Running the North

Published on June 24, 2016,

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After wrapping up the EWS in Ireland, Traharn and I were beat.  We’d been going flat out for a couple weeks and needed a few days to chill.  Now when I say “Chill” I use the term loosely because for some it means kicking back, putting the feet up, and doing their best to make that ass print in the lawn furniture permanent… but for others, like Harn and I, not so much.  I get very few days at home and even fewer with Harn so if we have the chance to do everyday things like sleep in familiar bed, make a home cooked meal, see friends, ride/run familiar trail, and yes, from time to time lay around then we chalk it up under “Chilling”.  It doesn’t happen often but when it does you best soak it up because it never lasts long.

 

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Point and Case… a couple days after we arrived back from Ireland, we headed North to the Lake District, shacked up in a 14th century manor, climbed a 1000 year old Oak tree that housed King Henry VI for a night, mingle with the few colourful locals, and ran England’s highest mountains including the rocky throne of Scafell Pike.  To be fair all this is not the sole result of  boredom. There’s a motive behind the madness.  Traharn has been training for an upcoming event called the “3 Peaks Yacht Race”, so her and I decided to spend a few days running the race routes and scrambling up everything in sight.  Through freezing rain, cloud, sheep shit, and rock, we ran.  Actually, since we’ve set the scene… who is building all these rock walls?! And bloody hell! How long did that take!  Great Wall of China, How about the Great Walls of Wales.  They’re everywhere! Look, it’s crazy!

 

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Ok, enough walls, but you gotta agree, it’s wild right?

Alright so all this training was done a couple weeks ago, but right now it’s game time.   I’ve been too busy filming to get this post out, but Harn is actually mid-race right now.  Since the race is on, here’s the skinny… The 3 Peaks pairs a team of sailors with runners, throws them all on one boat and ship’s them off (literally) to run mountain marathons on the highest peaks in Wales, England, and Scotland each of which is linked by yacht race.  Just flat out racing for six days, eat, sleep, get tossed by the ocean, loose your lunch, and run…  makes for one wild endurance race.

 

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I’ve been sitting here for the past 10 minutes trying to break the race into words, but lucky for you I’m failing so here’s the bullet point version …

 

3 Peaks Yacht Race by the Numbers:

Barmouth: Race Begins

– Teams board Boats, Drop sail, and Race kicks off with a mass start

– Boats race North 100KM to Caernarfon Harbour

Caernarfon:

– Runners jump off boat

– Ascend Snowdon (1085 m, highest mtn in Wales) via the Mountain Ranger Path (39 KM)

– Runners jump back on Boat, Sailors take over, race through Menai Strait and 160km to Whitehaven.

– Runners try to sleep and pack down as many calories as possible on a bouncing boat (not ideal), sea sickness a given

Whitehaven:

– Hit the Harbour, runner’s head off on a 87 KM roundtrip over Black Sail Pass (Awesome Name!) to the summit of Scafell Pike (974 m, highest mountain in England) (due to distance first portion of route is covered using bikes).

– Boat sets sail around the Mull of Kintyre, and up Jura Sound to Fort William Scotland, 365 ocean km away

– Meanwhile the runners once again, rest, eat, get sick, and try not fall overboard

Fort William:

– Tired and wretched from long distances and turbulent confines runner’s set out from the coast on their final leg

– Scramble the 1343m up Ben Nevis (Scotland’s Highest Peak), on a 31km track

– Cross Finish Line and proceed to past out to the tune of fanfare and applause.

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3 Mountain Marathons+ 3 open sea yacht races= One Hell of an Experience!

 

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Traharn ran for the “Sail4Cancer” team which was captained by none other than Dee Caffari.  Now you will learn, as I have,  that Dee is a not only a nautical superstar, but a kickass human being. Here’s a few ridiculous Caffari Facts…

– First women to sail single handedly around the world non-stop (with the wind and currents)

– First and only woman to have single handedly sailed non-stop around the world against prevailing winds and currents (just for kicks)

– Only woman to have sailed around the world non-stop a total of 3 times

It’s a little nerve racking seeing your girl ship off (that sounds cool to say), but when she’s under the watchful eye of someone as experienced as Dee, you relax a bit.  Traharn’s role in the race was run the final 2 marathons, and survive six days on the boat.  Over the course of the week, she lost her lunch, and one of her shoes, traveled a total of 118 mountainous KM on two legs, survived, pushed-through, and crossed the finish line in Fort William with the same bubbly smile she set off with.  And yes, she is a certified Badass!

 

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