I’ve been meaning to write a blog post for a while but could never think of anything to write about. I was thinking possibly it should be on something to do with SEO seeing as I work for a search marketing company, but that would just be too obvious…so I thought I’d write about the time 3 employees of Site Visibility decided to try their hand at adventure racing….
A few months ago we signed up for the ‘Weavers Down Autumn Assault’, part of the Helly Hanson Adventure Challenge series. On their website it said it was a team event, there would be at least 6 miles of running, 15 miles of off road cycling and around a mile of kayaking. Easy, we thought. We have 4 months to train, we’re all fit and healthy, we’ll breeze it. Then suddenly it was 4 days before the event, we were totally unprepared and one man down due to injury. What to do? So we asked John. He goes to the gym a lot, he’ll be fine. But I can’t really ride a bike he said. Ah well..not to worry, how hard can 15 miles off road be? Ok, he said. I’m in.
The night before the event, as we all sat carbo loading and drinking beer I was suddenly slightly worried about how focused our team was and how prepared we were. Especially as they’d forecast gale force winds for the following day. And as we arrived at the event and saw a crazy amount of men in lycra we realised that this was actually a serious competition. We’re all going to die.
Fireworks went off and over 900 competitors ran into the forest at quite a pace. The first part consisted of approximately 2 miles of running through muddy puddles and sand followed by 7 miles of muddy, hilly, sandy, off road cycling. We didn’t realise the route would be so far so we didn’t take any water with us. Big mistake. Half way along the route Johns bike developed a problem and he had to ride the rest of the way using only one gear. I lost my balance cycling along a very narrow path and fell into a Gorse bush. Phil who was in front at the time didn’t see this and carried on without me and I had to be fished out by the man behind. And then Phil got over excited and burnt his legs out going up the first big hill. We were doing well.
We then returned to the transition area, dropped off our bikes and started the next run, around 2 miles to the kayaking lake. This part wasn’t so bad but our legs were definitely feeling it from the mountain biking. When we arrived at the kayaking area we discovered that the ‘twist’ was that there were no paddles. You had to use your hands and the water was absolutely freezing. After finishing the kayaking, barely able to feel our arms, we had to run back to our bikes and this is when Phil and I started to completely run out of steam. We stopped to eat some power gel while John jogged on the spot frightened that if he stopped moving he’d never start again. We eventually made it back to the bikes where we discovered that we had to do another 7 mile lap.
Several bananas and power bars later we set off. Luckily Johns bike had been fixed and he now had more than one gear and he whizzed off leaving me and Phil struggling to keep up. Not sure where he got his energy from. The worst part of the race was about 2 miles from the end, pushing our bikes up an incredibly steep muddy hill having just discovered we’d run out of power gel and water. I waited at the top for Phil. ‘I think I’m going be sick’ I said. ‘I think I’m going to faint’, Phil shouted up. ‘I don’t do hills.’ It turned out that by the end of the race Phil didn’t do flat’s either. The final downhill section was a huge relief but the whole cycling section saw a number of casualties, people were walking the track carrying wheels, bikes without chains, we even passed a paramedic walking up the track. There was also a very near miss as a cyclist decided to do a jump as he finished and his saddle flew off mid air much to the horror of the crowd. Luckily he noticed and didn’t sit back down again. Could have been painful.
On returning to the transition area, we dumped out bikes and ran to the final leg which consisted of strapping our feet to 2 planks of wood, a little like skis and walking together around a course. Then we ran through a ditch and came to the final hurdle, a slippery wooden slope that you had to run and jump up to catch the top and throw yourself over. The idea was that you did this as part of a team, each helping each other over. However John and Phil didn’t quite get this concept and managed to get over on their own leaving me sliding down it every time I tried to reach the top, and again, much to my embarrassment, had to be helped by someone from another team.
We finally crossed the finishing line, 4 hours, 25 minutes and 13 seconds after the starting gun went off, completely drained, muddy and wet, hurting everywhere but very proud of ourselves. We came in position number 224 out of 297, the last team crawling in at 6:05 so at least we weren’t last. John went off to get some water, I went to get a jumper and Phil went straight to the burger shack. What a team….Iron Man next…