It is now just over a week since I took part in the Avalanche Endurance Events “Fan Dance” race… This still has to be the toughest event that I’ve entered and I’m not sure if knowing the route is an advantage or if ignorance really is bliss !
The route follows one of the original SAS selection routes and is organised by a chap called Ken Jones who has quite a story to tell. If he tells you that you need to do something for your own safety you do tend to listen ! The total weight of the safety kit and compulsory 3 litres of water is about 16lb and that is the “clean fatigue” version. For lots of the younger men who take part in the full load bearing category the weight is 35lb + food & water (the water requirement is 4 litres) so this gives you some idea of the weight of the backpacks !
I think we were lucky with the weather; it was typically Welsh in that is alternated between windy, sunshine and torrential showers. It is always quite a bit colder at the top and the weather forecast was saying that with the windchill it would feel like 1 degree C…. We didn’t have the gale force winds and uphill rain that I had when I took part in the winter event đź™‚
The total route is about 14.5 miles and includes over 3,200ft of ascent. This does make running up Chanctonbury look like a molehill in comparison and I always find the very steep downhills murder my quads in a way that I haven’t quite replicated in training.
For the actual event I wore the following kit :
Inov-8 Roclite 280 trainers
Hilly merino wool trail socks
Brooks 3/4 length leggings (I love these ! No drawstrings but a really come wide elasticated waistband)
Inov-8 long sleeve merino wool base layer
Fan Dance technical t-shirt
OMM Kamleika Race II running jacket (this really is waterproof !)
I carried the following kit with me :
OMM Classic Marathon 25l backpack
First aid kit (they provide a list of the items you must carry, a single plaster just won’t do !!)
350g emergency food – not to be consumed during the event ( 4chia charge flapjacks and a pack of trail mix)
Warm jacket (down filled one from Mountain Warehouse)
Compass (military spec)
Spare socks, gloves, thermal hat
Survival bag (not just a foil blanket)
Map & emergency contact card
Food to be consumed during the event
They do carry out spot checks if they think you are not carrying the right kit and they do disqualify people for this…..
This year I ran this event with Dorian; even though he is faster than I am he decided to take it easy and stick with me although I ended up having to wait for him to catch up when we went back up Jacobs Ladder ! Ollie (who really is faster than both of us) went on ahead and waited for us at the finish….
I finished in 4:07 and came third in my age category. Ollie finished in 3:06 and came 12th in his age category. The fastest person finished in 2:26 and the slowest in 6:23 (this is in our “clean fatigue” category).
This is still the only event I’ve ever done where my legs are hurting before I finish (obviously more training is needed !).
Now, if you thing this sounds mad enough, Ollie then went on that evening to complete their night time event. This is over a different route that includes a few more hills ! (a similar distance though) but it starts at 10pm and is run at in the dark and at times quite bad visibility…. the route is marked in places with blue glow sticks but Ollie did say that along one ridge the visibility was so bad you just couldn’t see them and when you know you have a sheer drop to one side it tends to make you a bit careful ! Dorian and I went along to support him and managed to give him some friendly words of encouragement at the halfway point đź™‚ Ollie completed this event in approx 3:30 and came near the top of the field again (I don’t yet have the full results).
This video is put together from the photos and video that Dorian took (with a few of mine thrown in..)
and these are a few of the photos from the night event…