Try Skating and get Scotland rolling

Elizabeth Adams reports on the Portugal Adventure Race 2009

Team Cruachan planning


When the race organiser presented us with 79 A4 pages of maps, we realised that nothing could have prepared us for the monster that lay ahead.


Portugal - The World Championships 2009

Nearly a week later and I'm gradually returning to the land of the living and starting to realised that we actually made it. We raced for almost 128hrs, pretty much non-stop as all sleep was done in race time and I think we got about 6hrs in total. Every stage was absolutely epic and as tough as they could make it. The two skating sections had cobbles, steep uphills and petrifying descents.


When your legs are already hurting from running and cycling, remembering to 'bend those knees' is pretty tough. But we kept that as our mantra and, wherever possible, tried to at least look like we were in a paceline! Given that we were skating with rucksacks on, there was a big temptation to just hold on to the backpack of the person in front to get a wee tow whenever it got too hard. But that's what adventure racing is all about and if I helped anyone during the skate they repaid me hundreds of times over in the rest of the race.




Route 2

Skate route elevation

The second skate was definitely the hardest. I've never seen a longer or steeper downhill in my life. Teams had been told we should take skates off towards the bottom as it would be too dangerous. We took ours off near the top. Except Philip. The daredevil of the group, he hadn't realised the brake was wearing out and he took off at the speed of light only to find he had no way of stopping. Heeding Don's advice he did nothing but get in a tuck (and pray) and got faster and faster until finally, and thankfully, the gradient started to go uphill again. Still at the top of the hill, the rest of us had thought he was a goner!

Somehow, we got through the rest of the race without major incident. We travelled through some of the most beautiful countryside I've ever seen - and raised a few eyebrows with our kilts!!

All of us had highs and lows during the race but we helped each other through them. I don´t think I want to see my bike for a wee while as the last leg was 18hr straight. We got so tired we went into a cafe, drank double espressos then promptly fell asleep head down on the table. I wished we´d had a portugese sign saying í´m not ill, iºm an adventure racer...

Skates on

Another time a women in a bar looked so appalled at what we were doing that she rushed home to bring us her own homemade bread and ham as the nearest restaurant was 20km away and we had major energy food fatigue. The kindness of the locals, beautiful scenery, the community with other teams´and above all the strengths, support, spirit and sense of adventure of my Team Cruachan team mates were what made it for me. That, and the motto that you should never give up at night because itºs always better in the morning.



At the finish

We did mean to get more sleep,it just never happened. Next time... (!) I think me singing for 6hrs to keep awake during the nightime kayaking stages possibly wasnºt the best for anyone but we were all struggling to play 20 questions or name fruit and veg beginning with every letter of the alphabet. How many renditions of éye of the tiger´can one team take before purposely throwing themselves into the water under the pretext of falling asleep´?

The race finished with a 4am swim across a bay then a walk along the coast line to a beautiful headland where there was champagne, photos and tears on the finish line. Team Helly Hansen, another UK team came first - that´s the first time thereºs ever been a British world champion so it was a really inspirational thing to be a part of.


See you next time!



Link: more chat from the Glasgow Triathlon Club