Latest update from Sleepmonsters on the overnight activities

#TriHarder #BeastofBallyhoura

The first night of the Beast of Ballyhoura is over and teams have been arriving at TA7 at the Community Centre at Ballymacarbry through the early hours and into the second day.

They are arriving on their bikes after a fast downhill ride from The Gap, a pass in the nearby hills, and the descent has helped cheer them up after the hike-a-bike up the hill on the other side. From what they’ve said it sounds like it was more hike than bike!

During the night the teams were on their bikes most of the time moving from Dunmore East to Ballymacarbry, mainly riding on country roads, and fighting the fatigue of a long day and the dip in energy and desire for sleep in the hours of darkness.

The last teams didn’t leave the campsite at TA4 until after dark, and they’d completed the coasteering in the dark too. There was a small kitchen here and they made use of it to cook up food and try to warm up and recover some energy.  The further back in the race teams are the longer they take in transition, partly as they are slower in TA’s anyway, but also because they need to stop and cook etc. before the next stage.

The choices teams made in the night depended on their speed and strategy and the race has now taken on a far more tactical aspect than in the early stages. Adidas TERREX had their own route with the unscheduled trip to hospital in Waterford for Jo Thom to get stitches in her chin, but once underway again they swiftly passed all the other teams overnight. They missed all of the lower value checkpoints on the way to do this, dropping the orienteering stage on Tramore Strand and CP’s 17/18/19, but then so did some of the other teams near the top of the leaderboard.

Both SWECO and Halti Adventure took on the beach orienteering, which had 6 checkpoints worth 20 pts each, but they arrived earlier in the evening and with some daylight available.  For those arriving in the dark the prospect of searching the dunes for so few points wasn’t appealing, especially as if they missed one they’d have got no points at all for the section.

Valfosca – Raidaventura.org (Spain) and Team Yeti (Denmark) opted to miss it out, but then Yeti took in CP’s 17/18/19 which most other teams missed. Who has made the right choices and what effect they will have on the future of the race no one knows at this point and teams have to make their own choices. They don’t know what others are doing and would want to run their own race anyway.

All of the teams headed for the abseil off the bridge at TA6 as this was 1000 points and with a team of volunteers from the Irish Defence Forces  (who also have a team in the race) on hand, and 8 ropes there were no hold ups or queues as there so often are at rope sections. Each team had one line, some of which were free hanging, others were run down the bridge supports and racers commented it was one of the slickest ropes sections they’d ever seen in a race.

 Some teams stopped at times to sleep overnight, and with no rain that was easier to do, but cold.  When I spoke to the Ellis Brigham team (UK) at Ballymacarbry they said, “The only flat place we could find when we wanted to sleep was a graveyard in the middle of a town!”  Hopefully no one saw them getting up or they’d have had a fright!

Other teams hung on to sleep in the transition and the community hall is as perfect a transition as a race could hope for. There is space out the back for all the bikes and boxes (and that requires a lot of space for 50 teams), a wooden floored hall for the teams kit bags and with a kitchen attached for hot drinks, plus an adjoining astro turf hall where they can sleep. For the marshals there are hostel dorms and more kitchens and the race is planned to be based here during the second day and night as well. (Depending on what they choose to do the teams can transition through here 3 times.)

The main kit hall has that pungent AR aroma of sweat, wet clothing and rank socks and there are bags piled everywhere with teams making their own space to sort themselves out before setting out on the big trekking stage on the Comeragh mountains.

I met up with Patrick de Bruijcker of Dutch Adventure 1 in the hall and he is sadly out of the race. “I hurt my knee on the very first stage,” he said, “and although we carried on it was impossible to continue so we had to pull out. We were team no. 13 and unlucky!”  His team mates are continuing unranked, as are Team Black Hill/OpavaNet who also had a team member pull out.

A couple of the teams I saw this morning were still a little downbeat after the shortening of the paddling stage.  Both DAR Dingle (IRL) and Issy Absolu 1 said they’d almost reached checkpoint K5 after a lot of hard effort and were then turned around, and naturally they were not happy about it. “We worked really hard to get close to the checkpoint, and we could even see it,” said Pierrre Ouagne of Issy Absolu, “then it was hard to get back across the bay after we were turned around and we don’t know yet if we’ll get any extra points or not.”

“We’ve also made too many mistakes,” he added. Most teams will think that however, because of the nature of the race they will always be asking ‘what if’ we’d done it slightly different – and they may never know! It is one of the mental strengths of the elite teams that they don’t think about what’s past and concentrate on what’s happening next.

What’s happening next is the Comeragh trek, which includes 6 high value checkpoints and crosses some steep ground, with one checkpoint reached by a ridge scramble, and teams will be out on this stage for much of today