Race the Sun Charity Challenge 2013

10.5 hours after setting off from Newton Rigg Campus a weary but elated team completed Race the Sun Challenge.  We get sent the official times and ranks today but we think we might have been the seventh mixed team back (out of 26 mixed teams) and been in the top half of all teams completing the challenge.  Not bad for a motly bunch that hadn't been able to meet up as a team prior to the race!

It wasn't a great start - our 3 pm departure on Friday afernoon slipped and then we got trapped in traffic getting out of Oxford so it wasn't until around 5 pm that we finally hit the motorway.  We then got stuck in crawling traffic just past Birmingham up to Manchester.  We were aiming to register our team, make the pasta supper (carb loading) and be on time for the briefing at 9 pm.  Well, we squeaked in just after 9 pm, in time for the briefing and to quickly register our team.

Our start time was 0644.  At 0640 one of the lads still had a flat back tyre.  Miraculously, with seconds to spare, we made our start time and set off on the 30 km cycle to Helvellyn, including 8 km off road along an old coach road.  

The first cycle leg was completed in a fairly respectable 2.5 hours.  We then took around 1/2 hour refuelling, changing our kit - ready for the -4 winds at the top of Hellvelyn.  Just as we were about to set off the rain came so on went the waterproofs.  Within minutes of walking, the rain cleared, the sun came out so we all stopped to take off a couple layers!  We kept up a steady pace but not too fast so we could appreciate the stunning views.

Three and a half hours later we were back where we started, ready for another kit change, some more food and to top up water bottles.  Seven hours after setting off from Newton Rigg campus we set off around lake Thirlmere to where the canoes were and went for a wee 3 km paddle out on the lake, around an island and back again.  I think that was the most enjoyable part of the whole event.  Thankfully there wasn't much wind, it was surprisingly mild out on the water and the scenery was just gorgeous.  

37 mins later we were back on our bikes, ready for the final 40 km back to Newton Rigg campus.  This was the part that I had been dreading.  I wasn't sure whether I was fit enough to get back up those hills.  Thankfully the first part of the cycle was a downhill into Keswick - loved it.  That, followed by the path along the old railway line perked me right up.  The old railway line was just gorgeous, we crisscrossed mossy streams, lined with ferns and lush foliage - reminding me of home (NZ).  Unfortunately the old railway line came to an end and we had 20 km of uphill, followed by more uphill and for good measure, one more uphill.  Somehow I made it up those hills and was able to find a burst of speed Bradley Wiggins would be proud of for the last km back to base - 10.5 hours after setting off, well before the sun set.  What a team!


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