Beast of Ballyhoura (august, 2014) – Race report Wouter

Battling the Beast and the Clock!

Race report, Beast of Ballyhoura, 1st – 4th of august 2014

Wouter-Dirk Huitzing, Team Dutch Adventure


After leaving the bus at 02.00 a.m., teamnumbers were called out and the teams received their first two maps, for the running and swimming stages. At 02.20 a.m. the race started with an orienteering. It was a mass start, but the first road to the right saw us clear from the rest of the pack, as everybody seemed to follow the main road. A short minute later we came back on the main road, clearly in front of the rest of the teams. Our lead didn’t hold long, as we didn’t want to push ourselves too hard at the beginning of the race. The first two CP’s were easily founded, but hard to dib, as everybody wanted to dib at the same time. Being in front of the race for the first two CP’s was great for the spirits and seemed to set the mood for the rest of the race. With great spirits and a little too much confidence we set of to CP 3. The navigation at CP1 and 2 had been pretty easy, at CP3 everything changed. The paths were gone and were replaced with wet, uneven ground and marshes. If that wasn’t enough, thick fog came in and gave us a just a couple of meters of sight. Although we had left CP2 with approximately 5 teams, after just a few minutes teams were spread out to the left and right, following their own compass course/ ideas. After 20 minutes in the fogy marshes we decided that this was bad for our speed and not according to our tactics. Our goal was to finish full course and taking as many bonus points (BP’s) in the progress. Before the race we made a time schedule and decided on our team tactics. If the BP’s in the first stage would prove to be difficult to find we would skip them, to give us more time later on in the race to find all the mandatory points. If we would find ourselves on the positive side of our time schedule, we would try to get some BP’s, would we be on the negative side, we would skip BP’s and push hard to win some time. We decided to get BP 7, CP 11 and move down the mountain to the waterside. Down at the water we quickly found CP12 and after a short run we found ourselves at CP13 to start the 300m swim. We decided that I would carry all the gear and that the rest of the team would swim. After having walked 300meter as a pack mule I was reunited with 3 very cold friends. They quickly dried and dressed themselves, while I started to prepare the kayaks for our first paddle stage.


Due to the skipping of the BP’s on the first stage we were able to start the kayak in the dark as one of the first teams. During the kayak we decided to tackle the only BP it this stage, as it seemed a very straight forward BP, however it proved to be a hard paddle straight into the wind and waves. Early morning we arrived at the TA1. Here we received new maps which we had to laminate to be sure they could withstand the Irish weather and we needed to build up our bikes. As a good working machine team we set to work and we quickly marked the CP’s down, laminated the maps, put the bikes together and eat something during this all. After little more than an hour we set on the first bike stage. The beginning of the bike stage had a lot of mandatory CP’s close together to assure we took the course Ivan designed for us. This meant going up and down several mountains including some push-the-bike-uphill. After pushing the bike uphill we found ourselves at a summit with a broken down cross and a great view over the first stage of the race, including the whole paddle section (what a big lake). We quickly raced down the other side of the mountain and saw some teams pushing the bike uphill again at the next mountain. We decided to take the long route around the mountain, but this meant that we could stay on our bikes and didn’t have to cross the summit to find CP21. To get to CP22 we had to follow an alternative path through a field. After some push biking we found the CP and had to reorientate ourselves on the map. From here we could choose to get several BP’s or go straight to the canyoning section. A team discussion followed, as Ward and me wanted to go and get three BP’s. But Renate reminded us of our schedule and our goal to finish full course and we were barely on schedule. So it was quickly decided to get only BP 27, as it was only a minor deviation from our planned course. Somewhere on our way to BP 27 it started to poor rain, and I think it didn’t really stop anymore until dusk.


We arrived soaking wet at the canyoning section in place 6 or 7. We quickly changed into our wetsuits and started to run the two kilometer to the start of the canyon. Through the quick change and the running we managed to be the third team into the canyon, barely behind the second team. As fast as possible we went down the canyon, during which we had to jump down into the water from four or more meters height four times. The canyoning section was very welcome with the pouring rain and we had a lot of fun, which was great for the team spirit.


We changed back into our dry/wet race clothes and left again on the next biking stage.  Again we had looked at our schedule and our watches and we decided we could go for the next two BP’s, however the first one proved to take more time than expected as the pouring rain turned paths into rivers. So after locating the BP, we decided to skip the second one, as it was too far off. We biked down the mountain back to the paved roads. However, just after hitting the roads there was a complete bridge missing, due to construction work. Renate jumped of her bike and went to scout. She quickly found out that there was some scaffolding and we crossed the river with our bikes on the shoulder. One of the locals looked surprised, but we couldn’t understand a word of what she was saying with her Irish accent. The rest of this stage went pretty straight forward and around the evening hour we found ourselves on top of a mountain shooting beer bottles. After Henk, Ward and Renate managed to all hit the bottles, Ward even managed to uncork a bottle with his shot, I missed all my five shots. And so it was that we were a little annoyed and made our first navigational error. We misjudged the scale of the map and so couldn’t find the penalty CP, so back to the track and we went for another. The other CP was easily found, but it had cost us time which we hadn’t needed to spend. Back on the bike the next stage was mostly a pretty straight forward tarmac road cycle.


So we managed to ride into the TA just after dark. At the TA we had to box the bikes, prepare the kayaks to go downriver and get ourselves a warm meal. Everything together took us an hour and 10 minutes, to long, but it had happened. Well feed and ready we started the second kayak stage as the second team. After a short time we managed to overtake the first team and it was just us and the weirs. While going down the weirs Henk, Ward and Renate all managed to get themselves in the water at some point, I was just lucky to stay on the kayak. Most team members had a hard time to stay awake during the paddle as it was our second night and we started to feel the race. At the last weir we were held up by a volunteer in a kayak and we probably misunderstood him, as we managed to miss the end of the paddle section and went down river for almost half a kilometer too much (we didn’t see a marshal and the guy in the kayak said that we had to get out of the water on the right side (which was actually left (or we were sleepy))). We had to paddle back upstream and saw that once again we were the second team. Cold and wet we quickly dressed to get warm again and we set of for the last big trek. Several local teams and Ivan had warned us to take enough time for the big trek and not to underestimate it. When we left the kayaks, we were actually some hours behind our own schedule, but we were the first team on the trek, so how bad could it be? So for the next nine and half hours we went up and down mountains and crossing fields to get all the CP’s and just two BP’s. The first two CP’s were easy as we still could follow paths, but the rest was all off-track in great and wild terrain.


As we really wanted to finish full course and we didn’t want to take any changes (like we did in Turkey) we planned to be at the last TA between 12 p.m. and 13 p.m. This meant we once again had to skip BP’s. We had two surprise special tasks and a 45km bike ride waiting for us, and we didn’t know how long the special tasks would take. We had no idea what other teams had been doing and we were quite surprised to only be the second team arriving at the last TA. Didn’t all the other teams had to be back at the castle at 18 p.m. as well?


On foot we set off to do the special tasks. The first was shooting with bow and arrow. For every 30 points the team managed to shoot, the team had to find one penalty CP less. We shot a grand total of 54 points, so we still had to collect three penalty CP’s. Next we had to do a short and very surprising abseil into a small stream. Once again back at the CP, we first had to flatten the bike boxes before we could start the last 45km bike ride. As we were signing out at the TA we were informed that CP61 has been taken out of the race and that we are allowed to use all roads to get back to the finish. This means we could just take a N-way for almost the whole stage and that we would be at the finish very quickly. We were quite surprised and annoyed as we planned the whole race with our schedule and we didn’t expect this to happen. Throughout the whole race we calculated that a lot of teams probably wouldn’t make the finish deadline and so will get penalty points. By removing the last CP (and a lot of km) several teams now had a good chance to finish on time, teams which otherwise probably wouldn’t have made it and would be penalized. Now these teams are rewarded for their bad tactics. So after being informed we bike back under a little black cloud and the good spirit of the team is clearly gone. We easily bike back, but I am badly motivated and have a hard time keeping up with the rest of the team. After a little more than 37 hours we finally find ourselves crossing the finish line at Blackwater Castle, CastletownRoche, Cork. At the finish the mood turns again and we were really happy to have finished the race full course (later we turn out to have finished in 5th place and we were really happy with that position!).


Race on!


1,088 totaal aantal vertoningen, 1 aantal vertoningen vandaag

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