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Rodings Rally Challenges Again

The Rodings Rally is an overnight cryptic orienteering, foot challenge in Epping Forest organised by Epping Forest Outdoor Group. CamRacers are building quite a history in this event. Having won in 2006, we have been chasing that win ever since with 2nd places in 2007, 2008 and 3rd in 2011. We've also had a go at the team agregate competition entering 3 teams and coming 2nd in 2007 and 2008. So the pressure was on for Paul and Russ to come up with the goods this year, but the mix of cryptic clue solving, navigation, speed and locating the hidden, unlit, tented checkpoints throws a lot of unknowns into the equation.

It was a relatively warm start to the evening, so we had trouble convincing ourselves to shed enough clothing ready for a fast start which left Paul shivering as we queued up at the start to get our clue sheet. We were soon off running though with the first clues heading to the Northern end of the forest. Each clue has 3 grid references and the named locations on the map close to one of these should match with the cryptic clue. We started well, running fast between attack points and concentrating on good pacing and compass bearings to get us to the checkpoints buried deep inside the woods. Ironically we lost a couple of minutes on the one closest to a path as we figured it should be on the other side of the path. In the dark woods it's easy to be within a few metres and walk right past. We had a very good run, right up to the last clue which stumped us completely so we had to set off to visit all three grid references. The second was very hard to locate so we moved onto the third, still with no result. Finally returning to the second point from a different direction we hit it spot on followed by a final sprint to the finish.

We held first place for just a couple of minutes before the next team came in. We had lost it on that final checkpoint and finished 2nd overall. Thanks to everyone for another challenging and friendly event. I guess we will just have to come back and try again next year!

Blog - Results - Track

Jeff completes Bob Graham Round

Finishing strong. Photo: Zoe Procter

On 12th October Jeff made his attempt on the famous Lakeland Bob Graham Round. A distance of over 70 miles and 28000 feet of ascent taking in 42 of the Lake District's highest peaks.

The challenge starts from the Moot Hall in Keswick and the aim is to return there within 24 hours having completed the circular route. Witnesses are required to accompany the runner at all times and these can also act as support, helping pace, navigate and carry food and water. Sabs, Zoe and Pyro all played their parts amongst others through a variety of weather.

Jeff comfortably completed in just under 23 hours. Congratulations Jeff!

Ben and Sabs on top form at Questars
With Ben having worked on the logistics side of the recent Adidas Terrex Sting World Series race he was raring to get back on the competitors side of an event. Sabs was recovering well from the team's 5th placing at the 5 day expedition event and they both headed for the Brecon Beacons for the Questars 1 day Masters event.

There were warnings of overgrown and muddy bridleways, but the majority of the biking was minor roads and cycle routes. The kayaking was on a different section of the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal than that used previously and the run transition was remote, being reached by bike. The pair went well with just the one navigation error on the run, finishing just over the 6 hour allotted time with a score of 785 after the 5 point late penalty. This placed them 8th overall in the Masters race but top Mixed Team, 20 points comfortably clear of their nearest rivals.

This gives the pair notable wins this season in Open 5, Questars and Tri-Adventure events moving them both up the UKAR individual rankings with Sabs currently ranked 3rd female. Questars Results.

CamRacers best World Series placing yet!

The Adidas Terrex Sting Stirling race formed the UK leg of this year's Adventure Race World Series. Taking place two weeks after our trip over to Ireland, Jason turned up to the race with his ankle strapped up having developed a post-race injury yet to be tested. The remainder of the team: Jeff, Sabs and Russ arrived in good spirits and well prepared with kit and race time estimates from the pre-event information. Therefore we were able to spend a lot of time analysing the course once the maps were issued.

The Sunday night prologue around Stirling was as frantic as ever despite trying to take it slow. The result gave us a 25 minute penalty but this was pushed back to the second day of the race where we could sleep so not really a penalty at all. It was good to be doing a bit of exercise though and Jason's foot survived the test so we figured he'd be ok for the next 5 days!

A fast start was required in order to meet the first canoe cut-off in 24 hours time, so after a quick jog up and back to the Wallace monument we were soon working with other teams on the road bike to Doune Castle and a row across Lake of Montieth. Once off road through the Menteith Hills, Glen Finglas and Glen Kendrum the pace slowed considerable across the boggy ground. This was followed by a short canoe from Killin across part of Loch Tay for a foot stage starting with the last of the daylight traversing the group of Munroes on the Western side of Ben Lawers. So just before 4am we started back in the canoes along Loch Tay somewhat slowly due to sleepy paddlers compounded by a fresh headwind. By 8am we were descending the river Tay which was enough to keep anyone awake. Several teams had a spill at some of the rapids but we arrived unscathed at Grantully after a leisurely enjoyable paddle.

Here we served our 'penalty' and organised our bike boxes for the big trek section and committed ourselves to a longer bike and trek later in the race before setting off to cycle over mixed terrain to the Bruar falls canyoning. Here we stalled as Sabs came to grips with the water jumps which to her credit she overcame in her own time, so even Russ felt he couldn't hesitate too long while Jeff and Jason of course just went for it. The canyoning was great fun and seemed to last a long time. By the time we were changed back into cycling kit we were behind any optimistic schedule of completing the full course. Although we had already decided to play the penalty points 'Short Course' game before the start of the race, emotions were high as to whether this was the place to start missing sections. We opted for a short nap after which we all agreed to shorten the next section to Mar Lodge.

The ride through Glen Tilt was surely scenic but lost on us in the dusk and darkness as the track narrowed to a push and the midges descended. It was very hard to tell in the lights if there was drizzle or if it was all midges! Mar lodge was a very welcome sight with hot food and our tent to catch our main planned sleep. Missing the 'orienteering' section was an easy call, it being longer than estimated and a trail run. In fact having opted for the Short Course game it was marginal whether any of the longer routes would help us up the leaderboard from here on. Although we thought we could finish the course in 5 days, the cut-off after 4 days was not achieveable making it a 4 1/2 day race. However playing the short course game we might only take a bit over 3 days to reach the final cutoff and sit around for almost 24 hours so it was a balance of doing a bit more of the course while trying not to take much longer than the penalty times which would add to our race time hence our choosing the longer bike and trek next.

Leaving Mar Lodge at first light we cycled through a stunning landscape with the heather in full bloom. A fast road section past Balmoral followed before heading up the valley towards Mount Keen in the sunshine. On the way up we saw an adder snake slithering away off the track into the heather, not an uncommon sight here. The upper slopes of this Munro became quite steep and we rotated helping carry all the bikes up. The wind had picked up and was compounded by the downdraft from the filming helicopter as it watched us and followed a full course team on their descent.

House of Mark provided welcome bacon sandwiches and plenty of space to pack for the mammoth 75km trek. The first section to Glen Muick was a pleasant afternoon/evening trek on fairly featureless terrain with once more the midges to welcome our arrival. As it was already dark we stopped for a short sleep in the woods before ascending to Lochnagar. Luckily we didn't know at the time that we had just taken over the 13 hours penalty time for missing out this section completely! Still we had fun. The approach to Black Spout scramble was tricky in the dark but the scramble straight forward and Sam Noble was a welcome sight on the Stuic ridge as it started to get light at the top. This wasn't enough to stop Sabs crashing though and had to be marched arm in arm over the next checkpoint down to somewhere suitable to pitch the tent. 15 minutes later she was awake and raring to go and warm up. Part 2 finished at the luxury of Glenshee with hot food and Jason and Jeff got their heads down for a while. The last section followed the route of a previous LAMM elite course to start with. A final team discussion agreed to head straight for Grantully and sleep off the clock. Russ somehow managed to sleepwalk through some of the final bogs or erase it from his memory. The cycle to Grantully through Pitlochry was quick but with a sting in the tail on the final tracks. Arrival was all the more welcome though to be off the clock and find the local pub still serving pizza and providing live music and still time for a solid 6 hours sleep.

So the final 12 hours was a bit of a sprint. We made an effort to paddle the river faster this time and still stayed upright and were surprised to be told we were one of the few teams using portage trolleys rather than carrying. The 'orienteering' gained us a few minutes against the penalty time and provided a welcome toilet stop although was again limited to tracks/paths. This just left the final road bike to Sterling where we overtook quite a few teams only slowed by Sabs losing all her brakes on the final descent into Stirling.

A day later, the leaderboard caught up to show our strategy having paid off putting us top of the short course teams and 5th overall as several of the teams trying for the full course dropped off due to injury/exhaustion as we had expected. 5th place beats our previous World Series bests of 6th in Spain in 2007 and also 6th at Portugal XPD in 2007 for Russ in a Sleepmonsters team. The parts of the course we saw were great but it seemed wrong to be moving up the leaderboard by doing less and beating those teams that completed a longer course than ourselves. The result moves us up to 4th in the UK team rankings.

The correct results with the penalties calculated properly should show:

1. 85:29 Team Adidas Terrex - Full course
2. 96:14 FGS! Nectar - Full course
3.106:15 Salomon - Running Free - Full course
4.109:15 Moxie Racers - Full course
5.114:30 CamRacers
6.114:55 Lastminute.AR
7.114:58 Tri Adventure

This is much closer than the published results show. Taking the long bike and hike almost cost us two places which would have been really annoying and Tri Adventure only missed out on 6th place by 3 minutes!


A very special thanks to all the volunteers at the race which wouldn't be possible without you. It was always good to see your smily faces however dirty or incoherent we were. Also thanks to all our supporters - sorry the short course leaderboard was so hard to follow for you.

Scotland once more delivered the terrain for a real expedition feel and the winners Team Adidias Terrex showed their dominance of the UK scene. We hope they can do us proud at the World Champs in France.

Results - Tracked Route - Sleepmonsters Reports - Dawn's race video - DreamTeam Channel 4 video

The Beast of Ballyhoura - an Irish training weekend

The first weekend of August had been put in our diaries as a final team training weekend before the Terrex Sting Expedition Race. When we later saw that this coincided with the Beast of Ballyhoura 36 hour race which several of us had been interested in doing for a few years, the decision to enter was quickly made. Many were surprised that we would race 36 hours two weeks before a long race, but one of the Irish teams had also taken this decision -rightly or wrongly.

Once entered we must credit Ivan at CCAR and Ballyhoura Failte for all their help in our airport transfers and accomodation to make it possible to fit in the race on a tight schedule. It all went very smoothly. We were of course made very welcome as you would expect in Ireland.

The course was very well planned too with a core set of checkpoints and bonus controls to allow everyone to make it to the finish in 36 hours. This was a real achievement and credit to the planners as when they asked at the briefing who hadn't done the 'Beast' before it felt like everyone's hand went up, ourselves included!

Starting with a swim by Jason and Sabs tagging Jeff and Russ to orienteer, we were the first team onto the kayaks and immediately had to decide to paddle away from the route of most teams for a bonus checkpoint, but by the end of the kayak we had caught up somewhere mid field before heading out on the bikes.

By afternoon we were out trekking on terrain that felt very good training for Scotland. This included an exciting checkpoint under a swollen waterfall. By dark we were stopped for a while waiting for our bikes and struggling to stay warm on a high pass road.

Biking through the night was broken by a stop at Ballyhass lakes for some night orienteering on foot and kayaks and a climb/abseil. Then it was on to the final stages of a long trek in the Ballyhoura mountains where we were forced to have a 20 minute nap and a mountain bike back up into the same hills to explore the excellent single track there.

After a fast race back to the excellent race base at Blackwater castle, there were a couple of ziplines to keep us awake and tubing down the river to finish off the race nicely. This was topped off by an excellent spread of food and a brief results presentation because people wanted to hurry to the pub to watch the olympic 100m final!

When all the points were added up, we came second with prices from Wheelworx.ie. That just left a hectic evening of trying to dry kit and pack before a 4am departure to the airport.

We had a fantastic welcome and would thoroughly recommend the race. We also look forward to seeing a few familiar faces over in Stirling too. We owe a few people a beer or two..

Results, Race Reports, Photos and Press Coverage.

Route Map.

Summer Successes

During June and July we had a string of individual and pairs races with some good results. June started with Ben and Sabs competing individually in the Tri-Adventure Tri-Experience 3.5 hr event in Swinley Forest. In tight competition, Ben won the male class and Sabs was 5th female. Results.

Next up Steve H and Russ had a go at the Three Rings of Shap 100km ultra in some pretty horrendous weather causing quite a few route diversions due to flooding. They came in joint 9th place of the 34 100km finishers. Report, photos, Results. Route Track.

In July Ben and Sabs headed to the New Forest for the Tri-Adventure Tri-Challenge 5 hr run/bike event. Sabs was top female with Ben 7th in the male class .Results. The same weekend Steve H and Russ competed in the Saunders Mountain Marathon based from Wasdale. For a change, heat was more of a problem over some tough ground seldom visited in the Western Lake District. They finished in a fought over 4th place on the longest pairs 'Scafell Class'. Results. Reports. Routes: Day 1 and Day 2.

Finally at the end of July Steve H and Russ attempted the Wenlock Olympian Walk of 100 miles around the hills and valleys of Shropshire. This formed part of the games in Much Wenlock organised by the Wenlock Olympian Society.

With two different loops of 50 miles each centred on Much Wenlock, many of the competitors found the return to the village hall in the middle of the night a place too comfortable to face setting off on the second loop. Russ suffered with his stomach on the second loop and Steve more so with his feet, but they perservered and formed part of the elite group of only 25 finishers, their time making them 10th quickest over the distance. Results. Route Track.


Kirkby Lonsdale to Settle - the long way round
It was a short 15 mile coach ride from Settle to Kirkby Lonsdale for Ben, Jeff, Sabs and Russ to the start of the Adidas Terrex Swift race. Ahead however lay a 300km, 50 hour race route to get back to the finish in Settle.

The event was hosted by Open Adventure as an introduction to longer expedition races. Therefore the maps and route were sent out beforehand. We had a good look at the route and distances and decided we should be capable of getting around the full course although it was structured with many optional parts in the later stages to allow teams to reach the finish before the time cutoff.

It started with a sunny run around Kirkby Lonsdale and alongside the River Lune to collect our canoes and continue all the way down through Lancaster to the estuary, a great start to the journey. We took the run steady and passed a few teams on the paddle by not capsizing and picking good lines down the river. 6 hours into the race we transitioned onto the bikes to cycle across the Forest of Bowland for some bike orienteering in Gisburn forest. Jeff took the navigation and we were swapping places here with Team planetFear, although Marieke injured her ankle on the final control which would eventually lead her to drop out towards the end of the race.

Soon we were into Malham to drop the bikes to head out on a 10 mile tour on foot as darkness fell. We took in Malham Tarn via Goredale Scar and back via the bottom of Malham Cove where we caught the Irish team MOXIE racers. It started raining and we packed a lot of food and clothes as well as our climbing gear for what would be the next 18 hour mountain biking stage. From now on teams could start taking shorter routes. We were the last of only five teams to continue on the full route.

Having got ahead of planetFear we took a wrong turning on one of the tracks over Kilnsey Moor and had to back track and could see their headlamps behind us as we headed for the abseil down Kilnsey Crag at dawn. The next high leg was over to Aysgarth. Heading into the wind and rain it was a bleak ride. We had to just keep going and get down to some shelter. It was too early for anywhere to be open in Aysgarth but people were awake and Ben persuaded a cafe to open to serve us bacon sandwiches and plenty of tea. With still a long way to go our only focus was to get the next checkpoint and over to another cafe in Reeth to recover. However on the way the rain started to ease and we were boosted by meeting the race photographers on the descent into Reeth and carried straight on through. There was a lot of climb in the next few hours but finally we were rewarded with some pleasant descents before the final climb from Muker to Hawes. In the final descent the temperature dropped and we arrived cold once more into transition.

35 hours into the race without sleep we decided this was a good place to catch an hours sleep undercover wearing our clothes ready for the final long trek. This 65 km stage would take in Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent to complete the journey back to Settle. We left Hawes at last light heading for Whernside. It stayed dry but cold and the peak was in cloud. Although we jogged a short section, it took us 5 hours to reach the summit. Although the sun rose on the descent we were all hit by tiredness. We were moving slowly and stopping often for naps. At least a couple of teams pulled out on this final stage. With a further 10 hours of trek to go we weren't going to complete the route before the cut off and reluctantly cut the final two peaks. This 'shortcut' was still a further 20km of hiking to the finish however.


Just four teams completed the full course and we placed 7th as the penalty times for missing checkpoints on the final trek were much higher than those for the preceeding mountainbike stage for those teams racing more tactically. Given the weather and the number of teams new to these longer races it was good to see over half the teams making it to the finish and useful experience for those heading towards the longer Scotland event later in the year.


Results - Sleepmonsters Race Reports - Tracked Route

Final training for the Swift Race

Ben, Jeff, Sabs and Russ have finished preparations for the Terrex Swift event this June Bank Holiday weekend.

CamRacers had a weekend with all 5 of the expedition team squad together in the Peak District for two further sessions in the canoes on moving water followed by a substantial mountain bike ride together into the night and topped off with the 3 hour Dark and White Dovedale trail score event on the Sunday. Ben and Sabs placed 2nd mixed pair although for the same score the remainder placed lower in their classes.

There was just time for Ben and Sabs to squeeze one more event in at the Questars 6 hour run, bike, kayak down in Purbeck where once again they achieved a hard fought 2nd placing in the first hot weekend of the year.

Questars Race Report - Questars Results - Dark & White Results

Two Day Adventure in the Lake District
Hopefully Open Adventure's decision to revive the two day stage race in the UK with a proper team category will up the game of UK teams. Certainly it was blessed by the weather until almost the end while the South and West of the country suffered floods and gales

Russ, Sabs, Jeff and Ben our team for Adidas Swift competed together in the 4 person mixed team category. Russ and Jeff were regular competitors at the original 2 day staged ACE races so were familiar with the format.

Nearly all the top UK teams were at the event so it was going to be a good competition.

Day 1 had a ride to a remote start at the foot of Loughrigg for a 2 hour foot score navigational section. Up to 1 hour rest was allowed before taking all your equipment from stage 1 on a 4 hour 30 minute mountain bike score stage down through Grizedale Forest to finish back at the Coniston event base campsite.


The top 3 teams cleared the first stage but we lost a few minutes here and there meaning we had to drop a checkpoint placing us 4th. The following ride was very well planned with a lot of strategy required to get the most points without being late back. We weren't helped on this stage by two puncture stops but were pleased with the decisions we made and our timing was spot on. This left us in 4th place with TotalXC just behind on points.

The final stage of the day was a 90 minute night stage up at Tarn Hows. Most of the teams had problems with navigation or timing on this stage and we were no exception. We picked a checkpoint following ground that was very rough underfoot which slowed us down a lot. We didn't panic though and had the energy to sprint the final track to avoid losing too many points for being late back and held our 4th position overall.

Day 2 was a 90 minute score event kayaking on lake Coniston followed by a fixed route trail run up over the Old Man of Coniston. There was quite a wind blowing down the lake and we took the cautious approach dropping a couple of checkpoints and coming in early when it would have paid to collect one more. We were still 4th on the stage though which just left the trail run. We weren't up to our normal speed on this and feared how many points we must be losing but we stuck with it and all the teams had to battle the strong winds on the ridge. It was a great run but we were glad to be back down and the weekend's competition over.

When the points were totalled we had easily held on to 4th place. We were very pleased with that as we didn't realistically expect to be up with the ex-World Champions and other two sponsored teams above us. We were also pleased with how we had worked as a team. None of the stages had gone perfectly but we had kept going and made good decisions.

'Make good decisions' was always Phil Humphreys advice to people new to his 2 day races. Let's hope Open Adventure make a good decision and keep this social and competitive format alive in the UK calendar.

Event Results - Tracker Route

Tri-umph for Sabrina and Ben in Surrey
The final event of the Tri-Adventure spring series was held at Mickleden, Surrey. The format is a fast and furious 2 hours split into an hour on foot and an hour on mountain bike, navigating to score the most checkpoints against the clock.

A good turnout saw over 100 competitors competing in both the 2 hour 'Sprint' and the 1 hour foot based 'Trail' cataegories. Sabrina came out top in the female category amassing a sizeable 20 point gap over the rest of the field.

Things were closer in the male category with Ben taking 3rd spot from Tom Davies behind Nick Gracie and Adam Marcinowicz. A very respectable result amongst such a strong field.

This 3 event Series starts again in September.

Event Results

Hope for Russ
While Ben and Sabs were competing in Surrey, Russ travelled up to another of the Dark & White 3 hour score trail runs starting from Hope sports ground.

It was a great sunny day if a little chilly with snow still lying in the gulleys and a forecast maximum temperature of just +3C on the tops. As ever there was a lot of local competition in a strong field. Russ completed a taxing 25km loop with 1000m climb extending along the ridge from Win Hill west almost to Edale and back over Lose Hill.

Although the area was partly familiar territory from the High Peak Marathon route, a couple of navigational glitches cost Russ time losing points for being late back and dropping him down the rankings to 9th Vet Male. A great day out as always with lashings of tea and biscuits at the end. The 20 mile cycle each way to meet with his lift to the event won't have done any harm either as training for the longer events planned for later in the year.

Event Results - Tracker route

The Open 5 Series ends in Sunshine (and success!)
The final event of the Haglofs Open 5 2011/12 Series took place in Dovedale in the south Peak District. In contrast to many of the events through the winter, finally the sun came out to celebrate the series finale.

Ben and Sabs were there to defend their lead in the series and Russ also made the journey up for the weekend for some training on the saturday riding and running with George before the event on the Sunday.

With dry trails and a good network of footpaths, roads and cycle trails it was always going to be a fast event - Russ averaged 20mph between two of the MTB checkpoints on the Tissington Trail! Most people including the CamRacers contingent elected to run first which took us South from the start at Alstonefield towards Ilam Park and in and across Dovedale with one of the checkpoints in the well known cave.

Neither of us had particularly efficient run routes but there were glorious views. Russ managed to cut short his run to keep down to the 2 hours, but Ben and Sabs although scoring highly on the run were out for more than 2:40 which despite a fast transition was always going to leave them short of time on the bike in the 5 hours allowed overall. Both made it home in time with Russ placing 4th in the Male Solos and Ben and Sabs placing 6th in the Mixed Pairs against strong competition.

Then it was a tense wait while all the figures were crunched to determine the Series ranking. Finally it came down to a single point difference in this last race to knock Ben and Sabs into 2nd place overall. The close competition made for exciting racing throughout the series and it all starts again in November. Congratulations once again Ben and Sabs.

Ben and Sabs taking their 2nd place Series trophies for the Haglofs 2011/12 Open 5 race series
Event Results - Series Results - Sleepmonsters Report

Training in the Brecon Beacons

Continuing our joint training weekends between CamRacers and Tri-Adventure, it was Ed and Soph's turn to organise and the venue was the Brecon beacons. Basing ourselves in Dolygaer bunkhouse, having arrived late friday night, the first phase was a mountain bike route leaving abut midnight. It wasn't the best of nights with mist and rain on the higher ground - but all good training. We were having our first run out as the team entered for the Stirling expedition event later in the year now that George has dropped out leaving Russ, Sabrina, Jeff and Jason. We've all raced together in different combinations so know each other well. We rode well together making an effort to stay together at the same speed. We had several kit issues, mostly things that we would have checked if it it wasn't just a training weekend but they were welcome reminders.

Unfortunately Russ took a small tumble on the bike and Jason also gashed an ankle which we dealt with once back at the bunkhouse 'in transition'. Both groups were similarly paced on the bike so we set out on foot into the saturday morning daylight together. The foot route of about 40km was a great tour of all the main ridges and peaks in the central Brecon Beacons and with more wind and rain forecast we were racing quite heavy with lots of food, clothing and shelter - remember we all got up for work on friday morning and hadn't slept since.

We jogged more than we might have expected, not least to avoid Sabrina getting cold! We also took the opportunity to test putting up the tent and felt we should try sleeping which was easy for a quick 15 minute recover. Some of the hardest grassy/boggy terrain came as a sting in the tail towards the end of the afternoon as the 10,000ft of climb started to take its toll. An early evening transition to the pub allowed us to swap stories of our day before some well earned sleep.

Sunday some people had to depart but we managed to take in part of the Cwm Carn trails including a valuable experience of learning to finish without any brake pads left! Altogether a very useful weekend giving us confidence for later in the year and also plenty of areas to work on once more.

Tracker Routes: MTB, Trek, Cwm Carn.

Adventure Race TV exposure
Sabrina travelled to the New Forest to take part in a mini event staged by Tri-Adventure for filming as part of the BBC1 Countryfile programme. Presenter Ellie Harrison teamed with Nick Gracie over a short course involving both foot and mountain bike navigation. Sabrina was part of 'team purple' competing against Nick and Ellie.

Ellie found it tough not being used to quite such a pace and Sabs had several seconds of fame in the fetching purple bib!
Interestingly the local landowners thought it promoted off road mountainbiking in the area when all tracks used were part of public rights of way and the approved cycle network.

Ben and Sabrina fight back in the Open 5 Series
To understand the title of these notes, you need to understand the missing story. Between the Quantocks Open 5 (below) and now, was the North Pennines event planned by our very own Jeff. Unfortunately due to an error judging the amount of snow present, Ben and Sabs had a bad day only managing 12th place.

In doing so they lost their lead in the series. Hence this North Downs event was their chance to fight back.

It was after all our area of the country and an area where we have raced before, so felt like home ground. With such determination, Sabrina headed out onto the first run section like a bullet and had to be pulled back by Ben to a more sustainable pace. This was still a very fast pace though and with a good score it was soon time to head back for the bikes. Transition was quickly accomplished but perhaps a little too quickly in retrospect.

The weather soon started to break from the temperate rain to freezing temperatures and snow. Suddenly the hills were a blessing as going up could still keep them warm. Ben had taken time to put on plenty of clothes but soon had to concede that he was going to have to give most of them to Sabrina if they were going to finish! Struggling all the way to the finish, they kept it up for a convincing win in the mixed pairs although Sabrina had to be bundled from the finish to warm up before finding out the results!

So going into the final event in the Peak District, Ben and Sabrina lead the series once again by a very small margin. It's going to be an exciting finsh to the series!

A return to the High Peak Marathon

The High Peak Marathon features in many fell runner's calendars and anyone who has done it has plenty of stories to tell. As such it has become a very competitive race and this starts each year in November when the entries are put in to the lottery. Following a very respectable 7th place in 2009, Russ thought it was time to put in another entry and was slightly surprised when the entry confirmation came through.

The team evolved to be predominantly a British Antarctic Survey team with Hamish and Clare joining and Kate,a glaciologist living in Sheffield with useful local knowledge! Although a strong team on paper our aim was always more about fun and completing the 40 mile overnight route. Time passed quickly leading up to the event and although Kate managed to get out on part of the course, we were mostly relying on Russ' memory from 3 years previously.

Friday night came and the usual suspects including many adventure racer friends assembled in the Edale hall to be let out at 1 minute intervals into the foggy night. Recent warm temperatures had taken away all thoughts of snow and frozen bogs. We moved pretty steadily but it was soon clear that Clare was suffering but bravely keeping up the pace. Once out on the moor as the ground forced a slower pace she started to feel better. One moment of excitement was helping another team to pull one of their members from a bog before the rest of them became stuck. On the main featureless section we suffered a couple of navigational issues: following an unmarked path for a couple of hundred metres off route and later turning too early as daylight came. We were within a few hundred metres of the route but the detour cost us a further half hour. Somewhere here Hamish managed to damage his toe which reduced the pace further but we struggled on to the main food stop at Snake pass. Despite the rain in our faces we all wanted to continue - or perhaps just no one wanted to let down the team!

We weren't moving quickly but the weather gradually cleared to sunshine and showers with great views round by Kinder Downfall. We finished in 14 hours 17 minutes, all glad to have finished. A couple of days later there was even talk by at least a couple of the team about having another go sometime. It's that kind of event...

This was our first test of our new tracker allowing friends to follow our progress in real time and record our navigational issues. We hope to make more use of this.

Eddie Winthorpe's excellent Report - Results- Tracker Route

A successful day for Jeff, but not so for the team
The February Haglofs Open 5 event was based in Warcop and Jeff had agreed to plan the event. This wasn't quite a s straight forward as a normal event as access to the military ranges is strictly limited and he had to use just about every day they were open to plan.

It was further complicated by access to the area being under the A66 in a small (wet) culvert - but hey, it's meant to be an adventure race! On the day there was still recent significant snow on the higher ground and this was to have a significant impact on the results.

Ben and Sabs still leading the series were one of the ones choosing to head for the higher ground believing they needed the points from the higher ground to get a good score on the day, but the going was so soft and slow it seriously ate into their time making them late back and into serious penalty points. In the end the results were largely split between those that stayed lower with higher scores and those venturing higher. Ben and Sabs still gained a respectable 10th in the mixed pairs but with their rivals taking a win they lost their lead in the series. Still several events to go and everyone went away having raced on an area they were less familiar with and no one got shot much to Jeff's relief!


Purbeck Team Training ready for the year ahead

With two longer UK races in the year ahead for the team in the form of the Yorkshire Dales based 48 hour Terrex Swift and multi-day expedition race starting from Stirling -Terrex Sting, it made sense to start getting in a bit of team training. This was especially true as both will involve Open Canoe legs which we have not raced with to any great extent.

The team for the events is made up of Sabs, Jeff and Russ joined by George from Team Tri-Adventure but who is currently Cambridge based. George took on the task of organising the weekend on his home turf of Purbeck helped out a little by Russ with the maps. We were joined by the main Tri-Adventure team also aiming for the same races as well as fellow CamRacers Ben and Jason and some more friends to assemble 4 teams in total.

The weekend started from Brenscombe outdoor centre at 11pm with a trek over the hills and around the coast on a cold, moonlit night. In total for the weekend we would cover around 45km on foot but this intial trek was around half that. A quick transition back at the centre set us off on mountain bikes for the remainder of the darkness as the temperatures fell well below zero causing us a few challenges with frozen bikes. Around daybreak we regrouped to head on foot down to Cleavel Point to start the Canoe leg which would take us across Purbeck Harbour and up the river to Wareham where we had a spot of street orienteering to stretch the legs and help warm up.

With the tide turning, we headed back for the return with one further run enroute causing a few navigational problems as the tiredness started to hit. The final paddle was tough against wind and tide before a short portage and the final foot section back to the centre for a big meal and a bed for the night.

We learnt a lot and can start to focus our efforts now in the areas we need to concentrate on.

A surprise meeting on the Whitby Coast
Russ and Steve H decided that getting in an early season ultra run would be good preparation for the year ahead. The night in the travelodge went all too quickly and early in the morning we finished the drive to the iconic Whitby Abbey which was to be our start and finish point for the 50 miles head.

It was a cool morning and the early start wasn't quite shorts weather. Soon the small crowd were set off, some at quite a pace South along the undulating coastal path. As there was also a marathon on the same route it was hard to tell who was running what. Steve, on his first ultra took it easy, starting from the back while Russ didn't want to get held up on the stiles and was somewhere near the front.

The route went as far as Ravenscar on a disused railway track before heading inland across Fylingdales moor, and a circuit of Sneaton High Moor woods before retracing the route back to Whitby. Just as we turned inland a friendly hello greeted Russ as Paul came through to meet him. Having not met up for over a year as Paul's work commitments had taken him abroad we were both as surprised as each other. Paul was based back in the UK and with an entry in the Dragon's Back lined up was also in some need of training. The miles passed quickly as we chatted away. At the refreshment stop Paul pulled away but just like old times he missed a turning on the 'marked' route and Russ caught up again and they settled down to run the rest of the race together.

Meanwhile Steve was taking it easy about 20 minutes behind and slowly closing the gap as he gradually overtook people. By the end Paul and Russ finished just over 10 hours together in 11th place with Steve just 10 minutes and 5 places behind. A tough but greatly enjoyable day out. Surprisingly muddy and slippery on the moors. A good one to tick early in the year and great to see Paul back out racing again.


Double success to start 2012

The 2012 season started with two events on the same day. Russ travelled up to Hathersage in the Peak District for the second round of the Dark and White mini-mountain marathon series while Ben and Sabs headed across to the Quantocks for the next in the Haglofs Open 5 series with an eye to maintaining their lead position in the series.

It was a glorious day across the country, seeing good turn outs for both events. Most of the main adventure racers had made their way across to the Open 5 but Russ was to have competition against a former rival dating back as far as the ACE Race 2-day events in the form of Phil Scarf and his teammate. The Dark and White 3 hour format is a foot based score event sticking mostly to rights of way so with the easy navigation attracts a strong field of local fell runners too. Surprisingly for a 3 hour event using a 1:25 000 map, just a single A4 sheet was used but the network of tracks above Hathersage to Stanage edge and beyond was enough to keep everyone busy for 3 hours with the winner just clearing the course with a few minutes to spare. Phil Scarf came out the victor to take second place in the M40 class edging Russ into 3rd place by just 5 points.

The Quantock hills proved to be just as much a battleground with the 5 hour format of foot and mountain bike. Despite an unfortunate choice of control by Ben and Sabs which cost them a lot of time, partly due to the recent wet weather, they had a good run leg and were consistent in the remainder of the biking to settle for second place in the mixed pairs, retaining their lead in the Series.

An excellent start to the new year!