At 08.50 on a rainy Monday morning, the final competitors crossed the finish line at ITERA-Lite to bring the race to a successful close after three tough days of racing through the Scottish Borders.
All the teams have their own stories to tell, with different highlights and different times when they ran into problems or just wondered why there were there! Last night quite a few teams had more capsize dramas on the River Tweed where a small island and a fallen tree caused some difficult conditions.
Teams had been warned and the location was marked with lights, and they were told they could portage, but it seems most decided not to. A few lost paddles and headlights, so it was an expensive swim. Alan Affleck of the Disclaimers team said, “There was a point where the flow hit us side on and we went in. My exposure light was in the water and I could see it shining below the water, but couldn’t get to it.” Kevin Stephens of UK Adventurers lost his headlamp and bike lights and a paddle.
The final team of 4 on the course where the Irish women’s team ‘Keep her Lit’. They had tried to stay full course for most of the route, but ran out of time and skipped the orienteering stage to start the paddle. Then they capsized and lost two paddles and one of the team decided not to continue beyond that point, so they separated and two of the team carried on. They were the last over the finish line this morning.
There were other mis-adventures by the tired teams on the final ride. Karlstad Multisport Green had navigated around the course well, until the final checkpoint at the Three Brethren. With only a swift downhill ride remaining they chose the wrong path off the summit (about 100 degree error) and set of down the wrong side of the hill! There was no harm done as they still finished as the third team of four, it was just a longer ride than they needed to do.
The Moxie Races (2) pair did the same thing and Brian Keogh said, “There were signs there for the World Cup courses next week and we followed those. It’s the kind of thing you do when you’re exhausted at the end of the race! I didn’t mind too much as it was just a bit of a longer ride and we had time to finish and the world cup descent was good to ride.”
He added, “I thought the abseil was the best bit and the rope staff there were some of the best I’ve seen in a race, very slick and organised. The staff at the Calvert Centre were really good too.” He will race the World Championship in South Africa in October but said, “After that one I’ll retire, at 56 I need to find something else to do!”
Kevin Stephens of UK Adventurers thought the paddling was the best part of the course, despite his capsize in the night. “It’s unusual to say that in an adventure race,” he said, “ but the river paddling was really good.” His teammate Joe Selby had been riding single speed since the first morning of the race and he explained, “His map board came off and went into the wheel and in the crash his shifter was broken. So he’s been racing in 3rd gear and we’ve towed him when needed.”
Another finisher this morning, taking their own route into Selkirk, were Dave Harcourt and Megan Davey (The Portly Porties). They were both ill yesterday and decided they had to stop. Rather than retire they made their way to Innerleithen and went into a B&B to recover, then got up early in the morning and rode into the finish line. In the circumstances it was a good choice and they finished the race as a short course team.
There were 16 Short Course teams, 3 teams ranked Non-Competitive, 12 retired and 10 who managed to complete the full course. Of the full course teams 3 were pairs and the winners of that category were Team Eco Trail Wicklow of Ireland (Paul Mahon & Johan Muller) in 4th place overall and with a time of 61.20.53.
The consensus from the racers was it was a very tough and interesting course, made much harder by the very unseasonal wet and windy weather. For most racers it’s been a chance to explore a new area and they’ve been impressed by the scenery and locations. The course visited some interesting and very quirky locations, as well as taking in fantastic scenery and remote forests and hills.
ITERA Lite has found a format which has kept the qualities of the original expedition race in a 50-60 race which fits a long weekend. It will be back next year and news of where it’s going will be announced very soon!
Rob Howard, Sleepmonsters