Just had a fantastic weekend of racing up in the Dales, the Open 12, with Steve Hutton (MEng). Steve's first multisport race, and my first in a while, so a good tester for both of us! Next races are Porage and the Coast-to-Coast for me, London Rat Race for Steve.
Big thanks to Steve for putting up with me, waiting for me on foot and following me on the bikes. Thanks also to Dave, Portia and Mark for the swim safety and banter. And to Open Adventure for such good organisation and fun.
Day 1 - 7hrs - 18km trek, 1km canyon, 22km bike, pool dive.
Day 2 - 5hrs - 60m abseil, 11km trek, 600m swim, 23km bike.
The special stages - Hell Gill canyon, Hardraw Force pool dive and abseil, and the Semer Water swim. Especially the Semer Water swim.
The scenery - jogging across stone slab footpaths through fields of clover and buttercups, the view from Wild Boar Fell. All awesome countryside
The running - a slow plod, perhaps, but run/jog/tabbing further than I have in a long time, and the legs not feeling too bad for it. And to the bloke on the fell who joined in the banter, which lifted the head quite nicely, thank you! The scene: traversing, dropping from the trig pillar down to the tarn:
CA: "Fell running will never suit me."
SH: "Me neither."
Other racer: "You're not doing too badly at it at the moment, boys"
The midgies - at the overnight camp. Note to self: buy a midge net.
The heat - fighting dehydration for the weekend. Thank you Nuun...
My legs! - the three big climbs that show just how little hill time I have in my legs: To Wild Boar Fell summit, up Mallerstang, and from Burtersett to the West Cam road.
Flats - the three punctures that cut us short on the descent from Addleborough - one more CP would have put us 4 places higher!
Anyway, it feels like a good benchmark to me, and gives me a few ideas of where my fitness is, what I need to work on, and what I can do to improve. Getting more hill time into my legs would be very beneficial, since I suffered more than I feel I could have on the climbs. Trekking poles were of some benefit but perhaps only limited, since I didn't use them on day 2. Other than that, I'm happy with how I did on foot: I'm slow, but the endurance is still there. Maybe time to get in more orienteering to help both the nav and the pace work.
Mechanical problems like the punctures are annoying but not something we could really anticipate or affect. I may go tubeless in the not-too-distant but it's dependant on money rather than need! That said, we only had one tube each, Steve running Schraeder valves and me with Prestas, so when I flatted my rear after Steve had flatted both his tubes we had to do an emergency patch job, which only just held to the finish. Something to note and watch in future races. More racing on bikes - Trailquest/MTBO/etc - could be useful, again as speedwork and nav-while-riding training.
Lastly, I can't express just how much I enjoyed the swim. I think both Steve and I were a little nervous about it, and 600m with a pack on is quite a long haul for people who don't swim train. We were glad of the bouyancy aids and I think the choice to do a steady breaststroke was a good one - saved energy and kept the head up (physically and mentally). The water was quite warm, which helped a lot, and it was good to have a craic with the Extreme Care crew as we went.
All in all, a good one, a learning experience, and a place from which to progress.