So today was the day that myself (James Dobbing) and Mark Mathews had decided to enter the open 5 adventure race in the Forest, in the pairs category – 5 hours of running and biking. ! Once registered we spent a good 40 minutes studying the maps for both disciplines and decided on the routes we would take. The start/finish and transition was based at Christchurch campsite adding some pre and post event biking to make sure everyone had their full fill! Running was the first discipline for us and after dumping our bikes in transition we were off – the first problem – some of the checkpoints on our planned route had no values so only half the route we had planned was any good (they only tell you this once you start!) Quick rethink on the go. Just over 2 hours running took us to Symonds Yat, Biblins, a climb to Doward, back to Biblins and then back via the suck stone followed by a ‘off piste’ return route to Bracelands and then the transition. 2 ¼ hours. Already behind our schedule.
After 10 mins refueling and changing kit we were on the bikes, everything starting to ache and cramp up, not helped by my limited cycle experience and ability! Coleford, Cannop, stained glass window, Cinderford and then the start of the ride back, still an hour in the bag. 1 more checkpoint (a few extra points for a 10 minute de-tour, would this be a mistake?) My idea so was hoping not! Next was a climb to the Vorderers trail for a couple more valuable checkpoints. I was officially broken from this point, whereas Mark had acquired a second wind. With minutes left of our 5 hours we were heading as quick as possible to the finish (30 second stop to look at a distant Boar). Then after a mile of Mark having to push me to keep me going, we hit the finish (36 miles, 4000ft), what we thought was 3mins over time- minor penalty so nothing to worry about. After several minutes recovery, and fear of throwing up, back on the bikes to cycle back to the school and download our result. 490 out of 600 points…. minus 25 for being 10mins late, whose idea was the extra checkpoint on the way back..? A final total of 465 meaning finishing 4th, level on points with the team in 3rd, who only pipped us by finishing on time. Without the penalties we would have been 2nd, 5 points off 1st. Not bad for a first go. Well organised, but a hard and ultimately enjoyable event that I would do again, (I imagine Mark would say the same even though he did not get his post-race Coffee since they had stopped serving and ran out of water!).
As I sit here reflecting on the days experience with food in my belly and the aching in my body, the race still filling my mind and wondering how the hell I am going to get to sleep tonight with the thoughts of how we could have, should have done things differently, a right turn here a left there one less checkpoint to save time, am I kicking myself????? NO is the answer it was something to be proud of as a TEAM of two who have never embarked on such an energy sapping mental sapping event.
You Did Great James Dobbing . A team effort it was and you made some excellent calls on many occasions, my personal favourite being off the top of The Great Doward when I think we both got Air and that was running. I’ll take 4th……...