Adventure Challenge Series – Cannock: Race Review
Saturday 1st December was the day of my final race of the year; the Adventure Challenge Series in Cannock. This is an event for teams of three and the format was as follows: Run, Cycle, Run, Kayak, Run. It’s all offroad with some fairly challenging hills and a few obstacles thrown in too. It’s essentially a kind of off-road triathlon I guess and it’s bloody good fun.
All three of our team have experience of off-road duathlons so were expecting a solid top 10 finish. When we arrived to register the rain was falling and there was ice on the puddles. It was early, cold and wet. But sitting in the car we warmed up and discussed strategy, which basically involved hitting the first run fairly hard so we didn’t have to do too much overtaking on the bike. As the start time approached and with our bikes and drinks in the transmission area, we joined the rest of the field who were seemingly all eager to start at the front of the race. As the start gun sounded we made a move around the outside of the 400 runners taking part, the mud and rain made it very slippy and I was grateful that I had worn trail shoes, up hills were still just about okay, but coming down a number of people slipped over and covered themselves in some early mud. We finished the first run in 9th place, feeling fresh for the bike we changed into SPDs so that we could clip into the bikes and hopefully gain more ground on the leaders.
Setting off on the bikes it became apparent that some entrants were very much runners as we flew past 5 teams within the first mile, we turned onto the first steep hill of the day and then….oh dear…one of our team snapped his chain. We stopped and fixed it, watching everyone going past us as we did, then got back on and started cycling, but the gears on his bike would no longer work. There was still at least 10 miles of off road cycling to do and he was going to have to do it all in the hardest gear, this was not ideal. The bike section seemed to go on forever and to make things even worse, I managed to fall off a number of times – at one point cycling straight into a tree (not very clever), you’ll be glad to know that the bruises are healing nicely.
At the end of the bike section our poor team member who had been restricted to one gear was suffering from cramp so we slowly jogged, walked and stretched our way to the Kayak which was short but great fun, around a pond and back out again, none of us fell in, but we all got pretty soaked from our terrible paddling. Getting three team members into the kayak with two paddles was a tight squeeze but it worked well and added a nice twist to the event. After that it was a short jog / walk / stretch to the finish where there were a few obstacles including the heaviest net that I have ever crawled under and a big slippery wall which actually seemed a lot easier than the last time I encountered it. We finished just outside of the top 10, which we were upset about but we did the best we could under the circumstances.
I’d really recommend these event for anyone who is interested in off-road racing, they are a bit different and great fun. I’ve done a number of these now and the different courses have been great. You can get more info from the trailplus site here.