At the weekend Emma and Jack took on the final race of the Planet Fear Open Adventure Endurance race series – the Open 24 -in the Lake District. 24 hours of mountain biking, running, kayaking and a good sprinkle of extra special stages were in store for the pair.
Battling once against uncharacteristically hot conditions, the first ten hours felt more about survival than a pleasant trip out. Fortunately, by 9pm the sun was setting and the team took a dive (literally in Jack’s case) into the deep pools at Rydal Gorge for a cool off and some headsspinning waterfall jumps.
After this, things picked up, and although it was not possible to claw back lost points from the earlier half of the race, Emma and Jack pushed on for a strong finish that gave them third place overall in the race series.
Below is a brief summary and some photos of the event:
The race began with a mass start on the shores of Ullswater near Pooley Bridge.
Teams took in as many checkpoints as they could along both shores of the lake before landing at Howtown.
From here, there was a brief subterranean shuffle through a series of tight tunnels before emerging into the sunshine and heading over Martindale and Boredale to Patterdale on the bikes.
A navigation error and small bike mishap cost the team time at this point, and they arrived feeling hot and bothered into the next transition before heading out for the first of two long trekking sections. The route took teams over the steep but beautiful Harrison crag before dropping down beneath St Sunday crag for a scramble up Pinnacle Ridge.
From here, it was up onto Fairfield and round the eastern half of the horseshoe next with a little detour down to Priest’s Hole cave. By now the sun was starting to set in beautiful oranges and gold’s but the heat of the sun was still fierce and with no water to be found, it was onwards and downwards to the Rydal beck gorge scramble and an opportunity to take on more food and water.
As twilight descended, the pair headed out for a circuit of Loughrigg fell on the bikes where more caves were to be found. A short torch lit paddle on Windermere followed, and whilst it was disappointing that the cloud had covered over the carpet of stars, it was as ever still a special experience paddling in the dark with the glinting lights reflecting on the water.
Next up was the last MTB stage with various – but all uphill -options taking you from Ambleside to Haweswater. Emma and Jack chose to head up past Jenkin Crag through the woods and past hundreds of people taking part in the Lakeland 100 and 50 (very bizarre seeing so many people at 2 in the morning!) before taking in a couple of checkpoints en route to Kentmere and Sawmill cottage (very different to the last time the team was there – no 3 inches of sheet ice on the floor this time!) before a very very long hike a bike over Gatescarth Pass.
According to friends’ this is ‘entirely rideable’ Er not at 4 in the morning after 15 hours of racing it wasn’t! A gnarly and speedy descent into Haweswater, and the team were off on foot up High Street for a spot of orienteering. It was Emma’s turn to feel the burn at this point and she was popped onto a tow at this point to make sure she didn’t fall asleep.
The weather threatened rain and chilly clouds briefly, but this didn’t last and by the time the pair were heading over the Knott, the cloud was lifting, allowing fabulous views across the northern lakes. The final descent was over Martindale common and back to the picturesque shoreline at Howtown for a final paddle and coasteering section.
Emma and Jack crossed the finish line at 12.10 with 15 minutes of race time to spare, tired but happy (and very glad that sudocreme was invented).
Time for a rest before the team puts in a last push training for the Coast to Coast in 4 week’s time!
Team Berghaus Adventure: 3rd place in the Endurance Series. First Place went to Tom and Astrid Gibbs of Team Adidas Terrex and second place to Planet Fear’s Sally Ozanne and Ant Cooper.
All images courtesy of James Kirkby images.