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Picture perfect - the inaugural Open Adventure 2 day stage race

by Editor
Friday 7th June 2013
 
 

Race report: Dave MacFarlane and Fi Spotswood report from the first Open Adventure two day stage race - June 1 & 2

The inaugural Open Adventure 2 day stage race © James Kirby

Photos © James Kirby

#A gorgeous sun-soaked Lake District was the backdrop to the first Open Adventure 2 day staged adventure race; held on 1st and 2nd June. Based from the picture-perfect Rydal Hall, around 130 solos, pairs and teams took on the five stages; two hours of foot orienteering, five hours of mountain biking and ninety minutes of night foot navigation on day 1, with a fell race around the Fairfield horseshoe and a two hour kayak on Windermere on day 2.

All stages apart from the fell race were score events, so as ever it wasn’t just the fastest runners or bikers who were top of the table. Teams also had to navigate, choose their routes carefully and make strategic decisions about which controls to drop and where the terrain would be easier going. That said, the race certainly favoured the stronger runners, with three of the five events being on foot.

The inaugural Open Adventure 2 day stage race © James Kirby

Photos © James Kirby

The first foot stage was a run or trek starting at Easedale Tarn above the village of Grasmere. Racers had two hours to take in checkpoints above Pavey Ark around to Helm Crag. The views of the lakes, set off perfectly against a cloudless sky, had everyone smiling no matter how their navigation went. “We didn’t get many points” admitted one mixed pair, new to the sport, “but that was awesome. I can’t wait until the next stage”. At the pointy end of the race in the mixed team category, things were already hotting up, with Haglofs Silva, adidas and Mountain Hardwear all within a few points of each other.

After a few hours off to wash the sweat off, change boggy socks and down some recovery shakes, teams prepared for the five hour mountain bike stage. Controls were scattered from Elterwater and Coniston on the western side, down to Claife Heights and the Windermere ferry over to Kentmere and then heading back Rydal. Route choice was tricky and clearing the course wasn’t an option. It was a tough ride, too, in the warm but windy afternoon. “We pushed to the wire” exclaimed Bruce Duncan from Haglofs Silva as he caught his breath back at the finish gantry. “That was hard”.

The inaugural Open Adventure 2 day stage race © James Kirby

Photos © James Kirby

10.30pm on Saturday evening saw the competitors complete a night orienteering stage over the slopes of Loughrigg, the stage being put back slightly due to the fantastic weather and it still being light at 10pm. Knowing Loughrigg well, it’s hard to see how navigating it’s heavily worn trails can be hard, but at night the landscape loses 80% of its features. Tarns disappear until you step in them, and tracks merge into the darkness.

After the 90 minutes was up racers got some sleep and were up and ready for day two. Categories were split into those who would run first and those who would kayak. On sit on top plastic boats, battling into a breezy Windermere, there was little difference in either the route choice or speeds of the top teams. The deciding race was to be the Fairfield Horseshoe dash.

With slower runners being towed by their faster team mates (and in the case of ‘slingshot’ Lucy Harris, herself a strong fell runner, two teammates thanks to the mighty legs of Chris Near and Tim Higginbottom), the mixed teams and pairs shot up towards the summit. Sweat was streaming down their eyes and even the likes of Kim Collison (Mountain Hardwear), one of the most experienced fell racers in the UK, was breathing hard and digging deep all the way up. This was the decider. The fast descent saw Haglofs catch up runaway leaders Mountain Hardwear, but even their superb descending skills couldn’t reel in the leaders, and with little else to be decided in the kayak it was Mountain Hardwear that walked away with the trophy.

The inaugural Open Adventure 2 day stage race © James Kirby

Photos © James Kirby

It wasn’t all about these top teams, though and special note needs to go to Joseph Bedford who, although being non-competitive, finished the entire Fairfield route in 1hr, 30 mins and 53 secs which is an incredible effort at any time, especially having done three stages prior to the run.

The weekend’s racing was fought out predominantly by five of the fastest Adventure Racing teams in the country; adidas TERREX, Endurancelife, For Goodness Shakes, Haglofs and Mountain Hardwear. The closest battle was for first and second places, with only ever a small numbers of points between them. In the end, Haglofs trailed to Mountain Hardwear, with Adidas in third and For Goodness Shakes and then Endurancelife following in fourth and fifth. In the mixed pair category, it was For Goodness Shakes pair Barbara Lonsdale and Chris Heppenstall who took the win. Dave Spence and Stuart Walker topped the male pair category for Accelerate, and the female pair category was won by Jill Ecclestone and Sharon McDonald from Castleberg Outdoors. Solo winners were ex-Olympic paddler Campbell Walsh and Jill Kisler. Full results can be found at www.openadventure.com.

The inaugural Open Adventure 2 day stage race © James Kirby

Photos © James Kirby

For the second two day race in the series, which takes place in North Wales at Trawsfyndd on the 6th and 7th July, we’re hoping for weather as equally as amazing.

Details can be found on our website here - www.openadventure.com/two-day/2013-wales/

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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