Write up from Jan Rogers re Itera 14/16

Hi all – I’m looking for a team member from the 2014 possibly 2016 event who was lets say mid to back of the pack – perhaps out to complete rather than compete.

I think its fair to say we meet that criteria, we have been placed next to last in both events after successfully completing the short course.

What have we learned along the way…
We have always competed as friends, we don’t have special roles, we are not very good at anything but ok at most things. It’s important to agree to have dinner after the event and make a pact to stay friends. This will test your friendship to the limit, when you are very tired, it’s very dark, you’re a little bit lost and possibly hungry – you are not your normal diplomatic self. Just remember to smile and laugh a lot.

Preparation was a bit hit and miss, we are good friends so we interact quite a lot anyway but we all have our own agenda and race schedule. We have never trained specifically for the event but try to incorporate a few extra’s such as orienteering, mountain days, night walks (although we say this, I don’t think we have achieved it). Paddling is our one weakness so trying to get some time on the water is always worth it. We found a rental company who were happy to lend us the boats similar to the ones we would be using and we managed a couple of sea paddles. It’s important to work out the paddling teams of 2, its critical you stay together so make sure your paddling speeds are the same. You don’t want one boat waiting and the other boat paddling like mad.

Understand your strengths and weaknesses as a team – we are not very good at paddling or navigating in the mountains in the dark. Sometimes its difficult to avoid but try to minimise, we once ditched a whole night orienteering section.

How fit are we – I’d like to think we are ‘good for age’, yes we have all competed in marathons and IM so are generally ‘fit’ but if you have some good mountain experience then that is equally good, the key is just being able to keep moving at a constant pace.

Agree your goals before you get there, in the heat of the moment and being the most competitive type its easy to make the wrong decisions early on. Remember it 5 days.

The day before will be manic – it’s hard to describe how busy you will be once you get the maps and the route map. Read it clearly whilst you have the ability to do so. Try to map as much of the route as possible, especially the last few sections. We often fall apart on the last day not knowing our left from right so if its already on the map you are not having to think about it.

Do as much packing as possible at home, don’t faff – this event will consume you if you faff. I still don’t know the best way to pack my bag. My friend once started in a tri suit and finished in the same tri suit – he never changed – his team were highly placed but that is not an option for me.

There will always be surprises and changes along the way, the 60km and 40km paddle was a shock – I was expecting 3-4 nice 20km paddles, we were delayed by over 3 hours at the zip wire in Wales which threw all our timings out. The atrocious weather in Ireland slowed us down – but they are all part of the adventure. If anyone had said to me at the start it will take us 16 hours to paddle Loch Corrin, I don’t think we would have started but its amazing what the body can achieve.

We have always opted for the short course and started off very conservatively, we have often been seen having tea and cake in a cafĂ© or two – when the course allows. Don’t be afraid to follow the short course, its about making sensible decisions its not about ‘cheating’ or ‘being weak’ – it will still test you.

We enter this event for the experience and the journey, we always try to include the special stages, some of the places we have been, the things we have done the views we have seen – I can honestly say have been amazing. We have been very fortunate to have a great team who can laugh a lot. The finish line and the shower at the end is just one of the best feelings ever.

We were very nervous the first time we did it and we were complete amateurs, we now know the format but we are still amateurs. If you are thinking about doing it – then do it, it will be one of the greatest holidays you will have (remember you are taking time off work to do it). You’ll be amazed at what the body can endure…I mean enjoy!