News Wed, 13 Dec 2017 18:53:04 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb (Jack Bloor Races) 2017 Triathlon, Robbie Lightowler, World Duathlon and Aquathon Championships
Those are my usual thoughts before I start any race, and the World Duathlon Championships were not any different. Well, apart from the fact it was obviously the World Champs. AND it was situated in Penticton, Canada, halfway round the globe . OH, and it was probably the biggest race I've been in since I started Triathlon. But aside from that it wasn't any different !

Ideas to enter for races like these always come up spontaneously in conversations with triathlon friends, and this idea popped up around January time, where I decided to enter Stockton Duathlon last minute. I was never that entertained by Duathlons (Run,Bike,Run) as my forte has always been in the swimming and running (which is called an Aquathon), rather than the biking discipline. Nonetheless, I decided to enter Stockton and finished 7th, which got me through qualification to Canada. From then on the preparation for the trip began - extra swimming teaching hours to pay for the ludicrous cost of entry (not to mention the plane ticket prices), and a whole summers worth of training scheduled in so I could peak for the race. This entailed around 4 swims, 5 runs and 3 bikes a week. I did not have long to develop my bike handling skills, so I decided to join the local cycling club and engage with some group Chain Gang's and it was only at this point where i started to see the excitement of the bike - the countryside rushing past you, the wind howling in your ear, and most notably, the burning in your thighs!

Training weeks completed, it was time to travel to Penticton - an 8 hour flight, followed by a 1 hour plane journey to Penticton. Stepping out of the plane it was hard to appreciate the stunning views; as the town had been blanketed by a smog from a local forest fire. It was like the smog had heightened the nervous anticipation building up inside me, as with nothing to admire, all I could do was think about the race. Eventually the smog cleared to reveal what I considered as semi-Oasis - arid landscape with sparse trees, but a picturesque town with a crystal clear lake nestled in between mountains.

We (my best mate Adam was racing too) carried on training for the next few days before eventually race day arrived. It was a classic triathlon styled event - wake up ridiculously early to go prepare transition, and then start racing early. This time I was glad it was so early though, as by the 6:30am race start it was already 20 degrees celsius. My plan was very laxed - I knew I had to be in the lead group by the end of the first 5km run, then I would see what would happen on the 20km bike leg, and the final 2.5km run was just give it your all. And so the countdown began - the adrenaline rushes through your body and heightens your senses. By “1” all of your thoughts stop and you just GO.

The 5km planned out very well, I situated myself straight into the lead pack, and kept on using the water stations. I knew I had to keep myself cool for as long as possible, because it would make an impact further on through the race. By the end of the 5km a lead group of 8 had been formed, and all were eager to have a good transition. Mine was fairly diabolical. Arrived in first and left last, mainly because I couldn’t clip my helmet strap in quick enough. Regardless of this, I made amends by having a good flying mount onto my bike and made sure I jumped onto the front of the pack. The 2 lap bike course was uphill for the first 5km - which split itself into a very steep section, then a flat plateau which u-turned back up onto the hill , and then the final 5km was pretty much straight back down. I was very anxious about the hill as I knew people would try make attacks - but my training paid off well as I had the strength to keep myself in a strong position in the pack. By the time we hit the u-turn, I had managed to put in a push and we had a lead group of 3 - myself, Adam and an American. We were trying to push home our advantage on the bike, so when the next section of the hill arrived I wanted to push hard again. Unfortunately Adam couldn’t hold the wheel, so I had to start working as a pair with this American to build up the lead - and this worked well, by transition we had built up well over a 2 minute lead! What was better was that I found out he was age group above, so all I had to do was finish - simple right? Oh no. That was one of the worst 2.5km runs I have done, and all I was trying to think was the next step… But before I knew it the finish was upon me, 1st place in 20-24 age group and 3rd overall in age group. I was just surprised to be honest - what I considered my weakest discipline, turned out to be my race winning advantage!

I had a week’s rest before I had my following race - the Aquathon. A 1km swim followed by a 5km run. A strong British contingent meant this race was going to be really hard the whole way - a man it was ! The race begins and everyone is dolphin diving because the water is too shallow at this point. And just my luck, on the first dive my goggles fall off - classic! What made that even better was that I was wearing my contact lenses and one decides to go for a swim (quite literally). So the rest of my swim turned into a squinting contest to keep my direction correct - maybe this helped alleviate the pain of swimming fast !? T1 was a much better improvement from my Duathlon antics and I hit the run. Again it was hot so I made sure I kept grabbing fluid from the stations to cool me down (make sure you don’t grab the sticky orange juice like I did). It was a 2 lap course, and initially I had a group of 2 chasing down my lead. I tried maintaining a solid running cadence, and by the time I turned for the second lap I had one GB triathlete around 10s behind me. I knew that my sprint finish would be slow as I was fatigued, so I had just had to push my pace with 2km to go. It’s a horrible feeling because you know you still have a fair amount of running to go, and yet you have to run faster. Every muscle in your body is saying shouting pain, but the brain still persists - forward. By the last 200m the crowd reaction reveals all; I turn to see my lead has increased, and so all that is left to do is the blue carpet and sprint for home.

Pain, relief and enjoyment all moulded into one. Initially the feeling is of shock that you have managed to achieve what you set out to be unrealistic, but reflecting back a few weeks after the races I have started to understand that what was actually more important was the journey to get there and not the result - and this is influenced by friends, family and coaches. Individual results are not really individual; of course you can’t let someone else start the race, but you can be sure that your team will be with you every step of the way, all the way to that finish line.

I’d like to thank my family - Mum, Dad and Katie, my coaches - Josh Dennis, Brian Aggett and Greg Hull, my friends - Adam Thorpe and Emma Beckwith, and lastly the
Jack Bloor Fund.]]> (John Dalton) News Tue, 14 Nov 2017 20:32:23 +0000
2017 Triathlon, Emma Beckwith, European Duathlon Championships  European Standard Distance Championships – Soria, Spain 30th April 2017

I trained extremely hard over winter for a sporting journey that began in March 2016 at the Clumber Park, the qualification race. Apart from an injury the month before my preparation had gone very well. I was amazed to discover that I had the motivation to get up at 6am to swim before work twice a week. After Christmas as commitments of my work placement year increased, I had to fit in training where I could.

After Clumber Park qualification for the World Age Group Duathlon near Vancouver, I was motivated more than ever as Soria approached. Thursday's training consisted of a hard hill run session followed by a quick cycle round the 10 mile Bramhope loop and a recovery swim. This may seem like a busy evening after work, but I’m not one for lounging around in the evenings watching TV! I love the boost it gives. By Easter I was cycling for 45 miles at a strong pace. To replicate the end run in a duathlon I ran for 5 kilometres. The weekend finished with a 12 mile run and suggested that despite ongoing injury concerns I hadn't lost much fitness.

I spoke too soon. The injury came back to bite me. My shin was very sore when I walked. I decided not to risk training on an injured leg, a difficult decision which resulted in resting up for 5 weeks.

It was only 2 weeks until the Europeans and I was still not running or cycling. It was essential that I got two working legs back. Over the last few years I'd spent a lot of money on physio sessions, massages and bike fits but the issue has still cropped up. So I booked an appointment to have a bike riding analysis to find the cause of the injury. First of all the physio assessed my posture and leg strength and straight away noticed a significant weakness on the right side of my body. She figured that my right 'glute' muscle and hamstring aren't strong enough, so my legs couldn't cope with the intensity of training. With 10 days to go before Spain I couldn't even do a one legged squat. This was a concern.

I was desperate to race because it would be my first European Championships. Before my injury flared up I was smashing training; running 5km and 10km 'pb's' and getting stronger on the bike from some great winter training. The physio was now asking, 'What will you gain from racing?' 'Is it worth it?'

But flights and accommodation were booked, the leave was booked off from work. My name was on the entry list. Everything was sorted. Since it was my first race at an international level I wanted to be there for the experience even if I couldn't race. The decision was made, I would go. The aim of the race suddenly changed from going hard and doing my best to just getting round and if I felt pain I would stop. Pulling out of a race is something I've never had to do before and it is not something I envisaged doing in this race either.

Arrival and the opening ceremony
The weather forecast for sunny Spain was for snow. Luckily I was greeted in Madrid by sunshine and 18 degrees before heading on a 3 hours bus drive north to Soria, a small town with Roman origins, in a region next to Rioja, where tourism is only now becoming a feature. I was looking forward to my first race abroad, a race in a warmer climate, this was no longer in the cards. The race day forecast predicted 7 degrees and 25mph winds with rain expected at lunchtime. My start time is 11:40am. The big decision, do I wear a 'thermal' underneath my trisuit or just arm warmers? After umming and ah-ing I took a 'man up pill' and decided to grin and bare it and just race in arm warmers.

A small army of competitors from Great Britain were joined by duathletes from across Europe and bizarrely, Mexico. The band began to play and the crowds gathered as we set off parading through the streets of Soria with our Union Jack flags. I felt a sense of pride to represent Great Britain. GB athletes among the masses of people who all had one thing in common.

Race day preparation
 Up and at it, it’s race day! I set myself up in transition and took a look at the bike next to mine to ensure I had everything prepared. I noticed the Spanish competitor had dates, as in the edible type, taped to her top bike tube. I’ve seen people tape energy gels to their bike for races but dates were not something I’d seen before. Perhaps I'll try it. Having attended the race briefing, studied the course maps, racked my bike and visualised the motions of transition it was time for the tense affair of waiting. The wind had picked up substantially by the time my race started. Plant pots and metal barriers were falling over alongside the roads and grey clouds were accumulating ready for the rain.
Run 1
With a mass start and a course that narrowed very quickly there was certainly going to be some sharp elbows out, so I made my way to the front of the line to ensure I had a clear run without bruises. A Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack was playing before a thumping heartbeat soundtrack counted down to the start. I was certainly pumped with adrenalin. On your marks, *air horn*, and we’re off! I started off well in the lead group for the first run. This consisted of a series of uphill and downhill loops through picturesque avenues of trees in the town's large park. It looked like a flat course but it was deceiving. With an angry headwind you had no option but to dig in. I had to play safe because of being out of action for quite a while. In duathlon or any multi-discipline endurance event you have to try and keep your head and not go 'into the red' or you’ll be paying for it later on. I took it easier than normal to hopefully stop my injury flaring up.
Transition 1 and the bike
 After a 'ten k' run I was first in my age group into transition. I had the fastest first run. A surprise given I hadn’t run for 5 weeks. My transition was executed smoothly. Now onto the '40 k' cycling part of the race which you can really enjoy; closed roads, no traffic, smooth surfaces and fast corners. The ride out was straight uphill, before a nice descent, albeit against the wind. The wall of wind and powerful gusts made staying on your bike more of an ambition than something bound to happen. Had it been a training ride I imagine most sensible cyclists (or fair weather cyclists like me) would have opted for the static indoor turbo bike. I encountered a few wobbly encounters caused by the cross wind on the exposed motorway (don't worry mum, the race was on closed roads). On the return part of the lap the wind was behind you for about 6km, great freewheeling time. Ambulances gathered at the windy downhill stretches as a reminder of the danger. First lap done and onto the second. The hilly stretch out of the Spanish town was enjoyable despite the rain in my face and the big crosswinds. Well, it was enjoyable until I had to do it all again for the third time. Especially as by the time I reached my third lap the winds got up and the heavens opened. The forecast was right! The fight uphill against the wind was tough. Nothing left in my legs. The energy from my porridge and energy gel all used up. 'C'mon Em, you can do it' I told myself. Fighting the wind took a lot more energy than I expected. Sometimes you’ve just got to tough it out.

Powerful men on time trial bikes whizzed past me. A British, another British, a Spaniard, an Irish.....a lot of trained athletes. They must have been riding with propellers on their bikes...or maybe I'm just super unfit (I think the latter). The pain grew and I could see the Spanish girl in 2nd catching me up as I pushed out of the apex bend. After a tough 25 minutes of climbing now came the well-deserved descent from the mountains before a slog uphill back to transition. I relinquished the 20-24 age group lead, the Spanish girl came past me up the final hill, she looked strong as she raced past. The words, 'don't leave it on the bike' came into my head. Words that father Beckwith would say to me. Taking into account my injury I didn't try to stick with her. 'Be sensible, don't push it', so far so good.

Transition 2
I dismounted the bike and began the run into transition. Physically exhausted by the climbing and mentally exhausted by the battle with the elements I only had 5km left to run. Wahooo! On the final stage.  People cheering 'Go Beckwith go', 'looking strong'. It felt swift and super fast by my standards swapping from my cycle shoe cleats to my running trainers. I quickly took off my helmet to begin the final run. Or at least tried to. But hang on, I was stuck, I had a wardrobe malfunction. My helmet was stuck to my helmet. I couldn't leave transition, 'Come on Beckwith' the spectators shouted. ’I can't’ I wanted to shout back. My hair's caught in the fastener of my helmet, One yank, still attached, two yanks, still attached. I can't possibly run with a helmet on my head. Imagine the comments, 'who's that numpty running in her helmet?’ One last pull and…I was detached! Hooray! Albeit with a sore head and a good few strands missing. Now I can finally get on with the final stage. It may have resulted in a delayed transition but nevertheless I was away. As the saying goes, 'More haste less speed'. But not necessarily a helpful saying in a competitive duathlon!
Run 2
Onto the final run. The Spanish girl who overtook me at the end of the bike stage was pulling away from me. I had a quick decision to make - do I go with her and fight for first place, or do I take it easy and get round. Given I haven't trained for 5 weeks? With dad's wise words 'be sensible' in the back of my head. I decided to not let the race adrenalin get the better of me and avoided putting myself at risk of doing serious damage. My legs were fatigued from the bike. I wasn't letting this put me off, 'dig in Emma' shouted a spectator from the crowd. It spurred me on to keep going. 'Vamos!' as they say in Spain. Back to the grandstand for the final time before the finish. The final lap saw me struggling on the final incline. I was so close to finishing my first international race. I’d exceeded expectations, up to now. Still in 2nd place, I kept putting one foot in front of the other and hoping. As I approached the final 200m I was handed a Union Jack flag to carry to the finish line.  The crowds cheered, ‘Go Beckwith, go Great Britain’. I was extremely grateful for all the support which encouraged me to push on.
Gasping for breath, I did not want a repeat of the National Champs when I was still recovering from a virus and ended up in an ambulance having had an asthma attack. A combination of feelings rushed through my head, 'wow I've finished and got round' and ‘gosh, I was winning up until 2 hours and 25 minutes, the total race time was 2 hours and 56 minutes’. You feel physical pain and emotional elation all at the same time. In discussion with fellow GB athletes, it seemed to be a race with, not only some of the most extreme conditions, but some tough terrain. At a high altitude, the bike was on the hilliest course I'd experienced. Extremely difficult challenges were faced head on and I’m glad it wasn’t just a case of me finding it tough.
Closing ceremony
On to the award ceremony and the after race party. There was an amazing turnout for Great Britain, we pretty much dominated every age group podium. The closing ceremony was a reminder that I have many more years competing. One competitor in particular amazed me. He was the only competitor in his group. Perhaps because he was in the 80-84 age group, Maurice Young, yes that was his name! If I'm still racing at his age, I'll be pretty pleased.

Well, what a fantastic experience! Given the ongoing injury which is still loitering, not only am I a little surprised that I finished the race, but I was winning up until the last 5 minutes of the bike stage and managed to come away with 2nd place. Despite not being at my fittest for the race it has made me realise anything is possible. Fully fit, there's real optimism for the future. Overcoming the injury has made me stronger and more determined. Some people may call it 'bonkers' running a total of 15km, jumping on a bike and cycling at speeds for 40km, but I love it. I love the challenge. And most of all love the satisfaction and sense of achievement post-race. I have made a lot of progress since last year but there is still more to do, especially on the bike. Onwards and upwards.

Time to get on top of this injury, no resting on my laurels. Next race, a triathlon. Swimming in Holme Pierrepont’s rowing lake at the Nottingham Sprint Triathlon at the end of May. Bring it on!]]> (John Dalton) News Wed, 01 Nov 2017 12:19:43 +0000
2017 Triathlon, Emma Beckwith, Morzine Training Camp Morzine training camp – July 2017

 On the first day we arrived at the chalet and built our bikes. Since I had never built my bike before I learnt a lot. We did an 11mile hill climb upto Avoriaz, 3,759ft of climbing, a total of 22miles and 2hrs and 15mins of riding. The average gradient was 7% with the steepest section being 32%. I found it a very challenging climb and consequently had to get out of my seat in order to keep the momentum up. This is something I need to work on in order to be more efficient when climbing. I focused on getting into the correct gear to allow me to tackle the hill with power. Having cycled up the steepest part of the mountain we stopped for a well deserved breather to take in the spectacular views before carrying on the long but steady incline to the town of Avoriaz. On the way down I practiced my cornering on the fast descents in order to simulate race pace in triathlon. I reached 42mph which is pretty fast for me. It has definitely increased my confidence.

On the second day I hired a mountain bike and had my first experience of some downhill mountain biking. It is a completely different way of cycling as it involves more bike handling skills than fitness and stamina. Therefore, this gave my legs a rest and provided me with a chance to improve my bike handling skills via the downhill tracks. I came off a few times but I didn’t let this put me off. I persevered so that I could complete a downhill run staying on my bike. The Super Morzine routes were really good for me as I could attempt routes with varying difficulty levels. By the end of the day I was on the intermediate runs which was a big achievement.

 On the third day we did a hill run in the morning and then a mountain climb on the bike in the afternoon. This was to simulate a duathlon race with our legs being quite tired after a hard run and then getting on the bike to push out some fast miles. We ran 5miles up to Lac Montriond gaining 1,043 ft. This was very tough and demanding on the quadriceps muscles due to the steepness.

Now onto the fourth and final day with a cycle up to Le Col de Joux Plane. It was only one 16mile ride and 1hr 30mins ride but the mountain was a beast with an elevation gain of 3,156ft. I worked on staying in my saddle on this climb, which was tough, but the beautiful view across to Mont Blanc at the top made it worthwhile. Both climbs contributed to improving my strength.

To top the week off we did a swim session in the outdoor 50m pool. It was great to be able to train solidly for a week with other like minded athletes. The trip allowed me to gain more knowledge of how to become efficient when racing and training.

]]> (John Dalton) News Wed, 01 Nov 2017 12:04:56 +0000
2017 Triathlon, Rebecca Lodge, World Championships             It was to be my first ever age-group event, but in the 6 weeks prior to the race I managed little to no training as it coincided with a mad rush to finish my master’s dissertation along with persistent plantar fasciitis that prevented me from running. The upside of this, however, was a complete absence of nerves and high expectations as I knew I would not be racing at my full potential. I must admit, though, that I had quietly thought to myself that I would be happy with a top 20 placing…

My mum and I arrived in Rotterdam the morning before the race having caught the overnight ferry from Hull. It could not have been a worse prerace day. A lack of sleep and food, a 30km bike ride from ferry port to the centre of Rotterdam coupled with having to figure out race logistics and a lot of hanging around before we could go to our accommodation resulted in a very stressful and tiring day.

5am on race day rolled around far too soon and I set off into the centre of Rotterdam, enjoying the lights of the city in the dark. The transitions for the race were split, meaning our bike (T1) and run (T2) kit were in different places across the river from each other, as was the swim start. For early waves such as mine, being quick at setting up these areas that morning was crucial. After a quick drop of my trainers in T2 I found some friends on the shuttle boat to T1. By the time we had finished setting up T1, however, we realised we were running very late and had little time to get over the bridge to the swim start, don wetsuits, drop bags off and get into our holding pen. We weren’t the only ones, however, and much to everyone’s relief the race was given a 15-minute delay.

            8:00 and we were in the water just as the sun had risen behind the first buoy. The only vague race plan I had formulated was to find someone to draft in the swim, but this went to pot almost straight away. After about 200m of the roughest swim start I have ever experienced I finally found some clear water only to discover that I was completely on my tod, having been dropped by a front pack and slightly in front of the others. A change of tactics then, and after some hard swimming and trying to ensure I swam bang on course, I had caught the pack up by the penultimate buoy and exited the swim thoroughly enjoying myself.

It was an usually long way to T1 and I ran cautiously along the concrete trying not to worsen my foot pain - a recent mistake I had made when running barefoot out of a swim. T1 went the best it had all year and before I knew it I was on the bike course. This I had been dreading. The numerous warnings of its tight and technical nature coupled with bike brakes that are poor at best and useless in the rain made me extremely nervous. Thankfully, though, the course was not as feared; most of the corners were long and flowing and conditions were dry and sunny. Once again I thoroughly enjoyed myself, lifted by the many shouts of ‘Go GB!’ that came from around the course, and particularly the screams of my mum, who you could hear a mile off. T2 again was unusually smooth and soon I was entering the park for the run. Unfortunately, this is where things got less enjoyable and the pain set in. A sharp pain in my right glute wouldn’t let me weight my foot fully and I found myself limping the first 2km, worried that I couldn’t bear the pain for much longer and would not be able to run to the finish. Unfortunately, this also meant I lost a few places that I would have ordinarily been able to fight for, but mercifully after this distance the pain dulled and I was able to correct my posture and finish the run at a much better pace. Again, I was pulled through by the many supportive shouts from spectators, my mum, and fellow competitor-friends who were also on the run section. I attempted to pace myself via the kilometre markings, picking it up in the last 8-9km and finally giving absolutely everything in the sprint up the blue carpet to the finish.

So where did I come? 20th. Ace! Overall I was pleased with my performance, just a little disappointed my run wasn’t as strong as it could have been and as a result I lost a few places. Mostly I was just happy to have enjoyed it so much – definitely the best race of the year for that! I have many people to thank for getting to the world champs including numerous coaches, both Durham University and Wakefield Triathlon Clubs, and the Jack Bloor fund.

]]> (John Dalton) News Fri, 27 Oct 2017 09:59:22 +0000
2017 Orienteering, Lucy Haines, European Youth Championships European Youth Orienteering Championships Report- Lucy Haines

EYOC 2017 took place in July in Slovakia. It consisted of a sprint race, a long race and a relay race. The sprint took place in a small town in the middle of Slovakia on the side of a valley, with steep roads and narrow alleys between gardens. There were only 1 or 2 route options each leg; but it was often tricky to decide which to take, as the climb and surfaces varied a lot. With a spectator control, and then final run in next to the castle on the hill in the town, courses involved a considerable amount of climb and were physically very challenging. I came 30th on women 18. Unfortunately, a few small route choice mistakes lost me time.

The long the next day was typical of the continental style that has been the theme of most of the recent European Youth Orienteering Championships Long races. Choosing optimal routes, avoiding too much climb, and maximising the use of paths and fast open areas, where possible, was the order of the day and the key was to keep things clean and simple. I had my best result in the long, coming 14th

I felt really good going into this race and would like to thank my coach, Nick Lightfoot, for all his help in preparing me for this competition. I executed my plans well, losing only a small amount of time exiting number 6 on the start of one of the long leg.

The relay took place on the same area as the long. After a disappointing first leg, our second leg runner pulled our position back up to 12th. I went out on last leg and managed to finish in 9th, with a sprint finish up the run-in against Austria. 

I had a great time on this trip, racing against some of the best girls in Europe and meeting new people. I’d like to thank my sponsors for helping me get there. Thanks to them I could experience this amazing competition and I could learn how to handle the pressure when racing internationally. 

]]> (John Dalton) News Thu, 05 Oct 2017 10:58:13 +0000
2017 Mountaineering, Stuart White, Medical Rescue The primary goal of my trip was to be in the mountains for 9 weeks, wherever that may be in the world. This was to be my final summer holiday before the real world takes hold next year when I hopefully graduate as a doctor. This trip became feasible once I managed to get a placement with medical rescue at Mt Hutt ski field. Mt Hutt ski area in Canterbury, New Zealand was the perfect location for my trip, at an altitude of 2000m, an hours commute up the mountain, with weekly powder and around 1000+ skiers on a daily basis. I was based in a small medical room (4 beds) in the base area, working with a small team consisting of a doctor and nurse who were set up to deal with whatever injury came through the door, so I quickly came to understand the importance of effective communication and teamwork. It was the most well equipped pre-hospital clinic that could realistically be there without it looking like an Emergency department. Some days would be quiet whilst most weekends would be a continuous stream of patients, with the majority of complaints being that of the knee, shoulder and wrist, whilst also seeing a relatively high number of head and spinal injuries. My ability and confidence in recognising and managing common minor injuries has significantly improved and hopefully will help me with both my medical training as well as dealing with injured people I encounter in the hills.

The location afforded me so many opportunities to go off and develop my mountaineering skills, improve upon my skiing ability and learn more about ski patrol work including snow safety and avalanche risk. I was very much looking forward to learning how to ski tour, considering it was the perfect opportunity with plenty of willing teachers, great conditions and no time restrictions. Unfortunately, whilst indoor rock climbing at a local wall, I dislocated my right shoulder which put an end to any serious adventures we had planned. At the time I thought it meant the end to my trip, but I managed to find a silver lining. With a week in a sling, not on skis, it gave me a chance to read up on various skiing technique improving exercises, which once I was back on my skis, I cautiously worked on religiously. Unwilling to fly down pistes due to the possibility of catching an edge, falling and subsequently re-dislocating my shoulder, it meant that my short turns on steep terrain quickly improved. Once I was skiing with both poles again, and after a metre dump of fresh powder I ventured onto the south face (big mountain face), and slowly began to learn how to ski in deep powder something that I have never experienced before. It took a great deal of time, energy and a number of falls to figure out how to turn! One fall in particular was certainly memorable as I double ejected out of my bindings and flew like a pencil into the powder – my shoulder remained firmly in its socket!

Aside from skiing, and with climbing out of the question, I was still able to go out and do some easy mountaineering routes and apply some of my new found knowledge in snow safety. Two routes were highlights of the trip, one was in Arthur’s pass national park, with the summit of Avalanche peak being the goal via Rome ridge, and the other being Mt Ollivier, the first mountain that Sir Edmund Hillary ever summited in his climbing career which overlooks Mt Cook. The Avalanche peak route, was a 6am start, hiking through the bush under torchlight, until we reached the snow line when the sun rose. The route was essentially an untracked ridge walk with knee deep snow, with bluebird skies and minimal wind – it was everything we had hoped for from our first big NZ mountaineering day out. We had to be careful of cornices as the winds had changed frequently during the last week so the snow had been transported in unpredictable locations. We had some route finding difficulties at times, one occasion we opted to ascend up a snow gully rather than traverse beneath avalanche prone slopes. Meanwhile on our route up to Mt Ollivier we were battered by 60-70kmh winds as we moved onto the ridge for the final kilometre, but the sunset over Mt Cook was certainly worth the beating! That night we stayed at the Mueller hut at 1800m, and spent 3 hours melting snow for our drinks – something I’ve never done before, but now can fully appreciate the length of time and energy expenditure needed to heat such small quantities of snow. 

A once in a lifetime trip combining both of my passions, that of the outdoors along with some medicine. New Zealand is an unbelievable country, with such an outdoor culture that it’s the perfect place to really get to grips with whatever outdoor pursuit you wish. The scenery is stunning, the kiwis very friendly, and the skiing sensational! I’d like to thank the Jack Bloor memorial fund for their contribution to the cost of this epic trip – it’s certainly helped the budget! Thank you! 

Stuart White

Preparing patient for transport - fractured ribs and vertebrae

Summit of Mt Ollivier with Mt Cook in the background

Fresh powder

Spot for the night in Arthur's Pass

Avalanche peak via Rome Ridge

Morning ski helping ski patrollers set up

Mt Hutt ski area

Sunset over the Canterbury plains


]]> (John Dalton) News Wed, 04 Oct 2017 09:59:52 +0000
2017 Mountaineering, Matilda Scott, Mountain Leader Assessment This summer I completed my Mountain Leader Assessment in Snowdonia. This is a government recognised qualification which will allow me to try my hand at working in the outdoor industry. The mountains in the UK are my favourite place to be and as a result of working towards this award, I have spent lots of time in them.

When the week of my assessment arrived I was feeling excited if not a little terrified, but the assessor quickly put me at ease and explained what we would be getting up to. The main focus of the week was navigation – this is one of my favourite things to do and is how I got into walking. Quite frankly the harder the nav the more fun it is! 

 The first two days involved micro navigation, movement over steep ground and interesting facts about the area we were in. On the first day, we headed up into the area to the East of Tryfan and got to know one another. There were four of us on this expedition and it turned out that one of them went to my school! The world of mountaineering is very small indeed. 

The view over to Tryfan on Day 1

 Day two was spent in Llanberis Pass with a similar focus to the day before except with significantly less rain and some sun.

 The final three days involved a very damp expedition in the Snowdon area. The middle day was my birthday and despite a rough start (broken tent and wet clothes), it turned into a wonderful day with cake and biscuits for tea. The sun even showed itself for a brief period.


Day 2 in the Llanberis Pass


Once we finished the expedition we headed back to the café to dry out and find out how we had done. We were all pleased to find out that we had passed and were now qualified Mountain Leaders. All my practice in the run-up to the assessment was a success and made the week as stress-free as possible. I am looking forward to my next adventure, however, I hope that it will be a little drier than this one!

Watching the rain approach on Day 4

Preparation for my assessment: taking my friends out in the Lakes and a cloud inversion in Snowdonia on a solo expedition


I would like to thank the Jack Bloor Trust for helping me to gain my ML and therefore being able to pursue my dream career.

Matilda Scott 

]]> (John Dalton) News Wed, 04 Oct 2017 09:40:14 +0000
2017 Orienteering, Alex Elliot, Scotland Training This year I was selected to go on the Lagganlia JROS (Junior Regional Orienteering Squads) tour. This is a week long orienteering training camp near Aviemore, Scotland, for MW14s (and some MW16s) who have achieved a championship time at one of the selection races. As I haven't been orienteering for as long as most of the other people in my age category, I was extremely happy to be able to have this opportunity.

Everyone arrived on the Saturday - most people by train but a few came by plane or car. Once we were all settled into our dorms and had had some food, we did some exercises to try to get to know people’s names. We went round in a circle saying our names and our (imaginary) occupations that started with the same letter as our name e.g. Tony the truck driver. The difficulty was that you also had to remember all of the names of the people before you; I only had to remember four, whereas the last person had to remember all 26. This led to some very creative jobs, as quite a lot of names began with the letter “A”. Astronaut, angel and anthropologist were some of them (there were three “Alex”s as well — which got a bit confusing at times).

Day 1

We started off the week by going on a short minibus journey to the Moor of Alvie and Speybank, where we practiced pacing by looking at how many double paces we took over 100m on track and terrain. Next, we split into our coaching groups (I was with Rebecca, Hannah, Ellis and Alex W) and did a couple of short loops based on bearings and aiming off-using our pacing from earlier on to make sure we were going the correct distances to each control. 

After this, we did a clock relay in teams of three and I was with Joe and Scarlett. We had a 10 second time penalty because Joe ran off for the handover slightly too early, but we managed to win nevertheless.

After some lunch back at Lagganlia, we spent the afternoon at the chequerboard at Insriach. This was a very complex area made up from a grid of rides and varying shades of green vegetation. It was very different from the morning and it took me a while to get used to the map. Because it was a grid, it was very difficult to relocate on and we had to focus to make sure we didn't get distracted by others.

After dinner we had some more exercises to get to know names with Brenda Bear, Brian Bear and Backwards Bunny. It had been a really enjoyable day and everyone was getting along well.

Day 2

On Monday morning we headed off to Loch Vaa to practice simplification — making the legs easier by only using the obvious features on the map. We divided up into our coaching groups and started off by doing a map walk. The area was very vague in some places which made navigation more difficult as the features were less noticeable. We then did some short loops and practiced relocation.

In the afternoon we visited North Granish to practice more simplification, and ran a course using our sketch maps that we had drawn the night before, which worked better than I expected. We then did a practice course using a normal map, meaning that we had to filter out all of the extra detail that we didn't actually need, before finishing off the day with a head-to-head race against someone else.

Day 3

Today we went to Culbin and were joined by some of the juniors from Moravian orienteers. In the morning we practiced the skills from earlier on in the week and did some talk-o (in pairs, one person has the map and has to tell the other how to find the control). In the afternoon we did a course entirely in the light green area of the map so we could practice in an area with low visibility. We finished the day with an odds-and-evens relay.

Day 4

This was the “rest” day. We had two sprint races, a qualifier and a final. The qualifier was at Badaguish and had a really zoomed-in scale (1:1500) which took a while to get used to. There was a silent start and quarantine to add more pressure and the course had butterfly loops and lots of crossing lines to add confusion, but I just managed to qualify for the A final — only one second ahead of the leader in the B final. We then had a go on the rings where I was so close to getting across the river and made it to the last ring before falling in.

We then went to Glenmore Lodge for the sprint final. I didn’t do as well in this race as the tiredness of the week so far caught up with me and my running was slower than I would have hoped. I also made a few small mistakes that didn’t lose lots of time, but because it was a sprint it meant that any time lost was magnified much more.

After the races we went swimming in a loch and it was freezing! Once everyone had warmed up a bit, we went for a bit of shopping in Aviemore before spending the rest of the day back at Lagganlia.

Day 5

Today we went to Roseisle and started off the day with two 1km time trials on track and terrain. This was in order to help us with route choices and deciding whether to go straight to a control or around on a path. After the terrain run I was so tired! We then did some short loops based on map memory, meaning that we had to focus on simplifying the legs so that we would be able to remember where we were going without looking at the map. In the afternoon, we did a peg relay before heading down to the beach for some fun.

Day 6

This was the day of the Lagganlia Classic Race, where we went to Insriach for a final chance to put the week’s training into practice. We all knew that it was going to be a very technical area and relocation would be difficult, so we shouldn’t necessarily run fast if it was going to compromise our navigation. Most of the course went well for me, however I made two big mistakes which cost me a lot of time — on one my bearing was ever so slightly off and I didn’t notice when I went straight past the control, but on the other I followed a ride that wasn't on the map but went parallel to the one I wanted. I spent too long confusedly walking around before I found an obvious feature that I could use to relocate.

We then went back to Lagganlia for the final activity of the week — the balloon relay. The junior coaches had some very ‘distinctive’ clothing choices. My team won (me, Jim and Anna) and thankfully none of us popped the balloon when we ran, because if you did you had to stop and inflate another one before the next leg runner could set off!

The week ended with an award ceremony for the sprint and classic races, but also for everyone else. Some examples of awards were for the first trip to the medical centre and the person who ate lots and lots of toast.

This week has been a great experience for me as I have learnt lots of new skills and made lots of new friends, without getting completely swamped by midges! It has been very memorable but also very tiring (over the week I ran about 56km) and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has the chance to go. I would like to thank all of the coaches and organisers of the tour, as well as the cooks for all the wonderful food — we wouldn’t have survived without you! Also thank you to the Jack Bloor Fund for helping me with funds for the tour.

Photo credit to Wendy Carlyle.

Alex Elliot

]]> (John Dalton) News Wed, 04 Oct 2017 09:29:32 +0000
2017 Orienteering, Alice Rigby, Junior World Championships This July after three sets of selection races I flew to Finland to represent Great Britain at the Junior World Orienteering Championships (JWOC). I felt prepared, having been to JWOC 2016 in Switzerland but also nervous as it was my last competition as a junior.

Flying out a few days before races started gave me a chance to train in relevant terrain and get ready for my first race. This year I didn’t quite make it into the A final after middle qualification having had a steady run but being slightly too hesitant. I changed tactics going into the sprint race and tried to attack it more. I was rewarded with my best result of the week, finishing in 27thout of a field of over 140 athletes. The next race was the long distance and I had an amazing time racing through Scandinavian forest against the best juniors in the world finishing inside the top half of results. Finally I ran the middle leg in the relay enjoying the head to head racing and was pleased to catch some teams.

JWOC 2017 was an amazing end to junior racing and I am very grateful to the Jack Bloor Memorial Fund for supporting me. I have learnt lots about racing at a high level and really enjoyed spending the week with such an inspiring and committed team.

Alice Rigby

]]> (John Dalton) News Fri, 28 Jul 2017 19:18:41 +0000
2017 Orienteering, Evie Conway, World Schools Championships World Schools Orienteering Championships 2017- Palermo, Sicily

Day 1

The journey was very long, as from our Heathrow to Rome flight to the Rome to Palermo flight we had about 2 hours waiting. We got to the hotel eventually though, and we were so amazed at how nice it was- we had sea and sunset views from our balconies. And it was so warm. England had a floor to ourselves in one block. All our balconies were separated by a tiny rail 20cm off the ground so they were basically connected to make one big balcony we could hang out on.

Day 2

This was the day of the model event, which took two and a half hours to get to, which unfortunately meant we didn’t have much free time this day. It was an area right next to the ones we would be using for the long and middle races, and it was so beautiful. But it was really rough in most places in the forest. We thought the race areas might be a bit nicer as me and Rosie ended up walking most of the model event. It was good to take a look at what the areas were like and get used to what the special symbols meant. After we got back we had a while in the sun with the other countries, so I played cards in a pretty big group of Scottish people, and some Italian and New Zealand girls came to join as well and we taught the Italians how to play cheat.
That night we had a parade through Palermo and had the opening ceremony, but I think everyone was a bit too hungry to fully enjoy it.

Day 3

The long distance day. Once again we spent a lot of time on the coach getting there, but being in a fun team helped. I had a pretty bad run on the long. I spent 10 minutes stuck in gorse and thick bushes on the way to number 1, and it just carried on downhill from there. The forest was really hard to get through but I just didn’t learn and ended up a little far right on the way to number 4 but there was nothing to give it away so I went a long way downhill and struggled to get back up through the gorse next to a stream. Another fun day afterwards though, the radio sponsoring us played some music and we had a bit of a rave and it was so hot. Not hot enough to be grateful for the Latvian pouring water on everyone, though.

Day 4

In the morning we went on the hotel’s slides. It was so nice but annoyingly the one into the sea was closed. We went in the pool after and had such a great morning. The friendship relay was today, around the streets of Palermo. We had a team of 3, with people from different countries. I was with a Belgian girl who luckily spoke fluent English, and an Italian guy who didn’t and we found it hard trying to communicate the plan to him, but they gave us an hour to do so and we managed to make a plan we all understood. The relay was very fun, if not a little scary as there were a lot of people starting at once and quite a few people fell over. Our team did quite well, and it was good to make friends.

Day 5

This was our rest day. In the morning we had a tour of Palermo and grabbed some ice cream as it was really hot. We went swimming again afterwards. In the evening we had the cultural evening where we walked round visiting each country’s stalls and trying things from their country. We also watched a performance from each country. England’s was Morris dancing.

Day 6

This was the day of the middle distance race. I was having a good race until I was distracted by my slightly lost Scottish friend at #6, so I assumed if she’d been looking for ages it wasn’t there even though I was right next to it but couldn’t see it in the green. I wasn’t unhappy with my race though and we enjoyed the sun afterwards. I also swapped my kit with other countries, so I’ve now got a New Zealand top, a Spain top, a China top and a Poland jacket.
In the evening we travelled to the other hotel for prizegiving and a short-lived farewell party of 20 minutes. It was a shame it didn’t start until very late because it’s meant to be a highlight.

Thank you to AIRE, YHOA and the Jack Bloor Fund for helping to fund this amazing experience of an international race which made me appreciate the international value of sport.

]]> (John Dalton) News Mon, 12 Jun 2017 18:49:38 +0000