What started out as a group MTB ride in Laughton forest soon became the now infamous Beastdodger! The initial route utilised the many firebreaks and tracks within the woods to make a sweet 2km run 1, 10km bike and 1km run 2 all centred around a single transition area.
The non intimidating nature of the event and the “entry fee” of bring a cake for the post race debrief not only brought out the athletes but more importantly the bakers!
In late 2011 when the event was run for the first time there were only two deep water areas however recent rainfall, a high water table and thawing snow has made the last few events practically amphibious.
Once again the appeal for help setting up the event was responded to and with a map of the course drawn in the snow and photographed using a mobile phone (yes really!) the two working parties consisting of Andrew L and Emma W-P in one team and Gary H and Megoodself attached direction arrows and barrier tape to various trees on the route.
By 9.30 Sunday morning Team Dobbers had set up race control and a dozen runners and riders were about readyish. Half the field were first time ‘Dodgers and half of those were ladies meaning there would be a 1st 2nd and 3rd scrap for both male and female races. Further “races within the race” would become apparent later where trash-talk would either become fact or empty promises!
Club stalwart Steve Dolby started off the race and with the initial route being uphill the pack soon thinned out. By the time the runners entered the woods the top 3 men were Mark Clements, Andrew Lawson and Mark York. Thirty metres behind I lost time as the muddy conditions overcame the elastic laces on my trainers and dragged one off. I turned around and grabbed it out of the ooze and ran to a solid bit to stick it back on. The combination of mud, snow and wet sock meant my foot slid back in as easy as it had been pulled out. Meanwhile behind Rachel Love had seen the incident and enjoyed the moment for a second…until the swamp monster dragged both her trainers off as well!
If I’d had seen it even I would have been surprised at the speed of the payback!
As the runners entered transition to grab their bikes Andrew lead but with a fast bike change Mark C was right with him. Yorkie remained third followed by myself, Rachel, Emma, Daniel, Craig, Gary H, Mark and Kerry and Steve C. Only approx 4 minutes separated the first and last runners which could easily have been bridged with a good bike leg.
The recce and set up the previous day highlighted reversing the course made it (in my opinion) harder. The usual opening 5/10min ride through the trees before the climb up to the Ditch Chicane was now replaced with a longer hard uphill slog with only Heartbreak hill (now a downhill) to catch your breath! With very little respite until riders got back onto the main track and headed to Creasys Turn its made for a testing ride right up until the very last part.
The ladies race was now between Emma and Rachel. After a brief pause along the route Rachel decided to follow Emma for the duration of the bike route rather than risk a wrong turn hoping she had a stronger run at the end. Meanwhile possibly due to a little local knowledge and perhaps more willingness/confidence to throw myself through the deep puddles I passed Yorkie as his gears protested at the sudden onslaught of mud and water. On the ride back along the other side of the woods it wasn’t until navigated through the barrier tape after the Ditch Chicane I caught Andrew L. By the time we had negotiated the Bus stop section and made our way back onto the gravel track I was in front and heading for the sandy track into the trees.
The climb into transition is the final pain as tired legs are then expected to finish the last run lap. Usually the run starts with a downhill start which automatically gets the legs turning over. However once again the reverse route meant the first half of the 1km final lap is uphill. With Mark C chasing I made it to the top of the hill still in front and only had to negotiate the narrow downhill track through the woods and a short sprint to the finish. I still expected Mark to attack and I definitely wouldn’t have been able to respond if he did.
Andrew L kept Mark York at bay for 3rd and 4th respectively as Gary Horner(5th) rode a strong bike section to earn bragging rights from Craig Rhodes (8th). Its going to be fun following yet another Lincsquad inner battle in future races! Meanwhile in the ladies race Emma and Rachel both arrived at transition neck and neck but Rachels tactic of relying on a faster run 2 leg proved savvy as she lead Emma home in the end but only by 27seconds after an hour and a quarter of racing! Despite admitting afterwards that during the ride she felt like stopping (and lets be honest we’ve ALL been on rides like that!) Kerry Padley didnt stop and ran with hubby Mark (9th) doing the final lap again accompanying her. BeastDodger busted – well done guys.
Despite coming into transition in 10th place a navigational error by Steve C on the run course saw him lose a place to Daniel Walker to take the 10th and 11th places.
As per usual following a bout of BeastDodging coffee was drunk and cake devoured which is easily justified with tales of hard efforts, deep puddles and near misses!
Superb work as always by Team Dobbers. A big thanks to Shona for the marshalling, Torin, Mark and Kerry, Mark and Daniel for the the post race clear up – its a big help!