|Thanks to James Kirby for some ace pictures this weekend! Running of Helm Crag|
What a couple of weekends racing! Two weeks ago I was on Jura for the fell race. If I showed you this:
Thus started the recovery - 6 days and counting to the open 2 day. By Tuesday I wasn't optimistic, walking to uni and back was an expedition in intself. By Wednesday there was a glimmer of hope, but it wasn't until Thursday I could breathe a deep sigh of relief that my lungs had stopped burning and whoever it was had stopped sitting on my chest! A bit of a test run on Friday morning and although not tip top I could at least run - a good start!
So, off to the lakes for the open 2 day, I was racing with Bruce Duncan, Tim Higginbottom and Chris Near as Team Haglofs-Silva.
The race had a fast a furious format, there were five stages, each separated by a couple of hours so you could try and stuff some Wilfs chilli into you and maybe get changed (although there was no time for changing if you took as long to eat as I did...). Stage one was a score format - we had two hours and were presented with a map scattered with checkpoints, each with a set number of points. The aim was to get as many points as you could in the two hours, the big question though, could we get them all. Well, we thought so!
From Easdale tarn we took in the sights of Castle How, Stickle Tarn, Seargent Man, Codale Tarn and Helm Crag (among others)...although I think the rest of the team took in more of the sights as I spent a large portion of this staring at Tim's shoes as he towed me along. He had gone to great lengths to make sure he was wearing one of every colour in the new Haglofs Monochrome range....
|Tim's shoes, unfortunately you can't see his pink bumbag on this picture|
The next stage was a similar format, 5hours score course on mountain bikes, and this is where the race started to hot up. This time there was no question of clearing the course so some tactics were required. Our route was a loop with some awesome descents, visiting Chapel Stile, Little Langdale, and Wray Castle then heading through the forests to the ferry port where we had just enough time to get an ice cream before jumping on the ferry across to Windermere. From there it was up up up onto the fells, over to Troutbeck and back to Rydal via a bit of a time trial along the road to pick up a control we'd discarded earlier. This wasn't the smoothest of stages, I lost a bolt out of the cleat on my shoe so every time I stopped I had to realign it and clip in...then the shoe would wobble all over the place giving my lower back a good workout... I also inadvertantly let go of the bike tow at full stretch which Bruce definitely knew about, oops... and Tim got a puncture on an excellent bit of downhill near Troutbeck, attempt one of sealing it failed so out with the inner tube. We still got a decent score but Mountain Hardwear took the lead, we were now in second, trailing by 20 points, with Adidas Terrex only 1 point behind us!
|Don't let go of a bike tow at full stretch...|
|End of the night run|
Adidas Terrex also hit this one hard hoping to claw back that one point, but didn't make it back on time. All change in the leaderboard with us taking the lead, 16 points ahead of Mountain Hardwear with Adidas Terrex in 3rd.
Sunday started with Stage 4 which was a little different to the rest of the event, a 'trail run' which was essentially the fairfield horseshoe. 500points to the winner, then 5 points lost for every minute, or part of a minute, you were behind the winner. The plan was simple, take it out fast and try and secure a few more points lead before the kayak which was definitely not our strongest discipline.
|Start of the Fairfield Horseshoe|
|Off up to Fairfield, Mountain Hardware a switchback ahead|
This meant I stayed on Tim's tow down the hill as well. Apparently Tim was running pretty much as fast as possible and just waiting for the tug to come on the tow as I hit the deck! Fortunately that didn't happen and we clawed back about 3minutes on the descent. It all came down to the exact times, as long as we were only 3 minutes down we would enter the paddle on even terms.....we were 9seconds over only taking the 3minutes of penalty!! So Mountain Hardwear went into the paddle with a 4 point advantage.Boy this was nail biting!
I'll quickly add an aside here. When I saw the time for Fairfield I was pretty pleased, 1hr37! That would have had me in 5th in the English Champs race (so if I could just take Tim and Chris with me fell running that would be great). Even more impressive was Sally and Mountain Hardwear getting round in 1hr33 which would have been 3rd! Achieving those times after 8.5hours of racing, I think this was the most impressive stage of the whole race.
Into the boats, we set off 4mins behind Mountain Hardwear, back to the score system with 2hours to paddle. We put everything into this, going for clearing the course as we could see them doing just ahead of us. Both teams cleared the course and both teams arrived back over the two hour time limit so time penalties would apply....predictably, mountain hardwear had been faster however. They got back 8minutes faster than we did, securing the win. It was an excellent race and fantastic to have such hot competition! I'm already looking forward to the next 2 day event on the first weekend in July in Wales.