Tuesday, March 08, 2011

CCAR Castle Ward, 15 March

Photos courtesy of Uberdog, Ireland's only outdoor and extreme sports magazine

Our first adventure race in 18 months, we had not been wasting our time and had been carbo-loading relentlessly in the interim.  Miraculously, all the hard work paid off, and we were delighted to just nick second place in a hard-fought CCAR race at Castle Ward on 5 March.  Well off the pace of race winners Passing Wind, we were just ahead of the overall race series winners Dogleap, who just had a bad day at the office.

Lord and Lady Tango & Cash take a jaunty carriage ride around their extensive Castle Ward grounds
We couldn’t believe the turn-out of over 50 teams for the race, the final race of the CCAR 2010/11 series, as CCAR had been struggling for numbers last time we’d raced.  Great to see the sport really taking off, and Ivan Park and CCAR still at the heart of it.

Early confusion

Following Ivan’s race briefing at HQ, we rolled down on the bikes to the estate house for the start.  We were sent off sequentially, starting our timers as we crossed the line, and once we got the nod we set off hard downhill on foot to pick up our first map.  There was a bit of mayhem as all the teams seemed to have been given the other map from the one they’d expected, but knowing Ivan, that was deliberate and all part of the fun.  Confusion reigned for a time!

After morning prayers, the staff gathered themselves for some marching drills, before serving tea in the drawing room.
We rattled round the two 3-point orienteering loops in sharp enough fashion, but it took us a while before we realised that the thicket shapes marked on the map actually bore no resemblance to those we experienced – but hey, they grew, I guess!


We lifted map C and legged it out of the field round the estate path alongside another team (one of ‘em was a Scotsman, bless him), and we reckoned the only folks in front of us were Passing Wind and Dogleap, who had been joined at the hip for the whole orienteering bit and were absolutely flying.

We were neck and neck with this other team as far as the checkpoint on the gate, where we decided to take a direct route back to HQ while the other chaps took the path.  This worked a treat for us, as we had completed and left the wooden skis task without seeing the other guys, who as it turned out, had made a wrong turn on the path.


Back down to the estate house for the window count, we hopped onto the bikes and followed the arrows to the kayak transition point.  Third team on the water, about ten minutes behind the leaders, we took our chance to give both Passing Wind and Dogleap a damn good soaking as they passed us on their return trip. 

Further soakings were administered to Surf’n’Turf and Get No Sleep, whom we met on our own return trip.  After much tee-heeing, it was only later that we did our sums and realised that we were worst off, as they only had one soaking each, but we got soaked 4 times – we’ll know for again.

Out of the boats and onto the bikes, we looped up to the cairn and some other stuff I’ve forgotten, and back to kayak transition, guiding a couple of lost lads down to the boats for their paddle section, and retrieving their dropped water bottle.

Wii foot

The wee foot loop to the orienteering-posts and the castle ruin was handy enough until we got the grid reference, then we realised we had to batter back up that bloody hill again to the CP at the back of HQ. 

We met Passing Wind and Dogleap, together as usual, coming down as we were halfway up the hill; they were about fifteen minutes ahead of us.  Dropping back down the road to the bikes again, loads of teams were now streaming up the hill, about ten minutes behind us; there was plenty of racing still to do, so we knew we had to keep motoring and be careful with the navigation.  Without delay, we hopped on the bikes and headed out to do the bonus bike loop after the water-filler-with-holes-ball-thing-task.

Brucie bonus loop

We picked up bonus 1 no problem, then we made a major balls-up on the way to the bonus 2, completely missing a road because of where we’d folded the map.  Davy is still adamant that it was the map’s fault!

This mistake meant we had to pass bonus 3 to get to bonus 2 (meeting Dogleap and then Passing Wind going the correct way; they must have wondered what the devil we were at!), then back to bonus 3 again.   It added just over 2km that we could ill afford at this point, as we knew there were other teams close and we were starting to flag from our efforts. 

We picked up bonus 2 just ahead of Get No Sleep and hot on their heels His’n’Hers, both of whom we met on the road with them heading for bonus 2, and us now heading back again from bonus 2 to bonus 3.  We reckoned we now had only about 2 minutes on Get No Sleep, which was unfortunate, as we were both absolutely HANGIN’ at this stage.  Cramp starting to set in, Davy had taken to snorting Dioralyte powders (even trying one sachet as a suppository!) and I was in the foetal position softly singing “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me” – we thought we’d be caught by the chasing pack for sure. 

Dogleap barking

Eventually realising that everyone else behind us was absolutely busted as well, we managed to keep slugging on through the woods.  Arriving up to Greg at the jigsaw, Dogleap were just leaving it, so we reckoned they’d either cocked up somewhere, or they are RUBBISH at jigsaws!  It turned out that Dogleap had lost a fair bit of time by taking a different route up to the jigsaw across a field, and the poor lads had been chased back by an angry farmer.

The drop back down the hill on the bikes was hairy enough in places, and we had to resist the temptation to ride the new GREAT-looking MTB trails, to instead sproughal down through briars and bracken to the estate path.  We could see Dogleap about 200 yards ahead just disappearing round the corner, and we ground our way rightly up the mucky path up the back way to HQ.


We crossed the finish line surprised to see only one set of bikes; the skittish steeds of Passing Wind.  Dogleap's altercation with the farmer, and a wee bit of confusion on the perimeter of HQ, ended up scuppering their hopes for second, and they nipped across the line just after us to take third, with Get No Sleep finishing strongly to take fourth, just ahead of His’n’Hers.

Great fun afterwards, with grub and refreshments laid on in capital style by Joan, and no doubt more craic besides, well into the evening. 

Massive thanks to Ivan and the rest of his team CCAR, who put on another incredible race; amazing stuff, made all the more remarkable given the small team of marshals.

Well done to Passing Wind on the day, Dogleap on their overall series win, and all the category winners across the field.  An honest workout, no mistake, and no better way to enjoy the best of the outdoors; in good-natured competition, against yourself and others, up to your elbows in muck!
The cortege prepares to leave


Enda said...

Great report lads. Well done on your return from retirement. Another excellent CCAR race and a big thanks to Ivan and everyne involved. Lets hope we see these numbers in the next series.

Mark said...

Not bad for 2 old fellas

Princess Fiona said...

Love it boys! Love it! :)

Gareth said...

Fair play guys. I was one of the lads that was lost. Thanks for helping us.

Billy said...

Great to see you guys back! And strong as ever..

Spartan300workout said...

Awesome, the pics were really cool. I like the shirts color and you really guys had the great time in the race. You enjoy this and you really had fun. I loved the colors. Keep it up !