Sunday, June 29, 2008

Team Tango & Cash with Pimm's & White

Adventure Ireland Donegal Tango & CashAdventure Ireland Donegal KarenAdventure Ireland Donegal Enda

A great day’s racing in the Donegal hills on Saturday 28th June was fraught with all sorts of drama for us in what turned out to be a very close race, and we all finished utterly spent.

The results placed us in second, just behind the unputdownable Average Joes, who made up all their time AFTER the race!! As the results say:


Results here

Well done to the Average Joes - our inexperience meant we thought the race finished on Saturday when we arrived at the finish line! :-)

Anyway, ... A newly-formed team, a late start, grim problems with punctures, a bad fall off the bike, some good head to head tussles and a miserable paddle all made this a race we will remember for a long time.

Karen Duggan deserves a special mention. She agreed to be on our team having had no prior knowledge of our criminal records, and kept us laughing (and at times worried!) all day. A terrible fall off her bike had us worried sick we would be sending her back to Dublin in several pieces, but luckily she was only partly smashed to bits, and showed great guts to go on and keep pushing.


Our team for the race comprised Tango & Cash (naturally enough), Enda from adventure racing team ‘Meet the Spartans’, whose usual partner had gone to see Neil Diamond in concert :-/, and Karen, who travelled from Dublin for the race with a deserved reputation as a great mountain runner.

We completely missed the race start, relaxing at the car as all the other teams shot off. Davy was on the toilet at the time, so we left the centre in last place, and then went on to mess around for ages looking for checkpoint 1. Having finally secured it, Davy had a blow-out in his rear tyre, which turned out to be ripped. We then discovered our pump was broken, and we had to wait for ages for Average Joes (they had hunted for point 1 for much longer than we had), who kindly gave us a pump. We cursed Jonny Gallier’s pump for being rubbish for about ten minutes of frantic pumping, when we finally discovered that both our spare tubes were punctured, so we had to get the repair kit out. All in all, we lost nearly half an hour with all the messing about.

Back in action again, we were clawing back some time and closing on some of the teams heading up the track from Glenveagh Castle to the road, but another puncture and tyre wall repair set us back again, so we steadied ourselves for a frustrating day.

Our big break came on the first run section, where some brilliant navigating by Davy saw us stay off the high hills, contouring left rather than following the other teams over the top, and this saved us loads of time.

Karen’s skills as a mountain runner became clearly apparent on this section, as she let fly across the mountain, but thankfully the going was so rough underfoot that it slowed her down a bit to the pace of the rest of us! The value of Karen’s medical training also showed on the run, as she performed major eye surgery in the howling gale by fixing my folded-over contact lens. We all stuck together back to the bikes, satisfied we had made up lots of time and passed a few teams.

A great tarmac descent on the bikes had us back feeling we were making good time, and this was confirmed as we started to bump into the guys at the front of the race, but we hunted around for far too long for checkpoint 9, up to half an hour, trying to apply some lateral thinking to find the darn thing, but to no avail!

On the second run section, ourselves, CCAR and Average Joes ended up neck and neck for the checkpoint on the post at the track end, and it was a hard old slog on foot from there back to the bikes, which we greeted as if they were long-lost family.

The legs were starting to lose their vim at this stage, but we pushed hard, stuck together and helped each other along with a mixture of pushing and drafting, Enda setting the pace. Things were looking rosy until we were descending the rough rocky double-track before the road back to the boats.

On the fast downhill, Karen took the worst fall off a bike I have ever witnessed, striking one of the gullies hard and suddenly pitching over the handlebars. Somehow she managed to roll into a ball, which definitely minimised injury, but it was a terrible fall on an awful surface. Karen was clearly badly shaken and had really hurt her shoulder, but after steadying herself for a couple of minutes, she was back on the bike again, and showed unbelievable tenacity to grind it out to the kayaks, which we arrived at as the first team.

The kayaking was horrible as the wind was howling, but we set off down the lake with the strong wind on our backs. We scrabbled around for a long time for the first checkpoint, and CCAR were right on us in the confusion, and from there, it was a long hard slog up the lake to the church. Karen and I were making terrible progress, actually going backwards at one point, but we kept the head down and ground it out as best we could, relieved to see that Davy and Enda and CCAR, some way ahead, were not going for the bonus.

Davy had worked out that, given the distance already paddled and the time it had taken, the bonus section was definitely not worth going for in the conditions, so we struck off back for the centre. Team Average Joes had clearly made much better progress than us up the lake, as they took the decision that it was worth striking on for the bonus...

The wind on our backs again, and the finish in sight, our spirits were lifted and we pushed hard in one final effort. After 7.5 hours of hard racing, CCAR hit the shore first, and we followed about 20 seconds later, very tired, very cold, and very hungry.

It was a great effort by the team, especially given that it was our first outing. We pushed as hard as we could all day, we stuck together from start to finish, we supported each other in our various moments of adversity, and we had a great laugh all day (apart from the kayaking and Karen’s fall!).

Many, many thanks to Greg and Pauline of Adventure Ireland, who ran a brilliant event with hardly any manned support, and laid on a fantastic spread of food for after the event. What a great day out!!


Jonny said...

Great day out indeed, the lake looked far worse this morning too! ...where's my pump!!?

Paul McArthur said...

Blimey...that's a quick report....I havn't even unpacked the car yet. It was a great race yesterday..long, tough, but very enjoyable.

aquaasho said...

I hope she's not male adventure racers are expendable but tough female ones like Karen...irreplacable. ;-)

Well done!

Excuseless said...

We give ya a budding AR'er and ya go and mess her up on her first outing w ya ................ some messers ye are ...................but I heard ye had great craic along the way .............. or was that her shoulder that had the crack?

Tango and Cash said...

Poor Karen, we did feel a bit bad, using an adaptation of the old Apache trick, dragging her along behind the bikes to cover our tracks.

Paul said...

First tip in Adventure Racing - 'Just because you cross the finish line first, does not mean you win the race.'

If the kayak bonus was extended as promised at the start (the weather was awful on the lough) then tenacious whining from the experienced Paul would not have been required for CP1. The fact that we were the only team who actually went to the ghost CP and lost all that time searching does not seem to matter to people other that us. I said to Greg at CP3 that I expected a time credit for ‘his’ error, so to think I am just bringing it up at the end of the race just because we finished 4 minutes behind T&C is not very fair.

Tango and Cash said...

Haha - keep your hair on, Paul. I only posted that to wind you up, and will remove it now you have seen it! :-D

You lads were right to go for the bonus on the lake, but it would just have been nice if you had campaigned as hard for US and the other team at CP1 as well! :-D

See you at the next one, big-boy!

Paul said...

You succeeded.

I’ll start taking the pins out of my mini Cash potato figure now.

We did mention you when discussing CP1, but the credit was given to the actual time lost by us going to the ‘ghost’ CP and scratching our heads trying to look for it. I believe the others teams involved managed to catch Greg’s error from other teams before starting up the wrong hill – we simply weren’t that lucky.

It’s a problem with short races (9 hours a short race?), minutes can mean the different between a win and coming 2nd or 3rd - that is why ‘any’ race management need to be so careful and not to add their own mistakes to the course or for teams. On longer races (like the Beast), simple mistakes can be absorbed into the length of the race. All teams will cock up somewhere only the course – the trick is to minimise the cock-ups, keep moving and have fun.

Peace has been returned, but your potato is going into the pot tonight.

Tango and Cash said...

Enjoy the spuds! :-D

Tango said...

Only getting a chance to see all this banter now. Good craic!!

Rule 1 in navigation races - don't follow anyone else, stick to your plan. T&C also went to a ghost checkpoint for CP1 (despite most teams going in a different direction) and were joined here by at least 1 other team (not Average Joes). Significant time was lost before deciding an error had occured and the decision to progress was taken (thankfully we then got CP1 elsewhere).

Also, as we entered the water under the understanding the bonus was 1.5hrs, our kayaking section was timed and an estimate made that the bonus would take slightly longer than that to achieve. The decision was therefore taken to skip it.

Same rules for all competitors, so we thought the race was over at the end. But we live and learn...

A great race all the same and thanks to Greg and Pauline for all their hard work - you deserve a medal for putting up with all our ranting,raving and complaining.

Anonymous said...

It not over till its over - how many times did ORANGE whip your ar_e with a well timed appeal .... about nothing much.

Tango said...

J for Kingprawn?

Paul said...

It was not a very satisfying way to finish a race and I'm still not happy at the way the results were decided. The problem with CP1 (the confusion at the start and at CP9) should not have occurred and the final kayak bonus should have been confirmed (whether or not it was to be extended) to the teams at the start of the section. Perhaps we won because I protested the loudest about CP1, but we did have every right to do it (we gave our protest during the race and not the end of it) and I would do it again (in any race) if I felt the team was unfairly disadvantage by a clear mistake by race management. I hope the next time we never have to go through these issues again and the winner WILL be the first team across the line (though difficult in AR). ….but I also hope race organizers realize the importance of getting the simply things right (like correctly located CPs) during a race and that they DO make a huge difference between teams enjoying the race and getting angry and frustrated. …. and of course wondering if they finished 1st, 2nd or 3rd.

Anonymous said...

Touchy. Mines a Prawn Madras.

Anonymous said...

I'm still looking for GobbleCock Cottage!!

Anonymous said...

Big P knows where that is - he will never forget it ...

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