Thursday, 20 November 2014

Long Time, No Blog

Long Time, No Blog.

So much has happened at NAV4 Towers since August on all fronts; work, play, physical, mental and at times ....quite emotional and upsetting.
Plus, don’t like putting finger to key board unless I have something worthwhile to say and contribute to cyberspace. I’ve thought about many postings, and been very busy working on a whole range of events from sportives to Open5’s to stuff with GoLakes and Friends of the Lake District and other Lake District based organistations.

After ITERA, came 'Porage', The Longmynd Hike, OMM ..... 
Work has been busy; I’ve particularly enjoyed delivering several One-One navigational tuition and coaching  sessions, plus we’ve had one big weekend course, the flagship Mountain Running Essentials weekend course.

On the NAV4 Adventure racing front front, I am particularly proud of two NAV4 teams racing at ITERA, both completing the week long race down the length of Wales.  Each team faced it’s own problems in terms of sickness, injury and mechanical issues, and each got to the end together and intact.

NAV4 Adventure Two, was impeccably lead by stalwart John Allen, with the unbreakable ‘Wilko’ grinding it out as usual. Dave Johnson and ‘Young Ben’ Shannon were new additions to NAV4 team and each added skills and experience to the mix; style and panache is everything. We as NAV4 Adventure One had our own setbacks; my annoying and frustrating rear ‘mech’ problem on the very first transition set the tone, but careful use of a file, plus Eddie Windthrope’s excellent bike-tech got us through.It was a full two weeks later that a local bike guru confirmed that the spare rear mech as supplied with my bike had been the wrong one,

And this after a challenging paddle along the Menai Straits; but no capsizes and it was actually rather fun! This is no blow-by-blow account of ITERA.  (Team mate, Jill's blog is well worth a read) Expedition adventure racing is very much an involved and emotional experience...(don’t mention the word ‘journey’) with teams of four working together towards a common objective.  The fact that all eight of us showed our commitment, skill, and application makes me very proud.

Post Race Blues ....
...are real, so onto ‘Mountain Running Essentials’.
MRE is our long-standing flagship weekend course. It’s squarely aimed at trail and mountain runners needing to improve their navigation and all round ‘hill-skills’ and was as successful as ever.  I suppose after fifteen years of delivery we know what we are doing

Working on events provides a life of variety: :
  • Longmynd Hike – 18 hours on Ragleth Checkpoint.
  • Grand Tour of Skiddaw – eight hours of sun bathing on Skiddaw (with tea bags of course)
  • Cumbria Way Ultra – eight hours MTB in and out of Carlisle
  • Buttermere Tri and Swim - drinks stations on road and lakeside
  • Lakes in a Day – a fleeting few hours on Hall’s  Fell ridge ensuring no-one gets freaked on the rocky ridge
  • Ennerdale Trail Races – 10, 25 and 50km – with tea and coffee and cakes for all.
  • Great fun at the George Fisher’s / Petzl night run –
  • etc, etc,

Watching and waiting, helping and hovering,  supping and supporting; all very revealing. This is not the place to bang on about safety, albeit carrying some basic kit and having some navigation skills gives a good foundation for a safer and more rewarding experience. 

So, with winter fast approaching this is the time to layer up and take a long hard think about being out in the shorter days, with the nights firmly drawn in and the temperature dropping.

Looking Ahead – Personal Objectives

Ok – so it’s true – I am taking part in The Spine Race. After two years of working on the safety and logistics side I've decided to take part.  Often said that generally doing an event is easy than working through out ;  will this be true this time?

What I do know is that Stu Westfield has done an amazing job heading up the Mountain Safety side of things for the past three years, he has the patience of a saint, and it’s been a pleasure helping him. Stu Smith came on board last year and helped me and StuW, along with ‘Young Ben’ (a different one) and a few others.  Darren Hunt and The Two Stu’s  will perform a colossal role in January keep tabs on us all.  Let’s helping them by being safe and self-reliant.

Why am I racing? ‘Cos it’s an intriguing blend of expedition skills, endurance and mid-set.  Plus, it’s a varied and iconic route. Plus having watched people suffer, survive and overcome I need to square the circle. 

And, if I can still walk upright and in a straight line by June, I’ll be lining up for a third Dragon’s Back Race but one day, or race, at a time