What did we learn in our Cotswold Challenge – Part two
Firstly, I cannot express the massive admiration I feel for adventure racers although I have always respected what they achieve, after experiencing what it actually feels like to keep going throughout the night with no sleep and to keep going when you can hardly keep your eyes open, huge respect. Let us hope I do not get too gushy when I see my heroes on the start line at the adventure racing world championship in October!
Right, what did we learn this time around; you will be glad to know lots. Moreover, it is not all bad as we definitely learnt from our past mistakes and put them to practice this time. To start with I did not wear neoprene socks and chose to take Mr Adam Rose advice and my own experience whilst playing squash and wear two thin pairs of socks to avoid friction thus, blisters. More importantly Anton did the same and did not suffer anywhere near like he did last time although, a couple did manage to develop but this was due to a lack of orthotics rather than sock choice. Yes, we have booked an appointment at Stroud Foot Clinic for new ones.
We also wore new rucksacks from which are absolutely amazing, and I was super excited to try them out although in hindsight I/we should have spent the time to fit them properly as we now both have a few more battle scars. Basically, an ill fitted backpack over 20 plus hours is not ideal! I also managed true to form, to cram it full of everything and anything I ‘just may need’, To be fair Anton did warn me, but just as we were about to leave, I stuffed a few more essentials in! This aside the packs were fantastic; waterproof (tested!), lots of pockets (needed), 30 litres (debatable if I needed it) and to top it off blue (perfect).
We took 3 litres of TORQ hydrate which was a blessing as it got rather warm stomping up and down the Cotswold hills but the mistake, I made was that I did not realise how much fluid you need over 20 plus hours – rookie mistake admittedly. Although it would not have been possible to carry all that we would need I should have taken the initiative to buy drinks at the towns we passed as I only brought coffee (which was needed and appreciated) whilst Anton brought water and drank it straight away (clever). I realised my mistake when we were in the middle of the woods and nowhere near a town or likely to be near a town during the next 10 hours. Luckily for me Anton saved the day and got me some water from a stable tap miles from nowhere or I should say he had the stable water, and I had his! I am not a deva I promise.
We took lots of food as always but what we did different this time was we took lots of bland snacks rather than sweet ones as ultimately you feel sick for a lot of the time whilst doing endurance sports. I guess this is something we will have to get used too but bland snacks helped this time around especially dry fruit scones and granola bars. We also stopped to eat our Expedition food rather than eating it on the go like last time. I know this may not be ideal in a race but we did not hang around for too long just enough to boil the water and eat the food sitting down which helped a lot towards digestion. I personally felt reenergised after eating my meal this time whilst last time I felt really sick eating on the move. We also used the time whilst waiting for the hydrated food to do its magic to stretch, put on warmer clothes and decant our supplies into our outer bag pockets. Another new thing we did was colour code our equipment in dry bags e.g. blue dry bag for clothes and red bag for cooking things. This saved a handbag rummage e.g., hunting for things amongst a mass of loose items.
Unfortunately, what was different this time was that Anton and I felt terrible afterwards, aching bodies, sore heads, fatigue and let us just say less sharp in the cognitive department! Ok so we hiked further, did not sleep/rest for more than 36 hours, and carried heavier bags. Nonetheless, all things we will have to do during a race and then get back up after a couple of hours sleep and do it all again in a different sporting discipline. Yikes personally I have mixed emotions one of excitement and two of how on earth are we going to improve our baseline to compete/keep up with the rest of the field. Thoughts for another day now I am going to eat pizza and maybe have a glass of wine 😊.