Glens Of Antrim Race
Saturday 28th November
Photos by: Jon Patterson
We arrive at watertop farm with the fog clearing and the sun shining bright. A really cold crisp day perfect conditions for a winter race. We got signed in and got our kits checked. The bikes were left at the transition area just off the car park. Down to the farm cafe to get a race briefing by Ivan. A really good atmosphere and everyone was in good spirits despite the bitterly cold morning. Ivan briefed us on the course and what lay ahead. 5km Run with two secret tasks. 15km Bike with two check points. 5km Kayak with 3 checkpoints. 2km run with a secret task and two checkpoints. 11km Bike with 3 checkpoints. 1km run with two secret tasks and two check points. Ivan introduced Marga from Barcelona and she got a big cheer.
We lined up at the start finish area and on the air horn we were out and running. The run was a mixture of trails and roads. Following a trail we ran around the small boating pond. Over bridges that were still slippy from the nights frost. Out onto the concrete lane which was very icy in places. Then onto a twisty trail with steep climbs and descents. Continuing on from here it was onto the roads. We ran at a steady pace taking in the beautiful morning. On turning back onto farm lanes we got to the first task. Make a Sheep pen with fences 2 sides 5*4 and 2 sides 4*4 Tie the sides then take it apart again and stack the fences. Down hill run back to the farm and the obstacle course. This was a series of rope activities tunnels balance beams and high walls. Marga decided to let me do the tunnel and she done the small zip line. Finishing the course we got our route maps.
Out of transition and followed the lane back to the main road. Turning left we headed for the forest. Marga shouted out the directions and we turned right into the forest. It was a bit of a climb through the forest looking for the check point which was at an old grave site. I pushed on a head and got the check point turning to meet Marga and back track to the road again. Out onto the road we headed for the vanishing lake. The lake was so calm and still with a mirror like surface. We got the check point on the road sign and pushed on up the hill. I had assured Marga after this climb we had a fast descent all the way to Cushendun village. The descent into cushendun was fast and seemed to go by in a flash. On reaching the transition area we were told there was a kayak section and a run. As there was no available kayaks we done the run first.
We started into the run which was a series of trails and roads around the village. Halfway round I asked Marga were the punch card was. We had left it with the bikes so I jumped a fence and headed back to get it. The check point was on a bench in a wooded area. we crossed the road and down onto the beach. Secret task Space hoppers. I went first and bounced my way up the beach. Then Marga took her turn and went back down the beach. Falling off once but laughing the whole time as this was a funny task. Punch the checkpoint and back to the harbor for the kayaks.
We had 3 check points in any order. One was up the river and the other two were out to sea. We decided to get the river checkpoint first as this would be harder if we were tired. We headed for the bridge and took the middle arch. (Big Mistake) We didn’t have enough room to paddle and the fast flowing water meant there was no chance of getting through. We push back wards and turned into the first arch. We had to get out and lift the kayak over rocks and back into the river. We were both laughing at how we got stuck but still paddled on up to the beach were I jumped out and got the checkpoint. Turned the Kayak back down stream to the sea section. We went right along the coast looking for a cave. I spotted a stony beach before the cave so we decided to beach it and run for the checkpoint. I was looking left and right of Marga and could see the stony beach. Paddling hard next thing I know the front of the kayak is going up onto a large rock. Marga kind of forgot to tell me and she assumed I seen it and was heading for it on purpose. The laughing began and it continued as we tried to hop the kayak backwards of the rock. Eventually getting lined up for the beach we got out the water and I ran to get the check point. The instructions said a orienteering kite in the cave. I couldn’t see one so tried the other little caves. On going back into the first one again I found the checkpoint on a gate. (No Kite to be seen) Running fast back to the beach. Marga had the kayak turned and ready. Paddling hard out away from the beach we ran aground again. The water was deceiving with seaweed covering the rocks and we just didnt see the rock. The laughing started again and made it harder to get free. I used the paddles to push as I hopped and we got free ready for the paddle across the bay to the harbor. The checkpoint was on the ladder and meant we didn’t have to leave the kayak. Quick turn and back across the bay for the transition area. We got the kayaks up the slip way and headed for the bikes again.
We got back onto the bikes and ready for the climb. We would follow the road we had come down. I tough climb out of cushendun heading for another check point. The route took us across a mountain track that was very boggy and wet. I stayed on the bike for most of the climb with others deciding to get off and push. There was many deep puddles that the bike just stuck in and took a lot of effort to get through. Next check point at the top of the climb and we could see the farm. A great down hill section with small jumps and deep puddles made for an exciting descent. One last climb up through a farm and onto a tarmac lane. We followed this back to the track we had ran at the start and headed for the farm. Picking up a check point Marga found her legs and was pedaling like Alberto Contador. Back into the farm we thought we had finished. Only to be told we had another run and two tasks.The final bit of madness
This task seemed simple get a boat paddle across the boating pond pick up the check point and get back to the jetty (Wrong). We weren’t aloud oars and had to get there by any other means. I held the boat and Marga jumped into the front. I held the back and bounced into the water. It was only up to my knees so I pushed us off and jumped into the back. We tried using our helmets to paddle but seemed to be turning the boat in circles. I decided it would be easier just pushing the boat. Jumped in again only to get a shock with chest high water. Marga had a good laugh and made me start laughing aswell making it a bit easier. I kicked my feet and marga got the check point. I was wet now so stayed in the water and kicked my feet getting us back to the jetty. We were told it was a run back along the trail we had taken at the start. Of we went and I tried to run fast to get some feeling into my legs again. We got to the next check point and this was an abseil down the small drop to the river. I got the harness and helmet and dropped over the side to the bottom. Hooked off and ran back to get the bags and back to the start finish area.
The race was excellent and we had a great laugh from start to finish. Funny moments from beaching the kayak (Twice) to the space hoppers. This was an enjoyable event well planned route with something different around every corner to keep us on our toes.
Thanks to Ivan, Shirley, Joan, Steve and Keith and everyone else that helped on the day. See you all in 2010 for the full series.