Friday, 31st March 2023
Article Image

Tri-adventure Experience

by Editor
Thursday 28th June 2012

Tri-adventure at Swinley, June 2012 - a competitor's view

Sunday morning dawned with a good dose of sunshine, perfect conditions for the 3.5 hour Experience at Swinley Forest. On arrival, we were greeted by a good crowd of familiar and less familiar faces, busy getting bikes and kit ready, marking maps and drinking tea.

I was really looking forward to the event, though with a certain degree of trepidation as the area is renowned for its tricky navigation. Last time I’d raced here had been fine though, and I hadn’t had any navigation issues recently, so what could go wrong?

Tri-adventure at Swinley, June 2012 - a competitor's view

Looking at the map before the race, it seemed sensible to run more than usual, as some of the bike checkpoints down to the south east looked hard to find. At the start people seemed evenly split between those heading off east and west – I joined a crowd running east to collect checkpoint 14, but after that diverted to checkpoint 1 so was soon relatively on my own. The pill box at the top of the hill was easy to find, as was checkpoint 2, back down the track. So far so good. Even checkpoint 3, off track, proved unchallenging thanks to a handy fence corner.

However things didn't go to plan when I was finding my way out from 3 to 5 – a good reminder that there is no room for complacency at Swinley.

Lost (adj) – unable to find one’s way or ascertain one’s whereabouts. Confused, bewildered.
In fact there are various degrees of lostness, ranging from slightly misplaced to completely flummoxed – most of which I experienced in the 3 hours to follow…

My current position was only a slight misplacement, but attempting to head in the right direction involved a muddy slide and wade across a stream - this was turning into a proper adventure race now. Luckily I soon reorientated myself and found checkpoint 5 at the very scenic location of Rapley Lake.

For reasons unclear with hindsight, I decided to go for checkpoint 4 rather than 15, but on arriving at a heavily wooded area full of singletrack it didn’t seem worth spending ages looking for a checkpoint in the middle of trees somewhere…only later that evening did I spot the extremely narrow white firebreak line on the map which might just have helped…!

Feeling quite energetic, I pressed on towards Gravel Hill, and was surprised to see a group of people on Segways* zooming around the forest. This may have distracted me from running somewhat, as I proceeded to trip over and fall flat on my face, which no doubt the Segwayers found hilarious! Luckily this only resulted in a bruised knee and some minor bloodletting on the hands, despite my chin somehow hitting the ground.

After this minor episode, things looked up hugely as I ticked off checkpoints 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 12 without any issues at all, other than getting a bit tired of running. That’s a whole 45 minutes with a 0% lostness rating!

By now I was one hour and fourty minutes into the event and I just wanted to get back to transition and on my bike, but intended to pick up checkpoint 13 on the way in. Unfortunately Olddean Common had other ideas. Maybe I missed the right bridleway, because I ended up on a load of indistinct paths through woodland, so I abandoned all plans of finding 13, hoping only to find a way off the common. That wasn’t too hard, but arriving in a residential area I wasn’t actually sure which bit of Camberley I’d ended up in and street names weren’t a lot of help with an OS map. Luckily, spotting a tourist ‘you are here’ sign at the edge of the common saved the day! The adventure continues…

Finally getting back to transition after two hours and ten minutes, I decided not to bother changing into bike shoes as there was only one hour and twenty minutes left for cycling. Exiting the college, it was good to be on the saddle, though I embarrassingly took a wrong turn almost immediately despite having just run in the same way! Hammering through Camberley’s roads was a good opportunity to stuff down some cereal bars though.

Tri-adventure at Swinley, June 2012 - a competitor's view

Along with a couple of others trying to head to checkpoint 29, the first obstacle was a military fence blocking the way, so we turned back and tried an alternative route. This still involved being redirected by soldiers to turn right onto another very indistinct and wiggly path through the woods! After following this for a while, we were rather surprised to actually turn up at the checkpoint. The way to 28 looked more straightforward but still involved a minor episode of lostness before finding the right cattle grid and some familiar faces.

Quick decisions were needed on what could be achieved in the remaining time, so I biked to lower star post for a clear reference point, even enjoying the deep muddy puddles! From there 25, 23 and 22 were collected without incident.

With only 20 minutes to go, heading straight back via checkpoint 30 seemed perfectly achievable. Heading south to the reservoir junction went to plan and once I saw the tall radio mast I was confident that everything was under control, as it’s a great navigational reference point. However within a minute of spotting the mast, it decided to unhelpfully hide behind a large clump of trees (or possibly was removed by aliens) as I never saw it again. In the rush to get back on time, I suddenly found myself completely lost for the second time. Following some electric lines eastwards, I figured out once I got to the bend in the wires on the map I’d know where I was. However on reaching the bend, I unexpectedly spotted checkpoint 20; yes I have to admit that I found a checkpoint I wasn’t actually looking for! It was on a different set of electric lines to the ones I’d thought I’d ended up at.

Getting back in 6 minutes wasn’t going to happen now but at least if I was going to be a little late I had 10 extra points to lose. Location sorted, I rushed back and got in just over 5 minutes late, losing 11 points. Clearly I wasn’t the only one with timing issues though…

Cue a very pleasant hour sat in the sun chatting with others over coffee and cake, comparing stories.

After my catalogue of errors, I was surprised and pleased to come in as 4th female. In terms of a race, things hadn’t gone particularly well, but it was most definitely an adventure and definitely an Experience! One I hope to repeat with a lower average lostness rating next time. Thanks to all the team for another great day out.


For more information check out: www.triadventure.co.uk


Related Articles

Article Image
Tri-Adventure returns under new ownershi...Race report: Tri-Adventure Effingham - May 31, 2015
Article Image
Experience the Chilterns this autumn wit...Race preview: Tri-Adventure 4hr Experience - Sunday, November 17, 2013
Article Image
The sun finally comes out for a Tri-Adve...Race report: Tri-Adventure 2hr Sprint & 1hr Trail Run - Effingham, Surrey, Sunda...
Article Image
Tri-Adventure's NEW 4hr Experience is a ...Race report: Tri-Adventure 4hr Experience, 2hr Sprint & 1hr Trail Run - Swi...
Article Image
2, 5 or 10k trail run with Whitely Villa...Race news: Whiteley Village Run Day - Sunday, June 8, 2014 & The Alms Race - Sun...
Article Image
Challenge yourself to a new adventure in...Fancy a new experience, something challenging, exhilarating and fun? Well, Tri-...
Article Image
Join in a Tri-Adventure this winter with...Race preview: Tri-Adventure Trail Run or Sprint Adventure - January 20, February...
Article Image
Tri-Adventure expands for 2011Following the successful launch of Tri-Adventure in 2010, Tri-Adventure is pleas...

Post A Comment

TereréJordan Blood