Event organisers Open Adventure staged the annual Open5 adventure race from Staveley in the South Lake District last Sunday, attracting over 200 competitors from all around the UK.
Competing individually or in pairs the competitors took on the 5 hour challenge in the hills either side of Kentmere, with the aim of visiting as many checkpoints as possible on foot and mountain bike.
Adventure racing tests navigation and strategy as well as endurance so the competitors could choose their own routes around the available checkpoints. Each successful visit won the team points and those with highest score within the 5 hour time limit were the winners.
On a sunny winter day and in wet underfoot conditions after recent storms, the adventure racers ran to a maximum of 19 checkpoints around Kentmere, including one on the summit of Brunt Knott and others in Sleddale Forest. In addition there were 16 mountain biking checkpoints as far apart as Long Sleddale and Garburn Pass, and the race started and finished from the playing field at Staveley.
Competitors of all abilities took part, from complete novices to former World Adventure Racing champion Tom Gibbs, who was the winner of the Male Solo category with 580 points. Other class winners were Jane McCarthy (female solo), Rosemary Byde and Lucy Spain (female pairs), Michael Mason and Alex Pilkington (male pairs) and David and Kim Spence (mixed pairs).
For some it wasn’t all about the competition however. Corinne and Andy Parsons are experienced competitors and rode over Garburn pass even though they said they had to push much of the way and didn’t get many points!
Corinne explained, “Open5 are really good at putting the checkpoints in places you want to get to and we had some great views up there and wanted to ride a good circular route.”
For those new to Open5 it was still possible to get the many of the checkpoints with a good score and have a real sense of achievement. Newcomer Joanne Oakley said, “Thank you for allowing us to experience such a fabulous adventure for the first time. We are buzzing!”
Open Adventure are based in the South Lakes and stage a full programme of endurance events including the ultra trail race ‘Lakes in a Day’ and ‘Northern Traverse’ which follows the Wainwright Coast to Coast route.
This year Open Adventure is also staging the ITERA expedition adventure race in Scotland which covers 600km. The race is part of the Adventure Racing World Series with the winners claiming a place at the World Championship in Sri Lanka later in the year.
Photograph – Rob Howard