Derby Triathlon Club

Open 5 - Lake District by Judith Hughes

With James Thurlow of Open Adventure having to move race registration to Hawkshead on the Friday before the race due to forecasted high winds and rain, it looked like the first race of the 09/10 Open 5 series was going to be interesting. The forecasted rain duly arrived overnight on Saturday and made getting ready for the race a very wet and soggy affair.

Given the ongoing forecast Jenny (my race partner) and I decided an early start would be a good plan, so that we would be well into our 5 hours of allotted time before the wind really started to pick up. Looking at the map, I wasn’t surprised to see that controls were spread over Grizedale Forest and Claife Heights. Having done a bit of riding around here in the last few years, some of the tracks we were going to use were at least a little familiar and looking at the distribution of the controls, it appeared to make sense to bike first and run second (as we normally do and handy brick training for triathletes!). Looking at the map, we also decided to attack the bike in an anti-clockwise direction – getting the controls in Grizedale first before heading over to Claife. We thought that this would mean that we doing most of our descending on the more technical tracks, rather than needing to spend long periods of time pushing (and I think our experiences bore out this plan).

Having started the race, the first task was to mark control values on the map. However, there was no shelter at the start and given the continuing wet conditions, it was probably no surprise that the pens refused to work. However, looking at the control values and those that were ‘dummies’ (worth no points) our race strategy was not affected too badly, so we decided to set off. Unfortunately, having left my cycling gloves off to be able to hold a pen to write with, I soon discovered that my damp hands were not going to go into the gloves! Luckily the public loos in Hawkshead had a very good handrier which I had to use for a few minutes before I managed to force my gloves on!

Our intended bike route went pretty well – having not done any of this type of navigation since the last Open 5 in April, the nav went ok (by our standards). I have to admit that I wasn’t really looking forward to the race, particularly with the conditions, but we both enjoyed the bike leg. I don’t think I have ever seen so much water running over, down and across tracks. It also probably meant that we rode some technical sections we may have otherwise bottled as we couldn’t see what we were riding over! We rode through a few ‘lakes’ and ‘rivers’ where the water came up to past our wheel axles and where it was a case of putting the effort in to get across or taking an early bath! Not that far into the ride, it became apparent that hands and feet were not going to stay dry, but my Skinfit Klima and tri shorts (under waterproof jacket and tights) worked perfectly.

A good race for us usually means a 3 hour bike followed by a 2 hour run. We hit transition at just over 3 hours, so things were going to plan. Then it was a case of heading out onto the run. Neither of us felt that we were in any running form as yet and location of run controls meant we would have to judge well which controls we went for. We decided to do the run in a clockwise direction to ensure we picked up the high-scoring checkpoint on Latterbarrow early on. Our legs were struggling a bit at the start, so it was a case of jogging anything flat or downhill and walking up any hills/inclines as fast as we could. Having bagged Latterbarrow, we headed off into the forest to collect a couple more controls. Things were progressing well and luckily even though the wet had rubbed off sections of our map, one or other of us had a readable section for the areas we intended to visit. I was just thinking that we doing pretty well on the nav (especially in the forest where unmarked tracks can be very confusing) when we came across a radio mast we didn’t expect to see. Upon closer examination of the map, we realised we’d taken the wrong track – having missed the fact that in addition to 2 bridleways crossing at a junction there was a 3rd track that was not as clear as the other ones on the map (our error though!). Having now strayed into the realm of less well-marked tracks on the map, it did take us a couple of efforts to get back on the right route, costing us precious time. Having picked up checkpoint 31, with 40 minutes remaining, we had to sacrifice a 15 point checkpoint to be sure of getting back in time. Our route back passed without too much incident, picking up one further checkpoint on the way and we managed to finish with a few minutes to spare. At the end we were both struggling to keep running and felt our decision to head back when we did was the right one.

After getting some nice dry clothes on we mingled with other competitors waiting for the prize giving. It seemed as though everyone else had had an equally good day, given the smiles and stories that were being told. We ended up second in the Female Pairs, 8 points behind the winners, but I think we were pretty pleased with that and are now looking forward to the next event on the 6th December. This will be on ‘home turf’ in the Peak District and, with Mr Hughes planning it, another fun event looks in store!

Further details on the series can be found at

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