Avalanche Endurance Events : Winter Fan Dance 2015 (Back To Back (Saturday))

Those of you who read my blog should know by now that I have got into ‘tabbing’ in a big way.  Just to remind you, ‘tabbing’ is a military term (‘tactical advance to battle’) which essentially means moving quickly while carrying weight.  Of course, I do not travel as quickly or with as much weight as the military, but the events I am currently drawn to are worked on this basis.  Back in the summer of 2014 I had taken part in The Fan Dance organised by Avalanche Endurance Events to recreate one of the SAS Selection Test Marches (and you can read about my efforts in that here) and now I was back to do the Winter edition, but with the added twist that I would be doing it twice, Back To Back, first on the Saturday and then again on the Sunday, to get a small taste of what it might be like to go through consecutive days of Test Marches as part of Selection.

The basics behind The Fan Dance are pretty simple : it takes place in the Brecon Beacons, starting at the red telephone box at The Storey Arms, going straight up to the summit checkpoint of Pen y Fan before descending by ‘Jacob’s Ladder’, and then continuing along an undulating stone vehicle track (the ‘Roman Road’) to the second checkpoint which also serves as a tea stop and turnaround point.  Then, taking the route in reverse, it climbs back up “The Fan” via Jacob’s Ladder and passes through the summit checkpoint a second time before descending to the finish at the Storey Arms.  That is 24km (although I still measure distance in miles).  When it is used as part of the SAS selection process it has a time limit of 4 hours and 15 minutes, and they carry 55lbs plus a weapon and food and water.  I will only be carrying 35lbs.  Plus food and 3 litres of water.  I will be wearing my trekking gear, meaning a pair of walking boots rather than running shoes, but this is not going to be a walk in the National Park.  Ah, yes, of course, it is, but…

I was still not sure I was ready for this.  I had kept my running training going since Point To Point (which you can read about here), and had done Marcothon through December (which you can read about here), but the bergen runs had once again tailed off as I ran out of time and I felt like I was at least one 10 mile bergen run and one 15 mile bergen run short.  Anyway, it was too late to do anything more about that now and I would just have to see where my current fitness level got me to – I had a clear objective for the weekend, which was to complete Back To Back, so I was not so worried about my times.  I left my house later than planned because of the need to deal with some work matters, which meant I would be arriving in the Brecon Beacons in darkness once again, and another consequence of my workload was that I now needed to be doing some work on the Saturday evening between events and so could not stay in a tent as planned.  I stopped off at the Nant Ddu Lodge Hotel & Spa as I drove up the A470 and was fortunate enough that they had a room available for me.  It was not much more of a drive from there to the Storey Arms, and I was still in good time to register on the Friday evening.  I very soon saw the smiling figure of Ian Ford and chatted with him as I joined the line leading inside, then I saw Karl Rushen, and there was much smiling and man-hugging and shaking of hands, and then it was a quick succession of the Originals, as Ken Jones had dubbed us after Point To Point – Vini Sihra, Maximilian Lebmeier, Mick Henderson, Billy McKie, and Adam Linehan, this time with his far better half, Lisa.  It was great to see every single one of them.  As it turned out, I was not on the list for Back To Back because I had not completed the correct online procedure, but Avalanche Endurance Events work in such a professional and efficient manner that I was still registered in no time at all, got my number (22 Green) and had a chance to chat with Dave Humm, who would be running the communications network again this weekend.  Then I headed over to the weighing station, where Ken and Jason were waiting.  Jason asked if I had run The Fan Dance before and then recognised me from Point To Point, so he knew that I knew what I was doing when it came to bergen preparation.  I had packed and weighed my bergen before leaving the house so I was pretty sure it was almost spot on, and that turned out to be correct – I was just 3lbs over the minimum weight requirement, with my food and water still to be added.  I would not be hitting the 46.5lbs I carried over the Summer Fan Dance !  I was using my Berghaus Cyclops Crusader bergen, with most kit in the main compartment and just a few bits and pieces in the side pockets.  I had put my sleeping bag inside my bivi bag and stuffed it into the bottom, and the rest of the weight was made up of my safety kit, which consisted of two compasses, two headtorches, spare laces, paracord, gaffer tape and a couple of utility tools in one waterproof bag; spare wooly hat, ruff, and spare pair of inner and outer gloves in another; waterproofed full map in the inner pocket, with my fabloned Winter Fan Dance map with the safety card on the reverse in one of the side pockets; my radio in the other side pocket; mountain first aid kit, Fitzroy jacket, and a towel and talcum powder in their own bags; a hexamine stove with a Zippo lighter, spork, tea bags and bags of porridge inside a metal pot and cup, all bagged and secured so it would not rattle; a cut down rollmat, and in another waterproof bag my change of clothing, being a short sleeved zipped base layer, long sleeved base layer, two fleeces, a pair of hiking trousers, long johns and inner and outer socks, and a knee brace, just in case.

I was registered and my bergen was weighed, so I decided to make my way to the hotel to get the good night’s sleep I knew I was going to need to get me through the weekend.  As I was leaving Jim Davenport and Stuart Massey were arriving, so I was able to have a good chat with them.  When I got to the hotel I ate chicken with pasta and prepared all my belt kit ready for the morning.  I would be wearing long North Face hiking trousers, Paramo boxer shorts, Bridgedale socks, a Rab long-sleeved base layer, my new Team Bright Hammer technical tshirt from Scimitar and my Rab Vapour-rise Lite Alpine jacket on top (providing the weather held).  I had energy gels and granola bars spread between my trouser pockets, with my racing snake map from Point To Point also in one of the trouser pockets and a survival blanket in the other, my Rite In The Rain notepad and pencil in one of the jacket pockets, and some food (a bag of mixed nuts, raisins and chocolates I had copied from that provided to us for Point To Point) and a lip salve in the other, wooly hat on my head, and I decided that I would wear a pair of thin gloves and a pair of outer gloves.  I could easily take them off if I got too hot, but I had a feeling that would not be the case.  I would also be wearing my Garmin Fenix 2 watch.  I also finished off my bergen packing as I would be carrying 2 litres of water with High 5 Zero electrolytes in a bladder in the top of my bergen, and in the side pocket with my fabloned map 1 litre of hot water in a thermos flask, and water purification tablets in an empty water bottle in case of the need for an emergency resupply from a stream.  When I took my belt kit together with the kit in my bergen, I had absolutely everything I could ever need to survive on a mountain and now it was all packed and ready.  I pinned my event number to the front of my technical tshirt.  It was time to sleep.

Dark...but not Point To Point dark...

Dark…but not Point To Point dark…

I woke at 0600 and ate a banana and some Maple Sunrise cereal for breakfast (which contains corn, rice, flax, quinoa, buckwheat and amaranth), while drinking coconut water and a cup of tea.  It was dark outside but I could still see that it was raining.  I decided to keep with my original clothing plan and would see how things developed.  I carried my bergen and my Aku Pilgrim boots down to the car, and drove the couple of miles up to the Storey Arms, in which time the rain had got steadily harder and I had decided to bin my original clothing plan.  I parked along the side of the road because the car parking spaces across from the Storey Arms were already taken, and got my bergen on to the front passenger seat so I could extract my Mountain Equipment Fitzroy jacket to swap it for my Rab Vapour-rise Lite Alpine jacket – that would be much better in this weather.  I ate an apple as I put on my boots, then walked up to the Storey Arms, where I very quickly spotted many familiar faces as well as a long line of people still going through the registration process.  There was some more catching up with those I had not seen the previous evening, like Rob Paine and Jamie Horgan, and I began to regret my decision to not bring sunglasses or snow goggles when confronted by Jim’s orange jacket.  Even with the jacket it was still dark, but not Point To Point dark, and now we all just wanted to get going.

Lisa, Kate, Adam, Jim, Stuart, Karl, Jamie and Peter

Lisa, Kate, Adam, Jim, Stuart, Karl, Jamie and Peter

People started moving towards the old red phone box and we went with them.  The weather was wet and windy, but at least it was not snowing.  I decided my plan for today was to slot in with the others at the start, take it steady, and just see where it got me.  We were called forward and made our way through the gate at the bottom of the track, those first through moving up the track until the rest of us were through, when we gathered in a circle around Ken Jones for an introduction and a safety briefing.  This was a sold-out event, which meant there were hundreds of us trying to hear what Ken had to say, and our little group was just a little too far away to hear it.  I had heard it in the summer, and those I was with had heard it a number of times more than me.  We knew the risks, we knew the route, we had run much of it in the dark.  We were ready to go.  And then we were off…except it was a false alarm as we were just shuffling a little higher up the track, and I had to quickly reset my watch because now we were really off at around 0815.

Off we go !

Off we go !

Unlike last time, I had an idea of what was ahead of me, but as we set off I certainly could not see what was ahead of me due to the number of people in front of me.  Just like last time, that beginning march from the old red telephone box went on and on and on.  We all seemed to stay together at first, a great thick snake of people starting to make its way up the mountain, covering the trail so that it was practically impossible to overtake at this stage anyway, before we came away from the trees and into open ground and the line started to thin itself out.  At this stage I was feeling fine, going at my own pace which at times was overtaking some people and at other times saw me being overtaken, all of which meant I lost touch with those I had started with.  It made no odds to me, because I think I will always see this as a personal thing.  The wind was blowing in strongly from my left and I could feel it bringing the rain with it and soaking my gloves.  It was all uphill for the first half a mile, climbing from just under 1,500ft to 1,950ft, and when I got to the top of that I could see just how much the field had thinned out, and also got an idea of how far was still left to go to get anywhere near to the summit of Pen-y-Fan.  It had got much lighter even in the short time it had taken to get to this stage.

Join the queue

Join the queue

I was held up at the gate at the top, and as I was feeling fine so far that became a little frustrating, so once I was through I enjoyed a little canter down the other side until it brought us to a stream crossing, which was definitely fuller than it had been in the summer but still posed no problem for my Aku Pilgrims.  It had taken me 23 minutes to cover the first mile, which meant I was already 5 minutes up on my summer time, and I not only felt like I was going as fast as I could but I also felt like I could keep this pace going.  Now we were going back uphill again, and I began to climb steadily, certainly feeling better than I had done in the summer at this point, reaching a fork in the track where one of the DS (Directing Staff) was stationed and turning right, to start a long zigzag which would bring us to the summit.

The zigzag

The zigzag

This stretch was a completely different proposition to the summer because not only had all the tracks turned into streams because of the sheer volume of water, but we also had a very strong wind blowing.  Thankfully it was blowing into our backs at this stage, or certainly across them, but even that little push made it harder to keep from stepping into deep water or mud.  I could sense that keeping dry feet was going to be very difficult today.  I could still see a trail of people ahead of me as the end of this zig brought us to a turn to the left which led to a plateau and a forking of the track.  The left fork would take me to the summit of Corn Du, while the right fork would take me where I wanted to go, and the map instructions very clearly stated “Don’t ascend Corn Du”.  The view from here was magnificent, and I could see where I would be going once I was over the summit.  I could also see Dave Humm and we exchanged greetings as I enjoyed the lull in the wind which seemed to come with this first turn into the contouring of Corn Du.  And then as I moved along a straighter part of the track I was suddenly hit with a massive gust which had me falling to my knees to stop myself from being blown over the edge to my right.  That immediately made me a lot more wary and I tried to push along as fast as I could in between gusts, being very cautious as soon as the wind seemed to be building up again.  It was getting a little hairy moving along this track, but I had worse to come up at the top where everyone appeared to be crouched over to stop being blown about by the ferocious winds.  I reached the summit, with the expected tent conspicuous by its absence, RV1 and the DS at 1 hour and 07 minutes, having walked for 2.5 miles, climbed from 1,5ooft to 2,907ft, and knocked 17 minutes off my summer time.

I was feeling very good and my morale had certainly taken a boost as I checked my watch.  The DS at the summit (Steve Moore) was very concerned to get us off the summit quickly and safely, with some words of warning for our descent of Jacob’s Ladder, “Stay to the right and just take it fucking steady !” – I noticed he had something in his hand and I immediately recognised the picture on it, but that is not part of my story today.  You will have to go and read Karl Rushen’s blog to learn more about that, and you can find it here.  As I moved from the summit I caught sight of someone at the top of Jacob’s Ladder definitely looking like the real thing so I took a photograph.  I then recognised that it was DS Stuart, so it really was the real thing.  He asked me if I wanted my photo at the top, and, of course, I said yes, then as he handed back the camera after taking the photograph I was once again forced to my knees to stop another powerful gust of wind from taking me over the edge.

Grinning in the face of mortal peril !

Grinning in the face of mortal peril !

Right, this was not the time nor the place to be hanging around.  I went over to the right at the top and began my descent from that point.  The wind certainly added an edge to proceedings through that first bit but once I was away from the scrambling ground and on to the cobbled area I began to put on a push to get me to the bottom.  It was steep but I found the footing to be good and at least I could see it this time, unlike during Point To Point.  I quickly passed the track to Cribyn, shouting a greeting to the DS positioned there as I went past, and very soon I was at the bottom of the slope, feeling good, and carrying on along the path to contour the base of Cribyn.  The path was very wet from the rain, which had left huge puddles of water as well as giving a slippery edge to some of the rocks along the track and making some of the trickles of water rolling down off the slopes into something more akin to streams, but at least the wind had calmed down.  My Aku Pilgrims were giving me excellent grip on this kind of terrain and my feet still felt dry.  The first of the Clean Fatigue runners passed me at 1 hour and 24 minutes, and that gave me a good feeling because during the summer the first one had passed me before I had got to the summit.

Bet it's warm inside that tent

Bet it’s warm inside that tent

There was another tented DS station at the 4 miles point at Windy Gap and the DS was still inside the tent.  “Oi, beardy, get out of the tent !” I cried when I saw it was Ian Ford.  “It’s cold enough in here, so I’m not coming out !” he shouted back.  I had first met Ian on one of the navigation training days in the lead up to Point To Point, which you can read about here, and he has become a firm friend.  It was great to see him now and his infectious smile set me up for the next stage of the outward journey.  I turned right on to a track I had seen as I had come around the base of Cribyn, and made sure not to ascend Fan-y-Big.  I was on the Roman Road and the sun was starting to come out.  I was making sure to keep drinking from my Camelbak internal bladder while making my way along the track, but I had not eaten anything since the apple while I was putting on my boots, and that was to prove to be a mistake.  After 1 hour and 50 minutes I encountered the first of the Load Bearing runners heading back up the track, and then I saw Rob Paine looking very strong.  He went on to win the Masters category in an excellent time of 3 hours and 01 minute, and I am so happy for him because I know how much it means to him, and it is very well deserved.  Not long after that I passed Charlie Martin, who had stormed through Point To Point, and who was still going very fast despite limping very badly.  I encouraged him along because I knew there was no point suggesting he should let such an injury stop him.  He came back on Sunday to complete Back To Back and put in brilliant times on both days.  As I continued down the Roman Road I knew the gully was coming up and I wondered what that would have in store for me as there had been some large pools of water along the stretch I had covered and a final one just before the steep slope down.

I think I'm going to get my feet wet

I think I’m going to get my feet wet

Then I saw the raging torrent, and as I got closer I could see the stepping stones were all a good boot height below the level of the water.  My feet had remained dry until now despite the rain and the wet terrain because I had managed to avoid having to go straight through all the larger streams and bigger puddles, but now I had no option and drove ahead through the water.  My feet were not submerged for long, but it was long enough, and I could feel my boots, and especially my left boot, taking in water.  I made my way up the steep slope on the other side, only to find a huge puddle at the top which I simply could not be bothered trying to avoid after going through the stream.  I still had that to look forward to on my way back.  Now I was handrailing the woodline of the Taf Fechan Forest, with a constant stream of people coming my way, a mixture of Load Bearing and Clean Fatigue runners, and some familiar faces, including David Ellicott, Vini (who finished 2nd out of the Load Bearing Women, only 2 minutes behind the winner), and Billy.  It was still a good track despite the rain and the going was easy.  After a grassy track between trees there was a split in the track and I took the left hand fork.  The path was muddy on the good stretch and boggy as soon as you moved away from that, and as I took the decision that those coming back from RV2 should take priority on the firmer ground that meant I was mostly making my way through the bog.  I was passing more familiar faces, although that was giving me a boost because in the summer I had been meeting people on the Roman Road and not this close to RV2.

Karl giving it his all

Karl giving it his all

I passed Jim, Karl (looking very happy with his performance, and as well he might) Adam and Lisa (although really it was Lisa and Adam, as she tried to get him to pick up the pace – she came in 3rd out of the Load Bearing Women, and who knows what she could have achieved without her badgers-arse beard of a husband holding her back !), and Jamie Horgan.

Lisa clearly being held back...

Lisa clearly being held back…

As I went past another Load Bearer I was greeted with a “Are you not going to say hello, James ?” so I turned round to see Jonathan Dando, who I had got to know through Point To Point but had not seen this weekend until now.  We stayed together through to RV2, getting up to date and sharing our goals for the weekend because he was also doing Back To Back.  He said I should stick with him and I agreed I would do as far as I could.  I knew from the summer that going back was harder than coming out.  RV2 marked the 7 mile turn around point, and it had taken me 2 hours and 26 minutes to get here, which I was pleased with because it knocked 32 minutes off my summer time.

It would be great if I could repeat that going back.  We checked in with Jason, confirmed that we were good to continue, and turned straight around to begin the journey back.  We started at a brisk pace, and I immediately began to wonder how long I would be able to keep this going.  The answer was pretty much until we got back to the gate which led into the final boggy track.  My bergen was beginning to feel very heavy on my left shoulder, as usual, and I do need to get that looked at, but while it was nowhere near the same pain I was feeling in the summer, I could still feel my pace slowing.  I should have eaten something, anything, while coming down the Roman Road.  I got back to the gully and quickly dealt with the descent to the stream, stormed through the water, which had already gone down a little since I had crossed it earlier, and then gave a real push to go up the other side.  I was back on the Roman Road and finally, and far too late, I decided I should be eating something and made my way through a couple of granola bars, which turned out to be far easier thought than done because my lips were very cold by now thanks to the wind and the rain and the associated wind chill.  I took off my outer gloves to be able to break my way into the granola bar wrappers and decided to keep them off because they were so wet.  The sun was still out, so I did not need the gloves for now anyway, and I hoped that taking off the wet gloves would stop my hands from being so wet and cold.  I was pushing along, occasionally with my hands behind me and under the bergen, trying to hold some of the weight off my shoulders.  I could feel the water in my boots, and especially in that left boot, and my feet felt as wet and cold as my hands.  I was beginning to feel pretty miserable, and especially when eating the granola bars became such a harship.  I began to think about reasons which would be good enough to get me out of doing the Sunday part of Back To Back, because I could not think of a good reason to put myself through this hardship again.  As if from nowhere my mind was full of nothing but demons.  I kept plodding along in my dark mood.

Looking a lot happier than I was feeling

Looking a lot happier than I was feeling

About three quarters of the way up the track I saw DS Stuart tabbing down the track towards me, and when he saw it was me he told me to give him my camera, and then took a photograph of me with the perfect backdrop for this event.  I thanked him for stopping to do that and he said he needed a rest anyway, which anyone who knows him will know to be absolute rubbish.  I got a serious boost from seeing him, reminded myself that once I got to the end of this stretch that I would only have another 4 miles to go, and that seemed like a manageable distance to keep pushing along.  I was well aware of what actually made up that 4 miles, and felt like I just needed to get myself to the summit in good time to get this done and move on to tomorrow.

Bet that's a nice sandwich

Bet that’s a nice sandwich

I reached the tent at Windy Gap and found Ian Ford eating a sandwich.  I had a little chat with him, telling him that I had found the way back up the Roman Road to be a hard trudge yet again, but I was still feeling good.  My mind was definitely back where it needed to be.  My left shoulder was still aching but at this point in the summer it had been throbbing with the pain so I was a million miles from that, and I was not alone as I had been in the summer as I still had a number of Load Bearing competitors around me, and that definitely made it easier.  I drove myself up that slope from Windy Gap and pushed on around the base of Cribyn, making sure to avoid the water along the track as much as possible while keeping everything pushing along.  I had kept a note of the time I had reached the base of Jacob’s Ladder in the summer and I wanted to see how my pace had really been since RV2.  After 4 hours and 5 minutes I was at the base of Jacob’s Ladder for the second time that day, and 50 minutes ahead of my summer time to the same point.  I did not stop before setting off on the climb, just putting one foot in front of the other and determined to keep on doing that until I got to the top.  The start was easy enough, a gentle introduction to the hell I knew was about to come.  Like last time, I just kept plodding along, making sure not to come to an absolute halt even if my steps were getting slower, but unlike last time it had started to snow.  I knew I had managed this before, and from my notes knew that I had managed it in 43 minutes, so that was my target, my focus, looking down at my watch as it counted off the seconds, the minutes, and as I looked up to see if the summit was getting any closer.  It never seems to until finally you reach the bigger ‘steps’ towards the top, and then I was heading over to the left corner, to the route I had taken to descend.  I got to the summit after 4 hours, 51 minutes and 30 seconds, so my climb of Jacob’s Ladder had taken me longer than in the summer by a few minutes, which was disappointing, and again I will put that down to a lack of fuel – I should have eaten something before starting the ascent.  I checked in at RV3, confirmed I was good to carry on, and decided not to go to the summit cairn because I wanted to take an hour off my summer time and did not have a second to spare.

Bit different from the morning conditions...

Bit different from the morning conditions…

Just as I had in the summer, I felt a real surge of energy as I left the summit, and while it was all downhill from here (apart from that one bit, but I knew I could deal with that this time around) and I did have a spring in my step as I pushed on, I was aware that in the summer this final stretch had ended up taking me almost an hour, and if I was to hit my target I needed to go far quicker than that now.  The sun was out, casting long shadows, and the wind had died down, so it was time to give it a push.  I followed the path off the summit, carried on along the track as it continued to go downhill, passing Dave Humm and taking a right turn along the adjoining track, still pushing things along as I continued to feel good, taking a route along the higher edge of grass skirting the track so I could avoid the wet, muddy ground.  I was not so worried about my feet getting any wetter at this stage, I just wanted to avoid getting bogged down and slowed down in the mud.  I turned left off this track, passing a few other competitors as I came down to the stream, and now I was pushing up the last hill, knowing that it would be all downhill from then on, and putting everything that I could into it.  I was feeling really good but the seconds were ticking away and my opportunity to knock an hour off my summer time had passed.  Now I just wanted to finish as quickly as possible, and suddenly every second became important to me.  And then the A470 came into view in the distance and step by step everything got a little closer until I was coming down the hill towards a little welcoming committee, and wondering if this time I would be presented with my patch by Ken Jones.  I reached the finish in 5 hours 41 minutes and 43 seconds, knocking 52 minutes and 21 seconds off my summer time, and I was pleased with that.  I had finished 161st out of 216 Load Bearers, and the most important thing was that I had finished the first part of Back To Back without any injuries.  As it turned out, I was presented with my patch by Jason, and you cannot ask for anything more than that.

Getting my Winter Fan Dance patch from Jason

Getting my Winter Fan Dance patch from Jason

I needed to start my rest and recovery, so I went back to my car to drop off my bergen, sent off a text to Debbie to let her know I had finished safely, then came back to get myself a hogroast.  Most of the people I knew were still there and I congratulated them on their performances while taking great delight in telling them about mine.  I was happy enough with how it had gone overall, and was ready to take on the Sunday.  Gradually people departed and then I saw Ken who told me he was about to do the prize giving, so I decided to stay on for that.  I told him about my improvement since the summer and in congratulating me on that he also added that given the weather conditions between the two I could probably knock another 20 minutes off the comparison, before adding that my blogs about Point To Point had been a “cracking read”.  Coming from the man who wrote the absolutely brilliant Darkness Descending that is high praise indeed and I was chuffed to bits.  I was going to stay for the prize giving even before chatting with Ken, and I could hardly have not stayed after that.  As it turned out, I was very glad I had stayed for the prize giving because Ken began by handing out some patches for Point To Point to those who had not been able to get them at the end of that weekend.  So Max went up for his, and then it was my turn, and a very proud moment.

Getting my Point To Point patch from Ken

Getting my Point To Point patch from Ken

Point To Point was a fairly pivotal part of a life-changing year for me, and I have a lot to thank Ken, Jason and everyone connected with Avalanche Endurance Events for.  The Point To Point patch means an awful lot to me, and here I was receiving it from Ken himself.  I was speechless.  And grinning.

Mike Smith - Men's Load Bearing Champion

Mike Smith – Men’s Load Bearing Champion

It was cold standing through the prize giving but very well worth that discomfort to hear the stories behind the Champions and be able to applaud their achievement.  Mike Smith won the Men’s Load Bearing; Rob Paine was a very popular winner of the Men’s Load Bearing Masters;

A very well deserved win by Rob Paine

A very well deserved win by Rob Paine

Zoe Harrop won the Women’s Load Bearing; Mick Clifford won the Men’s Clean Fatigue; David Rhodes won the Men’s Clean Fatigue Masters; and Helen Mohoney won the Women’s Clean Fatigue.  Congratulations to each and every one of them.  It turned out we also had a celebrity in our midst, with Joe DeSena, the founder of the Spartan Race, having come over to not only take part, but also to put in an absolutely storming time.

It won't be often that you take Ken by surprise...

It won’t be often that you take Ken by surprise…

Then the prize giving was turned on its head as John Nicholson first of all presented Ken with one of his excellent bronzes for the Avalanche Endurance Events team, which clearly came as a very pleasant surprise to Ken, and then John presented Linda with a star from Team Bawbag for everything she does behind the scenes.  Both presentations were very well deserved and very well received by all present.

Linda getting the thanks she deserves

Linda getting the thanks she deserves

I walked back to my car with Mike Smith and talked about his training with the Navy Seals in San Diego.  It was a fascinating conversation, and he was such a pleasant, friendly, and humble guy, and he wished me luck with finishing off Back To Back tomorrow.  Now I needed to get going with my preparation for that.  I drove back to the hotel and got everything out of the car and into my room.  I checked that everything inside my bergen was still dry, put my radio and telephone and watch on to charge, hung out the clothes I had been wearing to dry, and then turned my attention to my boots.  I had not brought any newspaper with me, which was a stupid mistake, so I had to resort to toilet paper for now.  Then I ran a hot bubble bath and pretty much fell asleep in it while drinking coconut water.  I was feeling good after the event, and now I was beginning to feel relaxed.  I decided to try something I had read in one of the Obstacle Course Race groups on Facebook which was supposed to aid recovery, and put on my 2XU compression tights, which I would be wearing overnight.  I ate chicken with pasta, followed by flapjack, and carried on drinking the coconut water.  The toilet paper had done a pretty good job drying out the insides of my boots, and the pages from a couple of tourist information leaflets continued that process.  I knew they would be fine by the morning.  I uploaded the results from my Garmin Fenix 2 on to Strava, and was pleased to see how many PRs I had achieved – hardly surprising, though, given that the only comparison was my time from the summer.  I took a look out the window and could see there was snow falling, although it did not appear to be settling on the driveway.  I was fine with there being snow out on the course provided I could get there ready for the start, and being able to drive home in good conditions would also be a bonus, but those were all thoughts for the morning.  Once again, my bergen and belt kit were packed and ready.  I was watching Skyfall on the television (again) and for the second time in this blog it was time to sleep.

You can see more of my photographs from the day here.

This entry was posted in Avalanche Endurance Events, Fitness Training, The Fan Dance, Winter Fan Dance 2015. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Avalanche Endurance Events : Winter Fan Dance 2015 (Back To Back (Saturday))

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