Adventure Race World Champs Portugal 2009

There’s no way I can write about a 126hr race all at once but for Team Cruachan, the most important thing is that we raced as a team, we finished and we had an amazing adventure along the way. The race took us through stunning scenery in the highest mountains of Portugal to paddling down the river bordering with Spain. I even enjoyed the rollerblading sections, scary though they were. We were the ‘comedy’ team in our kilts, which no-one really thought would make it. Also the only team with 2 girls, rather than the token adventure chick most teams have. All of us had highs and lows during the race but we helped each other through them. I don’t think I want to see my bike for a wee while as the last leg was 18hr straight and it’s only now, 2 weeks later, that I’ve managed to get my hands to uncurl. We got so tired at one point we went into a cafe, drank double espressos then promptly fell asleep head down on the table. I wished we’d had a Portugese sign saying "I’m not ill, I’m an adventure racer…"

Another time a woman in a bar looked so appalled at what we were doing that she rushed home to bring us her own homemade bread and ham as the nearest restaurant was 20km away and we had major energy food fatigue. The kindness of the locals, beautiful scenery, the community with other teams and above all the strengths, support, spirit and sense of adventure of my Team Cruachan team mates were what made it for me. That, and the motto that you should never give up at night because it’s always better in the morning. We did mean to get more sleep, at least more than 6hrs, it just never happened. I think me singing constantly to keep awake during the nightime kayaking stages was the toughest stage for my team mates but we were all struggling to play 20 questions or name fruit and veg beginning with every letter of the alphabet. How many renditions of ‘eye of the tiger’ can one team take before purposely throwing themselves into the water under the pretext of falling asleep?

The race finished with a 4am swim across a bay then a walk along the coast line to a beautiful headland where there was champagne, photos and tears on the finish line. Team Helly Hansen, another UK team came first – that’s the first time there’s ever been a British world champion so it was a really inspirational thing to be a part of.

Pyro, our race reporter, took a load of photos which can be found on and if you want the War and Peace 10-installment version of the race you could have a look at my own blog I think it will be on Channel 4 on 27 December at 8am. We’re the ones in the kilts!

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