|The overview of our route over the 5 days!|
If this adventure race was described as the hare vs. the turtle, then our team, WCP AR, were definitely in the turtle class. We had a good look at the maps before the race and decided that taking all of the shortcuts early on would
Stage 1: 10k Run - 1 Hour
Just like the speedy prologue, this short, sharp 10k was tough on legs that hadn't done any running since before the taper and my hiking holiday in Italy and Slovenia. I felt really slow, but we knew that a few minutes here wouldn't matter much. The route took us down from a lovely start in Stirling Castle, over to the Wallace Monument, and then back to the base of the castle. Mostly on roads, it was tough on shins that were trained for hill walking. I think we were all just eager to get on the bikes and out onto the race proper. Our transition didn't win any speed awards either, but repeat after me "It's a long race...."
Stage 2: 90k Bike - 7 Hours
Ah, finally out on the bike, with fast roads and my 29er tyres I was easily keeping up with the guys. Tony started muttering early about his derriere, having forgotten to apply Sudocream from the start. Oops. Luckily there were some nice breaks in this stage, including a walk into Doune Castle to bag a control, and then a paddle across Scotland's only Lake. This was a real rowboat trip across Lake Menteith, with me taking my proper place (as the girl) in the bow, and having the guys row me across the lake. It also gave me a chance to capture some GoPro Video footage, since anytime I would actually "stop" to use it during the race, it got me dirty looks from the guys. We were "racing", after all :)
|Island on Lake Menteith|
Then came the first of two route choices to stay flat along SusTrans bike paths, or go up and over more hills. We halfheartedly discussed taking the tough routes but the time penalties didn't make them seem worth it. From the 100-yard stares and hang-dog looks of teams that did go over the hike-a-bikes, we were later glad to have stayed low.
Stage 3: 5k Paddle - 1 Hour
Late afternoon had us out paddling on Loch Tay, after a madhouse transition that sucked almost an hour from our lives. Bike boxes packed on one side of the building, kit bags inside, and canoes waiting out the other end...I think I ran a few miles just hauling gear to the right places. The worst bit was trying to carry the loaded canoe between Gavin and I down to the water, it was a long ways...I started gasping for breath about the time that Jon and Tony came back to make it an easy 4-man carry.
We didn't really have time to get into a rythym on the water, either...after 50 minutes we were pulling into another transition and getting our trekking shoes on.
Stage 4: 16k Trek- 8 Hours
|As you can see, all photos are courtesy of James Kirby Photography |
and Open Adventure. Great photos as always, guys!!!
Stage 5: 40k Paddle - 7 Hours
The night paddle across Lock Tay in calm conditions was fairly tedious. It was cool at first, as we shut all of our lights off and just had the glowsticks from other canoes to light our way. Then I started thinking that the water looked awfully black and the canoe was rather tippy, and it wouldn't be fun to go for a swim at 4 am at all. Then the lights we were aiming for turned out to not be at all where the end of the Loch was located so mentally we all suffered a setback. Needless to say 4 hours of paddling down the Loch with partial headwinds and gathering rainshowers wasn't the highlight of the race. We were relieved to see the mouth of the river and stop and stretch our legs. I was chilly already, and got the jump on the river by donning a borrowed drysuit, soon the envy of all the soaked racers we saw.
At least the river was more interesting and slightly less demanding of hard paddling. Well, until the rapids arrived. I was driving the boat for some reason, and managed to keep Gavin and I inside of the canoe until almost the very last rapid, where we got turned around backwards and then went for an adrupt swim. Luckily everything was tied down except for the bailer, which we had been using as a pee bottle (hey, desperate times in the middle of a Loch in the middle of the night call for desperate measures!). Luckily, my dry suit kept me dry, but Gav wasn't as lucky and shivered his way into our final put-in. Tony and Jon managed to stay dry until the landing area, which was pretty dicey, and our canoe took a header into theirs and swamped it, so we had both boats full of damp gear to deal with. And another significant portage to the transition at Grandtully. Although it was fun stopping traffic on the street with a canoe.
To be continued in Part Three....
|Control at Rob Roy's Grave...he's a pretty famous character in Scottish History|