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Dark & White mini-Mountain Marathon Series Starts
Dark and White run a three event Autumn/Winter series of 3 hour runs in the Peak District, with the first held at the end of November.

It's a score format event with a three hour time limit. Navigation is required but for this first, well attended event competitors were restricted to paths and rights of way so was really a trail run with a score strategy. The early morning rain quickly cleared to bathe the Hayfield Scout Hut start in sunshine.

Russ travelled up with some friends on the morning of the event to arrive in time for the later starters. The hills were soon full of people running in all directions with a good representation of fellrunners. Russ had a good start but was caught out by the speed of trail running compared to normal mountain marathon terrain and made a mistake planning the extra time this gave him for the final hour of the race. He placed 16th overall and 8th in the 40+ Vets.

Great to be out running on something a bit more vertically challenging than of late though! There are two more events in the series with the best two to count. Results

Rodings Rally Highs and Lows
The Rodings Rally organised by Epping Forest Outdoor group has been going for over 50 events. It certainly pre-dates Adventure Racing and probably even orienteering in the UK. It is based around an approximate 12 mile course with checkpoints described by cryptic clues and a grid coordinate system specific to its own map - no GPS advantages here! The checkpoints themselves are tents hidden in the deepest corners and often thickets of Epping Forest. It's a test of deduction and stamina coupled with navigation, compass and pacing work with a degree of luck as it's all in the dark!.

With Ben and Sabrina heading down to the Tri-Adventure event, Russ and Jason were left to compete as a pair (groups up to 4 are permitted). The first obstacle was managing train alterations and navigating by bike to our 10:30pm start which was busy with around 90 teams between the two courses. Once underway we used our experience from completing the event before to start flying around the course. One of the checkpoints caused us to attack it three times from different points before we hit it due to the confusion of unmapped paths around but we didn't lose much time. With barely 2 hours gone we were on our way to checkpoint 7 (of 10) and feeling good. But as we went to check the coordinates we realised we had lost the checkpoint list. We continued to CP7 and were relieved to find that the checkpoint was able to lend us a clue sheet to look at and plotted the final 2 controls and the finish. This was a great relief thinking that our event would be over otherwise.

Unfortunately we 'solved' number 8 cryptic clue incorrectly. There then followed over 2 hours of going back and forth, often ending up at the same bush and still no one appeared as we were well ahead of the field. Concluding finally that we probably had the clue wrong we returned towards CP7. Having got the right gridpoints, to add insult to injury we virtually tripped over the tent on our bearing first time. The final CP and finish went without mishap to finish in a time of just over 5 hours.

Annoyingly we were just 40 minutes adrift of the eventual winners from Suffoc orienteers and had to settle for 3rd place. I guess that means we'll have to try again next year! Results.

A Successful Autumn

November saw the final Tri-Adventure event for the year and the concluding one of the three event autumn series. Ben and Sabs competed in all the events of the series, Sabs in the 1 hour Trail run score and Ben in the 2 hour run/MTB Sprint.

Sabs completed her hat-trick of wins in the female class to give her a series win. Ben over ran the 2 hour time limit so only managed 11th place after penalties on the day in a strong field. He held on to a 3rd place in the Series though with the top two being separated by just a point with Tom Davies from Tri-Adventure coming out the victor.

Tri-Adventure have already announced their dates for next year with a range of events lasting between 1 and 5 hours. Click on the logo to have a look at their site. Results.

Ben and Sabs on top in Shropshire!

The second event of the Haglofs Open 5 Series 2011/12 was based in the Shropshire hills in the capable hands of Jim Rounsley as James was far away at the World Champs in Tasmania.

Jim worked wonders with the weather and the sun and cloudless sky helped to take the chill off of the morning air.

The course was planned just right to give everyone something to aim for with just the one person managing to clear it - Stu 'Superhuman' Lynch!

Ben and Sabs had a slight wobble with the foot navigation at the start before settling down to steadily ticking off the points and transitioning for a strong bike leg.

As the results became known it was great to see our friends from Tri-Adventure taking the 4th and 3rd placed spots in the mixed pairs having been pipped to the post by our own Ben and Sabs on the top spot and taking the lead in the Series too.

Great Event, Great Result!


Russ and Jeff score well at Breadalbane

Sandwiched neatly between lochs Tay and Earn, Breadalbane was the setting for this year's OMM boasting Scotland's most Southern Munro on the map.

Jeff and Russ entered the Long Score class as a bit of a late decision having both not exactly had a summer of the best training and recent colds - thinking this would make them well matched! We had a lot of friends doing the same class including fellow Cambridge orienteer Steve who Russ had run the Old County Tops with earlier in the year so we expected a lot of rivalry.

Day 1 all the controls were worth the same so it was just a case of visiting as many as you could. The cloud was down at times and it stayed damp. Even Russ had his waterproof on all day. We were a bit thrown by the second checkpoint which had an incorrect description costing us about 12 minutes but we came back after that nailing the navigation.

There was quite a bit of replanning which wasn't quite optimal and then finally got caught out in the rougher conditions underfoot, stuggling a little on the navigation and with Jeff at a low point we arrived late at the finish. (controversially our late time was removed due to the checkpoint error). The overnight camp was a wet affair. It was a long lumpy night with the saturated ground drawing heat out of us. We kept ourselves amused by trying to heat our water in a pan that leaked almost as fast as it heated... We were ranked 7th with Steve/Ian not far behind in 12th.

Day 2 we planned a committing route. However with fears over Jeff's knee this was soon abandoned for a safer option. It stayed dry and the navigation was much more straightforward. We made good use of our time and managed to include an extra control as Jeff stayed strong througout. Steve/Ian had a great day moving up to 7th overall. Surprisingly we only slipped 4 places to 11th overall and we were very pleased with that. It was great to be out racing together again. Roll on 2012!

Results - Reports - Shane Ohly - Steve Birkinshaw - Kim Collison - Tim Higginbottom

A Good start to the new Open 5 Series

The new 2011/12 open 5 series kicked off at Staveley on Oct 2nd sponsored by Haglofs. Ben and Sabs made the trip up and Jeff came over too to what is almost home turf for him nowadays.

Jeff chose to bike first while Ben and Sabs set out on foot. Both had quick transitions trying to get the most out of the remaining part of the 5 hour limit. Sabs struggled towards the end of the bike but hung in there to finish just over a minute late. Jeff was another minute behind coming in on foot.

Both scored similar scores. In the highly competitive male solos this put Jeff in 14th place, but was sufficient in the mixed pairs to take 2nd place for Ben and Sabs.

The series comprises the 3 best scores out of a possible 7 events, so this puts Ben and Sabs on a good footing to be in the running for a series prize. Jeff won't be eligible to compete on one of the events as he is the planner!

Sleepmonsters Report - results

Questars 2-day Thetford Race

For this year, the Questars people started a 2 day staged version of their events similar to the old ACE Race 2-day races. They also chose to move around the country a bit and so we found ourselves with an event on our doorstep. If only it hadn't also clashed with an Open 5, it would have been even better.

From a central campsite next to the little ouse, there was a lot of forest to use both north and south. The paddling was of course limited to up and down the river, although it did present some challenges with a significant current flowing and penalties for being late back off of the water making timing calculations tricky.

Unfortunately they used an out dated 1:25 000 OS map, although this was the same for everyone and perhaps did make the block forest of Thetford slightly harder to navigate. It was a really hot weekend. Great for camping but tough on everyone to remain hydrated.

Russ managed to hang on to around 3rd place in the male category for most of the stages going into the night time stage 3 neck and neck with our friends the Tri-adventure team but they nailed the run and pulled ahead before the final Sunday stage. Questars have a corporate background so the challenges were a little different than the normal adventures. Think Thetford forest and it brings up ideas of Go-ape, paintballing and single track mountain bike trails, but none of these were used instead opting for a geometric puzzle and moving water with a cup from the river to fill a container.

The heat finally got to Russ on the Sunday and a navigational error cost him dearly both on a high valued checkpoint and being late back which saw him finish 6th overall. A plenty tough enough course with some good track riding and running (off track wasn't allowed). People went away suitably tired and happy. Sleepmonsters Reports - Results

Open Endurance Series

Over the summer Ben and Sabs competed in the planet fear Endurance Series from Open Adventure.

Starting with the Open 5+ in Anglesey (see below), followed by 12 hours in the North York Moors and finishing with a continuous 24 hour event in the Lake District.

The 12 hour event started with a scenic train journey and was split into two parts with a short camp in the middle posing tactical decisions of which parts to complete before or after sleeping.

They were rewarded with an 8th place. Open 12 Results

The Open 24 was back to the Lake District - scene of the Terrex race last year and covering some of the same ground.

A scramble on St Sunday Crag was the highlight with paddling stages on Ullswater and Windermere with trek and biking legs linking all the activities.

A very respectable 11th place with close scores pushed them up to 5th in the series overall. This would have been much higher if it wasn't for the queueing mix up on the abseil of the Open 5+. Still - there's always next year!

Sleepmonsters Open 24 Report - Open 24 Results - Series Results

Russ at the 3 Peaks Yacht Race

Russ has taken the opportunity to replace an injured runner on yacht 'First Love', to run with Keith Harris. The three peaks yacht race is one that always throws up many memorable experiences! Starting in Barmouth, yachts sail to Caernarfon to run up Snowdon before continuing under sail to Whitehaven in order to cycle to Ennerdale and run up Scafell Pike before the final voyage to Fort William for the last run up Ben Nevis and back to finish. The team isn't aiming to challenge fellow CamRacer Andy's second place in the race in 2008, just to complete the race within the time limit.


Race Reports - Live Tracking - Leaderboard - Race Website

Old County Tops

After Steve and Wendy's enthusiastic review of this race last year, Russ and Steve H thought they would give it a go. It's one of the traditional Lake District fell races with a long history and is low key. It was obvious from the start line-up that everyone was well prepared for the challenge. There were no massive rucksacs or people in walking boots. These were proper mountain people prepared to travel lightweight for a long day in the hills on a circular route from Langdale taking in the peaks of Helvellyn, Scafell Pike and Old Man of Coniston.

The real challenge for the day was to get around before the rain set in. It was pretty breezy with a bit of cloud on the summits but with views from just below. The leaders made it back in the dry but Russ and Steve were still battling up Coniston Old Man against the wind when the rain came in. They still beat the cutoffs and came home in just over 10 hours. Put this race on your list of ones to do one day!

Before and after! (Photos: Jean Sinclair)


Ben and Sabrina in Anglesey Adventures

Ben and Sabrina travelled up to Anglesey for the weekend of 21/22nd May. They were encoraged to participate in the inaugural Ocean Kayak Race which was held in the Menai Straits due to the weather conditions. It turned into a great paddling experience. They paddled together in separate boats with Ben doing his best to keep Sabrina out of any scrapes! A great experience and all good sea practice.

The main event of the Open5+ on the Sunday also involved the sea on another windy day. There was more kayaking but heavily reduced due to the swell and a massive cliff abseil into the sea requiring a swim to exit the cave. Unfortunately there were queues on the abseil which worked against them in the timing so their final position didn't reflect their true performance. This excitement was of course all added to the normal Open 5 cycling around the island, using road bikes for a change and plenty of running to reach the checkpoints.

Open 5+Report - Open 5+ Results - Ocean Kayak Report - Ocean Kayak Results