How Does This Go?....

How Does This Go?....

It was an early start on 8th January for a 10.ooam meet in Ogmore By the Sea! (Wales). Our first task was to set up the tents. It’s quite a long time since we have put up the team tents, and I think we need rather a lot of practice, to ensure that this is a slick operation when we are working in extreme conditions!The views were lovely, camping in the grounds of Ogmore Castle, but conditions were as they will be in the Arctic – no facilities! Once we were all set up, it was a short walk to start the day’s training in the Merthyr Mawr Sand Dunes; They are a huge network of dunes, rolling over towards the Ogmore/Porthcawl coast, and once the largest sand dune system in Europe. The dunes also claim fame to the highest single sand dune in Europe, known locally as the ‘big dipper’ I am informed that this was the training ground of Seb Coe, so seriously hard work!

 

Dune Running

Dune Running

Our task was to run up and down the very steep dune, roped together in teams of four. The objective to encourage team work, and you could only go as fast as the slowest person. We each had to do the run five times, and within our schedule you would do two runs back to back! Running on sand seriously saps all the energy from your legs, and causes intense muscle burn. At the top of the second run, I had thought I would lose my breakfast and had BIG doubts about completing the task, especially as I had to run three out of the last four races …. and I had thought my fitness levels were quite good – Think again was the message from my body! This kind of training is all about PMA (Positive Mental Attitude!). I got my head round the fact, that being the second eldest competitor I was not going to get faster times than teams with people in 20 years younger than me, and this task was all bout pacing yourself and getting to the end! With this mind set, and lots of support from each of my team of four, I found the last three races much easier to complete!

After a brief rest for lunch and to get our breath back we were divided up into two teams to navigate a 7.5 mile walk round the beautiful Welsh countryside carrying 5KG of sand in our back packs. We were the wise old International Team of four (the other team of six had much younger legs!) Our team was Yaris (A Fin living in Switzerland!) Lee from South Africa, Curtis, a retired US Marine and myself! After an initial stutter, we got to grips with the scale of the map and soon got into a great rhythm. The objective was to get back before nightfall. It was not a race, but we were the first team back!

We celebrated with afternoon tea in Ogmore Farm Tea Rooms (at £1.40/person it was great value). We then finished setting up the tents before retiring to the pub for supper! It was a good social get together in the pub, providing further opportunity to get to know all the competitors better! Lucy and I left the pub not long after 9.00pm, for an earlyish night. Not long after settling down, the heavens opened, and the wind started gusting, bashing the tent around for a few hours. By the time the rest of them left the pub at 11.30pm, the storm had blown over, and all was peace and quiet. The temperatures dropped below freezing over night leaving heavy ice and frost on the outside of the tent … when we are in the Arctic we can expect this on the inside of the tent as well, when the moisture from our breath freezes! After a re-hydrated breakfast of some kind of tasteless porridge, we packed up camp and drove round to the dunes for another days training. This time we worked in are Arctic Teams.Pulk Pulling on Sand

Pulk Pulling - Down Hill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      We were given five co-ordinates to put into our GPS’s; each group was given a different starting point. The objective of the day was to navigate to all five points, and then back to the car park. Each pulling a weighted pulk! We soon learnt to go along the dunes rather than cutting across them to get to the end point. But there were still some very steep inclines. We were walking without poles which made tough going even harder! We completed three of our five points and bumped into ‘The United Nations Team, and joined up for a quick social lunch. The Polar Slugs were the first team to complete the task – a mere 5 hours hauling the pulks up and down dune. In the Arctic we will be doing at least twice this duration …. but the pulks should pull more easily on the snow and ice (so I am informed!). It was a tough weekend and there is still obviously some training to do. But I think the key messages I took home were:

  •  It is all about pacing yourself
  • Getting your head in the right place
  • Working as a team
Ogmore Castle

Ogmore Castle

 

ps …. The Merrell Boots performed very well

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