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Author Topic: Planet Fear Endurance Series - Open 5 + (Anglesey)  (Read 2128 times)


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Planet Fear Endurance Series - Open 5 + (Anglesey)
« on: May 29, 2011, 09:56:53 PM »
One of my aims this year is to compete with some ‘new’ partners. With this in mind, I asked around and ended up on the start line of the Open 5+ with Jon – a friend-of-a-friend who came highly recommended as a teammate :D. So, despite deciding earlier this year that 250 miles was too far to travel to a race, last week I found myself sitting in a car heading for Anglesey, North Wales. Hmmm – oh well, 300 miles from where I live but only 25 miles from my dad’s house, so at least accommodation wasn’t an issue :).

The Open 5+ is similar in format to the five hour races I was doing over the winter (biking/running) but the ‘+’ refers to the other exciting challenges built in. This race was also somewhat unusual in that there wouldn’t be a lot of off-road riding, so we packed our road bikes instead.

The event was heavily weighted towards the running section and special stages, with the bikes mainly used to get around between them. A beach start (bike duly carried over the sand) was followed by a quick dash to the shortened kayak stage. The wind was blowing a gale, so we displayed our best two-up time trial formation – rather hampered by the map boards obscuring our front wheels :D. The kayak was fun. Rolling waves kept tilting us around, and I had to focus on paddling instead of getting over excited every time one came towards us! I don’t know how, but Jon was doing a fantastic job behind me of steering the heavy sit on top – all I did was paddle and we headed straight for each of the controls. Great!

A quick exit and a fast trip round some road based controls took us up near Holyhead Mountain where the main running stage was held. Just before we set off along an exposed pier to get a high value bike control, something pinged up from the road and mangled a link in Jon’s chain. Eek! After figuring out that this was what had happened (rather than some disaster with the derailleur as we first feared) we carried out a repair in a calm and effective fashion ... well, Jon did anyway, whilst I proffered helpful comments from the sidelines, such as ‘have you used this chain tool before?’ :P. Six minutes later and we were on our way again.

The most exciting part of the run stage was an abseil off a huge cliff. After a bit of queuing, which only gave me time to get nervous, I went over the top. Just as I got used to what I was doing the rock face gave way from under my feet and I was dangling free over the sea! A damp landing was followed by a 100% wet swim through a sea cave, a scramble along a rocky edge and back up to where we’d left our bags. Shame that the planned swim to another control had to be cancelled due to the wind – I’d have loved it! As it was, the cave swim was accompanied by plenty of whooping and yelling on my part ;D.

Moving again, we set off collecting controls all over the mountain. The trails were rocky, the heather and gorse scratched my legs (should have listened to the advice about wearing leggings) and we went up and down a lot. A little too much, we decided later, as our post-race analysis revealed a more efficient route in this respect. We were trying to clear the course, but slowed significantly as time went on. I gave up trying to ‘support’ with the map reading and just let Jon (very competently) get on with it. How he navigated straight to ‘rocky knoll: tricky find’ in amongst all the other rocky knolls and a thick mist, I’m still not sure. After a run down a massive flight of zigzagging steps and back up again I accepted the tow I was offered and concentrated on trying to keep up :o.

We returned to our bikes to find them lying there, all alone with the marshal. A definite sign we had left it a little late to get back! Sure enough, even though we sprinted and had to miss out an achingly close control 350m down a little road, we got back 10 minutes late. However, we were lucky as in the final results our penalty points were ‘reimbursed’ to compensate for the wait at the abseil.

I was exhausted at the end, not helped by running out of fluid on the run (didn’t drink enough the day before) and by not eating enough during the race (::) will I ever learn?). However, we very pleasingly came 5th in the mixed pairs against some top quality competition and with a score that put us 8th out of all 52 teams that entered. Since we aimed for top 5, I was happy, and not only that, I had a fantastic time and found Jon to be excellent company for the race.  :D

There are plenty of photos and a video (watch out for us coming to land on the kayak section) on the Open Adventure facebook pages.


Pictures and videos:


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