A few more details on the event ... pics below
It's a multi-stage, corporate adventure race, or, as I describe it, the best team-building you can send your employees on! Each year, 70 teams from companies of all sizes around Europe congregate to thrash it out for the title, with places in the World Team Challenge up for grabs for the top 2 finishers from each country (1 from the UK, as there is a separate 72 event for the UK).
This year, we were in Donegal Bay, Ireland in the surf town of Bundoran. Terrain was slightly less dramatic than Mayrhofen, Austria, in 2006 but we knew it wasn't going to be an easy race when the first stage started at 10pm and involved running and canoeing. Yes, canoeing, in the dark.
Each stage has a strategic story behind it as well. For example, in the first one, it was a game of darts. When the gun goes, you get a map with the locations of the checkpoints that are worth various "throws" (Double 20, bullseye etc) and you have to visit these to score 150. After each 3 throws, or when you get to 0, you have to return to the "oche" - another checkpoint.
Teams are made up of 4 people and for some checkpoints, you can split into pairs, while others must be visited as a complete team meaning that timing is everything. Any time hanging around for your team mates is time wasted.
Sound easy? That's because it was the simplest stage this year! All your planning time is included in the stage time, so the pressure is on.
Ben and I are pretty strong runners, but obviously we had high hopes for the MTB stage. The team had an injury crisis about a week before the race, so we were slightly weaker than hoped but our new sub was a marathon in-line skater, who commutes an hour daily so we crossed our fingers and hoped he could ride off-road on Ben's KHS. We also felt a bit of pressure as a lot of teams had clocked the Pace and the Moots as we unpacked them from the van and admired the bikes.
To cut a long story short, it was a 4.5 hour MTB stage and we rode like our reputations depended on it, collecting the long bonuses while sending Mike and Alex on the shorter ones before meeting up to cash them in. Mike cramped really badly on the way back to the finish, but Ben towed him up the hill using 2 inner tubes tied together while I navigated and we only picked up a small penalty for being late, leaving us 4th on the stage. Reputations safe!
From there on, we stayed in 5th with some solid performances in more night time canoeing (7th), constructing a raft to float a 10kg bag of sand (17th, but this was so tight a stage we gave back very little time) and a 10km run across 35m high sand dunes (8th)
A quick mention for the BlueCrest women's team who came 28th overall. That's in the whole event - beating 20 all male teams (the others were mixed). For 3 of them, it was their first adventure race! An awesome performance!
I'd highly recommend the race if you can get the buy in from your workplace, and will happily answer more questions!
10km running on sand dunes is pretty tiring ...
This is why we have yellow suits ... much easier to find your team mates!
Navigation on the bike stage