Winter Training Camp 2007
By Owain Bristow
It was a dark and stormy night. The wind were a lashing and the waves were a crashing as a small band trekked along a winding country road, cast free from Sheffield's urban landscape. Where was the hostel they wondered? Will there be any food left? And did we get off the bus too early? Passing the Rising Sun Inn and countless lonely bus stops they came at last to the light at the end of the path, and there they received the message (and dinner)...
"All I want to do is drink beer and train like an animal" -- Rod Dixon
Although the exact proportions varied, a similar stance was taken by the twenty or so other runners who made their way up to the Peak District to celebrate the New Year Harey-style. The destination this time was a tent-shaped building by the name of Glenbrook, tucked snugly into the Hope Valley area just west of Bamford. Being a Girl Guide Centre, there were an abundance of extensively labelled appliances, a good number of bunk beds and washing areas, a large carpeted-hall and a surprising smattering of my-husband-enjoyed-secret-soil-eating-liaisons-with-his-secretarystyle magazines. All very nice!
This was a training camp with a twist, however. Club Captain Claire Day had devised a foolproof way of ensuring that everyone did his or her fair share of cooking and cleaning: a team competition! Psychologists among you, rest assured, this was not an attempt to recreate the Prison Experiment... Along with an allocated meal-making schedule the teams would also go head-to-head to rack up miles, pints and a respectable fitness score. The teams looked well matched on paper, but how would things work out during the week?
Eating, Drinking and making Merry
With the absence of so many legends of the kitchen, it fell upon the undergraduates to come up with meals suitable for hungry runners. The tried and tested formula of a pasta/rice/potato/rice/pasta programme was utilised and this pleased even those with seemingly bottomless stomachs. Rich Mathie made his sumptuous banoffee dish with assistance from Tim Taylor and some brownies were cooked too.
By Thursday we had tired of our own cuisine and went out to eat at the Traveller's Rest. This appeared to be a friendlier place than the Rising Sun and they even allowed us to stay there past 10:45pm. The former pub was also the site of an impromptu pint downing time trial, doubtlessly in preparation for the 2007 Chunder Mile. John Redshaw, Andy Duncan and Rich Lebon raced each other to times of 24, 9 and 16-second efforts before the Master of the Pint, Phil Scard, put his drink away in 6 seconds with textbook performance.
|The curious incident of the egg on the carpet|
A glance back to last year reveals that several Haries have their birthdays during training camp week. Sabrina Verjee, couldn't be at Glenbrook so was treated to a down-the-phone rendition of "Happy Birthday". Meanwhile, Tim "24 today" Taylor received a splendid birthday cake, which he then proceeded to butcher with a large knife. A celebratory pint at the local followed by a relaxing stroll back to camp was his method of celebration.
Fun and Games
With no X-box, pool table or local nightclub we had to look for simpler things to sate are cravings for entertainment. The presence of Lee Harper's casino quality cards and poker set helped someway in keeping us occupied, and a few more people were initiated into the ways of Hearts. It was fortunate that we weren't playing with real money or the reckless bluffers among us would now be very poor (and Lee would be loaded). Sh*thead also saw some action with Owain Bristow managing to collect the title no less than five times to go with his single W*nker title (the beercan packaging game). I think now might be the time to admit that I'd never played it before!
|What's Will got in his hand then?|
With Will George taking on the role of the camp's injured runner (at least one always required), there was inevitably going to be potential for a more active form of fun to develop. Will had bought a tennis ball (but is it yellow or green?) and by Monday this had become the centrepiece of an indoor cricket game, helped in part by the magical appearance of two traffic cones. Rich M stepped up to bat with a kitchen tray and promptly sealed his receipt of the comedy injury award and a bonus trip to Sheffield A&E. Somehow he had inflicted a large cut on himself between the eyes in his attempt to hit the ball. This was Mr. Mathies' second injury of the week, going nicely with his hip and arm wounds: the result of a cycling with an unpredictable trailer. Rich's potential for mishaps was commemorated in a Bunny-Suicides style schematic, penned by Rich L.
A slightly bloody tray was not enough to stop the cricket though, with the players using a trip to Hope to obtain a bat and stumps. Will then generously gave everyone a chance to hone their clock-repairing skills with a finely-judged/foolish hit to the far wall (in his defence, the clock wasn't attached very well in the first place). There was only one possible outcome after this. A swing of the cricket bat the next day from Andy was all it took for the wood to become removed from the handle, not the kind of quality manufacture you'd expect for £3.99! Fortunately the bat was pointing downwards at the time, so a nearby Charlotte Forbes did not become the next occupier of Tim's ambulance.
|Spot the ball competition|
Other more conscientious people got cracking on sorting out the nuances of the Michaelmas work and revising for January exams. A glance over the expanses of the tables revealed much interesting material from the world of Natsci, Medicine, MML and Classics along with several running bibles and a badge machine. This device was one of the selling points of Glenbrook and something that Claire D was eager to make full use of. The result was a collection of interesting, innocuous and borderline libellous badges.
On the penultimate night the work was cleared away and the tables pushed to one side to allow us to indulge in some classic party games. First up was 'musical chairs' -- a rather energy-sapping event that reveals who among your friends is quite willing to shoulder barge you to the floor in order to get to the coveted last remaining seat. After a slow start, things really hotted up with the extension of the chair loop. Claire D was taking no prisoners; leaving Owain lying in a heap on the floor- clearly the experience at camp two years ago had toughened her up! The last round came down to a Varsity grudge match between Claire and Polly Keen. When the music stopped for the final time Claire made a dive for the chair, but rebounded off Polly's knee and had to concede defeat. The extent of the Captain's rib injuries is still unclear!
|When the going gets tough, the tough fall off chairs|
Everyone was somewhat jaded following musical chairs so a game of Mafia was played with Karla Borland stepping in to fill the role of God. For perhaps the first time ever the villagers were successful in stopping the killings, although an innocent John Redshaw did get lynched along the way. The Mafia probably didn't help themselves by killing Lee first (see quotes below) and voting each other off, although 'Don' Cat Mactier did a very good job of feigning incompetence. Back to the action and as the night waned some rather more raucous games were played including Ladders, Twenty-One and Blind man's Buff. Glenbrook reverberated to the sounds of loud banging and (fictional) farm animals, where does all the energy from!?
|Pop quiz hotshot, you have two beakers of water on palms. What do you do, what do you do?|
The Fitness Test
This was given to the unsuspecting Haries on Tuesday afternoon, the aim being to discover what everyone's strengths and weaknesses were. If you would like to have a go yourself, the necessary sheets can be found in the Appendix. What followed was thirty minutes of intense muscular endurance on the hall floor (which many people felt for the rest of the week!) followed by a quick relocation to the local football field for some sprinting and hopping with a fifteen minute time trial thrown in for good measure. After the numbers were tabulated and scored and then adjusted, and then adjusted some more the results were announced:
|Owain Bristow||Polly Keen|
|Andy Duncan||Claire Day|
|John Redshaw||Cat Mactier|
It was generally agreed that we could all be much fitter!
Out and About
Thankfully Glenbrook was in a valley rather than at the top of a big hill, so returning from long runs was not quite so traumatic this year. As you would expect, the Peak District is a very pretty place, or at least it is when it's not raining. Most runs took in plenty of inspiring set pieces, including forests, reservoirs, Roman roads, treacherous climbs, quagmire-like fields, quaint 16th century villages and bleak, windswept precipices. I could really go on all day about the landscape and how wet and muddy and horizontal it made everyone. Now I know why the North of England produces such grizzly cross-country runners!
Clearly everyone else was equally captivated and consequently at least three runs went out every day. Special mention should be made of fresher Simon Gilbert who unabashedly racked up 17 miles in one go on the Sunday together with Rich M and Tim. While the author likes his training sessions to be separated by at least six hours, other runners were quite happy to conqueror the hills before elevenses, grab a quick bite to eat, and then do it all over again in reverse!
Wednesday afternoon had been designated as the time for the "Epic Run" and it didn't fail in living up to its billing. At 14:35 a group of Haries set out from Glenbrook and straight into the bog around the bottom of Win Hill. From there they climbed up a slippery sheep-infested slope, pausing only to scale the farmer's fortifications (I'm sure the footpath was around there somewhere...). On reaching the almost-top of the hill it started hailing very painfully and the group split into two (whole individuals -- the hail wasn't that sharp), luckily though the run then took us into the forest on the other side. Despite rumours to the contrary, the second group, thanks to Laura Dixon's diligent route memorisation, was still tracking us as we passed along the undulating path around Ladybower Reservoir. The route then took a sharp uphill turn, although the Ordnance Survey described it as a footpath, I'm pretty sure it was actually a streambed + stream! But this at least gave Helen Mort a chance to demonstrate her fell running prowess. Slightly further back Polly was beginning to regret her choice of lunch size as the glucose went down and took its owner with it. After a painful switch to lipid metabolism she managed to get going again. Aren't long runs fun!? Finally, one way or another, everyone made it back home. How tough was it? Well it doesn't usually take me ninety minutes to run 10.5 miles!
|10.49 miles to go and the runners' feet are wet already|
|Another hill targeted during the week|
Thursday's main session was also pretty tiring, but in the lung-burning kind of way. A tough 150m track up a hill had been discovered on a previous steady run and this was the location for a couple of sets of reps with the wind adding to the challenge! Having completed the session and all the other climbs in the area we can now look forward to having much stronger legs. From the psychological point of view, our extreme vertical perception has quite possibly been adapted so much that any future hills we encounter will seem much flatter by comparison!
Running was not the only possible activity to partake in outside of Glenbrook, however. Claire Nance and Rich L managed to get in some good cycle rides through the area and on Friday a group visited the local Speedwell Cave system for some semi-expensive underground action.
|John and Liam express their shock at the £5.75 entrance fee|
All that remained to do on going-home day was clean up the building, which had been described by the ex-army Warden the previous day as "chaotic"- and she didn't mince her words. With John deftly wielding the Hoover and everyone else doing their bit in kitchen, Glenbrook was left looking shipshape again and we passed the inspection (minus criticisms of mopping and seating). This left us free to speed back to our Cambridge homes, except for Will who momentarily forgot where he lived: it must have been that Peak District magic...
See you in September!
|As the points sheets show, a number of people hit the 100 mark again. Jolly good!|
"I like getting scratches, it makes me feel hardcore!" -- Charlotte Forbes
Claire Nance: "I'm very impressed that you're up Tim!"
Tim Taylor: "I'm not!"
Will George: "If you swim to the other side of the crocodile-infested river you get to be on the Olympic team..."
Laura Dixon: "And if you don't quite make it you can go to the Paralympics!"
"I'm not sure I want to put a price on my nakedness..." -- Jamie Brunning
"I think my immediate reaction is to dive on Polly" -- Claire Day
Will George: "Aren't you going to leave any rice for Laura?"
Owain Bristow: "No!"
"Michael Jackson has a friend who's a bender... Uri Geller!" -- Rich Mathie
"I feel really eggy and cheesy" -- Catriona Mactier
"My legs are tired, running is getting a bit awkward" -- Charlotte Forbes
"Do sheep kill?" -- Lauren Barklie
"Does anyone want a cup of tea?" -- John Redshaw
"I need four guys to carry me home... naked" -- Tim Taylor
"If I'm in the Mafia, Lee's the first person I'm going to kill" -- Will George, shortly before being assigned a Mafia role
"I must taste really good to mosquitoes!" -- Claire Day
Thanks go to Claire for organisation, Lee and Jamie for transport and Phil and Jamie for providing the photos.