Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Well an' Good in Castlewellan - one-day race report

A creditable fifth was our lot on 26 February in Castlewellan. And our jackets came up a treat in the wash.


It was a brilliant idea to start the race by having one member of each team enter the maze to find the marshal with the maps and instructions.

It seemed an act of lunacy for Davy to insist that yours truly, who turns any corner and is lost, was to go on the winding errand into the yew labyrinth.

And it was pure pot luck (and 3 previous weeks on Google maps) that saw yours truly 3rd last into the maze but 2nd out, just shy of the steaming heels of Jonny Gallier from Uphill Struggle.

We marked the map for the first bike section and got moving, first to hit the trail with eventual joint winners Team Purple 2, who set a devilish pace over the fields and tracks at such a lick that we saw no other teams until we were halfway up Meelmore on foot, by which point we were busted.

On the road to Tollymore they left us puffing in their wake as we spun out on the single speeds, and they cruised the tarmac to the mountain-boarding.

Mountain-boarding reminds you that you are no longer part of the youth of today. We were brutal at it, but were soon hammering towards Meelmore Lodge, gaining on the lads again as we stomped up the hill.

We marked up the running checkpoints at the bike-drop, and hot-footed about a minute behind the guys. Contouring the hill, we were always a few hundred yards behind the lads, but were right with them by the time they had flaffed around to find the checkpoint at the wee dam.

So began the breezy, wheezy slog up the mighty Meelmore. We kept tramping at our own pace, but lost ground on the lads, and were then gutted to see ultimate joint winners the McCabe brothers RUNNING past us up the valley, and they took the lead about three quarters of the way up.

We were also passed by 3rd and 4th place (for day 1) Passing Wind and NTSR, but we had all bunched up by the time we got to the abseil, given some confusion on the knoll. We decided to clock out, chill out for a few minutes, mark up the rest of our map, eat, drink, chat, and let the uber-feisty folks crack on.

After confirming with Keith (NI’s own Montgomery Wick) that we were unlikely to be killed or maimed on the abseil even if we did something daft, we chucked ourselves over the edge with gay abandon and gambolled back to the bikes.

I can’t remember anything else from there until we reached the kayaks, apart from the wooden skis thing round the souterrain, which we HATE. “OK, 1, 2, 3. Left, right, ... Try bigger steps. Wait, I am falling forward. You ready? What’s wrong? OK. Left, right, ...”

When Steve insisted we don our waterproofs for the kayaks, we laughed at the pipsqueak’s audacity, but clambered into our oil-skins and put our heads above the dam. It was not until we actually had the boat in the water that we realised it was a BRILLIANT idea to be in the waterproofs, and the slog up the lake was awful.

Rounding the point, we decided to take an innovative route, so we headed for shore, chucked our paddles up onto the road, dragged the boat up onto the tarmac, hoisted it above our heads, and started running up the road, portage!

NEVER DO THIS WITH THESE BOATS (It works great with a normal Canadian canoe). Within 200 yards, we were so miserable we were praying we had never been born, so we chucked the boat back over the edge and hopped in, and lost time overall.

The rest of the paddle was paddle, paddle, paddle, paddle, etc, etc, and we were glad to get out of the thing and back to the bikes.

Heading with the wind, on fresh tarmac, down hill, not in a kayak anymore, was a great feeling, but we were spinning out too easily on the single-speeds, but we made short work of the pedal to Greg at the ‘obstacle course’, which consisted of the old water slide from the Valley Leisure Centre, 4 NIE cable drums, 5 broken pallets and some stolen scaffolding.

36 years each without any stretching after exercise, and the ensuing inflexibility, meant we were like oak beams going round the course, but somehow we managed to chuck our bodies over and through everything to get on our way.

Greg had promised us ‘a wee bitch of a climb’ before the finish, and so it turned out. But it was great to finally hit the village again and get back to the centre as the 5th team home, at 3:48pm. Superb food as usual. Our sincere thanks to Joan for organising it all.

What a great race. Well done again, CCAR. Top notch.

Chuck an extra 10 or 20 quid at Ivan or Steve at the next race if you can spare the cash - the lads are losing a personal fortune to put these races on for our benefit!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Early Signs of Relationship Breakdown

A fleeting moment of frustration drives a brief wedge between the normally inseparable Tango & Cash. "You are ALWAYS looking at that bloody map!! There's a race on, in case you hadn't noticed!!"

Tango & Cash Castlewellan adventure race Tango & Cash Castlewellan adventure race
Looking the part was not enough to push for victory in the 'Castlewellan' CCAR race on 23 February, but the pockets were VERY useful on the day.

(Thanks to Mickey Regan for the pics!)