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The Dynamic Adventure Challenge (50k)

‘Whatever possessed me to do that?’, asks Steve Snook

I was online looking for details of an Indoor Athletics Meeting at Bath University that was due to take place on Saturday 24th January when I came across an event called Dynamic Adventure Challenge (50k) scheduled to take place on the Sunday near Christchurch.

The event name intrigued me and I found out that the event is one of many organised by Dynamic Adventure Racing (based in Bransgore). The Challenge Race has three stages to it: 1) a 2 hour orienteer on foot, 2) a 3 hour orienteer on bike, and 3) a 1 hour orienteer on foot in the dark. Well, I was up for that! I emailed the organisers who kindly allowed me to enter, despite online entries having expired.

I had all the kit requirements, I just had to turn up on the day in time for the 09:30 race briefing. Cometh the hour, cometh the rain! Before and during the race briefing it rained quite heavily and I was beginning to think – why was I doing this? However, as luck would have it, the rain stopped by my 10:00 start time, and I set off with a small group of half a dozen or so. We soon split up and went our separate ways to our planned first checkpoints.

It took me a while to locate the first couple of checkpoints and I was beginning to worry. I had planned to get at least half of all the checkpoints, and the 2 hours was going very quickly. However, in the last half of my allowed time, my navigation seemed to improve and I was finding it easier to pick out the checkpoints. I made a decision, with 15 minutes to go, to go for one final checkpoint, however, I was slowed on the return to base due to heavy going underfoot and fatigue. I came in 2 minutes over my 2 hour time limit.

I now had 58 minutes to rest, fuel up and prepare myself for the bike stage. Why does time seem to speed up when you are tired? I managed to cram some food and tea, get changed and prepare the bike, even text home, but did not feel as though I had rested at all, before we were off again.

First checkpoint was a doddle and located really quickly, then the second. In fact the checkpoints seemed to be easier to find on the bike than on foot. I was really enjoying myself now – the drizzle finally stopped after an hour or so – the bike was going well, and I seemed to be feeling quite strong, until…energy reserves took a dive (technically, within cycling, this is known as ‘bonking’). I was having to use lower gears, and I had to revise my strategy and cut down on the checkpoints I had intended to visit. The event was based at Thorney Hill near Bransgore, and the bike section took me out as far as Setthorns Campsite, Wilverley enclosure and round the back of Burley before returning to the finish. I came in with 9 minutes to spare, but no energy! I looked at my speedo and wondered how I could have covered 40-odd kilometres. Anyway, this meant I had 1 hour and 9 minutes to rest up and refuel before the night stage.

Yet again, the rest period went just like that, and before I knew it we were cycling to the start of the ‘night nav.’ stage. It was some sight seeing all the head torches bobbing around. I found that my legs didn’t really want to play, and I ended up doing a bit of a shuffle/run, which turned out to be a reasonable way to go, as every so often I could hear others in the distance cursing about unseen lumps, mud and water – at least going slowly I didn’t have that problem! I managed to pick up three checkpoints, but was debating with myself whether to go for a fourth. I could see on the map a shortcut and decided to go for it, but I didn’t have much time. Fortunately the location of the checkpoint meant I didn’t have to spend any time searching for it, then it was a case of making my way back to the bike to cycle to the finish. Well, by this time my legs were really suffering trying to run – I tried a combination of running and walking, but knew I was going to be tight on time. I finally reached my bike and took off. Fortunately my legs were much more comfortable on the bike and I could put more power in to cycling so I really went for it. I finally crossed the line 2 minutes over my time limit again, but more importantly, I had not got lost all day and only picked up a small number of time penalties.

I had a tired elation, a feeling of job done, and a knowledge that I’m not as fit as I used to be (surely I knew that already)!

To sum up, this was a great event, well organised by an experienced team and I would recommend it to anyone who has a good sense of direction and reasonable navigation skills. I entered as an individual, but you can enter in teams of up to 3, though you have to be prepared for navigational disputes and recriminations if you enter as a team. I would recommend this as something different.

For further information of other events organised by Dynamic Adventure Racing, take a look at their website www.dynamicadventureracing.co.uk  

Steve Snook


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