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About to take the plunge at Water Wipeout.

Water, water, everywhere… It’s seems that way at the present here in not-so-sunny England! In more ways than one I’ve been exposed to a few deluges over the past week or so; some, I might add, were through my own choice. The X-Runner Water-Wipeout 10km Extreme Obstacle Race & Mud Run was one such choice; more of which later.
First up I’ve been swimming a couple of times. My first time back in the pool, since returning from Nepal, I managed a comfortable 110 lengths (2.75km) just to ease myself back in to the routine. I was pleased with this because I thought I might struggle a little. On my second trip I pushed on for a little longer and swam further than I’ve ever managed before; 140 lengths (3.5km) before I ran out of time due to the pool closing. Although I was pretty done in I felt like I had another 10 lengths in me and I might just have a go at it next time if I’m feeling energetic.

June the 21st, the longest day of the year, had two special events going on. Firstly it is my Mum’s birthday; and this year is a very special one. She was celebrating her Seventieth birthday! Secondly Phil Evans, director of The Yak Attack mountain bike race, was to undertake an immense challenge for charity. He was looking to raise £720 for his local Shropshire Cat Rescue. His audacious plan was to cycle up and down a famous Shropshire hill, The Wrekin, 36 times in 24 hours. This is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest (Up and down), hence the name of his challenge “Everest in a day”. That’s 9000m of ascent and 9000m of descent!

Phil Evans atop The Wrekin for the twelfth time that day!

I had intended having the day off work so that I could visit my Mum in the morning and then go along to Shropshire in the afternoon to give Phil some moral support. Unfortunately I ended up having to go in to work until 2.00pm due to a machine breakdown. I adjusted my plans and headed to straight over to Phil after finishing work. As I drove along the M54 I could just see, through the torrential rain, a huge hill across to my left. “Bloody hell”, I thought to myself, “He must be a nutter!”. I’ve now concluded that he is a nutter.
Following Phil’s directions I easily found the parking area at the bottom of the trail and a few minutes after unloading my bike from the car I saw a mountain biker sloshing down the hill. I asked him if he knew a nutter called Phil Evans? It turned out to be a mate of Phil’s, a lad called Jamie, and he told me that Phil was on his way down behind him. Phil completed his seventh ascent/descent and we had a chat before mounting up for another lap. Just at that point a couple of women walked past us and commented to Phil that “They hoped they weren’t that dirty when they came back down” I replied that “they could be as dirty as they liked!” Well I thought it was funny 😀
I was surprised how steep it was from the outset and even more surprised when the trail steepened even more as we climbed up. About a third of the way up it levels out, briefly, before steepening once more; it then eases very slightly for a short distance before another steep leg stinging climb to the summit. Talk about choosing a difficult challenge! Not only that but it was pissing it down with rain and had been doing so since Phil had started at mid-day; visibility at the top was probably 20 or 30 metres at the most. A horrible day to be riding. The descents were fun though; fast and furious! Phil showed me an alternative route to the one he was taking that took me down through some steep, rooty, and off-camber singletrack back to the start of the trail. I rode it on every descent. It was fun even in the wet!
I rode with Phil for five summits before I had to depart. I wanted to go and see my Mum and wish her a Happy Birthday on her actual birthday!
As we completed Phil’s 12th lap his girlfriend, Kate, turned up with some food for him and he took a welcome break. I wished him good luck and bade him farewell before heading off home to Derbyshire.
Phil managed to complete an unbelievable 18 summits before having to retire out of exhaustion. An incredible feat. I doubt anyone has ever achieved that before on The Wrekin! Although he missed his target he did at least ascend and descend a total of 9000m; that’s still “Everest in a day” if you ask me! I only did five and my legs were about shot! 😀 Fantastic achievement mate, well done.

Obstacles everywhere!

Saturday dawned fairly bright and without the persistent rain we seem to have been plagued with of late. I set off early to The National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepoint, Nottingham for the latest X-Runner event; Water Wipeout. Registration was scheduled to start from 08.30am and I wanted to get sorted out early so that I could recce the course on my bike for Dave to get some good photo’s later. It was a mild morning and a nice temperature to be running in but there was a strong wind blowing from the south that would be a headwind for the return leg of each lap. It was like running into a brick wall at some points on the course!

Pre-race recce.

The X-Runner events are run as either a 5k or 10k race (1 lap or 2 laps) and you can choose to continue for a second lap should you wish to when you arrive back at the start. I like to do 2 laps. Luckily for me I had been selected to start in Group A again which meant that I should get a pretty clear run at the course and the obstacles for both of my laps. There is a fun warm-up session for each group a few minutes before your official start time and everyone joins in and seems to enjoy it.
At 10.00am the countdown started and the race was under way. I set off at a steady pace, due to nursing a sore knee, and I kept it steady all the way. For this event there was to be over 50 obstacles including 14 water obstacles if you did 2 laps. The interesting ones were a 72m open-water swim, a very wet & smelly tunnel, and a really fun water-slide into a pond! Along with all the other obstacles such as balance beams, wall climbs, and cargo nets etc it makes for a really fun event and both the crowd and the competitors encourage each other along; everyone finishes with a smile on their face. I finished in a creditable 43rd place out of about 900 10k’ers in 1h.01m.06s. I was pleased with this especially considering I was nursing an injury. The next one is called Wild Thing and is at Brailsford in Derbyshire on September 23rd. I’m already signed up for it and I can’t wait. If you get the chance why not come along and give us all a cheer. Better still would be to get your application in and come and join us!

You can even do it in fancy dress if you like!

As you may have read previously my mate Mitchell Bryan and I have signed up to do a 24 hour mountain bike endurance race in August called Sleepless in the Saddle. God only knows why! 😀 As a result of this I have had to purchase a new off-road light to compliment the one I already have; because I need one one with a longer run time. After chatting with Mitch I purchased the same one that he has; a Lumicycle XPG ATL that comes with 2 Li-Ion batteries and it should do the job a treat (I hope). It wasn’t a cost that I had considered when we signed up and at over £300 it was a bit of a shock to the system (and the bank balance!). I’ll review it at a later date for anyone interested.

Lumicycle XPG ATL

Over the weekend Mitch took part in another 24 hour race in a team of four; Mountain Mayhem. Unfortunately for Mitch, and everyone else, it turned in to a mud bath of Glastonbury proportions. After nine laps and about 14 hours they had had enough and retired. They did last a lot longer than most teams though; many of which retired after only a lap or two! It has given us a few pointers for “Sleepless” and hopefully we will be reasonably well prepared. (Unless it rains!).

Coming on July 7th & 8th is the Cliffhanger Outdoor festival at Graves Park, Sheffield. I’ll be popping up there again with Dave & Lyndsey and I think we might just be camping for the weekend. It’s a fantastic family event and has something for everyone. From hiking and mountain biking to world cup bouldering (climbing) and even a scuba diving for anyone who fancies a try at that! Just about every outdoor pursuit is represented. If you have a day free why not pop up with kids and have some fun. And the long term weather forecast is looking favourable too 🙂

I am looking in to one or two other events too, to help me keep momentum with my training and general fitness, in preparation for next years Yak Attack and The Tenzing-Hillary Marathon. You can rest assured that I’ll be posting all about them on here. Sorry about that 😀

My sincere thanks to my faithful mate Dave Slater for coming along and taking photographs at Water Wipeout.

Registration at Water Wipeout.
At the pre-race safety briefing.
First time over Jacobs Ladder…
Under & over the hurdles…
First set of balance beams…
Water splash…
Under the tyres…
Over the wall…
Just after the very smelly tunnel!…
A very nice swamp to crawl through…
72m Open water swim…
My efficient cargo net technique!…
More balance beams…
Another crawl…
Cargo net scramble…
Second of the big water obstacles; after the water slide…
Over the finish line at last 🙂
Thanks for the flattering photo Dave!
The water slide.
Start gate.
Phil Evans refuelling between summits.
Just about to go riding…
…on hardly touched singletrack! Heaven.

As always thank you for taking the time to look. Please call again 🙂

About The Author

Neil Cottam

Neil is the founder of Chase The Rainbow. He has spent a lifetime exploring the outdoors, from a childhood climbing trees and scrambling his bike around old pit heads to hiking in the Himalaya and backpacking around Europe and Asia.

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