We can’t tell you how much joy it brought us to bring you the 2022 Winter Wipeout. Yes everyone knows the pandemic has hit events businesses hard but then there has also been natural disasters like storms to deal with. Losing the Cheviot Goat at the last second was a huge kick in the teeth. We’d pulled out all the stops, checked and double checked the route, created an independent comms plan, changed safety plans and so on and so on. You get the picture. In the end the actions of one man (who will remain nameless) managed to get it shut down via the council. So it was to this background that we had everything crossed going into early Jan and our first event of the year.
Ingram cafe were the consummate hosts as usual. They had thrown out two sets of food for the Goat but now the staff manned the fort and dealt with the deluge of runners that turned up. COVID dictated that all doors were left open and people just filtered through rather than linger and it seemed to work very well. Dishing out fantastic coffees that never dipped below a high 9 out of 10 (coffees WILL be judged) and delicious sandwiches to get everyone fuelled up ahead of a big day out.
Lots of the build up before the race had been about the route. Why change a classic? The old route was fantastic and yes we can go back to that in the future. However, the new one has many advantages. The first is that it only deals with one single land owner. The next is that it tested out the new finish for the Goat and gave us the chance to use some new features in the area. The fort on Brough Law is some thousands of years old and it was nice to bring it to peoples attention if only for a fleeting moment as their lungs were going to explode. This left the question of how to handle to Brough Law route in details. The local farmer, Stuart, said that people may well die if we try and take them straight up the steep face. Surely that just adds to the mystique?! Common sense won out so we found a nice sheep trod along the scree and then a more gentle ascent, still pretty bloody steep, for people to get up. There was the option of a waist deep river crossing but we decided that might be a step too far and we risked a punch n the face.
So it came time to start the race and with North of Tyne Mountain Rescue Team deployed on the hill the runners set off at pace behind Stuart on his quad. A long road section formed the outbound bit and gave people a chance to get their bodies into gear on a solid surface. At least that would have been the plan if it wasn’t for the big patches of ice that were strewn all over. Leaving the road took a rough track up to Cunyan Crag which gave people the first chance to stop staring at their feet and lift their heads to soak in a beautiful vista of Northumberland spread out towards the coast. Up and over Dunmoor an onwards to the domed top of Hedgehope that hovered in the clouds like a robust sentinel. The temperatures at the summit were easily in the minus figures and gave a true feeling of being touched by the tentacles of winter.
The route back down must have been very interesting and solid ice on the way up would have formed lethal skating patches on the way down. Huge time savings would have been the reward of the brave who were prepared to leap from spot to spot and keep momentum as their friend. The descent could almost be described as enjoyable, right up until people hit that river crossing and had to crawl up Brough Law on hands and knees. It made us smile. We nearly made a few people cry but they managed to hold it together at the last second for the sake of their dignity. Flowing down the other side and back along the road resulted in people making it to the finish of the Winter Wipeout and collecting a medal and a well earned hot soup to stick in their bellies.
The cafe had a great days trading and it was good to support the local communities after all the recent problems. For our own sake we just wanted to get an event done and to meet all the great people who have supported us over the years. Just to be able to stand and talk to people again was a delight and we look forward to doing it all again next time.