Beast of Ballyhoura Euro Champs
On Thursday this week Team Ellis Brigham AR will be starting on 72 hours of adventure in south west Ireland for the European AR Championships. We will be joining 50 teams from across Europe to take part in the Beast of Ballyhoura. With an estimated distance of 450km we have to make sure we have all the kit and food we need and fit it in a single bag.
There is a mix of mandatory team and personal kit as well as equipment that as individuals we like to use. Packing and planning started months ago with rounds of emails and skype calls to get together and make sure we have all the kit requirements covered. Over the years of racing we have all found what works and what doesn't work as an individual and as a team.
Then the fun begins - putting aside a half day at least we all start pulling together our kit. I have a double wardrobe that takes up most of our spare room. I stand infront of it and pull out kit from each shelf and drawer and put in piles on the floor. The bike is serviced and tested - nothing new goes on the bike just before a race. For example I have just bought a new style of pedals however they won't be fitted until after the race.
Food is very personal and needs to cover time out on the course and transitions. I have found a mix of food is needed - savoury as well as sweet all packed in 6 hour bags to grab and go. Wandering around the supermarket it is time to buy all your favourites, which will become your most hated foods at the end of 3 days! - in practice there is strong food jealousy with your team mates and bartering of food is widely practices.
Alongside all the packing comes the planning - we all take on particular roles in the team - captain, navigator, pastoral care, transition management. Much speculation about the course and disciplines results in additional special kit being taken. For example with the caving stage in Africa we were the only team who took knee pads and saved ourselves much bruising and pain.
Finally we all get together and final packing begins depending on race requirements - which bag we see at which transition; personal versus team boxes and bags; kit lists for each stage so we don't forget something at 2am. All the time remembering not to take too much and keeping the weigh at the minimum. A lot of time is wasted at transition trying to find equipment - time spent pre-race organising kit will save precious race time.
In adventure racing we are completely reliant on our kit - it has to perform and perform well. A poor kit choice could cost the team a lot of time, a poorly maintained piece of kit could cost the race. Half the battle is getting to start line.