Proudly standing in full Pearl Izumi Champion Team gear on the start line in Ampleforth, North York Moors, of my first open 5 I was full of trepidation. This would be the longest event by 2 hours I have done since my 2011 injury and I wondered if I had perhaps bitten off more that I could chew – 5 hours of running and mountain bike score orienteering! My running shoes had my PI Champion team straplines on the laces – Endure on the left foot, Enjoy on the right!
The atmosphere in registration was friendly and it was very well organised. I had decided to run first, for a few reasons, I need to tape my ankle at the moment for support, I wasn’t sure how my legs would work trying to run after 3 hours of biking and I also thought I’d be able to plan and strategize more easily for both disciplines whilst running.
I went off a little too quick on the run, enjoying the morning sunshine and had to keep reminding myself I was going to be out a looong time. It was a mix of footpaths, forest roads and straightlines across fields to the south before crossing the main road and heading up into Wass forest.
I started to really struggle after about 1 hour 45, having to walk short sections of flat and the slight rise of the road through Ampleforth back towards transition had me really struggling……
Into transition, feeling broken after just over 2 and ¼ hours I wondered how an earth I could now go out and do another 2 and ½ on the bike, particularly knowing straight away I was going to have to attack a 100m climb (vertical). I shoved some food down me (a jam sandwich), treated myself to clean socks for some reason, donned my cycling gear and headed back out 6 mins after coming in.
The climb out of Ampleforth was brutal and I was really struggling but I soon found my pace at tre top and started to enjoy the riding. Wizzing down across the fields of Scawton Moor was fun but more brutal climbs and gluppy mud to the north end of the map were horrible.
With 55 mins to go I was at the north end of the map, I was knackered and had a long way to go! I had two options – pootle in, enjoying the sunshine, the views and not worry about points or bury myself. I noticed my headset cap – #endureandenjoy365, my back felt OK, realised I was actually doing ok and went for the make it hurt a lot option.
The last two climbs were really painful, I was seeing stars but knew I needed to nail it else I’d be late and then lose all my hard earned points. I skidded into the finish after 5 hours 2 mins and 16 seconds (losing 6 points) completely exhausted. At download a surprised organiser said good effort, you should stay around for the prise giving. Turned out I’d done much better than I thought – 5th on Male Solos!
Overall a great event in a lovely part of the country with a fantastic atmosphere. Might have to do the whole series next year!