Wednesday, 6 October 2010

GLG Buttermere Challenge

I wasn't the most popular person in the world when I told Charlie we would be getting up early on Sunday 3rd October to travel to the Lake District for the latest in the GLG Challenge Series, when KGB and Lottie realised we would be leaving around half seven there was some doubt regarding their attendance at the sacrifice of the Sunday morning lie in bed. I had a little chat with the kids and tried to explain, at times we need to give a little back to those people who support us, the need for being reliable and standing by your commitments. We agreed to be ready to hit the road no later than 7:45am.

Returning home just before bed, I sent Gary (GLG Cycles) a text, he stated the 'artists' (you can decide what type of artists they are!) would be leaving home about 6am with an estimated arrival time of 9-9:30...knowing the organisational skills of the individuals involved my initial thoughts were those of doubt. Next morning I was delighted to find Charlie awake before the alarm sounded, we were soon ready as KGB arrived to pick us up, the kids ate breakfast enroute as KGB constantly reminded me how hungry she felt and that she was desperate to stop for food. The tight schedule would not allow for this, we motored across the A66, over the totally impressive Honistor Pass and down to the pre arranged rendezvous at the south end of Lake Buttermere.  

We arrived bang on half past nine and parked at roadside in the pouring rain. There was no sign of Gary and his posse? preparing a cups of tea, we both questioned whose bright idea this had been? the skies were grey, the rain fell constantly with an air temperature around 10 degrees, we sat in the car wondering if the others had actually decided not to bother. We had no signal on our mobiles as a result of which we had no way of communicating. We resigned ourselves to getting cold and driving back home if the artists didn't arrive in the next hour.

Just as hope was fading Gary's car flashed by, I sounded the horn, he screeched to a halt and jumped out... that was it....the laughter began, he was already kitted out in his ill fitting wetsuit, cycling hat and shades (it was pouring down) I was creased up, they had been parked a few hundred metres away and were thinking the same as us. Off they went to park a car at the North End of the lake returning to escort us to their seedy hide away.
We were soon stripped for action, the new kayak purchased by Gary was inflated, off we headed to the start, a slight trespass over private farmland, over a stream to the slate shoreline of the start, I carried the kids across the stream, the water felt freezing, my legs were numb within moments. Oh dear was this going to be a bridge too far?

We took photographs pre swim, noted Craig's duct tape securing his wetsuit around the waist and legs (I kid you not...check the photo!!) I then briefed the swimmers, KGB, Andrew, Craig, Gary and Dave our faithful boat support. The faces looked somewhat more serious than at at the Seamew Crag Challenge, was this worries or was it men trying to look cool in the presence of a girl. Afterall there had already been some suggestions after Gary zipped up KGBs wetsuit....ahem. Yes, that was noted gentlemen.

The shrieks and screams could be heard for miles around as water entry was tentatively negotiated, I walked further east to set Charlie and Lottie on their exploration walk of the lakeside path with strict instructions to stay in sight..then I was off, good grief this felt way cooler than my Windermere swim, was it down to my lack of exposure to cold water recently or was it really that cold. I breast stroked through the shallow water getting to grips with my breathing, the rest of the gang were well on the way as we all headed towards the re group point. I could hear Dave, Craig and Gary laughing from the word go.

Once I adjusted the water felt OK, my watch was reading 55F about 12.5C, by now I was swimming front crawl breathing to the right trying to spot the kids as we headed North, stopping occasionally to confirm their location and well being, I was soon disturbed to see they had stopped and had been still for some time. I was signalling for them to move on but was unable to hear what they were shouting. I had no option than to swim to shore, remove my ear plugs and asses the problem. Standing in the waist deep water, both kids explained they were being watched and were frighted to move...What!? was I hearing correctly, we were in the middle of nowhere, then I saw it, as they shouted "UP THERE..THE SCARY SHEEP!!" I could see a sheep complete with large horns watching over his pasture....reassurance soon won over the kids as the dashed to safety, laughing and looking over their shoulders..its was quite funny.

I swam on to see the re group agreement had been abandoned, so much for my briefing! the swimmers had split into two groups, Andrew and Kelly were doing well swimming front crawl, with Craig and Gary leisurely head up breast stroking, taking in the scenery, accompanied by Dave. I swam the 2km to the end of the Lake to be greeted by the kids who were keen to tell stories of their adventure, soon I was joined by KGB, she looked frozen though she had done really well to swim this far more or less alone.
The swim complete, we stood waiting for the arrival of the others, the kids had carried a towel for me but KGB was beginning to suffer, I made a barefoot recce to locate Gary's car so we could be ready to head off in the correct direction as soon as the rest of the gang finished. After some time and Andrews divertion (I think he was heading for Crummock Water, we were all on dry land, glowing with a sense of achievement, the boys appeared very happy with their swim, the fantastic surroundings added to the enjoyment, even the rain had stopped. 
The walk to the car brought some strange looks from hikers and dog walkers with me in my speedos and Craig wearing his rubber poncho, eventually despite Gary's attempts to park as far away as possible we reached the car, where the boys got changed. Back to the southern car park KGB and I shed our wet swim stuff before tucking into hot drinks, cakes and sweets. Andrew provided the kids with a flask of hot chocolate..though only luck prevented them receiving cup fulls of Craig's coffee laced with Whisky!

It was all too soon time to head home, we had a great time despite the weather with the Lake District yet again coming up trumps....the next GLG challenge will be next year at Derwent Water, another little step up in distance, however I will speak with the big man upstairs and pre order some sunshine. 


gary said...

Fantastic write up as ever Mark, really enjoyed the day out and i am genuinely sorry for cocking up the after swim arrangements (could not think properly due to the cold).
p.s I will have a stern word with those involved in lascivious comments..... :). thanx Gary

Karen Throsby said...

Very jealous - I LOVE Buttermere. Great write-up - maybe see you all at Derwentwater next year? K

Mark said...

Thanks Gary, was indeed a great day, glad you finally fathomed the comments, I trust there will be plenty in the future. All you have to do is instruct 'the artists' now!
See you soon

Mark said...

Hiya Karen
thankyou for the comment
glad to see you are still taking an interest in the swimming world now that you are an English Channel Hero, not sure if you noticed my tweet, it basically said please continue with your blog and the website..
The GLG boys will be doing a 'private' event at Derwentwater, the plan will be to swim from Kettlewell Car Park to Keswick Launch (basically the shorter of the BLDSA swims)

I will be at the BLDSA event though where I hope to double up on the day as part of my prep for next years target.

Best Wishes
hello to Peter