Monday, 6 February 2012

Grim: Night Terror challenge (part the second)

Ahh the Grim: Night Terror challenge. This took place on Saturday (4 February 2012) - the day that most of the country ground to a temporary halt due to snow.

We left Coventry at around 3 o'clock just as the first few snowflakes were beginning to settle. When we arrived at the event it was near dark, snowing with the temperature hovering around 0°C.

We picked up our timing chips and then headed for a warming coffee before heading back to the car to get ready for the race. Shorts and and a couple base layers were the order for the day. A final check on head torches and we headed back up to the start, dropped the car key off and milled about people watching for a while.

It was around this point that it was announced that there would be no water obstacles this evening as the water had frozen and it would be too dangerous to run through broken up ice. The course was also curtailed to accommodate this. I was a little disappointed with this, but can understand the health and safety aspect of it, the course still proved tricky when getting round but a bit more about that later.

Standing waiting for the start was a bit like being at a festival/rave party. People were bouncing around warming up and all that you could see in the dark areas were the head torches - pretty fun site that took your mind off the cold wind that blew through.

We started promptly, by which time there was a good settling of snow on the ground. Started on a long straight and then looped back up alongside the straight. Looking back the sight of several hundred head torches running in a line in the complete darkness was brilliant - hoping that there's a photo of this out there somewhere.

The course itself was two laps. There were a few good hills, rough terrain and
plenty of ice. This at first was quite difficult to see and you had to keep a close eye on where you were going and wear others were trying to go too! Navigating by ear was also fun you could hear people slipping or the ice being broken through and the lucky winner got frozen feet for a few seconds.

The course was well marshaled, particularly at some of the larger/hidden frozen ponds. There were some supporters scattered around the course but the main bulk of these were at the end of the first/beginning of the second lap, which is always a good boost.

The second lap was quicker than the first. It was definitely easier dodging the ice second time around but I still didn't quite know where I was compared to the first lap so you could never be quite sure what was coming up. One or two testing moments for the ankle including one eye watering snap but managed to just about run this off.

Just before you begin to enjoy yourself too much you can hear the crowds at the finish and you know it's time to pick up the pace a little and get the race done. Chips off, t-shirt grabbed, car key collected and then back to the car for the drive back home.

All in I'm glad I did the race. I think ideally the race would be better when you could guarantee some more climate weather and then the water obstacles would definitely add another dimension to this - but then you wouldn't be running around in the dark and the snow which was enjoyable in itself.

Bit of a buzz kill to the race was the journey home - M25, M40 driving in thick snow at 40mph meant that the return journey took almost twice as long. Again the bright side of this meant that we weren't as unfortunate as some who were stuck in their cars for part of the night.

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