Haglofs Open5 – Peak District
A chilly start to the day and the last in this year’s Open5 series. The start was in the picturesque village of Alstonefield, somewhere between Ashbourne, on the southern edge of the Peak District and Buxton. It’s actually in Staffordshire and not Derbyshire as I thought.
By the time I arrived, just after 8:30, the car park was already busy and filling up fast. With transition in the same field as parking as well as the catering van and the sun shining overhead the day was looking great. With a big mug of tea and water for the day bought from said catering van it was off to Registration to see what delights had been cooked up for us for the rest of the day.
Registration found and signed in, SI Card attached and the first look at the map. It looks daunting, the Peak District isn’t a high up as the Lake District but by the look of those contour lines it more than makes up for it in steepness and there’s lots of “steepnessess”! Back to the car and set the bike up properly. After a glimpse at the map I’ve stuck with the decision to run first and by the look of the bike route there’s quite bit of road and hard track in the form of the old railway line and what with the dry weather, those tyres need pumping!.
There’s a huge mixture of anticipation and panic and doubt at this point in the proceedings. You have the map and begin to know the terrain but only from a theoretical point of view, you haven’t yet experienced it. Nor have you the complete information required, you don’t know where the dud controls are! the pointless ones, the ones that can make or break your route planning. Then there’s the weather but at least this time, unlike many of the events this year, the weather is set to be “kind”.
Right, last minute checks, gloves, skid-lid, food, drink, shoes (i’d opted for SPD’s this time) all stashed in transition beside the bike. Better be off then. “any last minute questions? asks the Start Marshal, nope, gimmie the control list! let’s go! Bollocks! It might be my imagination or my determination to do better this time but the “duds” seem more significant this time around and really muck up my proposed south westerly leg on the run.
Now I’m off and tracking, that first few moments trying to make you have the lie of the land and are on the right track. Two other runners going my way and we start to run as a small group. Big mistake! we end up off track and almost half a mile re-route to the first control.
The next few controls are off to the left of an obvious road / track and necessitated an out and back approach. One, two, where’s the third? I’d run past it and lost 5 or more mins in the process. It’s not the time in the end, that kind of loss isn’t going to affect my overall score but the loss of confidence hits home. The last control on my list is on the roadside at the bottom of the long hill back up to transition from the river. That hill was hard in the heat and my platypus is empty and legs showing the first signs of cramp, back in transition almost 15 mins over plan.
No hanging about this time, change shoes, food and top up the platypus with juice and electrolytes in a hope to stave off the cramp. Another look at the map and plan, this time I have to do better, last time the bike leg was a bit of a poor show. Well I started well enough but I crashed, not once but twice. The first time coming to a stop at a gate going to CP18. That dry-stone wall was hard!. The pair behind me check that I’m OK and speed off into the distance. The second time was out of sight from anyone and that’s a plus because the rock I tripped over was tiny! Up and onwards, by the time I reached the railway line and heading towards CP14 the cramp was back, with a vengeance!
The next few controls are all along the railway, the hard packed track easy going and fast.
The crowds of people walking and riding, sympathetic to we competitors some cheering and shouting words of encouragement. The cramp is really getting to me now and I abandon hope of CP3 and 4 and 50 odd points and set off back up the hill to the finish. It’s a long way back, that’s it I’m done, done in.
So another one done, harder than the last one, more points than the last one (could do better), better weather, more friends, more fun, more to do next time but there will be a next time!
Thanks to James Kirby for some of the photos.