After completing the 3 Peaks Challenge of Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon in under 24 hours in 2013 I was keen to try something else and on the 3rd Jan 2014 I received an email regarding Race the Sun 2014 in the Lake District.
Set in the Lake District, the challenge consists of teams of four taking on (together) a 23 mile cycle ride (including a 6 miles offroad section), followed by a 3,116ft climb up England’s second highest mountain, Helvellyn, the four man team then cycles 2 miles to Lake Thirlmire for a 3km kayak section before another 26 miles cycling to the finish. The race starts at sunrise and finishes at sunset…racing the sun, but our team was going to do everything we could to not just take part, but to win!
Assembling a team….
After one hiccup with our original team (injury) we managed to establish our starting line up of Alan Jepson, Paul Rhodes, Neal Park and Vaclav (Jack) Stemberk – now all team Crazy Train had to do was to get as fit as we could and learn how to kayak!!! Quickly!
During our training we contacted Polaris who were happy to support our efforts and helped us out with kit for the team. Thanks Polaris!! The kit was great, having team colours was fantastic and the whole thing was a real morale boost for the team – if anything this made us even more determined to win!
With the race fast approaching we managed to organise 2 hours kayak training on the River Trent on 17th August – nervous/excited we turned up proudly wearing our Polris team kit and took the opportunity for a group shot…. Before we hit the water!
The experience at the Nottingham Kayak club was fantastic and even though two of the team (one being me!) spent some time in the Trent we came away feeling pretty good about the kayak section.
On the eve of the big race….
We assembled for a meeting at 9pm in which Action Medical Research provided advice, team numbers, kit bags and confirmed specifics on how the race would run. Because of my bold time prediction we were team 84 (out of 85) and due to set out at 7.23am (first team went out at 6am) – as it turned out we were the last team to go!
We reached the race start point on Sat 30th August at around 5am and began to drink coffee and prepare mentally for what lay ahead. Once the race started we attacked hard on the road sections (knowing that our road bikes (w/beefier tyres) would suffer on the off-road section later). The 6 mile off-road section proved tougher than we expected but great fun! By the time we reached the foot of Helvellyn we had already passed a decent number of teams and was ready to take on the mountain. Due to an initial mixup (no waterproof trousers) we were delayed by around 20 minutes before setting off on the hike, again this was tougher than I expected but together we powered up the steepest sections and managed a bit of fell running/jogging when we could. After completing the mountain section we set off on the short ride to Lake Thirlmire when unfortunately Jacks bike had suffered a puncture (no doubt from the earlier off-road section! Changing the tube probably took another 10 mins and hit our morale as we made it to the lake. The kayak section was tough and 3KM looked a very long way but we completed the section and together decided that for the last 26 miles cycling we would give our all and have nothing left in the tank at the end!
By the time we crossed the finish line in 8 hours 31 minutes after dealing with high winds and conditions Action Medical described as the hardest in the 12 years the event has be operating we found out that we had managed to win by 5 minutes!! Team Crazy Train was amazed (and exhausted!) – what an achievement!!
I would like to take this opportunity to give big thanks to Polaris for our fantastic kit and everybody that has donated to our fund raising efforts so far. We are still a long way off our target of £2,000 so if you would like to make a donation it would be greatly appreciated and our fund raising page together with details about Action Medical Research (a charity dedicated to improving the health of babies and children) can be found at http://www.action.org.uk/sponsor/crazytrain. Help us reach our target.
One last thing – check the race out it is very well organised and well worth doing!!! http://www.action.org.uk/race_sun