Open 5 – Yorkshire Dales, Cracoe
Well, I am extremely out of the race reporting habit, despite managing a few races like Malta swimrun, Marmot dark mountains and some local trail events! Maybe I will come back to them, but I didn’t want to miss a write up of this year’s Open 5, not least because it is one I have been looking forward to for some time … more on that later!
This event was relatively close to my mum’s house, so I went down to stay with her. Lucy was otherwise indisposed and despite asking a couple of people, I ended up racing solo. I actually put a bit more effort into preparation than of late, checking maps from previous races in the same area and making sure I wasn’t about to make the same mistakes as 2018…
The weather was somewhat ‘wild’, and we drove through some big puddles to get there. A bit of rain and wind doesn’t phase me though, and I have raced in worse! After some careful map study, I had a plan and set off.
This race was unusual in that we had to bike/run/bike because the run was at a remote transition far from the centre. Pre race emails said it was about 20 minutes direct there. I was dubious since even Google suggested it would take the best part of 50 minutes. I thought I would ‘play it safe’ by going round the road at the bottom anyway, picking up a couple of out and back controls on the way.
After the first one I took a shortcut back to re-join the road, which was already a mistake as it was slow going, muddy and full of gates. Then I hit the river … well it was a river where the road should be. I walked a bit with my bike on my back, then rode a bit … and decided any more controls were out of the question. 1h25 minutes later I got to transition. I wished I had gone over the top – off road and uphill but probably more ride-able, given the circumstances!
Hey hum, the run would be better. But it took me a while to distinguish the first footpath from the river. And then I ‘ran’ along in quite deep water for a bit. Eventually I emerged onto a road and headed to a control in Goredale Scar. I found a couple of guys looking everywhere for the control. I was slightly adventurous peering over some rocks and found it, but wasn’t about to risk getting it – until a chap called Adam bounded in and leapt straight over 😮 So I decided to follow – but with a helping hand!
That was very adventurous. I was running well and was soon looping back to transition. I made a mistake missing the giant cliff I had to go round at Malham Cove, which was my first run mistake. Then I wasted the best part of 10 minutes trying to cross the river to get onto a path to another 20 pointer – I gave up in the end and missed it out. Another time when being in a pair might have been helpful …
Then the last control wasn’t where I expected . Along with group of other people we wandered back and forth over the bridge, bewildered. It had been moved from an island to a tree; we were told that at transition, but where was it? By luck, I found it just down the road, but I think it was not quite where the map suggested (on a permissive path rather than the public footpath).
Argh so much time had slipped through my fingers at the end. Back on the bike and I had another plan, doing a loop round on the hill with wind at my back.
So again, I tried to make conservative decisions, I really did. (Can you see where this is going yet?). I missed one out and back and then a second. As I did this I said to someone passing – I haven’t got time for that … I got a funny look as he stopped to peer at the map. Later I realised that was the way I should have been going…
I was looking forward to going downhill with a tailwind all the way home.
Unfortunately I turned out there was also some uphill (details, details) and some slightly tricky navigation that had me doubting my course. The descent down Threshfield Moor was a delight, interrupted only by the occasional drainage channel.
As I popped out onto the road something nasty happened with my back brake and I was already out of time. And now I had 5km into a headwind. EEK. A male pair overtook and I slipped in behind, clinging on for dear life. I was still over 22 minutes late. That might be a record for me…
So, my tactics were all wrong again, I wished I had done the off road hill option at the start and the shortcut at the end, although I did not regret getting some fun mountain biking in. With so many penalty points I was only good enough for 3rd.
However for me, the main event this weekend was my 20,000 CAREER POINTS! I’ve been working towards this for ages, just scraping over last year earning my 20,001th point. I join only three others who have racked up this many, and had my ‘first ever Open 5’ map at the ready – though it was actually an Open 5+ involving a swim to a control and some ghyll scrambling. Wait, not so different after all 😉
Many thanks to James and all of his team at Open Adventure for all the fabulous events over the years. I have been to so many different places, had a whole heap of adventures and made new friends. I still miss my winter monthly dose and the opportunity to do something better ‘next time’ – a year is too long! 😀 Until next time!