Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

August 31, 2012

Adidas TERREX Sting Adventure Race, Part 2

The overview of our route over the 5 days!
The Adidas TERREX Sting is a 5-day, non-stop, expedition race for mixed teams of 4.  It covered over 600 km in disciplines including running, trekking, mountain biking, canoeing, and other special stages.  

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 save our legs for the long trek later in the race.  We figured many teams would go too far, too fast, too early and then implode, leaving us to steadily plod onwards and make up ground.  And so it went....

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
Back on the bikes, we quickly missed our turnoff into the woods and had to backtrack, but only a short distance, a paltry amount in our week I have to admit.   Onto the Rob Roy Way, we found the first of our mountain biking stages would set a pattern for the week.  First there were enjoyable, fast fire roads, then would come a boggy, unridable middle section, and then there would be another fast descent to a road.  I wasn't complaining as this terrain let me keep up with the guys a little easier...they only really put me to shame on those technical riding sections where I usually get off and walk.  And wish I had a full suspension bike!  But no worries for this race, the 29er tyres were the right choice.

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!!!

We had a few hours of daylight left and hoped to make the most of it by first bagging the most difficult of the 4 controls we could visit on this section.  After a steady climb, though, our plans inexplicably changed into getting the easy controls first and following another team , then finishing up with the harder ones "if there was time".  This backfired on us, as Team TotalXC pulled away from us immediately when we stopped to put on jackets against a rainshower, but it gave us a nice track up to follow to my first Munro, whose name is unpronouncible but is next to the higher peak of Ben Lawers!  (A Munro being any Scottish peak over 3000 feet high.)  We did get to see a really nice double rainbow so all was not lost!

Backfire #2 happened as we reached our second Munro...darkness was falling but it was just light enough to show us the bogs waiting for us in the valley before the next control.  Our Peak District-based team got scared of getting stuck in them forever, so we opted, after much discussion, to go back the way we came and just get a little extra sleep before the canoe stage could start again at 3 am. 
We were carrying our sleeping bags and bothy shelter, so before getting back to transition we found a nice spot of wet grass to sleep in.  It was a warm night, and in a spot of good luck there was no wind nor any midges.  I was too amped up to sleep, but I had a nice time snuggled in my sleeping bag watching the stars...we had a great view of the Milky Way.   At least, it was nice until it was time to get up and I discovered a huge slug crawling across my sleeping bag!  I must admit I let out a yelp and made Tony scoop it off...yuk! 

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

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