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Briefing, Bio Security and Bike Boxes

Author : Rob Howard

James Thurlow Briefs the Teams

Teams have gathered in the North Yorkshire town of Settle this evening ready for the adidas TERREX Swift 48 hour race.  The campsite was at the local football club, though not quite where it was planned to be as a group of touring caravans were on the field!  There was room alongside pitch fortunately and it was a pleasant setting right beside the weir on the river Ribble.

Just across the football pitch was one of the first of the race bio-security station, one of the new innovations in this race – in fact it’s a first for UK multisport and adventure racing.  Besides banners saying ‘Ditch the Hitchers’ the South Cumbria Rivers Trust had set up a cleaning station and were hosing down all the teams canoes and asking them to scrub and disinfect their footwear to stop invasive species spreading in UK waterways.
The volunteers explained what they were doing. “We want to show how easy and cheap it is to take simple measures to protect our native species and also to raise awareness of the issue.  There are American Signal Crayfish in the Ribble here for example and they carry a plague which can wipe out the rare native white clawed crayfish, and those are in the river Lune, which the teams will be paddling on.  It would be so easy to carry the plague spore across on a boat or trainer, and it’s so easy to stop it.”  They added, “The teams have been great, and many put their trainers in the washer or bought new ones.”
In amongst the usual piles of gear teams were sorting for their race boxes there was another new innovation – the introduction of standard size bike boxes.  So for this race teams were busy coming to terms with packing their bikes in this way and taping up their boxes.  (These are the same standard used by the AR World Series.)
For quite a few teams it was a new experience to be packing up for a 48 hour race.  When Race Director James Thurlow asked at the briefing how teams had not done a 48 hour or longer race before, about 60% of the racers raised their hands.  In recent years there have been no non-stop multiday races in the UK calendar and this event is aimed at reintroducing teams to the longer race format and its demands, and more specifically to help them get ready for the Sting in Stirling.  (This is Open Adventure’s AR World Series expedition race, to be held in Scotland in late August.)  
The briefing was held at Victoria Hall, an old theatre in settle, which was just the right size to fit in the teams and James Thurlow went through the usual race procedures of safety, kit, rules etc. which are kept as direct and simple as possible by Open Adventure.  
Andy Sallabank the race Safety Officer also spoke, emphasising the need for self rescue should a capsize happen on the river Lune – which is why the teams all had to be certified for their canoeing skills on this event. However there will be safety crews at any hazardous areas and he talked teams through any hazards of cross flows, rapids, obstructions etc.  (Teams are carrying portage trolleys as one mandatory portage is 2km long.)
Course Planner Dave Johnson spoke about the navigational trail run around Malham Cove, just advising teams not to climb up to a checkpoint at Janet’s Foss, and reassuring teams that the grade one scramble up to the checkpoint at Goredale Scar was easy enough for all to accomplish (but telling teams about a way around if they preferred to use it).  
The visiting French and Irish teams were introduced, the French having had a particularly difficult journey, which meant they are starting the race without having had much sleep in the past couple of nights!
Teams were also shown their trackers, and all of them will be carrying them for the live coverage on the Open Adventure website.  These small units work on a mobile phone signal so there may be a few areas where they don’t show any progress for the teams for a short while (particularly Swaledale), so don’t be concerned if you are following a team and this happens. Once they are back in signal range the route will fill back in.
You can see more photos, leaderboard and follow the trackers on the race website at 

About The Author

Rob Howard
Rob is Editor of He's traveled the world reporting on and photographing adventure races and day-to-day he keeps his finger on the pulse of AR to ensure SleepMonsters is the heartbeat of the sport.

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