Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Adidas Terrex C2C 2011 Report

Setting off for the long paddle down Ullswater

Knowing I'd be looking for a new challenge after this years Everest expedition and having bumped in to several teams in various states of disrepair on the 2010 expedition race I signed up to race as a solo in this years Adidas Terrex C2C Adventure Race. Finishing a tough weeks work with Outward Bound at 9pm on the Thursday and having spent Wednesday night camped out with a group I packed by headtorch until 1am, got a few hours kip and headed down to Whitehaven for a nice early start!

Film of day 1 courtesy of Ian Grimshaw

Conditions were perfect and there was a great buzz around the harbor. I had sourced a 25kg plastic touring kayak a couple of days before the race so I was always going to be slow on the paddling stages but at least I wasn't going to end up in the water like a number of teams in their unstable racing skis. A small break at St Bees was providing plenty of entertainment but I picked a good wave onto the beach and made a dry exit. Onto the bike for the ride over to Crummock Water and the second paddling stage. The portage between the two lakes was always going to be a sufferfest but I got the boat comfortable on my shoulder and was able to pick up a couple of places on the rocky west shore path. From Buttermere the big climb of the day led up on to Robinson. With no other teams in view and following the race line marked on the map I missed the obvious trod which gave a far easier line on to the ridge. The teams behind me made no mistake and we were soon running as a pack along the ridge. The great undulating descent over Catbells played to my strengths and I arrived at Nicol End feeling pretty good. However in common with many of the other racers the exit from the water after the 500m swim in Derwentwater proved problematical with cramp in both legs! Getting my trainers on for the run in to Keswick town center was a long process but once I got moving things eased up and I even managed a sprint finish.

Slow & steady transitions!

Staggered starts the next morning meant I left around half way down the field for the quick spin up to Thirlmere. At half my size and weight Carrie had done a sterling job to get my heavy boat over the gate and down the bank to the water. Thirlmere was mirror smooth and a great paddle enlivened by an exit through knee deep mud. The second big climb of the race was up on to Helvellyn. However my tracker was spotted doing 60mph via Ambleside so I didn't win King of the Mountains! After a great run down Swirral Edge and down to Patterdale I was reunited with my tracker and could begin the long paddle the length of Ullswater. Putting in a big effort I was able to hold my position until in a flurry of activity all the leading teams came past me at Pooley Bridge. The final section of the day was open route choice to Kirby Stephen. Running pure slicks on my mountain bike worked very well apart from the initial off road section to Askham which generated a few hairy moments.

The exit from Buttermere - too tired to carry the boat after the long portage!

Day 3 was all new to me with a boggy run over Nine Standards. An unplanned detour on the way up saw me scaling a tree to cross a huge wall. Once back on route I was able to enjoy the long descent despite going over on my ankle. The final sprint finish also nearly did for me with a very slippery stile but with just a couple more bruises to add to the collection we were out on to the mountain bikes and my favorite part of the journey. Apart from one long push the majority of the climbing was rideable followed by some great flowing downhill. Most of the leaders, followed by their ever attentive helicopter, came past at this stage but I was still ahead of Team Adidas Terrex at the final transition. A quick change of tyres and a blast along the roads to Northallerton on some particularly filthy bikes.

Finishing day 3 in Northallerton

The final day of the race involved a very early start but the staggered starts worked incredibly well with everyone reaching the finish within a three hour window giving a great atmosphere. An initial leg on the bike led us on to a great run along the Cleveland Way. Clear cold conditions with a fresh breeze and purple heather as far as you could see. A steep downhill to the next transition where we picked up mountain bikes before climbing all the way back on to the ridge for the next stage. The riding was less technical today but I was still able to overtake the two leading teams, Accelerate and Adidas Terrex for a brief moment when things got a bit tricky. Tracking Kim Collison in third place he punctured but made a quick change and was soon disappearing into the distance again taking one of my spare inner tubes with him. Just before the final transition I wandered slightly off the racing line taking an alternative line through a large puddle at speed. With water over the hubs I emerged like a drowned rat to much amusement of the team just behind. However with the sun still shining I quickly dried out and began the final section. Opting for knobbly tyres over pure slicks was a good choice as stage 17 was a combination of tarmac and cinder track. With everyone pushing hard for the finish a number of peletons formed and reformed as the north sea finally came in to view. Dropping the bikes at the edge of Robin Hood's Bay we made a final short run down to the finish line just above the sea.

Sprint finish at Robin Hood's Bay and the end of the race

A great first experience of Adventure Racing and a massive thank you to James and everyone at Open Adventure for putting on such a great and well organised event. Huge thanks also to my support team of Ian Grimshaw & Carrie Gibson who didn't put a foot wrong the whole race and were a massive part of me getting round in a reasonable time.

Happy with 13th place in 27:31:04

Plenty more reports on the Terrex C2C 2011...

A quick dip in the North sea to complete the Coast to Coast