THE WINTER FAN DANCE, BACK to BACK - 09/10.01.16
Much like the Paras'10 it's an event I look forward to, more so because of the friends I've made. The Fan has always been about tracing Lloydys footsteps a little and trying to endure I tiny element of what he put himself through to achieve what he did. It's my way of keeping his light burning bright, it's always been a battle for me, especially the early ones, a battle against mother nature and my own short comings, not in heart, but fitness. That has changed somewhat in the last 18 months and now I almost revel in the competition of it and trying to achieve that sub 4.
My first Fan in the Summer of 2013 took 6 painful hours and 47 minutes, last Winter (2015) I broke in to the 4 hrs for the first time with 4hrs 37mins and improved upon that again in the Summer with 4hr 24mins. A marker had been put down and a gauntlet thrown by a few friends to get that 4hrs. It's a target at one stage that seemed unattainable but now felt like it was in reach, although knocking over 24 mins off the Summer time would be a big ask.
This would also be my first crack at doing the Fan Dance Back to Back (on Saturday and again on the Sunday). I wasn't sure what to expect with it, I'd had a go at 'back to back' over at Ivinghoe just to get myself used the slog of 2 days at it. You can always rely on the notion that no 2 days on the Fan are ever the same, and so it would prove.
I arrived though full of hope and heart and that was only swollen further when parking up at the Storey Arms on the Friday and meeting up with so many great friends and soaking up the normal Fan Dance atmosphere. The air filled with anticipation, excitement a fair amount of dread and a good sprinkling of banter. Checked in and registered with Back to Back race numbers in hand, Jay chaperoned me back to the Youth Hostel where we were hauled up for the weekend, we claimed our bunks and began the obligatory faff with kit. We were soon joined by Big Dave, Mick H and Nikki and so the fun begins.
|With my weekend Partners in Grime - Paul and Jay|
SATURDAY 9th JANUARY
We loaded up and headed out just after 0700, a journey of no more than 10 mins was followed by taking about 20 mins to park. I'd never seen the event so backlogged with cars along the A470, it was like the final scene from 'Field of Dreams' "if you build it, they will come". Again I'd never seen the start area swollen with so many bergens. Standing waiting for the safety brief I was tapped on the back by a guy that had noticed my tribute to Lloydy (placed as normal on the top of my pack), turns out that he served with Lloydy (albeit in a different Squadron), I think that gave me a little extra, knowing that someone that knew Lloydy was on the hill with us. The chat was brief and no more than a confirmation of who I was to Lloydy, and that James knew him, but nonetheless it was a welcome distraction from the hill!
By now the weather was full on, torrential rain and gusting winds, but huddled in the pack waiting for gun to go off we were pretty sheltered, it wouldn't be until we hit the path up to Corn Du we'd feel the full force of it. The gun sounded a little after 0805 and the climb began. I've become accustomed now to how I'm gonna feel, and know how long it take me to hit each 'marker', the first is the gate, the second the turn under Corn Du, third Fan Summit. By Fan Summit I was 50 mins in, not as quick as I'd hoped but in decent shape. The next target is Windy Gap then the turnaround (Windy Gap doesn't feel right without Fordy manning it).
I reached the turnaround an hour after getting of the Fan. I grabbed a bag of jelly babies, gave in my number and turned straight around. I passed quite a few of the guys as I headed back up the Roman Road, taking the opportunity for a little chat as it presented itself. Guttingly I passed Mick who was in a bad way being ably supported by Strokey, Mick insisting he was jacking at half way.
The Roman Road can be a pretty lonely and dull drag back to Windy Gap and luckily the boredom was punctured by Christine, who like Mick was struggling with injury, she still cracks out a smile though, again it's gutting to see her struggling. I'm still setting myself targets, going back up the Roman Road, must be at Windy Gap inside 3 hrs on Fan Summit in 3hrs 30. Bang on 3hrs 30 I'm checking in with Staff Big, who gives me a well done, swiftly followed by a "get a f****** move on", well that's what it sounded like as I skipped off the summit.
Now It was a question of how quick I could get back, I was on for 4 hours, I knew it was tight, but I left nothing out there on that last slog back. As I slapped out my last few steps I shouted out my number and got 4:01 back!
|Done, eye of the Tiger!|
|The 'Victory' Cigar|
|Always a humbling moment getting my patch from KJ!|
SUNDAY 10th JANUARY
|The Weekend Done!|