strange after 10km
into the race, after about 1hr on the go, thinking only 76hrs to go). The
novelty of the beach soon wore off with sand filled shoes and lots of gloopy
mud around Humphrey Head where the first CP was, this was not the perfect
way to try to protect yourselves from the dreaded chaff (the ultra runners
nemesis!). There was a nice transition in the lovely grounds of Holker Hall,
we had to sit a time penalty here (this came from the prologue race the
previous evening - time difference to winner x3 = 36min for us). The next
section was an epic 80km Mtb which took us to Ravenglass and then back to
Coniston, in the middle of this where a couple of special stages - an
orienteer in Eskdale and Ghyll descent at Coniston. We did the orienteer,
but it was a little slow as Karen could not run – indigestion problems! we
left Eskdale after a quick pint (Coke) and toilet stop at the George Inn,
this was as the sun set, to start the first of the big 'bike hikes' crossing
Harter Fell (this was cruel of the route planner making us go over these un-cyclable
routes! – we even had to carry the bikes down the hills!) …and then it was
onto the dreaded Walna Scar, not much better under wheel and yet twice the
height - imagine Penyghent but from sea level almost. Cycling down Walna at
night was a pretty exciting (aka scary) experience, after having already had
one 'over-the-handle’ bars experience earlier in the day, I was perhaps a
little timid, the rough did not bother Karen as she rode virtually all the
way, but did get a puncture. The transition nr Brantwood eventually arrived
in the early hours, here we took on lots of tea, coffee and butties ready
for the kayak around
The trek started over rough ground south of Grizedale, we and a half dozen other teams had a dreadful job trying to locate a checkpoint here, a lesson learnt - some times better to take a longer route on paths than go for the shorter b-line - especially at night on feature-less moor (Alex had nav failure here!) With dawn of the second day on its way we decided to take a short sleep under trees in a pine forest as Paul and Karen were walking sideways and just falling into bushes, Mick and I found it comical entertainment. It is amazing what a 10min rest can do - but is no means ideal, we had some life back in our muscles and brains and made short work to the next stage. Next transition was at YMCA centre on Windermere again more tea and food and a 45min sleep in a tepee, this was so nice!!! By now it was Lakeland weather at its best, but it didn’t matter as we were on the water anyway, the kayak was a long down leg to the bottom end of the lake with a checkpoint just above the wear at Newby Bridge, so some good boat control required here, after that it was up to the other end, to where the river came in. I was paddling with Karen and she was spotting hippos and things at the edges, being tired does do some pretty mind bending things to you, but sometimes a waterlogged log can look like a hippo, we did not see any crocodiles just as well. The Windermere experience was now getting tedious - it was certainly not the Coniston experience of earlier, with steamers and skiers passing in all directions. Eventually after 4 long and wet hours we got out at the lovely Bowness, re-fuelled on some nice cheese-burgers and yet more coke, then we jumped on the ferry to cross the lake to start a short bike section to Langdale, nothing amazing to report here, but it was wet, we lost some time in Langdale as we had marked up an in-correct route on to the map.
Starting to show the strain - Day 2 - after almost 2 lengths of Windermere
The transition at Stickle Barn was done in steady style as we wanted to
refuel for what was going to be a tough night stage. A lot of familiar
ground here for me and others on the team, we had a small posse following us
over the Langdale Race route from Pavey Ark to Angle Tarn, here we had a CP,
the next one at Sprinkling Tarn, then the next at the base of Piers Ghyll,
the rain came in thick here so it was time to done full body cover, night
time had arrived also. Here we met the 2nd and 3rd placed teams who where
still managing to do the full route, this was good for us as we where now on
steep ground following a small climbers path up the edge of the Ghyll
leading to the summit. The water below sounded deafening and there where
some 'badsteps' to contend with, head torch beam just disappearing into the
black! The next CP was 200m on the other side of the summit of
The Mountain Stage - 2nd night - Wet n windy!
Once in Transition, the plan was to get drink, get warm, get sleep and get Mick’s eye checked. His eyes looked like they had been pocked, the medic washed them and said he needed to get a good rest. The transition was like a refugee camp, it was still raining hard and there was absolutely no dry floor-space anywhere, so Mick got put in the back of a van, we had to sleep outside in the bivvy. After 45min in the bivvy bag I woke up shivering, I tried to sleep again and got another 15min, but realised I puddle was forming beneath me. Slowly we all got out, Karen sneaked into the dry van with Mick, leaving Paul and I to sit in the transition, we where just milling around for 2-3hrs. I had to do stuff to stop me getting bored (and cold) so I oiled and checked the bikes and packed my rucksack ready for the next cycle stage, which was another biggy. Teams where still coming in off the mountain, reporting that they where almost hypothermic while waiting to do the abseil of Esk Buttress, the abseil was later stopped as the rope got frayed due to the lighter people getting blown around so much while descending. It looked like our slow retreat, was no slower and in most cases faster than a lot of the other teams, so a good decision! By 06:30 teams where waking ready to start the Mtb, by now I was sick to death of the transition and wanted to get the hell out – I needed some proper sleep too. Paul and I got the other 2 up and Mick had his eye cleaned again, it had green stuff coming out and still could not focus properly, the medic suggested a few options, but it wasn’t until the organisers sister (who works in an eye hospital) said he needed proper medical attention – so game over for Mick – very sad and tearful.
Lots of things where learnt during this event, and I will write them down so I do not forget them. I certainly want to do another and have a lot more to give, we pooled our strengths and where possible I had Karen on the tow. The Haglof’s kit we had was excellent, especially my gilet and Oz jacket. I am now planning future events and hope to do well in the Rab MM, I aim to enter the Open 5 series and again, but essentially I want to do another expedition adventure race as soon as possible to settle the score! Also I blame Mick for getting me into this!!!!
Photo's courtesy of John Allen / Open Adventure