Burn 6: Bath

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Burn 6: Bath Is Coming!

Adam Rose / 15.03.2023See All Event Posts Follow Event
/ © Press release

The first event in the Burn Series 2023 roster kicks off on March 25th in Bath. Six hours of running, biking and kayaking around the beautiful Somerset hills, in a treasure hunt for checkpoints hidden in nooks and crannies, disused buildings, architectural wonders, woods, quarries and canals. Not just a test of physical fitness, this relies just as much on strategy, decision making and mental sharpness, an altogether superior experience to any other form of endurance sport.

Moreover, anyone can enter. Yes, you read that right. Unlike regular running events, where everyone has to follow a specific course and you fail if you don’t complete it all, this form of adventure race is only as long as you make it. You could get straight off the couch, ride a bike for a couple of kilometres, walk for a couple more, and kayak for a few hundred metres, and you’d be ranked!

Does that make it easy? Sure, if you go for the minimum.

However, if you go for the whole caboodle, trying to find every checkpoint, you will be challenged in the extreme. No question. And you will be up against some of the best adventure racers in the country.

I spoke to race director Andrew Woodhouse, to get the low down on the course he has prepared for us, and how this event marks a change for the Burn Series. Straight off the bat, he wants to take the racers on a journey. As a civil engineer, he is drawn to the rich past of Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage site, that dates back to the first century AD when the Romans built the city to use its natural hot springs as a thermal spa.

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Ralph Allen built Prior Park in 1742, a majestic Neo-Palladian building erected from the famous Bath stone, and this is being used as the race headquarters for Burn Bath. This is the first time any sporting event is being held on the premises, offering a unique opportunity to explore the school and the gardens, the latter now part of the National Trust.

In fact, unlike most events of this kind in the UK, Bath Burn will feature a mass start which promises to be far more festive and adrenaline pumping than is traditional for sprint races, and a prologue orienteering section around Prior Park itself. This also means everyone will be finishing by the same deadline, which can only add to post race revelry.

Thanks to a strong manufacturing legacy, there are many remnants of Bath’s proud industrial past in the surrounding countryside. Why is that important? Well, Andrew scoured the landscape for the most intriguing and adventurous checkpoint locations, and assures me whether you compete as an average athlete or as an elite racer, you will have the ‘same experience’, discovering unique locations, beautiful vistas and secret hidey holes, going boldly where no adventure racer has gone before! 

This is likely to be true, as an adventure race hasn't taken place in Bath for eons, and is not likely to happen again, so this is your one opportunity to see the historic location from the unique perspective of a ‘multisport treasure hunter’. It’s also part of the Burn Series goal of creating races from a pool of race directors, each with a distinctive flavour stamped by the course designer, rather than the more common style of simply scattering CPs across local geography without telling a story, as a purely sporting endeavour. In short, trying to avoid the series being the same race over and over but on different maps.

South African Damon de Boor is another member of the growing Burn Series team, undertaking many of the promotional aspects. His goal is to reignite adventure racing in the UK and support its growth, making it a viable sport in its own right. When he first arrived on these shores, he found the AR scene barely conscious compared to the vibrant scene he’d left behind in his homeland. Certainly, for a population of 67 million, UK adventure racing has fierce and passionate competitors but a calendar that compares dismally with countries a fraction of the size.

Damon sees the solution as requiring a two-pronged approach, a view shared by Burn Series owner and founder Maria Leijerstam: a focus on youth, and on grassroots cooperation with other race organisers across the UK. The participant pool is currently too small to sustain businesses in competition, and rather than have a famine mentality, the greater the sharing of resources, ideas and experience, the better for UK adventure racing overall. We are already seeing this approach being adopted in other countries including the US, and the resulting growth is very encouraging.

As Damon states explicitly, this is not just about business but a passion project for the love of the sport. Furthermore, Maria wants to encourage families to discover the sport, teaching youth to evaluate risk, build resilience, and develop life skills of teamwork, resourcefulness and navigation.  

This brings us back to the Bath Burn. I’ve seen the maps. I wish I was racing, and particularly with my sons. I’m excited for the renewed energy being brought to the UK racing scene, and a calendar that is suddenly looking rather busy for 2023.

So, what are you waiting for? There is still time to register but the clock is ticking fast. Entries close at around midnight on the 21st of March. Go, go, go!


Direct entries: https://www.sientries.co.uk/event.php?elid=Y&event_id=10730


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