Monday, 4 June 2012

Terrex Swift 2012

After a full weeks work on Skye including a couple of Cuillin Ridge traverses I made the long drive down to Yorkshire for the Adidas Terrex Swift, a 48 hour adventure race. A three hour bivi in the field at the start probably wasn't the best preparation but at 9am our team of four were off trotting around the town of Kirkby Lonsdale. The large crowds were surprised to see us having all come out for a town Jubilee photo!
12km later and after a quick wade through the river Team Custard arrived at our canoes for a paddle down the River Lune, through Lancaster and out to the coast. A few swimmers floated past but we made it without incident picking up a few places on the 3 portages. With only one portage trolley our improvised double decker worked incredibly well.

 A very successful double decker portage

Portage time during the canoe stage

Exiting the water and on to the mountain bikes we suffered four mechanicals in the first four miles but got back into our stride and were soon at Gisburn. Some good route choices enabled us to miss out most of the technical mountain biking while picking up all the checkpoints just before it got dark. The final bike section to Malham dragged as the weather dramatically changed for the worse and we made the sensible choice to drop one checkpoint during the night navigation stage, the wet limestone seriously slowing our progress.
We'd opted not to stick a tent in our transition bag, a serious miscalculation and with the rain hammering down and in desperate need of sleep we took the sneaky option and hunkered down for a couple of hours in the transition barn. Away at 6am into a cold, grey and very wet morning the long grind up out of the valley on mountain bikes was probably the toughest part of the race for us although Carrie had got her second wind and was flying. A couple of hours later conditions were improving and we enjoyed the intimidating abseil over Kilnsey Main Overhang. Back on to the bikes for a long stint broken by a tactical stop in the pub for jacket potato and chilli. There were very few teams around us now and we decided to miss the two most northern checkpoints giving us a good run through Swaledale and onto Hawes for the final transition. A sterling effort from Kieran on the bike nav kept us straight especially during one bad patch where I dropped off while spinning up a hill.

As the final team into Hawes we opted for a quick hours kip as the site was dismantled around us. Heading away in to the twilight the initial climb exposed us to a brutally cold north easterly which had us donning all our layers. There were plenty of torches to be seen on Yorkshires three peaks but we made a good tactical decision and headed straight for the caving. A through trip in Calf Holes was more than we'd anticipated and we had a great time abseiling into the active streamway, a couple of wriggles and an exposed rift to finish. The first time I've gone into a cave in the dark and come out in daylight. Away down the valley we headed straight for the finish in Settle. Sleep deprivation was now kicking in and the prize for best hallucinations went to Andy who was mocked by clowns faces in the dry stone walls! I opted for a quick pitstop and on rejoining the group found them all fast asleep in the sun sprawled across the footpath. Our pace slowed over the final few miles due to chafe-age but we were in good spirits as we trotted up to the line in just over 47 1/2 hours.

Crossing the finish line after 47:31:40

  10th place Team Custard with their medals

We'd jokingly suggested a top 10 placing would be our target and in the final results we'd achieved that from the 26 teams that had started. My efforts in last years Terrex C2C were our teams only experience of adventure racing and it was a steep learning curve but an absolutely great event. Huge thanks to Kieran, Andy & Carrie, to the Open Adventure crew and awesome job to planner Dave Johnson.

 A few hours kip and Team Custard were ready to go again!