Adventure Race on the Isle of Man
Two weeks ago we got an email asking us if we wanted to do an Adventure Race on the Isle of Man. A race? Abroad? That has our name all over it. Obvs the answer was an immediate yes but boy oh boy were we in for a shock. Rachel and Laura couldn’t make it for this trip so I had to quickly get a crew together, luckily I have an amazing network of fit chicks. Emma, Sammy and Jenny all got on board (literally) and we flew out to the Isle of Man.
We arrived at the briefing the night before. They casually summed it up as an adventure race with 5km of sea kayaking, 12km of up hill running, 22kms of mountain biking and two mysterious challenges. It dawned on me that the marathon, three half marathons, 10km race and my basic cycles to work I have done so far this year had no way prepared me for this. I obviously didn’t tell the girls I felt like this. After all I had persuaded them to do this in the first place by saying “it’s fine, we’ll have fun!”
We were given our packs with our race bibs and maps. Take that in for a second... maps! I’m used to race marshals, cordoned off roads, clear routes you can check a month in advance and knowing where my water and fuel stations are. This, my friend, was racing on a whole new level. We were told about the spots where we could potentially get lost, blue dots on trees indicating we were on the right track and the rough areas we should check into with our timer chips - there was also a time deduction penalty if we missed any.
At this point we were not worried about time at all. We just didn’t want to get lost in this foreign land where there are all trees and animals and stuff - let’s be real, four London girls in a forest abroad is bad news. The aim was to survive!
The day had finally arrived. We took the mandatory picture of our lay down kit, this time featuring new items like running back pack, GoPro and map - it was missing the mountain bike and helmet, soz couldn’t fit it in #instagramproblems. After about twenty shots at multiple angles we were ready to go.
Sadly (luckily) the sea current was too volatile on the day to do the sea kayaking section of the race. Our arms were spared but our legs took the forfeit- we had to put extra miles in to make up for the lack of kayaking. Not that we needed it! When they said uphill run they meant it, the run doesn't actually have any downhills. You are running up a huge hill for 12 KMs!
I wasn’t ready. We all weren’t, but the views were breath taking, running on the side of a hill, nearly off the edge, was all worth it. When I realised the higher I ran up the hill, the more epicness I would see, I didn’t mind the it so much.
One of our mystery challenges involved jumping into the bottom of a freezing waterfall and swimming through it to reach one of our check points. Breath taking - in the literal, fill your lungs with so much air you can’t breathe out any more, sense but very refreshing!
After the mini swim and the constant uphill running we had the down hill to look forward to…on a mountain bike! Now the only things that really scare me in life are cockroaches, I am rarely scared of action activities (currently singing: “I ain’t never scurred!”). However, let’s now add mountain biking downhill on technical routes to the scary list. Again I’m coming back to the theme of this post - we weren’t ready.
Most of my GoPro videos of cycling on the rough terrain is of me swearing in English, Vietnamese, Patois - basically every word my brain could think of to verbally express the pain of having my bike go out of control and causing great pain to my flower. Give me cycling on a road full of white lorries, cabbies who don’t indicate, pedestrians who don’t look and double decker buses that feel no way to cut you up on the road any day. I was actually scared for my life.
After having successfully avoided having my bike flip me over down the hill, I got kind of used to pretty much going down hill on the bike - trusting my brakes a bit more. Until they surprised us with uphills again...hello quads! As if we hadn’t had enough already. Brutal. Navigating with the map was a struggle but we luckily had one of the amazing adventurous experiences guys to help us navigate the bike route (thank you so much Janet!). After all, four London girls missing, last seen mountain biking in the Isle of Man, probably wouldn’t have gone down too well.
We finished it with our last mystery challenge which involved a high zip wire and travelling along it as fast as you can. Not so good if you’re scared of heights but a great challenge if you are (well done Emma)! I will spare the Internet with your hilarious pictures (will however take money offers if anyone is interested).
The guys at Adventurous Experiences really do put on a serious Adventure Race. It requires thought and effort as a team. The adventure element is like nothing I’ve seen before in a race. The challenge of navigation on top of endurance and strength was refreshing, it had me feeling like Bear Grylls in those woods. They even end the race with a BBQ and prizes for pairs and individuals who came first, second and third. It definitely goes up in my top 5 races so far, possibly even top 3. Tough Mudder was a nice and fun challenge, but this is where the real challenge is at! Definitely worth a weekend trip.
The sea conditions were amazing the day after the race so Adventurous Experiences offered to take us out kayaking. We were already tired from the race the day before so we took it easy and had a leisurely kayak along the coast. It was so nice! It made me realise that I really need to get out of the city more often and get in touch with nature. I can see why people might be scared of kayaking in harsher conditions though. Our conditions were great and someone still managed to capsize - the guys at Adventurous Experiences were on hand to help straight away. Can’t praise them enough.
A trip wouldn’t be complete without telling you the best places for food. We hit up The Swiss House for their amazing food. Get multiple starters, the duck main was amazing and their crème brulee is so buff.
Get ice cream during the day at Peel beach from Davison's Manx Dairy ice cream - I went for a scoop of malteaser flavour and a scoop of smarties flavour.
Make a weekend of it and sign up for the next Adventure Race on the Isle of Man in September next year, if you like a bit of adventure you won't regret it!