Open 5 Feb 5th – the perfect addition to half Iron training – an injection of fun on toast.
‘So, remind me how to do the compass thing again?’ I said to my race partner for the morning as we prepared to head out of the starting pen to the open, rugged, hilly lands of the Yorkshire Dales. Said partner is Hanne, who grew up orienteering in the forests of Finland, so I knew I was in good hands.
The Open 5 Adventure race is five hours to with what you will. The task is this — find as many check points as you can in the alloted time, in any route you pick, crossing trails and tracks, over streams and rivers, over scree and sheep poo and gorse and fern, wind beaten, energy-bar scoffing, map reading with cold gloved-encased fingers, all polished off with a big fat grin. The order of the day was mountain biking and running, and we were allowed to do this in any order, for any length of time, but we had to do both.
Hanne had a pretty, rainbow-like thumb compass, I don’t think I’d ever thought I’d say these words but truth be told, I had compass envy. Mine was flying about as I ran, and covered in mud from the climbing up hills, but nevertheless, being used with zest as I orientated myself and enjoyed a new-found skill.
As a ladies pair team, we set off on foot at 9.30 and headed for the hills. Literally. Up, up, up we went, me with my map in my mouth and scrambling up banks looking for a little piece of red and white tape. Once found, many a bank was slid down and a very muddy bottom was a feature of the morning.
Having had a mild panic at the start line that I’d entirely forgotten how to use a map and a compass, it all came back quickly enough and before long I was figuring out which direction to run in, looking for features on the map, working out how the contours and ridgelines and bends translated into actual stuff, and in parts, hopefully managed to be slightly useful. Mostly of course, seasoned Hanne was navigator extraordinaire, and I was the one mostly found merrily running past check points pointing ‘I think we need to run that way!’ Only for Hanne to reply ‘the check point’s here, you’ve just run past it,’ cue endless amusement.
Overall, a delightful morning was had, we sung a little and I got overexcited every single time I saw one of those little bits of tape on a bridge, under a bridge, in a cave, on posts, on styles and of course, hiding from us, merrily flapping away in the wind.
Having lost my training mojo over the last week, so early on in the season, too (yelp), I found it again at the Open 5. This is because when you’re in a stunning place with a focus for the run and ride and in good company, it just doesn’t feel like training at all. Yet my legs have 13 miles of Yorkshire hill running and the same of mountain biking in them, which is a nice bonus for the half Iron training. One day I’d like to think that I can race an open adventure solo, too, but not before I get me a rainbow thumb compass!