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canoeing, kayaking and other adventures

canoeing and kayaking adventures born in the Southeastern U.S. and now centered in Scotland...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Not Nearly Fit Enough - Wan Dae Adventure Race - 20/9/2008

Wednesday afternoon, Tamsin emailed the ssppp list to remind people that the Wan Dae adventure race was happening on the weekend and places were still available. Friday night, Brian and I decided to give it a go.

One thing I like about races in Scotland is the leisurely start that we are afforded. We arrived to the Harlow visitor centre in the Pentland Hills a bit after 12pm for a 1pm start.

Just ahead of 1pm, we were handed our maps with funny symbols on it and a second sheet of paper that identified the symbols as checkpoints including point values. Around 1pm, the race organiser, who reminded me of Patrick from NashvAR, led us on a brief run through the muck and sent us on our way to whichever checkpoints in whichever order we wanted.

We chose a bike route first then the run route then the kayak. The bike route was very familiar terrain and the first two checkpoints were easy to find. The third involved a slight disagreement between Brian and me ("others went that way" is not always a good rule to follow in an adventure race) a few hundred extra metres of cycling before a long slog over a hill to other familiar terrain. That checkpoint was subdivided to three requiring some orienteering along the way. We had found the third on our way to the start. The first was easy but we missed the second and ended up combing an awkward hillside before I spotted it. Brian had more of a slog uphill than I did but soon we were on our way to revisit checkpoint 3 and back on the bikes out.

Another long and occasionally squelchy slog on the bike took us to another checkpoint and then a creative (also squelchy) route over a hill gave me the entertainment of watching Brian stop his bike with no brakes. He would sort of heave himself into the grass and then hop back on it. We found another checkpoint and spoke briefly to a non-racing mountain biker before enjoying a long descent to one of the reservoirs. My back was quite sore at this point, so I was grateful for the restful downhill.

We followed the pavement along the reservoir onto trail to the checkpoint transition for the "run". To get the points, we had to answer a riddle. Mary's mother has four children. The first is April. The second is May. The third is June. What is the name of her fourth child? Easy stuff. The run, however, was not.

We walked most of the run, which was more or less straight up and down Carnethy Hill with a few detours. We went downhill to reach one checkpoint and then realised the rest were at the top of the hill beside us or beyond it. Brian thought it would be best to climb the side of the hill, which alternated scree and shrubbery. In retrospect, I think the more sensible thing would have been to consult the map, realise that the contours meant steep slope and backtrack to the path. In any case, after much slipping and "Your fault!", we made it past the worst of it and took a few minutes rest. The mist rolled in, which motivated a premature end to the rest and a more pronounced effort to reach the top. The summit checkpoint was ours and we decided we had enough "running".

We returned via the trail, collected our bikes and finished the loop to the steep downhill. Sadly, we missed a checkpoint hidden by a creek crossing but less sadly, we found the checkpoint hidden in the trees near the unpronouncable carpark.

Last stop was the kayak. By the time we reached the kayak starting point, we had about 15 minutes left to the race. The mist hadn't reached Harlaw reservoir but the cold wind had. The support crew were not keen on us starting the kayak and one woman told us repeatedly that we would not make it back to finish on time. I don't mind her opinion but I did mind her arguing it repeatedly when I tried to talk to Brian. I wanted to scream at her to shut up and leave us be, but didn't because she had been out there all day in the cold, too. We decided no kayak in the end and cycled to the finish. I should have said something to her, because that was such a negative to end the day.

Cold, tired, sore, I wasn't so sad to not stay for the awards. Brian and I packed up and headed home for a well-earned evening of laziness.

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