ar :: bristol rat race report

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Well, the Rat certainly came out of the sewers to show Bristol that it was there this weekend. With a fantastic arena right on the dock side in the heart of the city it was a prime place for racers and spectators alike with plenty going on for everybody throughout the weekend. Saturday afternoon was the time for registration, with all the teams coming from all across the country and abroad to converge on the race. A briefing was held in the evening to explain to the racers some of the rules and intricacies of the event and with this over there was time for a quick coffee and piece of cake before the race began.

At 6pm we were all given an A-Z of Bristol, which was our race map for the weekend, and some control descriptions, so we had an hour to plot these onto the map and plan our route around the town. 3 hours to try and get 27 controls spanning most of the centre of Bristol and over the Clifton Suspension Bridge into Ashton court.

At 7pm the race began, 85 teams of three sprinted up the ramp to get the points sheet, to tell us how much each control was worth. Then it was off for the town centre controls. We planned to do these first, as we would have better route options if we were running short on time later. Some parkour was completed, then an interview with Mr Rat and Mr Race in the Bristol Newspaper offices, where we arrived first, and came out to see a large queue forming. More running round the town up and down steps, climbing wall action, orienteering on the downs, military drill skills and bum sliding (!) were enjoyed before returning two and half hours later to the finish arena, where a quick paintball game and bungee run were completed before clocking the fastest time, and clearing up all the points on offer.

Sleep was our top priority, but first we had to mark up the next days route as we were given the course book at 10pm, so our beds werent seen till about 1am!! Then it was up again at 6am for the main race.

With our result from the prologue we had a 13 minute lead in the chasing start, but we knew that everyone would be hunting us down. We had a run round the main roundabout to start with, following a guy in his suit and laptop!! Then it was onto the bikes and to the first rope section of the day, an abseil of on office roof top. This was quickly done, and then it was back on the bikes for a long section out towards Bath, followed by a loop along the bypass and back into town along the canal, to the next Rat Trap.

This was a kayak stage, and with the canoe suppliers having pulled out on Wednesday, the inflatable kayaks were pulled out of retirement, some of these were pumped up more than others, some had leaks, some were almost flat by the finish! Our boats were bad, so we had a nightmare, spinning round and round as they are awful to steer. But we eventually finished, and then were sent into the caves to get 4 controls, this was micro micro orienteering, in the dark, with a camera light in your face! We flew through the caves and surprised the planner with our time. Our nearest rivals, Team Macpac Anatom, including Andy Simpson, took a long time however, so the early indent they had made on our lead was gone.

From here it was back through the race arena and then out north and west up some of Bristols steepest hills. At the Downs we dropped the bikes and ran to the bottom of the cliffs for the second ropes stage, we had to climb about 150ft up the hill again to the top of the rope, then a quick abseil was followed by a prussic climb up a slope of 45, then abseiling back down, through the Red Bull recharge tent and back to the bikes. Tom Gibbs, our Captain, lead the way all weekend with his local knowledge, and even when I got the orienteering map in Blaise Castle, Tom was ahead, saying this way, its just over here. After a loop of a BMX park, a trip over the motorway and back along the river towards the town centre we had to elevate ourselves to reach controls high in the trees, this is where I came into my own and used my gangly height to lift my team mates up, and I just reached up!!

A prolonged stop at the Caf in Ashton court followed, as the control wasnt there! Then it was back to the centre, to the Industrial Museum, and the final rope section. A 140ft abseil from the dock side cranes, Tom and me did this; it was so much fun, a little daunting looking down from the top with nothing beneath you!! After stopping to wave to the crowd on the other side of the dock it was back to earth and the short run round to the finish. We were met by a lot of people cheering, photographers, camera men, and 2 old chaps having a chat almost on the finish line!!

Champagne was popped, interviews were had, the moment was savoured, then we punched to finish (10mins after we crossed the line!!),

It was a fantastic race, great to win again, and to see that we had some competition not far behind, so we will have to watch out in Edinburgh. The route was fun, the ropes sections were great fun, and the atmosphere was brilliant. Tom and Helen were great to race with, and I think key to our success was our team work and spirit.

The post race party has to be mentioned, it was Western style, so the Stetson was on, the guns were loaded (with water) and the sheriff badge was on. Most people had put in a good effort, and the water pistol fights were great. The prize giving was next, with some great prizes, 1st place in the Adventure class won a trip to Fort William to watch the Mountain bike world cup final in September, the runners up in the elite won hundreds of pounds of The North Face kit, and we won a trip to the C2 City Challenge in Stockholm. This was the race we competed in last summer, so we are looking forward to trying to improve on last years 7th place.

A big thanks to all the organisers and planners for a top weekends racing. And a word to all you would be Rat Racers out there, Edinburghs race is on the 16th/17th July, so there is still time to enter a team; I guarantee youll love it.

Bruce Duncan
Team Saab Salomon

Elite Category:

1. Saab Salomon - 7.44.54
2. Macpac Anatom 7.55.25
3. SleepMonsters 7.58.28

Adventure Category:

1. Supperstars 8.20.11
2. TeamQuest 8.20.21
3. The Drowning Rats 8.30.44

Rookie Class:
(Saturday Night Prologue Only)

1. AOAC 270 pts
2. El Vino Cheapo 248 pts
3. Are We There Yet? 240 pts

The Rat Race Urban Adventure

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