Stage 2 was a 2.5 hour fastest to finish run and kayak. Team of 4 - 2 runners, 2 kayaking. Result = time taken - bonus + penalties. The scenario was to capture spies by collecting their coordinates at 'Intelligence Points' (IP) - some on land, some on water, then decode their grid reference and running as a team to the Spy Point (SP) to take them down. Each team needed to capture at least two spies to avoid a penalty and there was an added complication of package drops. Teams could chose to pick up and drop off dossiers at several points in a specific order to gain bonuses, however start a dossier without completing it and all hell would break loose.
Thankfully I was tooled to the max with several AKs and a Magnum for some serious pistol whipping, but they proved too heavy and we decided to ditch them and use our stealth instead. Vanessa 'The Hot Ness Monster' Harding had spent the previous evening strategising and had selected several alternative routes that allowed us to pick up two spies and the two dossier bonuses, we didn't have a map yet, but we knew the points available, so we would need to quickly establish the distance per time bonus of each route, once we saw the map. We wouldn't know how much running a spy point entailed until we collected the coordinates, so there would an element of luck involved. Running again - kerpow, Ness and I would team up, with Leo and Vicky taking the main kayaking duties. We could change the sub-teams during the stage, as it was likely we would be weaker on the kayak and might need to share out the duties.
|Becky Green from Accenture 5, red left at start|
Simon sped off in the mass start and we immediately started hoisting the kayak into the water. All four had to kayak to the transition point before splitting and there were only two paddles, so I started off as the power, Leo the steering (some would say finesse), Ness calculating the best route on the map, while Vicky, our most experienced kayaker, saved herself for the epic effort to come. We got out clean and fast to try and avoid the demolition derby enfolding behind us and ten minutes later we were first into the transition, route set and feeling confident.
|Accenture at the top of the picture leading out|
We started off with the hardest spy worth the most points. We quickly sailed past our first IP point, noting down the coordinates 2nd - 19, a bit too quickly, a minute later remembering that we needed to both dib at the checkpoint. A quick backtrack and we were back on schedule (this was to remain our secret - no mistakes etc.). We passed Dame Kelly Holmes, looking strong and smiling, sadly her running partner was not, but that's hardly surprising - get yourself a bungee chord Kelly. The route was about 4.5 miles, but the navigation was easy, so we quickly finished our loop, noting down a couple of unmarked checkpoints - possible spy points, on the way. We were back ten minutes ahead of schedule, but with only half the coordinates there was nothing we could do, so we started planning. The kayaking was definitely the longer leg, but Leo and Vicky powered back, two minutes ahead of schedule. We calculated the SP - holy f to the moly, the Spy Point was at least a 5k loop straight up the only hill on the course - far longer than we had expected; we needed to rethink our strategy. Vicky and I bungeed together, allowing Leo and Ness to bang heads; the kayaking was hard graft and going for even the third highest scoring spy would risk being late if the SP was a similar distance. The fourth highest would still allow us to get all of the dossier drop bonuses and could allow us time to go for a third spy if were ahead of time.
|Dame Kelly landing|
Ness and I set off again on a far shorter route. We were picking up one of the dossier packages, but we had to dib after twelve minutes, to give the kayakers time to make their package drop off first. We were there in 8 minutes, so we waited, then the fear crept in. What if Leo had taken longer? We were blitzing the run routes and didn't feel tired, so we decided to dib as late as possible and then sprint back to make up the time. We nectar gelled up, gave each other massages (might not be true) and 16 minutes in dibbed and dashed. We suspect Leo may have stopped to feed some passing ducks, as they didn't reach their checkpoint until 15 minutes - call us Uri Geller; our time delay had been vital. We regrouped, rebungeed and headed to our next SP. The map wasn't obvious, our coordinates were off and we only discovered afterwards that the scale of coordinates wasn't 1-10, but 1-6, so 41.3 was halfway across a square of the map and not a third. We couldn't find the spy, rechecked then ran to the only other place it could be - four minutes wasted, not a huge amount, but it was on me, aaaarrrrgggghhhhh.
The SP was close to the start of another Spy loop. It was a short one, so if we went flat out and got lucky on the next SP being close, the bonus time gained would be more than the time taken. We knew we were behind on the first stage, so we had to take some calculated risks to catch up.
Leo and I bungeed up and went flat out back to the kayaks. We were paddling manically, but after 90 minutes of running, my legs were cramping, kneeling in the kayaks. After the first IP we realised it was taking too long, the risk hadn't been worth it, but by then we were committed. We skirted the second IP to try and read what it said - if the number was low, it meant that the SP was going to be a long way away and it made more sense to abandon the loop and head home. The IP was high, the SP was across the dam, it was far - over a k away, but not too far. We dibbed, ploughed back to the transition and as we neared started screaming to Ness and Vicky 'dam, run to the dam'. They eventually heard and started running. We beached, strewing paddles and life jackets everywhere and set off after them, knowing we were going to be late, so every minute taken counted double. Our legs weren't really working after the kayak and we were struggling to catch the girls. Vicky, expecting a bungee taxi ride, put her hand out for the karabiner, as I neared, I mustered "I've got to catch you first." We were going flat out and I was broken. We all dibbed and headed back, as I started to contemplate the kayak back, my lungs burning like as if in an 800 meter race. As we neared the kayaks I asked Ness how she felt about kayaking back, she realised it wasn't really a question though. We boarded and Ness powered away. Three minutes in, I felt fine again and I started to feel a bit guilty, as Ness was clearly tiring. I tried paddling with my hands, but Leo pointed out I was filling the boat with water rather than adding to the push, but she's not the hot ness monster for nothing and the monster took over, catching another team and bringing us back within ten minutes.
|Team Holmes at the finish L-R Charlotte Hartley, Toby Garbett, Dame Kelly, Martyn Bernard|
We were just under ten minutes late - a 19 minute penalty, the extra spy hadn't been worth it, as we would have saved time by coming in early. Still we'd made all of the dossier drops and captured two spies, not a bad hall. With penalties we ended up on a negative time of -0:20:15, third position for the stage, a good result given the amount of kayaking. We'd moved up into 5th, but were 42 minutes behind the new leaders - AWE. Next up was the cycling stage - traditionally a strength of AWE's and this year a bit of an unknown for us, we were going to have to take some risks or else AWE would be out of sight and that's exactly what we did.
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|Position||Number||Time Taken||Bonus||Penalties||Stage Time|
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Amazing thanks Darren, don't get much feedback, more for the love, so very much appreciated. You thinking of doing the UK Challenge?Delete