Tonto and the Lone Ranger

Just returned from a rather interesting adventure in Poland at the Bergson Winter Challenge where I was paired up with Jim Mee in the Speed race, a 150km jaunt through the depths of a Polish winter. The adventure began with an epic journey through France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Czech Republic on day one with an overnight in Pilsen, home of Pilsner lager, before another day’s driving to Kowary just over the Polish border.There were 15 teams already out racing in the 400km Masters Expedition race, part of the AR World Series, while we were tagging on to the end of their event with 50 or so other pairs. The first impressions of Poland were not the best, with our initial base being in a rather rundown mountain town, however, once we got under way in the neighbouring ski resort town of Karpacz we began to see the beautiful place that this area of Poland is. The organisers first impressions of us were not the strongest either as we failed to produce the full requirements for the strange kit list and then as we sauntered along taking in the view we began to be asked what was wrong as we trundled into checkpoints miles behind other teams. The marshals soon realised we were not here to be at the front of the race, but I was on a mission to get Jim round his first ever Adventure Race. In the end we missed a cutoff late in the second night, just as it became my birthday, so we celebrated with a short sleep in a bush in a forest, before tackling some excellent rope sections and a 2hour bike back to HQ at Karpacz City.

Jim’s stamina finally wained when the Tabasco vodka kicked in at the after race party and he staggered off to drive the porcelain truck while the party continued on, fuelled by champagne given to myself and Russ Ladkin for our birthdays. The race was an absolute bargain, with the greatest expense being the fuel for the drive there, although if we were in the UK we could have flown for 50p each way with Ryanair like the rest of the UK guys did. It’s definitely a race I’d love to go back and do in 2007 with a crack team to take on the Masters race, although the xc skiing skills will have to be developed somewhat before that one swings around. A year seems to fly by so quickly at this time that I’d better make use of the ski trails in Chamonix asap.