It’s been a while since my last post when I did the Portchester 10k. I’ve spent the summer doing a bit of running (lots of small runs), holidaying with my family which included lots of outdoor fun in the sun.
This race kind of sneaked up on me as a Rammers (a mate from rugby) had entered us back in May as it looked like fun and something a bit different organised by Portsmouth’s Fit Pro Rob, who’s events are always good fun. The race consisted of a run, a canoe and then a cycle, so something a bit different and with the canoe leg at least one leg we should be good at.
Saturday evening (before the race on sunday) after a game of rugby and a hectic day I was stood in the garage staring at my bike thinking, I know I should be doing something but no idea what! Luckily Jenny Cavendish was on tap with texts where her wisdom of pump the tyres and put some oil on stuff was followed with pinpoint accuracy!!! My steed was ready and I threw some clothes in a bag for the other bits! Shorts, trainers and a t-shirt, done!
A good nights sleep and then met Rammers at the crack of dawn (or at least it felt like it) to attach the bikes on his roof and head for the sea!!! I know it’s not at all rational but I always think the bikes will fall off no matter how tight the attachments are!
The race was quite clever and played to enjoyment rather than winning which was perfect. Each leg (run, canoe, cycle) had 6 checkpoints on each course. You had to click your tag on at least 3 to complete the leg. Each tag was worth differing points and the competitors had no idea how much they worth. It was also pointed out that the ones that were furthest weren’t necessarily worth the most.
So, our strategy was to do the shortest run possible (6km), do a hard canoe leg to the far checkpoints (5k) and then cycle round the harbour (26k) to the get the Hayling Island ferry back which is the red boat (bottom left of photo) which leaves just by the house you can see in the photo above.
Anyway, we racked the bikes, were a little put off by the people with ridiculously expensive bikes and full Tri suits and went to the beach to chill out and talk tactics (keep breathing and survive!)
People set off at 30 second intervals from the RNLI station and off we went. The run part was OK, we knew the route from the canoe/run Saturday mornings we had done prior to the summer and we just plodded to the checkpoints until we got to the Portsmouth Watersports Centre to start the canoe log. However, as we neared it, Rammers looked like he was trying to pinch some coins between his butt cheeks! As we got there, he wasn’t so much sweating but worrying! I pointed him in the direction of the toilets and he semi skipped/semi John Wayned it there.
Ten minutes later, as I was stood by the canoe waiting for His Royal Highness, he floated down to the jetty like a new man with the immortal words of “I’d give that a minute!”
Anyway, we got in our double canoe where it’s fair to say we tested the “They’re unsinkable” strap line! Having done some canoe practice we thought this would be a strength for us but being sat in a double canoe for the first time, we really struggled to sync our paddling as well as we wanted and kept listing to the right. More annoyingly was being sat in the back getting a full face of salt water every time Rammers missed his stroke! The funniest moment by far however, was looking over at people that had somehow got caught on the sandbanks and were having to walk their canoes off the sandbanks where full on rows were kicking off. OK, officially we weren’t allowed to laugh but it was funny!
We hit all 6 checkpoints in the canoe (so that the best 3 scores would be taken) and really worked our asses off to keep up a good pace and then headed for the RNLI station for the end of the leg.
Hauled ourselves up the beach and got our helmets on and set off on our bikes. Well for at least 50 meters before stopping to get our wallets from the boot of the car (so we could pay for the ferry to base). Our aim on the bikes was to do 5 of the 6 checkpoints and just cycle from the RNLI station all the way round to Hayling Island (like a 25k crescent).
I have to say, this was the best bit for me, we jumped on our bikes like teenage hooligans bombing around the streets for the first couple of km’s before hitting the proper cycle paths. It felt like we had a good pace (for two big blokes on mountain bikes) and just enjoyed going checkpoint to checkpoint with beautiful scenery all the way.
We finally hit the ferry jetty and cycled onto the ferry meeting ten or so other competitors, some with a beer in hand (very jealous!). Whilst I accept we were very lucky with the weather, there can’t be a better way of finishing an event than crossing back to base on a small ferry with beautiful views with your body tired but full of the positivity you get finishing an event.
The event was finished with a beer, burger, hot dog and some chilled out tunes as everyone sat on the beach and talked about their various adventures of getting lost, stuck and other comedy moments.
In summary, great event, fun way to have a go at adventure racing (I think that’s the official term), we did over 3 hours of exercise in a great location and helped raise some money for the RNLI.
I can’t recommend Fit Pro Rob events enough as I’ve enjoyed all that I’ve done and at least for me, they’re quite close to get to!
In terms of my own running, I’ve lost a lot of fitness since the London marathon and am back to slugging myself round races rather than running them which is annoying and getting me down a bit. I have a few races planned in the next couple of months which hopefully will start driving that fitness up.