Thursday, 3 October 2013

On foot, by boat and on bikes – an elite performance by Sidhil’s Dream Team!

The camper was ready, stationary in the Sidhil car park, loaded with bikes, clothes, pasta, chicken and the obligatory copious volumes of beer – but would they be drunk in commiseration or celebration???
Lunchtime on the Friday before and the van was heading northbound with 3 of Sidhil’s finest, Mark, Tony and Lee, Lake District bound, Martin would join us later due to family commitments.

The atmosphere was jovial, with just a hint of nervous, giddy, excitement. How would we do?? 76 teams, top 10 would be the target-ambitious? We had to aim high, surely. We arrived at Penrith University, found a delightful spot on the asphalt car park with far reaching panoramic views of an industrial unit, this would be home for the next 2 days. But we were early, its only mid-afternoon, and even after a brief shopping trip for jelly babies, we had time to kill, and with nerves running riot around our athletic bodies, what’s a man meant to do? The beers in the fridge were too tempting,  a couple won’t harm we thought, calm our nerves we said, help us sleep even – I bet Mo Farah had a cheeky one before he went running, why shouldn’t we? 6 pints later and with remarkable restraint we retired to our beds.

We awoke at 5am, Tony and Mark had won the draw for bed positions and chose wisely for a bed on their own, Martin and Lee had lost, they were snuggling up in the double bed together and breaking wind, it looked and sounded like they were the winners – team bonding took on a whole new meaning.
Morning broke, we looked outside, other teams were arriving, the first start time was 6am, ours was 6.51am. Wandering around the smell of testosterone hung in the atmosphere, pierced only by the smoke from Marks’ nerve reducing cigarette, oh how modern day training methods have changed!!

The first teams had departed, our bodies were clad in Sidhil coloured lycra, the contours of our physiques cut through the morning mist, we peddled slowly to the start, eyeing up the competition or were we just looking around for the members of the all-female teams?? At the start, muscles twitched, team 49 left, 50 departed, 51 sped off, we were next, no time to think, one minute intervals fly by, the whistle sounded, “Go, Go, Go!!!”.

Catch team 51 we shouted to each other, we did, quite quickly, then another team, another, we began to lose count – had we set off too quick? We laughed and joked , we worked as a team, we peddled like fury!!! First stage finished, 35km’s of road/off road cycling complete, at the base of Helvellyn, England’s second highest peak, 3,117ft of climbing lay ahead. 

Off the bikes, rucksacks picked up, jackets on, a quick brew, up we went, like mountain goats we passed further teams, we got to the top of sticks pass in the rain, onto Raise, down a bit and up to Helvellyn. We ran down and traversed to base camp – over 18km of climbing, scrambling and running complete, to be met by Clive and Kim – cameras clicked away, “How are you feeling?”, Clive asked, we were fresh, we were still buzzing, a few more pics. Kim almost fainted as the sweat highlighted our muscular torso’s, Clive thought about crossing over to the other side, but instead said we were the second team down and to get a wiggle on!!

 We checked in, back on the bikes, and a brief cycle to Thirlmere for the kayak. A brief lesson, and the pairs were off like Noah’s friends in his Ark, but….. the first chinks of disharmony had started to appear, Lee had moaned about his bike being “not quite right” and had shouted expletives at Tony, on the lake, Mark and Tony were not in paddle harmony and Tony threatened to get out mid paddle!!! We soon found a rhythm though and cut through the waves like a Dolphin, majestic, sleek and elegant, not words you’d normally associate with those two!!

Back on terra firma, on the bikes again, 3km of kayaking complete, just another 50km of cycling to go!!! Still, joking, still working together like Olympians. Clive and Kim kept driving past taking pics, but we had no time to pose – we could actually win this ! Into Keswick, onto the old railway track, slowly the road started to climb, it would continue to do so all the way back to Penrith. 

We saw Clive and Kim in the distance, another photo opportunity? Like hell it was, Clive was stood with a pint in his hand!! Teasing or motivational?? 
Those who know Clive know it to be the former !!

The last few miles, still together, the muscles were aching, we carried on, suddenly, round a corner, the finishing line, we all moved to be side by side and crossed the line together – we’d done it, we’d finished. We were the 2nd team home, but would we be second, teams who started after us could still beat us, but after 20mins our fate was decided, we had come 2nd.
We’d thought top ten was ambitious, but we were 2nd, 7 ½ hours of hard graft !! 

Over 80km of cycling, nearly 20km of running, 3km of kayaking and over 3,000ft of vertical climbing. To put it into perspective, this was double what the Brownlee brothers  did at the Olympics !! Were we tired? we couldn’t tell, the adrenalin was still pumping around our bodies and we were euphoric.

I know people thought Tony had put on a few pounds and his spankles wouldn’t take it, that Lee had played the doting dad and had had too many sleepless nights, that Martin just sat on his derriere and made pretty technical drawings on his Pc and Mark had eaten way too many birthday offerings from his work colleagues, but we had trained, and we came 2nd.

We set off to Penrith, still laughing, still joking, still micky taking, beer, lager and Guinness were swiftly consumed, and they were most definitely in celebration. Back to the start/finish for the presentation at 7.30pm, our name announced, Sid “Over The” Hil, and we strode to the front for our trophies, smiles beaming from ear to ear – we were 2nd !!

9pm, we walked back to our home, passing the finish line and the final team was just finishing, 15 hours of toil, we’d done it in 7 ½ !!

We carried on drinking, still laughing and joking, Martin ordered a Chinese – Lee ate most of it!! We retired to our beds, Martin and Lee resumed their weekend of love together, Tony and Mark were thankful for a lonely bed that night!!!

Life is about experiences, and we’d just had an amazing one none of us will ever forget, and we came 2nd.

To all who sponsored us, a big thank you-you gave us motivation, to Sidhil, another big thank you for the logistics and to the four guys who took up the challenge, a huge thank you from each of us to all of us, we had a great day and have great memories.

Written by Mark Oldroyd (Semi pro athlete!)

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