For the purists in the club I know this isn’t strictly speaking running, but if nothing else I think it may go to show that nutters also exist in other sports!
Following a year of busy training (well, by my standards!!) for the Housman 100 mile and across Wales race in 2011. I felt that I would take 2012 off from running any major events to concentrate on a few other interests and hobbies.
As a result I was asked to be a member of a team of 5 five, including Croft’s Glynn Williams to take part in the ‘Wiggle Mountain Mayhem’ at Eastnor Castle. The event is a 24hr mountain bike endurance marathon around the deer park and woods of Eastnor Castle.
‘Mayhem’ is ‘the largest and the most prestigious 24-hour mountain bike event in the world which has been the inspiration for 24-hour events around the globe’. (According to www.wigglemountainmayhem.com)
The format of the event is a 2km run for the start of the 1 st lap in order to spread the competitors out to reduce congestion over the following 9 mile cycling lap. All other laps were made up of ‘just’ a 9mile ride.
There are several options open to the would be ‘Mayhem’ competitor, as follows: Solo ride for 24 hrs, in this category there were big names from the mountain biking world such as Nick Craig and others who were using the event as training for the mountain bike world championships and a certain sporting event taking place in London later in the summer! As well as many ‘recreational’ solo riders taking part.
In addition to the solo riders there were relay riders who were in 4 (single sex teams), 5 (mixed teams) or 10 person. As with the solo riders the abilities of these teams were wide ranging, from well respected teams, such as Team Scott and Hope Factory Racing. Riding alongside these professional cycles were a team dressed in sumo wrestlers suits, ninja turtles, uni-cyclists and a team riding children’s bikes (as if the mud wasn’t making it tough enough!). Surreal is probably the world that best describes it all I think!
The team I was in were called ‘road kill eaters’ due to a team member’s recent creation from his garden of squirrel pasties (not me). The course was muddy to say the least, to the extent that it was touch and go if the event was going to be called off or not.
At 12 noon Glyn was our 1st team member to take part and set a good pace for the rest of us to follow, despite having picked up someone else’s bike at the start and having to return to the transition area to collect his own bike!
I was the 3 rd member of the team to ride and despite it being a cycling event fell shoes rather than cycling shoes were the footwear of choice, due the course being so chewed up, many of the downhills were so muddy that they were faster to run, while pushing or carrying the bike rather than riding for all but the best riders.
The laps were tough going but it did make me smile when I overtook a pair of riders by running up one of the many hills, then heard one rider say to the other “I think he’s a fell runner”. Obviously haven’t lost all my fitness!
As night fell and the rain started to fall, again the vast majority of the recreational teams had retired for the night, or from the whole event due to the atrocious conditions. The road kill eaters stuck with it until 1am. At which point even our bike loving team captain Chris Stanners decided it was time to call it a day at least until dawn.
Around dawn the rain eventually stopped. Unfortunately the effect of another night’s heavy rain had made the course pretty much unridable to all but the most experienced and fool hardy of mountain bikers. Average lap times were more than double those of last year!
A team discussion took place and it was decided that we would not bother to ride again in the last few hours of the event, but vowed to be back next year. We spent the remaining hours of the event watching the remaining individuals and taking part and towing a number of people off the campsite with my 4×4!
The scale and atmosphere of the event is just incredible and worth a drive to Eastnor deer park just to experience it! So fingers crossed for dryer conditions next year.
Below is a link to you tube to give you a taster of the event.