The ongoing adventures of Moosey and DibberBoy - The Open 24

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The ongoing adventures of Moosey and DibberBoy - The Open 24

Postby mrmoosehead » Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:07 pm

This weekend just gone (25th/26th July), the intrepid adventurers Moosey
(Adrian Hall) and DibberBoy (Dave Wilby) continued their theme of "always
the bridesmaid" by achieving a respectable 4th Male Pairs in the Open
Adventure Endurance Series, despite dropping many points on the previous
race - the rather complicated Open 12. We seem to have a habit of this - 4th
on the OMM A Class a few years back, 4th at the Open 5+ at the start of the
series and now 4th in the final race - the Open 24, leading to 4th Male Pair
overall in the Endurance Series.
And what a race! All we knew the day before the race was the location - the
beautiful Alnwick Castle - and that we would be doing running, MTB and
Kayaking for 24 hours, interspersed with a few 'trouser fillers'.
On receipt of the map and the route book, the overall layout of the course
took shape - a bus ride to the start a few miles south of The Cheviot to
begin on the MTB section and slowly wending its way over to the coast at
Bamburgh Castle, then down the coast to Alnmouth and back inland. All in 24
hours. And the promise of poor weather coming in on the Sunday. Nothing new
there then.
The day dawned bright and cool, but the day was slowly warming up as the fun
started. The race seemed to start before the start, with frantic
organisation of kit, kayaks, bikes, maps and food to make sure that we would
have the right kit at the right transition points. Some complicated
logistics involved in working out when we needed to carry running shoes,
climbing harnesses etc. Onto the bus, it was then an hour's drive over the
hills to the start location, and before we know it, James Thurlow of Open
Adventure was setting us off into the glorious, sunny, unknown.
Our first leg only took us a few hundred metres on foot to collect control
points values for the first stage, on retrieved, 5 minutes was spent
planning a route that we thought was achievable and allowed a comfortable
buffer zone into the first transition times (16:00 to 18:00), with some
options. So off we set on the bikes, climbing into the southern Cheviot
hills, still very wet under-wheel from the previous two weeks soaking. The
going was hard in places, especially as we left the hard packed fire trails
and descended through deep grass and crossed to the other side of more wild
hills. A quick hop into Scotland for a control on the tops and back into
woods. The going along the fire roads here was interesting as the previous
few weeks bad weather had left chasms in the road 2 metres deep and wide.
Time was running short for the transition to the first running stage and we
had a 30 minute gorge scramble to complete as well, so our route was
curtailed slightly to an out and in up a big hill to get a big pointer, then
to the bike drop for the gorge scramble.
We quickly donned out buoyancy aids and set off up the gorge, hopping from
rock to rock, or wading up the stream. The controls had (obviously) been
placed carefully, to ensure maximum soaking and involved swimming a pool,
climbing a waterfall, swimming more pools, and then the final 20 foot plunge
into a deep pool. A quick trot up the hill saw us into transition with 5
minutes to spare until close, so we changed clothes, restocked on food for
the next 8 hours and filled our helmets with more substantial food, dibbed
out with seconds to spare then sat eating our crisps and pies and the like
in the sun.
The run section was very suited to us, being very much like the first day of
a MM - criss-crossing the hills just south of The Cheviot, we made very good
time on most of the other teams, and thoroughly enjoyed the scenery and
sunsets. Dropping into the valley at the foot of The Cheviot showed us more
scenes of devastation from the previous storms - huge gouges cut out of the
hillside where torrents had come thundering down. Our route took us back up
to the hills again, just in time to stand on a pinnacle of rock and watch
the sun set - beautiful. The run section finished in the dark on the hills,
dropping back in to the valley to transition to the bicycles for the
night-time ride through the roads and tracks from Wooler over to Bamburgh .
The night was clear and very cold leaving here, and the going fast on the
small roads past some very bemused locals outside a bar in Wooler, our next
destination Chillingham Castle. At the castle, we had a short night run
around the grounds to pick up controls, a search through the 'torture room'
for controls, and a tandem abseil from the battlements. The going was fast
on the small roads, although the legs were starting to feel the 12 hours or
so of effort so far. Leaving the castle, the fatigue and mental state
started to show as we made an error following a track too far (heads down)
that probably cost us 30 mins, lots of leg power, and ultimately probably 30
points. Back on track, our route took us almost directly east on over the
small hills towards the coast and Bamburgh Castle as dawn rose over the
North Sea and the transition to the kayaks at the beach - however, as we had
been informed at the castle, the kayaking leg had been cancelled by the
safety crew on the advice of the coastguard due to the forecast low of force
6 winds now predicted to be hitting the area earlier. As the kayak route
took in Lindisfarne and the Farne Islands, the safety crew had taken the
difficult decision to pull the section. As it was, the predicted low never
really hit, and it was a very disappointed bunch of racers that left the
transition for a relatively sedate cycle down to the next transition, the
original plan now being hastily reorganised by the sterling efforts of the
Open Adventure crew.
Another relaxed transition at Beadnell, then the race really picked up again
- with the coastal run section - starting on sand and track and passing over
dunes, via the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle, to Craster - we made great time
again on the run section, beating all teams bar one into the transition to
the last biking stage right on time to maximise our points scoring ability.
We set off from this transition in high spirits, but legs really starting to
hurt. The first control was a problem as we encountered fields with
bridleways that didn't exist, so we were informed by the local with the dog,
so we took the long route round and that involved more bridleways that were
sketchy at best, made it to the control to find that some teams had made it
through the first one. Must remember not to listen to advice and blunder on
regardless. Feeling a bit miffed by this we pushed on hard and made good
time for the next few controls, now in light rain. By this point, the legs
were starting to hurt a lot and down towards the bottom of the loop we made
the decision not to visit the lowest control on the loop and make sure we
were back in time. A river crossing at non-existent stepping stones gave
light relief in the form of cold water on the knees, and decent tracks and
bridleways for the last few miles meant that we arrived at the finish in
Alnwick Castle with 25 minutes to spare, but happy with our performance.
I was gutted to find out at download that I had mis-punched a the last
control - something I have never done in all my 20 odd years orienteering.
However, it turned out later on that the download had malfunctioned and upon
re-downloading found that not only had I not mis-punched, but we had 100
points more than we had thought from the initial download. Which to our
delight put us in 4th place.
It was a tired drive home that evening (with sleep stops), but a satisfied
one. We'd just run 40km over hills and trails, and cycled about 160km hills,
trails and road, including many 000's of metres in climb - all in 24 hours
and in beautiful scenery. How much fun can you have in one day? Lots.
Adrian Hall
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2009 10:48 am

Re: The ongoing adventures of Moosey and DibberBoy - The Open 24

Postby GrahamA » Sat Aug 01, 2009 12:36 am

Wow! (Pity about the Farnes, though. We once asked the Seahouses coastguard what time the tide turned on the way out there. He was exactly 3 hours out. We paddled past a fishing boat to ask him why the sea was going the wrong way, and he explained.)
Posts: 54
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:27 pm

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