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Russ Racing at Adventure Race World Championships 2009

Russ is part of Team IPPON / Inov-8 at the World Adventure Race Championships in Portugal over November 8-14th.

They are competing over a 900km course against a field of all the top adventure race teams in the world. View their team page to find out more about the team, reports and links to follow the race in real time.

Good Results at Elan Valley OMM

The 2009 Original Mountain Marathon, the largest in the world, was held in the Elan Valley in Wales. This was a new area for the OMM with areas of energy sapping tussocks to make up for the lack of high peaks.

Andy and Russ paired up for the Elite class and Jeff found a late partner of Edward in the A class. Adventure racers were well represented and it was great to see so many friends during the event. After a summer of good weather mountain marathons, the weather lived up to it's usual OMM reputation. Rain showers and low cloud started the day on Saturday. Showers were less frequent on the Sunday but with a strengthening wind and a little sunshine.

Both pairs had a good saturday with Jeff /Edward coming in 8th and Russ/Andy placed 17th as they made themselves comfortable at the overnight camp. Sunday was a bit more runnable. Jeff/Edward arrived in 7th place to be ranked 8th overall in the A class just inside the prizes! Russ/Andy also had a good run placing 8th in Sunday's race to move up the overall ranking to 12th place in Elite.

The new system of bussing competitiors worked well and the improved communications allowed our friends to follow the race online making this an excellent end to the UK Mountain marathon season. Sleepmonsters reporting.

Jason and Russ win Dynamic Adventure 8hr Endurance

 Russ and Jason travelled by train to the South Downs event cycling across London and then from the station to the event before they even started the 8hr MTB and foot based score event.

They rode about 60km and ran 28km to clear the course in under 8 hours and win the pairs category. The area was full of pheasants and deer including a close encounter with a stag. We also spotted a glider, a hot air balloon and some stunning views to the South as far as the sea. A great day out rounded off with a final ride back to the station and across London. Our navigation around London wasn't quite as good as during the event...
Sleepmonsters report.

Paul takes 4th place out in Brazil for Jungle 'Marathon'

 Paul took part in the Jungle Marathon - a 200km foot race over 6 stages carrying kit and food throughout for the whole race. Despite several competitors dropping out from the heat and exhaustion, Paul's pace was both steady and fast.


He finished in 4th place overall after the 6 stages, including the long 87km overnight leg.
He was the highest placed British finisher. Congratulations and what an experience!

Results. Videos: day1, day2, day3, day4, day5, day6, day7

The event forms part of Paul's charity challenge.

Benji, Sabrina and Russ finish 4th in the Endurancelife Raid 20

Benji, Sabrina and Russ although still recovering from recent colds, ran, paddled, rode, swam and coasteered along the 6 stages of the 20 hour course into 4th place overall.

Stage 1 started at Totnes castle and involved kayaking in a double and a single sit on top to Dartmouth. On the way were several checkpoints. Some at the waters edge but others involving a significant run up nearby hills.

From Dartmouth a final run of about an hour collecting more checkpoints finished the stage. With the strict penalty of loosing all your points on the NEXT stage if you exceeded the 5 hours allowed there was a lot of calculations regarding kayak and run speeds to be done on the fly.

Stage 2 was a more straight forward 3.5 hour MTB score stage from west of Stoke Fleming to Start Point. The final 3.5hr stage of the day started with coasteering in wetsuits and helmets hunting checkpoints in the sea and on rocks just beyond Start Point before a final run along to Salcombe Estuary. Arriving in the dark, just inside the cut-off we were exhausted but the overnight stop grid reference was somewhere in the estuary and we were re-united with the kayaks to find it. It turned out to be the luxury of the 'Egremont' ICC converted mersey ferry where we were treated to bunks, hot food and told to get some sleep for an early start.

We were awoken at 4:30am with time to get some breakfast before a 5am start kayaking back down the Salcombe estuary and then a coastal run with a lot of route choice and again the penalty of loosing all points on the following stage if we were longer than the allotted 3.5 hours to the estuary at Bantham. Here it was wetsuits again for a swim across the estuary followed by a short hike, the chance to earn some points surfing before a kayak back up the channel and along the river to Aveton Gifford. This just left a final bike leg to get us back to Totnes to finish.

Some great stages and new ideas although the rules could be a bit clearer. A fantastic area for this sort of thing so I'm sure we'll be back! Sleepmonsters report.

Paul completes the Grand Slam and Andy wins the Series!

Paul finished his Grand Slam of all 12 ultra marathons in the Vasque Run Further series with the Long Mynd 50 mile hike over the weekend of Oct 3/4th. However he didn't just aim to complete these races he also raced competitively achieving 10th place in the overall rankings for the best 4 events. Some real determination considering some of the races were on consecutive weekends. It should stand him in good stead for the next of his challenges - The Jungle Marathon.


Andy also raced the Run Further series as part of Team Vasque. Despite Jez Bragg achieving the seemingly unbeatable 4 wins out of 4 events, Andy won the Lakleand 100 which came with 100 extra bonus points for the 100 mile event. This left him in with a chance if he could do well at the Long Mynd to still beat Jez and take the honours in the series. Andy went all out and won the Long Mynd in just over 8 hours to steal 1st place overall in the series from Jez! A fantastic achievement to end a great season.

Jeff and Russ go head to head at the RAB MM

The 2009 RAB mountain marathon was held in the Howgills in Eastern Cumbria. Yet another fne weekend just with some low cloud kicking around in the mornings. Wendy and Steve made the journey North as well as Russ and Jeff came over to join in the fun too.


Jeff and Russ entered the Elite category as solos opting to carry all their own camping kit with 7 hours competition on the saturday and 6 hours on the sunday. This left Jeff with the heavier tent at a disadvantage which showed in the overnight results: Russ came in 7th with Jeff behind in 11th place. Wendy and Steve more sensibly opted to share the kit between themselves and take an hour less each day. They lay 15th overnight in the Mixed Vets.

Sunday saw Russ starting off gingerly with blisters from the saturday contouring. Jeff had a good day hanging on to his 11th place and overtook Russ by 5 points whose slow progress dropped him to 12th overall. Steve and Wendy also had a good day moving up to finish 12th overall. A tough area with a course that had plenty of route choice, the event this year attracted an entry of 500 people.

Dark and White deliver again in Bakewell


The final event of the 2009 Dark and White 4 hour adventure races was held close to Bakewell. Dark and White delivered once again with a challenging course that couldn't be cleared in the 4 hours. There was a short orienteering course to be fitted in as well the run and MTB courses in the 4 hours from the Thornbridge outdoor centre.

For once Russ had a bit of local knowledge as the course covered ground used in the Polaris event earlier this year. He made good use of this knowledge to take first place in the Male Vets.

Tom and Zak won the generation pair category and Nicole and Blair went one better than last time with a second place in the Mixed Pairs. The weather was really hot so we stayed chatting in the sun for quite a while afterwards which made the slow drive to/from Cambridge seem worthwhile.

Benji and Sabrina win at Endurancelife RAID 8


Benji and Sabrina competed in a testing 8 hour kayak / run / MTB challenge organised by Endurancelife in Purbeck. They perservered to take the top spot in the pairs as further proof of their training towards competing in Abu Dhabi.

Tom also took the top place in the 8 hour solo event. Ben and Pat were 11th in the pairs 8 hour.

Read Ben's report on the New Recruits webpage.


Sabrina in the Mongol Derby!

Sabrina finished the Mongol Derby on Saturday as 3rd across the line, first female and first from the UK. Read her report here on the New Recruits website.

As part of the race she has to raise £1000 for Mercy Corps - you can contribute to this here



ACE 1-day Queen Elizabeth Country Park

ACE 1-day events are a whirlwind 5 hours of intense running, mountain biking, navigation, challenge and their share of getting wet! Perfect team bonding stuff.

Teams of 4 arn't catered for so The New Recruits made do with two pairs working together for most of the race. Benji and Sabrina broke away to challenge the Mixed pairs taking 2nd Mixed pair while Ben and Pat came in a little behind them as 7th male pair.

Sheffield Rat Race

The New Recruits hit Sheffield for the inaugural Rat Race Urban Adventure in the Steel City. Sabrina and Benji paired and Ben joined new, New Recruit Hannah. Pat also competed for the Saturday night run around the City.

Read Sabrina and Benji's report on Sleepmonsters.

The outcome of the tough weekend of racing was 1st and 2nd placed mixed pairs (10th and 22nd overall). Another race under their belts as the New Recruits prepare for Abu Dhabi.

The Lakeland 100 mile trail race

The Lakeland 100 or Ultra Tour of the Lake District is a 100 mile trail race around the Lake District starting and finishing in Coniston. 2009 was the second year of the race and it was included in the Vasque Run Further Series so numbers were up with a start list of over 100 competitors for this daunting challenge. Andy was targetting this race looking for a good place in the series. Paul was here as part of his charity challenge to complete every one of the Run Further Series. Russ, well he just didn't want to be left out!

It all kicked off from Coniston heading up the Walna Scar Road for this clockwise tour in drizzle at 7:30pm. The rain continued through the night and after going their own pace initially, Paul and Russ paired up by Buttermere heading over to Braithwaite for 'breakfast'. Andy meanwhile was running with Steve Birkinshaw at the head of the field using Steve's knowledge of the route from winning this race last year. Rain turned to sunshine for the second half of the race. Paul and Russ slowed taking care of their feet and took some sleep as they entered the second night of the race.

Meanwhile Andy upped the pace leaving Steve behind in the latter stages to finish overall winner of the race with a new course record of 22:46. Paul and Russ coasted in later in the morning after 36 hours in joint 23rd position. Just 41 people completed the course within the 40 hour cutoff.

Many of the entrants were probably not prepared for the tricky navigation through the night(s) and the punishing 23000 feet of ascent and descent on rocky tracks. Have no doubt this is a very tough race even more than the 100 mile headline suggests. To complete it is a real achievement. To win it in a new record time is something else. To then run the Dark and White 30 mile race the following weekend Paul is just impossible to comprehend!

New Recruits in Wiltshire

Ben, Sabrina, Pat and Benji all travelled over to Wiltshire for the Questars Duo run and MTB race. Unfortunately the Trio with the added kayaking was already full - but they've since made up for that with a sea kayaking outing!

This was their first full race together. They learnt a lot about each other and worked well as a team, allocating roles and helping each other out to maintain a good speed.

They were 7th overall in the Duo race and the first mixed team - not bad for a first outing! Read their report on Sleepmonsters. Results.

A Busy Weekend in Sheffield

The UltraSprint 'O' Maze

Richard, Pat, Blair, Nicole and Russ all travelled up to the D&W 4 hour adventure race at the weekend. It was hosted as part of the Cliffhanger event featuring many outdoor activities including the British Bouldering Champs and free taster sessions in orienteering, a fell race, trailquest and hill orienteering. The adventure race used many of these facilities. It started by having the start box at the top of one of the climbing walls followed by a 90 minute run into the nearby parks and lanes collecting as many points as possible.

We returned to the event base in Millhouses Park to run the Orienteering UltraSprint course featuring 29 controls around the park and in the specially constructed maze of crowd barriers. The only proviso was that we were off the course before the finals took place in the afternoon.

Once completed it was time to hop onto the bikes for a couple of hours. With Millhouses on the West of Sheffield it was possible to get out to the Peak District but even the closer tracks were pretty hilly and the course provided plenty of route choice.


The final checkpoint was in the centre of the pond being used for kayak demonstrations, so there were plenty of spectators to watch us jump in, grateful to cool down at last. Nicole and Blair took 3rd place in the Mixed Pairs and Russ took 3rd in the Male Vets beating Richard and Pat, although Pat was taking it easy having raced the Endurancelife Trail-X event in Sussex the day before! Results

Saunders Trophy Success!

SLMM Bowfell Class 1st Mixed Team Trophy

The 31st Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon started and finished in Coniston. Russ was joined by Jo, someone more used to working on these types of events as the medic rather than competing in them. But having expressed an interest, she was soon signed up and it was too late. This was her second mountain marathon and neither of us had competed in the Saunders before.

Jean drove up and helped with the event, dealing with retirees and a couple of rescues to help injured people off of the hill, seeing as her mobile number was given to competitors as the emergency contact! Jeff joined us on the friday evening for a chinwag on his way home but couldn't be persuaded to sign up for a last minute entry.

We were one of the first starters shortly after 8am on the saturday and it started to rain just as we were trying to plot the Bowfell Class course on the map but it soon brightened up. The course looped north to Birk Fell, Wrynose, past the end of Crinkle Crags and towards Slight Side before battling through the bracken into Eskdale. Here the heat and humidity slowed us a little before the final leg over to the overnight camp in Seathwaite. Around 27km and 1600m ascent in a bit over 5 hours. This gave us a long afternoon in camp to recover sitting in the sun (between showers), forcing down all the noodles topped off with a beer from Wilfs - a nice touch for a summer event.

Finding we were in third place overall and leading the mixed pairs by 15 minutes put the pressure on for the 23km and 1500m ascent on the Sunday. With most people starting close together the hills were much busier. It was north again past Harter Fell to Hardknott and Little Stand, over Swirl How and down for some fast controls in Coniston valleys. On the final 2km, Russ struggled and Jo didn't hesitate in taking his rucksac to much applause at the finish! We were kit checked then an anxious wait for results. By a few seconds we had the 2nd fastest time of the day, so winning the Mixed Team class and perhaps more impressively 3rd overall against all the male pairs. Results

Paul's Giant Charity Challenge

Some people do half or full marathons for charity. But what does someone for whom those sort of distances are fairly routine do for a challenge?

Beyond marathons you enter the world of 'ultras'. In the UK there is a series ('Run Further') for ultra-runners consisting of a selection of events classified into short (approx. 30 miles), medium and long which covers distances of 50,60 or 100 miles. The idea is to compete in 4 of the races with at least 1 from each length category to achieve a series ranking.

These races attract a surprising number of competitors. Amongst them are just a handful who attempt all 12 races in the series and are known as 'The Grand Slammers'.

For 2009, Paul is one of those Grand Slammers. But that is not enough. These are leading to two of the toughest races on the planet, The Jungle Marathon and Marathon des Sables in 2010. These are both multi-day staged races each covering 200 km through the Brazilian rainforest and the Sahara desert carrying all the necessary clothing, food and equipment with him for the whole race.

Finally, noticing that adding up all these race miles was approaching the round figure of 1000 miles he decided to add in a mountain marathon and some extra races in order to bring the total up to the round 1000. As you do.

He's raising funds via the Tesco charity for Muscular Dystrophy and has a page where you can donate. He is also keeping a blog of his experiences.

Paul is over half way to his 1000 mile total and still going strong with some good results alaong the way. Why not sponsor him today to encourage him in these challenges?

A Summer Polaris Challenge
Russ teamed with Gill for the first Polaris Challenge with Karen McDonald back in charge. It was a glorious sunny weekend with a basecamp in the village of Bamford providing two days of excellent mountain biking in the Peak District.

For the 7 hours on the Saturday it was a surprise to find that all of the 40 checkpoints were worth the same values, so it was a case of visiting as many as possible. This also bunched the scores, but our being 2 seconds late back cost us a point and left us in 5th place rather than joint 3rd.

The 5 hours of riding on the Sunday was more traditional as points were allocated conventionally with higher values to those checkpoints further away or harder to access.

Again we made full use of the time with a final rapid descent from the moors down through Hathersage to the finish. We moved up into 4th place in the mixed teams and would have been 2nd in the mixed vets if they hadn't removed that class!

A good value, well organised and planned event that is really sociable with the basecamp and saturday night band.

2nd place in Score Class at Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon
This was the first year of a score class at the Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon and it was well received with 90 entries. It was also Paul's introduction to mountain marathons and Russ' first attempt at a score class. Having spent most of the day travelling to Kintail and quite a bit of time sorting gear, we still managed to get an early night, leaving last clothing decisions to the weather in the morning.

Sporting our new Terra Nova 20L lightweight rucksacs, now commonplace Terra Nova Competition tent and Inov-8 footwear we set off in the sunshine, choosing high ridge routes taking in the high point controls. We were rewarded with a little scrambling and glorious ridge running on Beinn Fhada followed by a descent and climb up the slopes of Ciste Dhubh. Next were Beinn-an-t-Socaich and Creag-nan-Clachan-Geala. It didn't look like we could collect the final 4 CPs near the finish so we decided to have a go at the 3 of them. It almost went pear shaped spending several minutes on the wrong spur which could have cost us 2 controls and made us late, but we joined a D course elephant track arriving at the final checkpoint with 13 minutes to spare. Our notes on our map said 15 minutes to the finish so it would be a sprint to the finish arriving just inside our 7 hour time. 30km, 2500m ascent.

The evening was really pleasant -midge free, warm and sunny as we forced bowl after bowl of food down. Sunday started with the 5am piper and blue skies rather than the forecast shower clouds. Final preparations included working out how to pack the antlers that Paul had picked up during Saturday without spiking himself!

We chose to visit a different area on principle for the Sunday, picking an ambitious route approaching 30km again with a little less climb (1850m) but only 6 hours this time. Most of the terrain was very friendly and heather free but the final valley caught us out, having to drop a control and another race to the finish. Lying 4th overnight, we thought we must have blown it as the results were announced in reverse order and it got to 3rd place. So we were surprised to find we had finished 2nd overall with the highest score of the Sunday reducing the gap to the leaders to 10 points. Results and Reports.

Raid XL Adventures

Russ and Paul returned to the Ardennes to do battle once again with this 30 hour race. Roel and Wim put a lot of work into designing really mixed courses full of surprises. The mystery discipline this year was Skikke and this year started with one us us swimming across a lake while the other Skiked around it until we met up and swapped disciplines. Next we were out on MTB just following distances and instructions (no map!) for 40km. This involved some great forest single track. We were up near the front after this but the next hike involved archery once again and despite improving we still had to do the penalty orienteering CPs which we struggled with on a rather old map.

Finally we were into the kayaks for a very enjoyable paddle down a gently moving river with lots of small rapids. We hiked and skiked into the dusk - getting tired and making mistakes. This was followed by a long, night MTB stage mostly in forest, but Russ started to suffer during this, being sick several times. By the end of the stage he wasn't in a good state and 20 hours into the race we decided to stop and sleep. This improved the situation enough to enjoy a long cycle back to the finish but without the final race stages.

A great race, but don't under-estimate how challenging it is.

3rd Male team at inaugural iROC event
Jean transported the team of Jason, Russ and Ben up to Weardale for this new event. She marshalled and also managed to compete in the 'night' orienteering. The rest of us were having a go at all 6 of the events over the two days in Ben's first race.

Saturday started gradually with a 15km fell race with a chance to rest before 10km of orienteering and another gap before the tough evening session of score orienteering followed by night MTB time trial and a final shorter fell race. Everyone competed as an individaul but also contributed points to the team score.

Jason showed his fitness in the foot races consistently ranking high up in the results. Unfortunately he broke a chain on the night time trial which lost him all his points for that event. Despite that he had still scored the same total points as Russ going into the final event of the 4 hour MTB enduro on Sunday morning. Jason and Russ teamed up around the score orienteering to work to our strengths and overtake the Likeys.com team into 2nd place by the end of that event. Unfortunately with the broken chain and Ben's knees sufferering causing him to wisely give the final fell race a miss, we couldn't maintain that lead.

For the Enduro, Jason once again did well but was chased by Ben on what was a great course in the sunshine.
We were 3rd male team and ranked individually at Jason, 29th; Russ 34th; Ben 87th out of 196 competitors.

Verdict: A great introductory race for Ben. The hard work of the organising team was much in evidence and the format of being able to pick and choose events within the 6 worked well. A tough race for anyone doing all 6 events. Very sociable on the campsite and good value.

Results. Sleepmonsters Reports.

CamRacers events calendar launched
We are pleased to be able to share with the world our new events calendar. It pulls in all the UK Adventure Races and World Series events alongside European leagues, Ultra running events and Mountain Marathons.

Anything adventurous or with a touch of endurance that takes our fancy really. It's possible to show or hide blocks of events and for each one shows how many people are in teams and which disciplines are used. Finally it's possible to select specific events and then download them in iCalendar format for inclusion in your own calendar whether that's Outlook, Google or most compatible software. Anyone can also submit suggestions for events to include. Try it out here.

Those watching carefully will have noticed that our news is now also available as an RSS feed from the icon on the homepage and at the top right of this page.

7th Place in the High Peak Marathon
Marathon is a bit of an under-statement for a navigation event roughly following the Derwent watershed, starting and finishing from Edale that takes in 40 miles of hilly off-road terrain. Oh yes, and half of it is at night!

You might think that this would be enough to discourage most normal people, but it's greatly over-subscribed each year and places are allocated via a lottery. It's also very competitive with many top long distance runners taking part. Teams are started at 1 minute intervals roughly in reverse ranked order. Starting 13th from the end of 50 teams, we thought they might be over-estimating our abilities as we expected to only just be in the top half. Paul was the only person on the team that had done it before and he wasn't navigating. It didn't start that well with Andy putting Russ on tow within the first hour on the uphill road section but we were passing a lot of teams.

We had our share of navigational hiccups during the night but not as bad as many teams as it turned out. With refreshments at Snake Pass in the daylight we managed to pick up the pace knowing that there was only 3 hours left to go on much better ground. There were several teams around us as we approached the finish but it was only as the times were calculated that it showed we were 1 minute ahead of the Dark Peak Ladies setting a new female team record and just 10 seconds ahead of Tom Gibbs' team in a total time of 10 hours 41 minutes and 31 seconds. There are detailed Results.

Wendy wins in New Forest
Wendy was first female at the Dynamic Challenge event held in the New Forest. She built up a small lead during the daytime score foot orienteering and mountain bike trailquest disciplines before

proving her navigational skills by collecting all the foot night navigation checkpoints to take overall first place.

Quadrathlon wins at Waddenhoe
Nicole was first female (and 7th overall) at the Wadenhoe Quadrathlon and Pat was also the 1st over 50 (albeit the only one).
The times for Nicole and Pat were amazingly similar for the run-kayak-bike-run course with Pat stealing a few seconds on the run and bike stages but as we would expect Nicole made her mark on the kayak posting the 4th fastest time overall nearly 5 minutes faster than Pat. Race report on Sleepmonsters.