Rat Race Winner Report

The Rat Race

Well, after a day of recover and contemplation, it is really starting to sink in just how big a victory that was on Sunday.  I’ve won quite a few orienteering races in the past, usually with less than 50 people competing, but to win a race with over 300 people racing doing all kinds of events and challenges, and to do it in front of almost a home crowd was fantastic.

On Friday I was really excited, I walked through the gardens and saw everything being set up, I picked up Fiona’s bike, and then had an easy evening eating lots of pasta really!! Saturday arrived and Pete and Fiona knocked at my door and with the brief introductions over (I had met Pete in 97 at the world champs as he was team masseur/physio for the GB team, and he’s Jenny’s Bro!) the kit sorting began.

Saab-Salomon had provided Fiona and myself with some swanky kit, and we had had some shoes delivered to us to race in, both only arriving on the Saturday!  Pete had a lot of team kit, so provided our sacks and my helmet and a lot of technical know how and experienced tactics.

It was then down to the gardens for our kit check (cheers Emily), and signing our names down for I’m not sure what actually. We queued up to register and made some idle chat with none other than Ran Fiennes! A really nice chap whom Pete had raced with before.  With this over we nipped home and got ready for the evenings race, then back to the gardens for the pre race briefing from Jim and Gary.  We gleamed a few insights into the race, but not too many.  There was then time to nip home for a quick feed and then back in full race kit for the start.

We were handed some control descriptions, and I then sprinted home to pick up the big A-Z map that I’d forgotten (oops!).  With all the points marked on with about a minute to spare before the start we had a rough plan of where we would go, then we waited for the points sheet to see if this would alter the route we would take.

We then shot off up Hanover Street, Pete calling me back as I was a bit excited.  Stopping on Rose St to plan our course we saw a few hen parties stumble past and some other drunken louts follow after them.  The route didn’t change much, but we had lots of contingency plans just in case we ran out of time.  New town was first, and we flew round these controls, not much navigation needed, then out to Dynamic Earth, a sprint up Dumbiedykes road and to Arthur’s Seat, then to Blackford Hill.  The tunnel was fun, didn’t even know it existed!  After heading for Murrayfield and then back via the canal at Viewforth we were suitably knackered and our bodies trashed from running on the roads for 3 hrs!

Food was grabbed and then it was home for a quick shower and bed to rest up for Sunday, which came all too quickly. At 5:50am I biked to the gardens to pick up the info sheet and got home for some breakfast and marking up the map ready for the main race.  The start was up at the esplanade, and everyone was still marking the route on the maps, and I made a few friends by telling people where the Innocent Railway line went and many other wee local knowledge titbits!  Then it was off down the Mound, to be met by the sight of Rocky in a Kilt, he was then very cruel and made us run all the way back up to the esplanade (well almost) then back for our 1st challenge of the day, just how many memorial benches are there in Princess St Gardens! 223, should you ever need to know.

It was out of Kings Stable gate, through the Grassmarket and up Victoria St to then bike down the steps of Robertson’s Close, lots of fun on the steps.  It was then to Holyrood for a wee abseil down the crags and a crawl up to the top of the Seat for an orienteering course.  With a few cheers from the marshals we set off up and down all over the spot (still not impressed!) but we did blaze past loads of teams with that bit of local knowledge playing its part.

Next was biking out to Portobello beach for the Kayak, this was tough, about 800m kayaking on roughish sea into the wind.  We did catch up team North Face a bit though and then it was back on the bikes to Ocean Terminal, where we ran up the steps to the top car park and were presented with a challenge of cycling over all these Volvo cars, not too bad for me and Pete, but Fiona had never done anything like it before, and she was brilliant, no hesitation at all.   We then shot down into Debenhams and to a few controls in the main shopping centre to looks from bemused Americans looking at the Royal Yacht.

Back on the bikes to some dodgy route descriptions and along a cycle path and then to Cramond esplanade and along to the weir, where we then had to wade across the river and scramble up through the trees and a wasp nest to Eagles Rock.  We were now riding with The Danish team Tscherning, and Team North Face and we got some good chat with them and I very kindly gave them some route descriptions, we did however steal a few minutes as they both shot under the next cycle path and Pete and Fiona who were about 10 seconds behind were able to shoot straight onto the track.  This path led us towards Ratho, and a wee Kayak Challenge, Fiona taking the paddle to begin with and then getting the whole team across the canal with out swimming, Pete then took over and Fiona and I had to run to keep up!!

The Ratho Adventure Centre was next on the list.  Here we had to don climbing kit, and do some bouldering, we completed this successfully and it was on to the 20m high metal rope ladder, complete with Ident unit at the top!!  It was back on to the bike to Bonaly next, this was a long section and involved a lot of climbing.  When at the start of the orienteering section, we were in the lead and had a few minutes over the Danes due to better navigation (and more local knowledge).  The orienteering was physically tough, we were all very tired and just wanted to rest.  But with great cheers from the Nopesport Adventure Race Planning Crew it was onwards and upwards to the reservoir.  This was my lowest point and I almost hit the wall.  2 mars bars later and a 150m swim and the knowledge of a 14 minute lead we all felt great (well almost).  A wee climb on the bikes then it was all down hill to Dreghorn, Collinton and along the river and canal paths back to the finish.

It was an amazing feeling running in from Kings Stables Road to the finish, people cheering and clapping.  To cross the line, all holding hands arms in the air after almost 10hrs of racing was such an adrenaline rush.  Having all the camera’s there and then the champagne it was fantastic.

Well bit of a long report, but it had to be we did so much.  It was a fantastic race, a great experience and something I would recommend to anyone who fancies a wee bit of a challenge.

Thanks again to all the support, that was one for the Edinburgh Massive!!

Roll on Stockholm, 20-22nd August if anyone is in town then.


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