|(Pic: James Kirby)|
...That's where it starts: Trying to explain that I was doing a 5 hour Adventure Race. Trying to explain what Adventure Racing is. Trying to explain that, in the grand scheme of Adventure Racing, 5 hours is a short race. Trying to explain that, no, it wasn't a special thing for charity, I do these things just for fun. If they haven't glazed over before this point, it's definitely imminent. I'm never sure whether "I was doing a 5 hour race" translates in the layman's mind to 'my god, this man's an endurance legend!' or 'jeez, that's a below-average marathon time!', though I'd suspect my physique points them more firmly towards the latter. Anyhow.
|(Pic: Rob Howard / SleepMonsters.com)|
Rewind 24+ hours and I'm up in the south Lakes, lining up to start this year's Open5 race. Yes, just the one. James and the lovely team at Open Adventure had opted to only put on a single Open5 this year, which is both terrible and wonderful: Terrible that there aren't more of them, of course, as they're great races and invariably a fun day out, though quite often that's been Type 2 fun; Wonderful that at least I don't have to try and come up with excuses for why I'm slow in several races this winter rather than just one. The one race was based out of Burneside near Kendal, relatively home territory for me, or at least ancestral territory. James had announced that the registration was at the Bryce Institute building, but the start was around 3 miles away, which immediately prompted searching in that radius for other likely start locations. I came up with two: either westwards over to Crook and towards Windermere and Whitbarrow, or northbound up to Staveley and into Kentmere and Sleddale. The latter seemed more likely, a better mix of laneways, bridleways and footpaths, and turned out to be the correct answer, which made me both happy and anxious. Happy because I know the area roughly, anxious because... well, I know the area roughly, and I know there's some hard riding - the Garburn Pass, for a start.
I'd had a nice chilled out day on the Saturday before the race: A leisurely brunch with the other half, a steady drive up to the Lakes, a quick stop at Wilfs for a cuppa, a dip into Wheelbase to pick up some last minute spares. Oh, and driving into Staveley spotting the yellow event arrows confirming where the transition area was. Sorry James, I wasn't deliberately peeking, honest. Then a quick trip down the road to Prizet to relatively luxury, a hotel for the night! The Travelodge made a lovely change from a Youth Hostel room, and afforded a rare opportunity for a catch-up with Rob, the bossman from SleepMonsters. A good chat, a pint and a pizza plus a good night's sleep and we were all good to go and in fact, would be in a rare position: with another SleepMonsters editor, Adam Rose, racing as well we'd have 3 SleepMonsters in the same location at the same time! That in itself is rare, the fact two of them were racing is even rarer.
|3 SleepMonsters! Adam, Rob, Pyro (pic: Mick Kenyon)|
MTB - 37.35km, 665m ascent, 2:51:00 - https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/3372564638
|On the go! Pic: Rob Howard/SleepMonsters.com|
Transition was alright, speed-wise. 18th overall out of 135 solos and pairs in 3:58, though probably half of that was getting wet bike shoes off and dry running shoes on. Elastic speed laces are great, but tricky when your fingers are cold and you can't feel your toes. We got there eventually, and trotted out with a comfortable two hours available for the run.
Run - 11.58km, 181m ascent, 1:52:09 - https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/3372060173
|Still on a bike. Pic: Rob Howard|
So, I ended up finishing in 4:50:15, 405 points, putting me 29th out of 59 male solos - perfectly mid-pack, which I can cope with. I even had my name pulled out of a prize draw hat at the prizegiving to win myself a nice new Haglofs windshell jacket. In the battle of the SleepMonsters, Adam beat me by five points and four places. He'd had a longer run than me first, but a slightly shorter bike. Would I have done anything different? Probably not. I could have picked up CP17 or 19 on the bike if the ground had been drier, but then would likely have missed the last CP on the run, so not sure it would have made much difference. While I'm glad I pushed for that last run CP, I would like to have got a little more out of the run leg in general - there were one or two CPs I could have added on but thought I'd have been more pushed for time, maybe I should have continued shuffling and tried to get them in.
Next up is - well, not another Open5 for this season! I've bravely or foolishly entered for the Northern Night Orienteering Championship on Ilkley Moor this coming weekend, so that's what I have to try and get my legs back into some semblance of shape for this week. After that, the Nav4 Daffy Run in March, which I'll definitely need my legs to be in some kind of shape for. All good fun and games, at least.