Sting in Stirling – reports from the race

Pre Race Blog

19 Aug @ 10:24

Yesterday was the first time all of the team met each other! The introductions passed without incident and we haven’t stopped talking since.

We’ve also been establishing our team roles:

– The man with local knowledge (Andy)
– The over-ambitious one (Rosemary)
– The voice of reason (Paul)
– The guardian of the Haribo (David)

At the tent pitching test we got our single pole teepee up in no time at all. It was looking like a luxury apartment compared to the tents of some other teams and we hung around for a while to enjoy the spectacle of the “how small a tent can four people fit into” competition!

We’ve had plenty of time to get a good look at the maps and take in yesterday’s briefing.

We’re most looking forward to the mountain biking stage in the Cairngorms. We’re going to be torn between riding through Glen Tilt on the short route and Glen Feshie and the Gaick Pass on the long route. Don’t be surprised if we stop racing at this point to ride round both! ๐Ÿ™‚

The description of the canyoning stage has also got us excited and really anticipating it.

We know we’re not going to be the fastest team round the course. But we will be making the most we can of our combined local knowledge and three strong navigators to make good progress.

Look out for more updates from us during the race and we’ll let you know how we’re getting on!

A few words from Killin

Special rowing stage in the middle of the first bike leg

20 Aug @ 22:43

Last night was the prologue, and despite promises ‘not to go too hard’ some of us just couldn’t help ourselves and went into race mode! Paul enjoyed his stage the best as he was orienteering with a 100-year old map ๐Ÿ™‚

The team have had a good day so far, with only a couple of minor tumbles and one puncture. You might see from the tracker that we missed a control from the long route early on in the mountain bike. We eventually decided last night thet we wouldn’t realistically complete the long route. So this was part of our overall strategy – to miss out optional controls we don’t like the look of, and do the ones we think will be fun!

It’s working so far, as we missed out a bogfest and then had a great time descending from control 7.

Although it’s only day 1, it’s already been a bit of a roller coaster, literally and emotionally for one or two of us ๐Ÿ˜‰ But we made the top of the last big hill 10 minutes ahead of schedule. As Paul said, it was a minor victory … and perhaps lots of minor victories will eventually add up to something more!

Until next time.

News from Farthest North

Early on in trek 1 – on our way up the first Munro of the race!

22 Aug @ 11:36

Just a quick update now as we are heading off for some hot food – none in transition and it’s been a long night!

Some highlights so far have been a couple of the MTB descents and the canoe down the Tay to Grandtully. We also made it to the top of the mountain on the first trek before dark to catch the view. Half of us also loved the canyoning ๐Ÿ™‚

Slog down the Tay was hard work and midges have been vicious. We slept last night in a glorified bus shelter, so camping in a tent tonight will be a luxury ๐Ÿ˜€

Facing the longest trek EVER. But first, food and more sleep!

Almost on the Home Straight

Somewhere out on trek 2, before our wild camp

24 Aug @ 05:31

The abridged version: we’re all still alive!

The full version:

Since the last update we’ve only done a little cycle and a long trek, but it seems like an absolute age ago.

We’ve all had our ups and downs – two of which were solved by large all day breakfasts and convenient cafes – an absolute must for expedition racing?!

The trek was huge. We set off well and did the exciting scramble in the daylight. It was followed by our best sleep yet, 6 hours all cozy in our tent on soft grass! The walk out in the morning to Glenshee took a while, but we made good time. Andy and Paul’s navigation was spot on. However, by this point we all had sore feet and still faced a full day’s trek ahead.

Like the canoe down Loch Tay, this section was brutal. Huge ups and downs, liberally sprinkled with peat hags. Rosemary got such painful huge blisters she had to be dragged the last excrutiating section into transition where we were greeted with yet more midges.

The distances we have travelled on foot have been immense and like nothing we have done before.

We thought it would be a straightforward run home on the bikes by the short route but even that turned into an epic as we all slowed down in the dark and got tired.

Ready for a couple of hours sleep now before the last day. We’re all hoping to stay in the canoes for a second time ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s been a great tour of some of Scotland’s best attractions and we have had our personal tour guide, Andy, and Mr Trivia, Paul, to guide us on our way. We had been looking forward to seeing some ‘sleepmonsters’ on our travels, preferably a unicorn. Unfortunately, one hasn’t crossed out way yet.

Very happy to have finished today and still be classed as a ‘competitive’ short course team.

Thanks for all the fantastic messages of support – they have been wonderful!

One update to go…

Final Thoughts

26 Aug @ 05:51

Wow, what a day.

We got through the canoeing in one piece without any swimming. It seemed strange to be setting off on the final bike with only 60km of road between us and the finish line after more than 9 hours on the water.

Disaster struck just 23km from the end when Dave took a tumble and ended up in the verge. We knew things were bad when he couldn’t remember having been canoeing in the morning …

Sadly his race had to end there as he was taken to hospital for checks. We are sure he will be fine though as his jokes were already getting back on form by the time the van drove off ๐Ÿ˜‰

The three of us continued to the finish. We will be counted as a non-competitive team*, but know that Dave was digging deep and finished all but the shouting at the end.

It has been fantastic hearing how everyone has been following the trackers and keeping up to date with our progress ๐Ÿ™‚ And especially to John who came out to cheer us on when we passed near his house! It kept us going during the week, thinking that people might be watching us on the move, and collecting the personal messages was a real boost.

Now it’s back to reality and discovering which parts of our bodies are battered, broken or still functioning normally!

Cheers!

_____________

* After the event, James Thurlow kindly allowed us to remain ‘competitive’, providing Dave rides the last section of road sometime in the next month! We were well down the standings anyway, but we felt much better the next day knowing we ‘finished as a team’.

  1. Rob McDonald Parker

    Dear Rosemary,
    You certainly give yourself some tough challenges, but as a member of your fan club, I enjoy reading about your journeys. Glad you got to finish as a team, that makes it all worthwhile in the end.

    I look forward to your next event and do keep me informed.

    Best wishes,

    Rob

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