Wednesday, July 10, 2013

IAU World Trail Championships - Part 1 (The trip before the race)

Brian and I had an amazing adventure in England and Wales - all leading up to the IAU World Trail Championships in Gwydyr Forest in Conwy, Wales.  We spent about 5 days visiting the Lakes District of England and Snowdonia region of Wales.  Brian being Brian, he of course wanted to bag the highest peaks out there, so that was much of our adventure. 
(The beautiful Lakes District of England)
Brian and I enjoyed the paths through the mountains in the Lakes District, and (after two attempts) we reached the summit of Scarfell Pike, the highest peak in England.  Our first attempt was unsuccessful because we got so confused trying to follow directions such as 'follow the beck to the tarn and then turn north between two pine trees'.  Without knowing what a beck or tarn was, not having a compass, and seeing way too many trees to distinguish which two were the 'two', we just ran up and hoped for the best.  We got a much better map for the 2nd attempt and got to the top.
(Brian enjoying the trails)
We enjoyed seeing plenty of free-range sheep throughout our trip.  I learned that you can get them really excited if you 'baaaa' back at them.  I also learned that the wool that they shed on the mountains is a great toilet paper substitute (I now understand why they show sheep during toilet paper commercials).

(Rush hour in England - sheep across the trails)

(Free range sheep)
We also visited Snowden, the highest peak in Wales.  On that peak, it was the strongest wind I have ever experienced - so the slog to the top was tough with the wind at our faces, especially trying to keep from blowing away.  However, the return trip was incredibly fast - I likely ran my fastest mile ever as I was aided by the high winds at my back.

(Hiking in England)

(High winds on Snowden - Brian is leaning into the wind and it's holding him up)
We visited a few castles during our trip.  Having never been over seas, I have only ever seen castles during movies and was amazed by their size and magesty.  I was also fairly amused by the signage at the castles - frankly, in the US these castles likely wouldn't be opened because someone would have gotten hurt and England, a warning sign is good enough. 

(Conwy Castle)

(Warning sign - basically listing the ways that the stick figure got hurt today.)
The most amusing part of the trip was likely the driving.  Just a reminder - they drive on the opposite side of the road, and the opposite side of the car...and you can only rent standard cars.  Brian was a trooper and figured it out, but it was scary at times!  Brian had a minor freak-out as we left the airport.  But, he quicky learned to channel his inner Nascar racer and was zooming around the narrow back roads at 50 mph, hitting my side mirror on brush along the way, and making me car sick.  Unfortunately, I was too nauseous to take pictures of the 'Cats Eyes Removed' signs that we saw - I am still curious about that one.
(What is wrong with this picture?)

However, this was just the pre-cursor to the IAU World Championships.  More on that later...

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