Everything archived up to Summer 2015
Rounds 9 & 10
As the entries came in the wind picked up, for about a week and a half prior to the race it seemed the apocalypse was coming to Northern England, worse still in Scotland going by the images shown on the national news.
With this and the information that the event on the weekend prior to ours could only run on the Sunday due to the weather and damage it had caused I was almost, ever so slightly, mildly panicked. The forecast changed as the weekend approached and I was greeted by a magnificent sun rise as I crossed the palm sweat inducing Forth road bridge, ask Emma, I really really don’t like driving over it. On arrival at the Forest I was greeted by Mr Carter, whom without we wouldn’t have had this iconic venue back on the calendar and the ever present Dave Beach and Brandon Platt, aka the Goodyear guys.
Once in the forest we contemplated how we would be able to remove the swathes of fallen trees that must have been there given the previous weeks weather. The thought of even getting a single trail in place, let alone three, seemed a little daunting. As seems to be the case more often than not it wasn’t that bad, a small tree down on the access road and a branch across the trail, with this body of manliness in one place they were brushed aside like a Sunderland back four in a Tyneside derby. I believe the local Forestry staff must have been in the days leading up to the event for it to be as clear as it was, many thanks to them if so.
John’s uncanny knowledge of the trail system meant we soon had three fantastic, technical and challenging trails in place, showing off the best of the beautiful Tentsmuir Forest. A, B, C4 and Bikejor were set at 3.76 miles, C3 and D 2.6 miles with a 1.9 miles trail for the Scooter and Junior classes, longer trails could have be laid but given the forecast of hard overnight frosts John suggested we stay of the hard packed forest road as much as possible, thankfully this meant more grass and sand underfoot for those that this organisation is all about, the dogs.
Saturday morning was cold with clear skies, a sharp frost had given the forest that sparkle that makes getting up early on a winter morning a pleasure. As with previous events this close to the Arctic Circle the start time was pushed back to 9am to allow the sun to at least pop its head over the horizon when the first team set off. With a few entrants not being able to make it the marshalling and helpers duties spreadsheet was looking a little thin, this was addressed without question by those present, something BSHRA competitors always seem to get on with willingly and without complaint. Brandon and Dave really came into their own as they efficiently and effectively got all marshals out and back in time for each class, supervised the road leading to the trail and got myself out to change trails so it all seemed to run like a finely crafted Swiss watch, thank you.
The days racing went very well, everyone I watched cross the finish line had a large smile and happy dogs.
We awoke to a bit of a surprise on Sunday with a dusting of snow, not too much to cause any problems but enough to whip up a bit of excitement for the dogs and competitors alike. The trails were a bit slippery so competitors were told to be careful on the corners, although looking at the marks on the trail when making class changes I think some were going for sideways cornering.
As with Saturday all went well, with some good feedback from a couple of local photographers who had went for a walk and to shoot wildlife and came across our event. One guy was very complimentary of the marshals, great to hear.
I sincerely hope Tentsmuir will be on the calendar again next year, it is very hard to get new venues that meet the high, and rightly so, criteria set by BSHRA, Tentsmuir is one of those gems.
Thank you to John and Mary Carter for sorting permits and trail, Brandon and Dave for their driving, marshal organising and a million other jobs that made everything run so well over the weekend. The Biddlecomes for assistance setting up on Friday, Christine has an eye for chute perfection and Cameron Pack for staying back on Sunday to help take everything down. At this point I learned something new, never ever let your lips touch any off the chute banners (carrying too many), given the smell that came with the taste I’d guess dogs like to use them as a toilet.
Thanks also to Brian Syms, our local CSJ dog food supplier for donating a number of goodies so the dogs all went home happy. The full range can be viewed at www.CSJK9.com
And finally thanks to all the entered and mucked in over the weekend, you really made it a pleasure to put this event on.
See you all at R2.
27 January 2015
Rounds 7 & 8
Friday’s set up 02/01/2015
0500hrs – awake to get ready for the initial set up of the Kings East Rally.
Checklist, tools, equipment, paperwork, maps the list goes on!
All sorted now ready to leave to meet my trusty wingman Tim Hart @ gate 210 for 0800hrs.
All set, gates open and away we go. First check out the trails, already in my head from various visits to Kings over the last few months.
Weather at four degrees and clear, looking good for bigger trails.
First trail marked up at 4.2 miles, but weather report for Saturday shows a wet day and temperatures rising. What to do?
Play safe and removed trail and set up 3.65 miles. All agreed we continued to mark the smaller classes.
Excellent news as we got back to the assembly area, Sally Hart, Julie & Tyler Collins had set up breakfast!
After 20 mins of tucking into sausage and bacon rolls followed by hot fresh coffee, we commenced on the Start & finish chutes.
Mike Hammond turned up with the amazing Dunlop team to assist in further constructing the course.
Lots to do but in no time at all, with a strong team behind me, we were sorted.
Returned home at 1730hrs to start on Helpers lists and additional paperwork.
By 2130hrs we made a few changes and finally completed our lists in full.
Off to bed ready for a 0500hrs start.
Saturday 03/01/2015 & Sunday 04/01/2015
Gates opened at 0600hrs sharp!
Get into position and organise parking as the vans start to roll in.
The rain is getting worse and looking to disrupt parts of the trail. So back on the quad checking the trail looking at areas affected. Good… all okay, back to assembly point to organise catering parking and scrutineering.
Top job by Andrew Grisbrooke as he had covered most of the scrutineering before I had got back.
Mushers meeting 0745hrs, general information regarding trails, helpers, timing and the logistics, due to small gaps between classes.
All ready for the A class start for 0816hrs.
Let the games begin…
3.65 miles A, B, C4 and BJ
A Class is off with no problems and all returned okay.
B Class is off and just as things were going well a snub line failure! Luckily we use two, but with good communication we have a replacement in no time and with no disruptions, all good.
C4 Class quick change as I am in it! Easy to forget that you are racing when also organising an event.
Unfortunately with 19 turns involved my young lead dogs were indecisive but no better place to try out their Sat Navs. Maybe tomorrow?
The Bifrost ‘pit crew’ took over so I could do a quick change and put my organisers head back on.
Bike Jor – A great new event in the BSHRA calendar showing good competition throughout.
These guys & girls are to contend in the gruelling 3.65 mile trail in the rain.
Poor old Trevor Fagg had a problem with his bike half way out and strolled back with one wheel, but still smiling. He had now possibly opened up a unicycle class?
Does he have a spare bike for tomorrow? Enter Tom Quinton a competitor that has a few spare bikes at home, lent one to Trevor for the Sunday race. How’s that for helping out other competitors, the camaraderie is second to none.
Course change required for C3 class
This class is huge with over 34 teams competing for that 1st place.
With no less than eleven AB and eleven V class entries, this one is always close to call.
Course change for D, DM, DF classes.
Strong competition here too, proud to have my daughter Tyler involved in the top end of this class.
Also a late surge from Barbara Stanier in the D class.
DF & DM classes followed on nice to see some new faces competing this Year.
S Class followed and showed some new contenders in Alexandria Taylor & Ben Pleasants doing very well to keep Malcolm Last honest to the end.
And finally the ultimate classes for the up and coming competitors within BSHRA.
The J2 & J1 classes
These young competitors are awesome!
The effort these youngsters have put in this year to perform at a very high level is extraordinary.
Cerys Fagg, James Heaton, Paige Glover, Cameron Ankers and newcomer Ben Platt we salute you.
Also for the junior events we have a new Head Marshal in the name of Harry Hart.
He tells me how to control a Marshal Point and how to manage the public.
At the age of 5, he is looking likely to organise a future BSHRA race.
Bring on Sunday!
A change in weather gaves us huge problems in the morning as the wet, muddy areas had frozen leaving ruts in some of the bends.
Bring in the Dunlop team!
Up and down the trails, levelling out to make sure the trails we usable.
Scrutineering became the main concern for the day as brakes started to freeze in temperatures of -3.
Everyone was removing wheels and defrosting ice from braking systems.
Are we ready to go?
Yes A, B, C4 and BJ classes all went well, followed by the C3, D, DM, DF, S, J2 & J1.
Final presentation sponsored by Alpha Feeds on the Sunday went well with a very good turnout.
Food prizes were awarded to the first two places of each class followed by photographs of very happy drivers.
Thanks to Alistair Spowart for the timing, second to none.
I had an amazing team of organisers, co-organisers, helpers etc…….. Too many to thank.
Without you guys, I could never have done it. The background work in advance made the job easy and I am looking forward to putting on another race for BSHRA next year.
Who knows, 25 turns?
Most of all thank you to all the competitors!!
All results can be found on the website.
6 January 2015
Rendlesham Forest 1
Rounds 1 & 2
I don’t know that this was as much ‘North Pole’, more like ‘fishing pole’. Always a great opening venue, the distances were suited to the weather, the trail is relatively straightforward and drains superbly given a little break in the rain… Beautiful on the Saturday – a totally different story on Sunday. Not long after the 6 dog finished, the drizzle started and built and built until competitors must have felt like they were driving their dogs ‘2 by 2’ towards the ark!
The inaugural BSHRA A class kicked off the new season of racing. I have to admit to feeling a tad nervous watching 8 dogs slide off down the trail. Well driven by Andrew Grisbrooke and Mike Hammond, they both made it across the finish line and I was left to contemplate my own run with the 6. Top 3 both days saw Sally Leich and Julia Syms swap positions 1 & 2 whilst our 6 including 4 youngsters came in a very respectable 3rd on both days followed (a little too closely for my liking) by Jay Glover.
The 4 dog saw Kev Spooner take 2 firsts over Ali Koop’s 2 second places and Ali Gee’s 2 thirds. Clearly Derek Sharp’s dogs took exception to the timing beams as they collected the whole lot up on the Saturday and started to bring it to Ali Spowart’s van. As ever, Ali calmly walked down and reset the beams in plenty of time for the next team in!
And so we started our next endeavour; the bike-jor classes. Tom Quinton won BK1 convincingly on both days (fueled entirely by Saturday night’s Adnams Broadside on the Sunday) whilst I can see a ‘domestic’ breaking out in the Fagg household before Christmas – Trev knocking Debbie into 2nd by 5 seconds in the BK2 on Saturday and Debbie getting her own back on Sunday by doubling the margin – honours all even there (for now!)!
C3 stayed the same overnight, Alex Marvin keeping his 1st, Reece Long doing a sterling job with his Vet team in 2nd and Julie Collins, also running a Vet team coming in third. It just shows how these ‘supposedly elderly’ dogs can perform over and over again when kept in trim; surely an absolute credit to their owners.
D class already looks tight this year. I’m delighted to report that my training partner Kirk Robinson took first on both days, Dorit Fellner taking second on Saturday and third on Sunday with her 2 girlie yearlings; the change on her face from concentration to the biggest smile on earth as she crossed the line showed just how chuffed she was. The one to watch is Tyler Collins, blitzing the Junior class last year she’s now turned 16 years old and ‘messing with the grown ups’ but doesn’t seem to be phased at all! She’s grown up with Sibes around for her whole lifetime and it shows… A respectable third place and 24 seconds off 1st on Saturday clearly wasn’t good enough and she pushed Kirk to within 0.49 of a second on the Sunday – look out… she’s taking no prisoners! How fantastic it has been to watch her run dogs from such a young age under such great tutelage and to see it all start to bear fruit now.
The DM class entry was very disappointing. Always nice to see Simon Atherton, a constant supporter of the BSHRA events, but is no-one going to come along and keep him company? Lindsey Cox at least kept him honest on the Sunday but you HAVE to tell me there’s more Mal teams out there wanting to compete? The same with the DF, a fine peformance by Mary Glover but she needs someone to at least challenge her.
The scooter seems popular again this year – newcomer Alexandria Taylor beating Malcolm Last into 2nd both days – with a dog she borrowed off Malcolm Last… you get the idea…! Jay Glover taking 3rd on Saturday and Athers barging his way into bronze on Sunday.
So far, both the Junior classes seem to have settled quite quickly with Cerys Fagg taking 1st over Jamie Heaton in the J2 and Paige Glover over Maddison Taylor-Hitchin in the J1. But there’s a long way to go yet; we’ve only just got started.
Usual thanks: Kirk Robinson, Brian Collins, Malcolm Last, Brandon our marshal driver, Trevor Fagg, Dan Cane, Katy Biddlecombe, Nicki Clover, Steve Winkworth, Katie Partridgeand everyone that started, snubbed, marshaled etc over the weekend; it’s a cliche, but it doesn’t go on without you. Special thanks also to Alpha High Performance for supporting the Sunday event with prizes for the winners.
See you all in 2 weeks!
19 November 2014
Rounds 3 & 4 with the kind permission of Moray Estates
This was the closest BSHRA have been to the North Pole and for some I’m sure it felt as if that was where they were driving, I sincerely hope all felt the trip was worth it and appreciated the trails and beauty of the surrounding forests as much as I. Being a novice organiser and presenting a new venue was an interesting challenge, made easier by the assistance and advice of the local contingent and seasoned BSHRA group all of which I am very grateful for and the event would not have happened without.
As sure as the sun rises in the morning Mike Hammond and his able team were again on hand to provide the invaluable service of ensuring all marshalling etc. was taken care of and one thing I knew could be forgotten about for the event weekend, thank you Mike, Dave, Brandon and Brian, who I believe brought a change of under wear this time.
With such a fantastic trail put on at Rendlesham for round one I felt I had to try and follow this with something of the same standard in Scotland, I opted for a 3.74 mile trail for the six with a fast and technical roller coaster first section of gentle inclines to ease the competitors and dogs into the tighter contours of the middle section, known locally as ‘leafy heights’. From the entry point to leafy heights things look like any other forest, a right hand turn of a forest road onto a grassed trail, once around the slight left bend the Darnaway wall shows itself. Once at the top of the slope the teams found their way along the ridge overlooking the mighty river Findhorn, this part of the trail was covered in a carpet of golden brown leaves from the surrounding beech trees, switchbacks a plenty made this very excited and many reported the dogs really enjoyed this part.
The most challenging part of the trail was encountered at the end of leafy heights, an off camber right hander going downhill, this was highlighted at the mushers meeting but until you’ve ran it is hard to appreciate, the turn was marked with a caution and marshalled to ensure all teams were OK, other than a few nervous smiles and shaky hands at the finish all were fine and I hope the experience will broaden peoples rig handling experience. John Carter finished first both days, showing his fine rig handling skills and experience on this type of trail, Sally Leich was second and Saturday saw local lad Cameron Pack third with Steve Biddlecombe taking third on Sunday. Credit to all that finished this technical trail.
All teams finished on the same final section, some 0.8 miles of very gently undulating twisting grassed forest trail with a long straight run into the finish chute, manned by the ever present Alistair Spowart and his excellent timing service.
The four dog trail was 2.7 miles using much of the same first section as the six then taking a tight and technical right hand switch back on to a beech leaf covered trail up to leafy heights. Mr Paul Pateman won this class both days, followed by local musher Stewart Alexander and Ali Koops.
A trail of 2 miles was put on for the 3 and 2 dog classes, I was well aware of the short distance but given the challenging trail felt it was the right length and enough to give the dogs and mushers a good workout. Ali Koops took first in C3 on day one with Buzz Burrell hot on her heels in second and local Joanne Hill third, I saw Joanne’s team coming and they looked very good. Reece Long had obviously had a team talk over night and studied the trail map so taking the correct trail and first place on Sunday, Ali Koops a close second and Buzz third.
D class was won both days by Tim Hart with a fine performance by his two girls, the impressive veteran of Sally Fletcher in second and some slightly overweight tired looking chap third.
Cherry Fairley ran the only DM team at the event but had some of the sibe teams looking over their shoulder as her pair put in good times. In the scooter Maggie Ewan successfully negotiated the 1.6 mile trail, this trail was also used for the Juniors. J2 was won by Charlotte Hill on day one with James Heaton second, this was reversed on day two with James taking first. Luke Studley had an interesting run on day one with his chosen dog stopping for playtime at the mid-point, it was good to see Billy Nurse up for the second day of racing, taking first place on Sunday with Luke second.
Overall the event went very well, everyone mucked in as usual and did their bit to help, the catering van produced some lovely steak sandwiches and the curry and chips certainly seemed to warm people up! A huge thank you goes to the estate manager and the owners for allowing BSHRA to use this beautiful and challenging venue, Matt and Helen Emery for originally finding such an incredible place and to the local folk who gave invaluable input leading up to the weekend. Thank you to my feed supplier Brian Syms and CSJ for donating the herbs and other treats for the hard working sled dogs, I’m sure the dogs will appreciate and enjoy them. Further information on the full CSJ range can be found at www.CSJK9.com
If the appetite exists and the owners are happy to let us back maybe Darnaway could become an annual fixture on the calendar.
7 December 2013
This year BSHRA is pleased to announce that Alistair is adding to his ‘burden’ by introducing split timing to his already excellent timing service.
The split times will be displayed on the Monitor at the finish line and will be for guidance purposes only and to enhance the spectator experience, they will not be part of the official results due to the potential for inaccuracy compared to the official finish timing.
To enable this to happen the Split-Time Marshal will be stationed at a pre-set point (about half way around the trail) and they will signal back to Alistair when and which team passes that point – volunteers please?
SPEED THROUGH PARKING AREAS & GENERAL CONDUCT
Driving vehicles through parking areas at races should be limited to an absolute maximum 10mph. For the same reason teams should not run at full speed back to their vans, but should slow to a trotting pace. Do not put dogs, children and adults at risk by exceeding this.
Equally parents should ensure the safety of their children by keeping them away from the trail in the start and finish areas in particular.
Any kind of abuse, verbal or otherwise towards a dog will not be tolerated. Any proven incidences of this nature will be taken seriously and may result in a refusal of future race entries.
Round 15 and ‘Non-Champ’ day
As ever the last two races came round ever so quickly and despite a few changes in the original Calendar and the occasional inconvenience caused by snow it has been an excellent season. How wonderful to have a proper winter at last, with almost 3 months of consistently cold temperatures.
We were really fortunate with the weather for our last event of the season, helping to make it a super weekend. My only complaint being that, after a very cold week, it warmed up for Saturday morning to about 5 degrees and this meant we could not run the longer trails we had planned for the 6 and 4 dog teams. It pretty much stayed at this temperature all day and by Sunday morning there was a hard frost again with the temperature down to -7 degrees C, as it had been all the preceding week.
However, with such a big entry and not enough time for trail changes we needed to keep things as simple as possible so the 6-dog ended up running the same trail as they did on the Saturday, with the 4 doing the same as the 6, about 1⁄2 a mile longer than their trail the previous day. It was still pretty cold when they went out and never went much above 4 degrees. The 3-dog and 2-dog classes ran the trail that 3 and 4 ran the first day.
The Fun Day on Sunday was a great success and was as ever a great opportunity for people to experiment, try out new leaders, different teams and team sizes and for those partners who have missed out on competing to take their dogs round a well marshalled race trail. The fancy dress was fantastic with so many amazing costumes. I am so glad I didn’t have to be involved in the decision as to who would be the winner of the highly prized R2 Day 2 Trophy.
It was a really good last day of championship racing on the Saturday with several medals going to the wire and being decided at this last event. It has been a highly competitive season in all classes with often fractions of seconds deciding the result all the way down the positions. Thank goodness for Alistair’s superb timing which deals with this degree of competition so well. The standard of team performance and therefore the level of competition just seems to keep on improving each year.
If anything and indeed if possible BSHRA competitors have been more helpful than ever this season and this makes the race organizers life so much easier.
As Steve said at the presentation, we are always on the look out for new trails so if anyone has any suggestions then please let us know. The main ingredients needed are good trail surfaces, a selection of different length of trail options and a good starting and finishing area with enough room for vans to park etc and good access for getting vans in and out. We hope to have our annual meeting in the next few weeks so let us know as soon as possible.
One subject we will be discussing is where to hold our final award presentation and meal next season. The less said about this year’s last minute venue the better but most people were really good natured and made the best of the situation, and Steve Rooke did his usual excellent job of keeping us all entertained during the presentation itself.
Wishing everyone an excellent summer and hope to see you all again next season.
Rounds 13 & 14
This winter has been one of the most difficult I can remember in terms of the weather affecting both training and racing, so as the rescheduled Sherwood weekend approached we checked the weather forecast with a degree of anxiety. The forecast was for cold weather, mainly dry with the odd snow shower. The wet weather leading up to the race weekend meant that trails were going to be muddier than we would have liked, but that is something we just have to put up with in a forest where a large proportion of the trails have dirt surfaces.
Due to frost on Saturday morning the start was put back by 30 minutes to allow some of the more rutted sections to soften a little.
We took the decision this year to move the start to the dirt trail that runs parallel to the one used in previous years, in order to be able to avoid the long run in to the finish on the hard forest road. Instead of being straight and fast like most race starts the first 200 yards or so of the trail wound through the trees, but the climb uphill and the soft surface meant that teams could only get up to full speed where the trail straightened and the surface became firmer. As in previous years there were several points along the trail where outgoing and incoming teams would pass quite closely, but with well trained teams and the judicious use of ski-netting in a couple of places no problems arose.
All the feedback we had on Saturday afternoon was positive and we left the race site looking forward to another enjoyable day’s racing on Sunday.
A few flakes of snow were falling as we left home at 5.30. on Sunday morning and when we reached the race site 17 miles away there was a light covering on the ground. As vans started to arrive the snow was becoming heavier, and by 7.30. the covering was a few inches deep with no sign of the snowfall easing. I took a call on my mobile from the caterers who were having difficulty getting their trailer out from where it was stored. Richard took a call from our co-organiser Leigh who was going to be later than expected as he was struggling to travel up the M1 in his 4WD. We were then made aware that most vans could no longer be driven up the hill to the parking area and were having to park at the bottom. Leigh arrived and drove round the trails, but kept getting stuck in the deep soft snow. As Leigh’s car was our marshal transport it meant that we would be unable to get marshals out on to the trail.
A discussion took place between Richard, Leigh, myself, and the other BSHRA organisers who had made it to Sherwood at that point. Safety must always be paramount, and the main factor taken into consideration was that we could not get marshals out on to the trails or get a vehicle out to rescue any team that had a problem. This, together with still-falling snow jeopardising the journey home for many people, meant that the second day’s racing had to be cancelled.
Everyone was made aware that racing could not take place, and the process of getting vans out of the forest and back on to the road began. Fortunately a few people had brought snow chains and were able to lend them to others so that vans could be driven out.
Richard and I were devastated to cancel the race, but felt that it was the only sensible course of action under the circumstances. I can only apologise to those who travelled many miles to get there and had to go home without racing.
We are very grateful to all those who helped: Roger, Sue and Reece for helping to set up the trails on Friday, also helping to clear the site on Sunday, Leigh for organising and transporting the marshals and changing the trails, Alistair for the timing, all the marshals, starters, snubbers etc. and those who were given ad hoc tasks, plus a special thank you to Jason Boler, who was coming to the race as a spectator but volunteered to help and was drafted in as a snubber. I hope you can join us again next year Jason, maybe as a competitor?
I think many of us will be glad to see the end of this winter and will look forward to some hopefully dry spring training.
Rounds 11 & 12
As it happens to be the trend this year, we had a swap around of organisers once again largely to give the poor injured Caroline and also the ever faithful Andree a break from the rigours of a race weekend. Their efforts are unstinting and they both deserved a rest quite frankly! Forstal organised the trail on the Friday aided by Brian Collins and Alan Hickmott and I took the role of Race Marshal for the actual race. (As a brief aside, Andree did keep ‘checking up on me’ all weekend to make sure I had everything in hand – it’s in the blood now I think – thank you Andree!!)
The weather was chilly, frosty and very kind first thing Saturday but by the time the 4-dog went out, was starting to look a little bit ‘too’ nice with beautiful sunshine (which actually made for a glorious day!) but the trail remained heavy underfoot. All classes from there on were cut down which was a sensible option given the weather. The far cooler and cloudier weather actually made for far better running conditions on the Sunday.
All the classes demonstrated once again that competition is now so tight at these races that to make a bet on the finishing order would be a foolhardy move; the top 5 and even the top 10, just seem to get jumbled up time after time this season and now that some have completed their qualifying 11 races, the calculators start to come out as people have to start dropping races but ‘it aint over till it’s over’ and almost everyone still has to try their level best to catch, or avoid being caught – tense times for all – but huge fun with all the banter being banded around!
Huge thanks to Sally and Ali for putting on a lovely trail, Alan and Sue for ‘fly-posting’ the warning signs, Andree for sorting the start sheet and marshal lists etc, Dave Windsor for his ever-dependable trail skills, the guys that helped me distribute marshals and of course trail marshals, snubbers, starters et al. And so we move to Sherwood – hopefully 2nd time lucky! See you there.
Rounds 9 & 10
I think each and every one of us who attended the race at Kings West has gone away with a memory of yellow/orange mud – largely ingrained into the undersides of vans and the coats of dogs. Washing machines and pressure hoses (neither for the dogs!) must have been kept busy for a few days after the race but nevertheless it was a good weekend and we were lucky to have largely cool temperatures which enabled us to take advantage of many of the trails which in the past we have had to cut as the weather was too warm. Although the sun appeared for a short period on Sunday (resulting in a slight shortening of the trails for C3 and D), the weather was mostly chilly. Yet again we had a fantastic entry of around 140 teams – which meant that despite cutting the gaps between classes to the bare minimum we still didn’t get away until the darkness started to creep in.
6 dogs ran around 5 miles and the other classes were held over similarly challenging distances with even the Scooters running 1.5 miles. The really tiring phase came at the end for each team with the slow incline at the end (through the yellow mud) proving to be a real slog but the rest of the trails were wonderful if damp in some places!
There were few mishaps over the weekend and everyone appeared to enjoy the trails. Thanks are due – as ever – to all those many people who helped out but in particular to Dave Windsor for setting up and checking trails for every class and also to Hugh Sym for dropping off and collecting marshals. Without all the helpers we are acutely aware that our races just wouldn’t run – but with them, they become world class events!
Kings East (ex Sherwood)
Rounds 7 & 8
Well……where do I begin? After many weeks of planning the Sherwood race, grooming trails, taking entries, banking cheques, booking caterer and loos etc., a few days before the race was due to be held it became apparent that it was just not going to be possible due to the access road and large parts of the trail being covered with a thick sheet of ice.
Caroline sprung into action to find an alternative venue (no easy task at a time of year when the Forestry offices were closed), recruited an army of helpers to set up the trails, and Andree and I spent New Years Eve emailing and phoning everyone who had entered Sherwood and taking late entries for the new venue, not to mention the always difficult task of finding enough helpers to ensure the race could go ahead.
So the morning of January 2nd found the stalwarts assembled at Kings Forest for the second race in succession to be held in true Siberian conditions!
All seemed to be well for the start of the B Class on Saturday, a good length trail had been marked out and marshals were in position; racing commenced. However news was soon radioed through that Caroline Kisko had taken a bad fall and been dragged along the trail. The class was immediately stopped, rescue teams and first aiders set out in Landrovers. Marshal Tim Hart managed to catch and stop the team and brought them in. Brian Collins, Hugh Sym and John Hough also took tumbles; Hugh and John were unhurt but Brian took a knock to the head and hurt a hand and leg. Caroline and Brian were taken to A & E: Brian was given the all clear but unfortunately Caroline was found to have a broken collarbone.
The falls appeared to have been caused by ruts on some corners having frozen since being made by Forestry vehicles, and the rig wheels had caught in the ruts, so alternative trails had to be found. A group of people took Landrovers out to change the trail, but this proved difficult due to the frozen ruts on some trails and vast ice-covered puddles on others. At last a smooth, safe trail of three miles was marked out and racing could re-commence with a decision made that all subsequent classes (Scooter excepted) would run the same trail.
Further drama ensued in the C4 class with both Barbara Stanier and Pauline Sirrell taking a wrong turn. Barbara managed to pick up the trail and complete the race, but Pauline became lost and also had to be rescued by Landrover, necessitating a further delay to the start times.
The C3, S, D and DM classes thankfully progressed without incident and competitors in S, D and DM all seemed to enjoy the minute start intervals.
I ended one of the most eventful days I have ever known at a race as the last team out in the courtesy class, going out in a blizzard just as daylight was fading with an amazing sunset casting a red/pink/orange glow over the trees on the west side of the forest, reflected back on the snow covering the ground. I felt like I was alone in the entire forest with the only sound the breathing of the four dogs; it was a magical experience.
After driving away from the race site with the falling snow turning to sleet, then plummeting temperatures overnight, there were fears the trail conditions may have deteriorated by Sunday morning, but in fact the fresh snow meant the trails were in lovely condition and we had bright sunshine for most of the day. Sally and Ali had found some extra distance for the B and C4 classes and had marked out the trail on Saturday evening; there were no incidents, and nearly everyone had a wonderful run on snow and in the sunshine.
It was good to see Caroline feeling well enough to return to the race on Sunday to oversee the proceedings; she was even able to take on the task of starter for a class!
Results can be found on the Results page of the website so I will not list them here, but I will just say a big Well Done to Ali Gee in C3 who achieved a first ever double win with her three girls!
At every event thanks go to all the people who help to run it, as without them there would be no event, however it was truly wonderful this weekend how so many people stepped in at short notice; heartfelt thanks go to you all. Andree tells me that that there was virtually no-one who didn’t offer help over the weekend.
Special thanks go to Caroline for organising the venue, and all those who gave their time setting up the trails: Dave & Debi, Brian & Julie, Tim, Rennie, Simon Atherton, Sally and Ali. Also Dave, Mark, Hugh, Peter, Rennie, Steve & Richard for all the driving, trail changing & rescuing, Andree for getting everyone organised, Craig & Rennie for transporting the injured to and from hospital, super-marshal Roger, Pauline Amphlett for providing much needed moral support, and last but not least Ali Spowart, whose patience must have been tested to the limit with all the class changes, cancellations, late entries etc.
We hope to be able to re-schedule the planned Sherwood event in the near future, so look out for emails; information will also be posted on the website.
Rendlesham Forest Race Report
Rounds 5 & 6
“I booked the catering truck in May; on the Tuesday before the race, he pulls out…”
And so started an incredibly eventful pre-race week – not much change there then!
The trails the week before looked very wet but runnable and certainly with a couple of days dry weather would be in pretty good shape such is the Rendlesham surface; I didn’t really expect the snow that was forecast but as the ‘hardened freak weather’ organiser, my mantle to date remains unchallenged!
Thursday night I eventually managed to nail down a burger van so things started to look better. I thought about a snow trail for all of about 3 seconds on the Friday, there simply wasn’t enough, indeed, none under the trees and that made the decision simple. Brian Collins and Tim Hart, my ever-loyal wingmen, had a hell of a job picking their way over to the site on Friday due to 2 lorries ‘accidentally closing’ the A14 – Peter Sneasby got some good humoured stick for that poor lad!
120 teams in all on both days, freezing conditions, good weather, overhanging trees and a beautifully snowy trail quickly earned the race a new title, BSHRA Narnia Forest, really adding to the pre-Christmas feeling. From the number of people that commented on the race, all classes seemed to thoroughly enjoy the trails afforded by the conditions. Even Oulton Broad looked beautiful although it was deeper and colder than ever! The trails also showed all weekend that the top teams really can manouevre their teams through a multiple turns, some quite tight, at speed; At the last count, around 20 on the 6 dog I believe – a truly impressive feat and proving that these people’s lead dogs really are worthy of the title.
This championship nevers fails to astound me; this trail is wildly different from most others we put on, and yet STILL, all the classes are so tight with no clear single leader in any class but rather a batch of people who appear in a different order at each race and are separated by a matter of a few seconds – it really is anybody’s shout!
Highlight of the weekend for myself, Andree my trusty co-organiser and Rennie and also Tim and Sal, was the arrival of the first Zawkast bred puppies on the trail, all of whom brushed away the weekend’s racing like old hands… I know Caroline was also very pleased with their collective performances.
So… snow, sunshine, more light snow Saturday night, a large entry, great trails and cold weather leaves such a lovely feeling in the belly. And we even had hot tea, coffee, burgers, hotdogs, chile thanks to Jo and her friend who braved the elements – it turns out they’re both as mad as all of us and fitted in just great!
Huge thanks as ever to Nigel at the Forestry who is simply a delight to deal with, Alistair for his stunning job on the timing, Tim, Brian, Nick Drain for sharing the driving duties, the ever dependable Andree who just does the best job both pre and during the race, Dave Windsor for helping me clear the trail out and every marshal, snubber, starter who helped out over the weekend
HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND A GREAT 2010 TO YOU ALL
Pembrey Country Park – South Wales Race Report
Rounds 3 & 4
Cyd moe (hello), a big thank you to all who attended, we had an entry of 67 slightly up on last year although not all turned up. The Welsh weather lived up to its reputation and was pretty poor all weekend being warm, wet and windy but this is Wales and full of wonders, as everyone had left on the Sunday the most stunning full arched rainbow filled the sky in full colour.
I would like to think the Pembrey trails along with the quality of the surfaces more than made up for the poor weather, those roller coaster sand dunes and the hard packed smooth surfaces drained really well and allowed some good racing to take place.
This was our first attempt at putting on an event and I don’t mind admitting it was a big task, 170 mile from home, a gang of carpet soiling wee beasties, my own 6 dog team to sort out, plus the rest of them, three trails to mark up and measure (in the dark) with very little knowledge about the condition of the forest trails we would be using, but a big THANK YOU to Mick and Sue who were our troops in the drop zone and sorted us the loan of a quad from Ryan Mosses (without mud flaps, sorry Sharon), a trailer, did the warning signs for Joe public, ran marshals about and much more. A thank you to Paul and Dee for helping out on the Friday and over the weekend and doing the shopping, to all the handlers who dragged me to the start line panicking and flapping thinking, I’ll give it a miss today, to Alistair for doing a super job of the timing, to all the people who snubbed, marshalled and start timed, without who racing would not happen. Some people would do well to remember that, missing, shirking, dodging or can’t be bothered to take your turn at helping out puts other people under pressure and takes them away from their dogs just when they don’t need it.
Panic set in when the tow ball fell off the quad somewhere out on the trail during the Saturday morning and put the trailer out of use for a while until it was chained to the quad, so you could say getting marshals out became a tad difficult and being pushed for the time and having no choice I took them out in our van, dogs and all, you could say I ran 10 dogs at 30 mph+ that morning, all be it in the van and got back with just minutes to spare, you should try harnessing six dogs as they eat the contents of their food bowls which had spilled over the floor of the van and rush them off to the start line….
The B class reads as follows, Caroline Kisko’s Polarnights team came steaming home 1st with Sally Leich’s Forstal’s team chasing hard for 2nd and with Brian Collins and his Bifrost team chasing the ladies (nothing new there) into 3rd with less than twenty seconds between the three.
The C4 class saw Ali Koops romp more Forstal dogs home for the 1st spot followed very closely by Richard Sargent and the Keriquel gang into 2nd place and Marina Mclean pulling in a good 3rd.
C3 saw Alison Gee take her three Huskome girlies to 1st and Wayne Fisher blew in on the Arcticbreeze in a well-deserved 2nd and Sharon Sargent with her Keriquel gang chased him for 3rd.
Scooter class, Julie Collins ran her Bifrost vet dog to the top spot with Steve Rooke chasing for 2nd and Katrina Nurse coming in 3rd on what was the muddiest trail of the whole weekend and all will be taking home a little bit of Wales, will they bring it back next year! Wee Billy missed all the mud-bless!
D class saw Marina McLean put in a die hard effort to finish 1st with Tim Hart (attack) back in the two dog pulling a good 2nd and in 3rd came a surprised and pleased Dorit Fellner breaking her cursed never higher than 7th position finish.
DM class saw Wayne Mort come in a fine 1st with Roger Bellamy running his Aaktuq team coming in 2nd and Terry Bogue finishing in 3rd place.
B class, Sally Leich came in 1st swapping places with Caroline Kisko who came in 2nd and Brian Collins holding on to a well-deserved 3rd place.
C4 class Debbi Windsor traded a Winterdance dog from her 6-dog team to pull her into 1st place, whilst Marina McLean ran a quicker pace and pulled up into 2nd just ahead of Richard Sergant in the 3rd spot.
C3 class saw Wayne Fisher take the top spot away from Alison Gee’s all girl team by 5 seconds and Naomi Marsh hammering in only 3 seconds behind her for 3rd with her all girl team.
Scooter class had Julie Collins 1st (again) with Steve Rooke 2nd (again) and Roger Bellamy 3rd due to Katrina having had enough mud to eat on the Saturday.
D class saw Marina McLean take the win two days running and Tim Hart hold onto his 2nd place with newcomer James Sandford take a 3rd with a flier of a run.
DM class saw no change from the Saturday’s order Wayne Mort held his own for 1st with Roger Bellamy followed in 2nd again Terry in 3rd .
Well, that’s all folks, Gweld chi gyd blwyddyn nesat (see you all next year).
Pauline and Hugh (Sybasprinter.)
Santon Downham Race Report
Rounds 1 & 2
Welcome to another season of racing with BSHRA and apologies for the confusion over venues for our first event of the season. We actually feared we might have to cancel this first weekend of races altogether when the Forestry informed us just the week before that we could not use R2 after all and that nowhere else would be available. Thankfully as it turned out Santon was available to use after all and we were very relieved while exploring the trails to discover that the area had recovered really well from recent felling operations and that current forestry activities had done only minimal damage which we could work round fairly easily.
Despite the recession we had an excellent entry of over 100 teams and everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy the trails. This is the first time BSHRA have held an event here and from the feedback we have had I suspect it will not be the last!
The weather forecast for the weekend was wet and mild and generally yukky so it was a great relief to at least have it mostly dry both days with just the scooter class on the Sunday getting wet. It was somewhat of a drenching that they had poor souls as the heavens opened for the whole class and then the sky cleared again for the remainder of the day. Conditions were incredibly mild and humid, especially on the Saturday and trail distances were therefore kept short for all classes. It was a few degrees cooler on the Sunday thankfully which was a relief to us all. Trail conditions were excellent despite having had a few weeks of wet weather leading up to the event and rain over night on Friday and Saturday.
Competition was really tight in all classes and I cannot remember a time when the first 3 teams in the B class were within under 5 seconds of each other as they were on day one with just one second between first and second and 0.5 of a second between these two places on day two. Thank goodness we have Alistair’s excellent beam to beam timing system. I also cannot remember a time when we have had different winners on day one and two in almost all classes. The exception this weekend being the D class which was won convincingly both days by Marina McClean.
Thanks to all the willing helpers who make these events possible and a special thankyou to Brian Collins and Alan Hickmott who helped us set up the trails on the Friday.