#TriHarder #BeastofBallyhoura Looks like the guys are heading back to TA8. in fact looks like all the teams are heading back that way, with none of the teams outside teh top 3 looking like they are doing the hike and all heading for TA8. May be that they’ve all been told to go that way due to time. anyway, here is an update from sleep monsters

One of the surprises of this race, even for regular Irish adventure racers, has been the Comeragh hills, which teams have been trekking across today.  The deep and sheer walls of the coums, some with large waterfalls and many with small lakes, the high plateau, rocky ridges and sweeping views of the surrounding countryside, have all impressed the teams. The range is little known and Richard Nunan of Team Get No Sleep (IRL) said, “I’d not really heard of these hills but they are stunning, and tough.” Many others had similar comments.

Race Director Ivan Park has wanted to use the range in a race for some time, and this was his chance. The hills have provided a stern test for everyone and Finnish team Halti Adventure were surprised by their difficulty. “That was tough country!” Jaako Makela said.  Chris Hope of adidas TERREX said, “It was full on, with lots of ankle deep heather and steep ground.”

Not surprisingly many of the teams have opted not to complete the full trek, or even collect all of the high scoring checkpoints, mindful of the time and effort that would take and how far they still have to go to the finish line. Some teams are already making a fairly direct line towards the finish, cutting the Comeragh trek short and dropping the next bike/kayak stage so they are now far ahead of the teams in the top positions on the leaderboard.  (The fact that today has been cool, windy and sometimes very wet has made it and easier decision to cut the trek short.)

Those teams have different factors in their calculations but they all want the same result – the maximum number of points within their 72 hours.  

As the lead teams complete the Comeragh trek it’s a good time to compare their progress. Adidas TERREX were the first team to set out on the trek and the first to return, having completed all of the checkpoints. They made a remarkable comeback last night after losing time visiting the hospital to attend to Jo Thom’s injury. (She had the chin injury cleaned, two stitches and asked me to tell her mum she is fine!) “We were on a bit of a mission on the bike last night,” said Chris Hope.

Even so the team were surprised at the choices some of their rivals made to visit low valued checkpoints, especially the orienteering on Tramore Strand. “We’ve taken a scientific approach,” said Hope, “and before the race we had a big spreadsheet to work out the points per hour of effort each CP would take to get.”  Stuart Lynch said he wasn’t having any problem with navigating the team on the maps … but was leaving the strategy to the others!

So far the strategy seems to be working as they are on top of the leaderboard, although not by a huge margin, and ahead of the chasing teams on time.

While adidas TERREX were in transition Halti Adventure arrived, having missed three low valued scores on the trek and at this point were 350 points behind. “We are a bit behind our schedule,” said Makela, “but so far we are in good shape and hope our plans for the rest of the race are good. We won’t know until after we’ve finished of course!”

Their plans are different to those of adidas TERREX. The British team set off on the next ride/kayak stage, which is only worth 1200 points in total, but Halti have decided to skip that stage altogether and try to use the extra time to get more points towards the finish of the course.  They aim to complete all of the next trekking stage, while adidas TERREX are expecting to drop some checkpoints. The Finns have also had an hours sleep while the British team have not slept at all, but they do have experience of multiday races on their side as 3 of the Halti team have not raced longer than 24 hours before.

Several other teams are still in with a chance of winning too, and with the trek complete Team Yeti (Denmark) moved up the leaderboard above Halti by 30 points. They too plan to miss the bike/kayak stage, as do top Irish team Get No Sleep, so from the leading teams I’ve spoken to it seems adidas TERREX are following a different strategy to their rivals in this next part of the race.

Get No Sleep were one of 11 teams who have been credited with the 1000 points for checkpoint K5 on the sea paddle, as the safety boat turned them back when they had almost reached it.  (Those extra points may not yet show on the leaderboard.)  Because the team had not quite reached the CP they’ve been given the points but had a 20 minute penalty applied. i.e. they have 20 minutes less to complete the course.

The adjustments for the teams affected in this way are;

Team 5    -10 mins

Team 17   -20 mins

Team 19   -20 mins

Team 21   -30 mins

Team 24   -20 mins

Team  45  -24 mins

Teams 10,29,36,40,49 are all -60 points.

There are also some other points penalties to apply and these will be made to the leaderboard later on after the teams have been told about them. They are mainly a penalty for fear of heights … applied to those who couldn’t make the jump or abseil.

With the race approximately at the half way point, and lots more options still open to the teams, it’s all very close, and the win could go to any number of teams.