The weather forecast last Sunday for heavy rain and gales did not put off over 250 competitors who turned up at Kirkby Stephen for the third event in the Mountain Hardwear Open 5 Adventure Race series.
The event was the third race in the Mountain Hardwear Open 5 Winter series. Open 5 races are held at different locations across the UK and competitors are given a map and 5 hours to visit as many of the marked control points as they can. Some controls can only be collected by mountain bike and others only on foot.
The first challenge was to get to the start in Crosby Garrett (about 5km from the registration area). This certainly was a warm up and a taste of what was to come over the next five hours as the rain pelted down and the wind was already blowing hard. The racers started between 0930 and 1030 with reassuring smiles from the marshals. Chris Hope, one half of the winning Male Pairs Team, commented “staying vaguely warm was key to just completing the 5 hour event”!
The racers that opted for biking first were in for a battering from the wind. Those that chose to go up onto Smardale Fell first were hanging on tight to their bikes and sections that would normally be rideable had to be walked as competitors fought with the wind and forded streams. This event certainly was putting the adventure into the racing, as it was the survival of the fittest – and of the warmest! Competitor Andy Wrigley commented that on the descent to Tarn Moor he was in his smallest gear! Of course, this could also work in your favour with other reports of the wind blowing people up hills they would usually need to tackle in a low gear.
Bikes were exchanged for running shoes or vice a versa on completion of the first discipline.
There was no let up from the weather and runners ran up the exposed Crosby Garrett fell and onto Nettle Hill (382m), being pushed from point to point by the wind. One particular check point caused a bit of confusion as it was located by the side of a pond, however, by this point a substantial amount of rain had fallen causing flooding and the creation of a few new ponds!
Somehow everyone returned at the end of the five hours, or less, with a smile on their faces. Competitors may have been cold and tired but all were ready for a well deserved cup of tea back at the registration area in Kirkby Stephen.
Event planner and adventure racer David Hetherington said “Despite very challenging conditions most competitors seemed to be in good spirits and mostly came in and out of transition with smiles on their faces. Harmless streams were transformed into raging torrents by the persistent rain. One of the control points had to be moved part way through the event as the 6 inch deep stream that it was placed in the middle of had become thigh deep water by mid-event! All part of the adventure”.
Special thanks must go to Kirkby Stephen Grammar School for allowing Open Adventure to host the registration in the Sports Hall and to Crosby Garrett Village Hall and Eric Robinson at Martindale Farm that hosted the transition area. Open Adventure would also like to thank all local landowners and tenants at Crosby Garrett Fell. Thanks must also go to the marshals for all their hard work on a demanding day.
If this article has sparked the adventurer in you then have a look at the list of remaining races in this series at www.openadventure.com – we look forward to seeing you at the next event.