THE MAC 4x4
The 2010 Macmillan 4x4 UK Challenge
By Mike Stapleton
(Team) Five go to Mystery Moor 2010
I think I sent the Interim Report to just about everyone I know, to encourage anyone who hadn’t sponsored us to do so. Once again we managed to top our self-imposed target of £2000.00 in 2010 and I hope we can do the same again this year. This, the full report is just for those of you who sponsored us, for members of the Essex Land Rover Club if this gets published in the club magazine and for those reading the ‘Competitor’s Articles’ on the Macmillan 4x4 Challenge website (www.mac4x4.co.uk).
There are very few pictures in this report as I learnt a lesson with my Driving Force report – that TalkTalk are not as generous with the size of outgoing e-mails as my previous supplier was. That being said there are 10 photographs on the 2011 Justgiving site so if you go there you can see them – even if you can’t sponsor us (and as I type this in late January I don’t know who ‘we’ are as David has had to drop out and I don’t have a definite replacement navigator as yet!). But please feel free to do so!
I set off to collect David from Ely and we travelled to Kidderminster, where I took David to meet Paul who’s been my navigator for the last four Macmillan Challenges. They not only have the distinction of being my navigators on one of the UK’s premier off-road Challenge events, they happen to be old friends having both been brought up at Papworth and having gone to school together. They hadn’t met for about 30 years so for an hour it was ‘do you remember old so and so …’ and so on. After that we continued to Ludlow where we arrived at 20.00 for an evening at the Travelodge.
Day one – Friday 5th March, 10.00 – Ludlow – 163810 miles – Trip 186.3
After a pleasant evening in the pub next door – lots of other competitors there too – we made the mistake of having breakfast at a café situated in an industrial unit nearby and within ten minutes of leaving there David began to feel stomach pains – I did think at the time that the sausages looked a bit iffey! We won’t go there this year!
Day one – Friday 5th March, 10.30 – Craven Arms – 163824 miles – Trip 200.9
We arrived at the Britpart factory at about 10.30 and began the process of signing on, applying stickers and generally meeting old friends.
Scrutineering, this year had an added element – the scrutineers had a length of 2” x 1” timber as they claimed there was a section with a height clearance issue and they had to check that all vehicles could pass underneath. MBT was OK but Janet’s truck, Muddy Blue Three (aka Tonka) had a problem with the bolts holding her sand ladders on the roof. They were 2 inches too tall. So there I was, squatting on Janet’s roof, tearing my knuckles as I cut a couple of inches off with a hack saw. There really was no height clearance problem in fact – having driven through a shallow river (in which there was a heron which I thought amazingly tame as it didn’t fly away as vehicles approached – it was a very realistic dummy) we came to a frame, constructed of similar lengths of 2” x 1” under which we had to pass. In our case I just lifted the upright on my side to clear our snorkel!
David had to make a rush visit to the loo, something he had to do several more times during the next 48 hours. We went to refuel ourselves (David didn’t eat his lunch!) and our vehicles (30.84 litres – 6.7848 gallons for the non converted – at £1.149) ready for the driver’s briefing at 14.30.
Day one – Friday 5th March, 15.03 – Craven Arms – 163824 – Trip 000.5
We set off in twos an hour earlier than expected and so the 2010 Challenge began. David navigated us through the first few turns and after a while I asked if we didn’t have questions to answer, as there was a set of directions and a second sheet with questions. He replied it didn’t say so, the question sheet must relate to the next forest stage. I asked him to read out the questions anyway. As he read the seventh or eighth question I gave him the answer as we were passing the building to which it related at that very moment. So we had to make a guess at the first seven questions. I blame it on the sausages!
We arrived at Radnor Forest from the A488 for the first of the five forestry stages which made up most of the weekend’s off roading. We were the third vehicle into the stage at 16.33 and found plenty of snow and ice – which was also to feature throughout the weekend. Out of the forest and on to Crossgates at 18.07, (163888, Trip 063.1) where we had a break until 19.03. From here it was a quick run up the A44 to Rhayader and from there we travelled to Aberystwyth, arriving there at 20.16. We managed to blag the last room in the Letty Parc (Park Lodge) Hotel where the event was based for the next two nights. Most of the competitors chose to camp in the playing fields behind the hotel – round the edges as there was to be a football match the next morning. The arrival of some 80-odd off road vehicles caused not a little interest and we were quizzed by many locals about what we were all doing.
Day two – Saturday 6th March, 09.55 – Letty Parc, Aberystwyth – 163928 – Trip 103.4
We were starting in reverse order today, so rather than being fifth away we about 72nd and didn’t set off until 09.55. Our instructions took us back along the A44 to Sweet Lamb (a well known rally stage) where we spent a very enjoyable 2 hours playing in the snow and ice and forest trails, looking for number boards. A break from 13.05 to 13.50 (163974 Trip 149.6) and we were off again, directly across the A44 to the other side of the valley with another two hours to play in the snow!! We finished at 15.50 (163992 Trip 177.3) having driven 27.7 miles in two hours!
We arrived back at the hotel for a few hours break before the night stage. As the hotel was now full the very helpful receptionist rang round all the other hotels and guest houses until she found us a room at Cwmwythig Farm about 4 miles out of town on the A44 – we had passed it by on the road below twice today already. We took our stuff out there and then returned for some food at the hotel. Outside our room I saw and photographed a flock of starlings as they swept, like a plume of smoke, back and forth across the fields before landing in a tree next to the farmhouse, taking off again several times and returning with a clamorous chattering.
Day two – Saturday 6th March, 20.45 – Letty Parc, Aberystwyth – 164022 – Trip 197.4
Away at 20.45 for a night stage in yet another forest. Here we were split into two groups, one group starting on one side of the forest and the other group from the other side – each group having instructions which were, sort of, mirror images of the other. This meant that we could see headlights all over the forest and kept meeting competitors coming from the opposite direction which is unusual and just a little disconcerting. Towards the end of this stage we passed under several wind turbines – mighty impressive beasts!
It being 22.45 (164070 Trip 246.7) we wondered if we might get a pint in so set off towards Aberystwyth and about a mile from our B&B spotted a public house – the Druids Arms – I came to a swift halt(!) and reversed into their car park on the opposite side of the road. Rushing across, it now being 23.00 I asked if there was ‘any chance of a pint?’. ‘Of course’, came the reply, ‘we’re open till one o’clock!’ The locals were very welcoming and the pint was very, very welcome! One regular, who had been outside having a cigarette came in and said ‘You boys must be very thirsty the way you screeched to a halt and ran across to the pub!’.
Day three – Sunday 7th March, 09.05 – Letty Parc, Aberystwyth – 164076 – Trip 251.7
Having enjoyed a cooked breakfast and refuelled (43.99 litres – 9.6778 gallons – at £1.149 making our average 26.001 mpg) on our way back to the hotel we set off in correct order to Lake Vyrnwy answering questions as we went. After Lake Vyrnwy we headed north to our final forest stage, in Penllyn Forest (164137). We were the first vehicle to arrive at 10.30 and were warned by the start marshal that it was very icy on top and to follow their tyre tracks.
It was very icy and at a point about 666 metres above sea level we drove onto a snow bank and slid sideways into a drift. I reversed out and tried again, we got a bit further but slid off again. One further attempt had the same result. I then reasoned that we were having no problems reversing out so I turned round and drove through the snow drift in reverse! Had I remembered to engage diff lock we probably wouldn’t have got stuck at all. Apparently lots of other competitors had problems with this particular snow drift.
The rest of the forest was pretty straight forward after that apart from one quite long, very rough and tight climb up through the trees – we had been warned not to stop to take photos as we’d not get going again! What we didn’t spot driving up was that there were apparently 9 number boards on it. We did find some 7 boards in just one area later, but apparently there were 11 there, so we still missed several.
We finished the section at 11.30 and proceeded to the next check point at Bala where we arrived at 11.45 (164141) and had a 15 minute break.
Day three – Sunday 7th March, 12.00 – Bala – 164141
Depart Bala heading north on the A494, the instructions said. We did so and followed more instruction which took us to Corwen and the A5, and on to the famous Horseshoe Pass which we’ve visited for the last three Macmillan Challenges. We arrived there, or at least, a layby just before it (164175) where we were waved down by two marshals who told us that the Horseshoe Pass was ‘full of bikers doing wheelies and other silly things’ so we were to hand in our answer sheet and proceed to our final destination – the Daresbury Park Hotel – but not to arrive until 16.00.
So it was 13.15 and the Macmillan Challenge was over for another year. No traumas this year, no punctures, no failing head lights – just, as everyone agreed, the best Challenge yet. Indeed, as this had been such a full-on Challenge I didn’t feel as deflated as I have done in previous years at the end.
Day three – Sunday 7th March, 15.10 – The Daresbury Park Hotel – 164216 Trip 139.5
OK, so we arrived earlier than we were supposed to but we were able to check into our room and go to the bar for a well earned, if somewhat expensive, pint of Guinness. The usual dinner, presentation of awards and raffle followed. We didn’t win any glassware!
Day four – Monday 8th March 10.30 – The Daresbury Park Hotel – 164216 Trip 139.5
Said our farewells and headed for home. The AA men (who were, quite rightly, awarded the ‘Spirit of the Event’ award) were still working on a competitors’ vehicle trying to repair them for their homeward journeys.
Dropped David at Ely at 14.20 (164404 Trip 327.6) and arrived back home at 14.45 (164420 Trip 343.9).
We came Joint 40th out of the 78 teams who took part. The winners (who have won something like 5 times now!) scored 155 points, we achieved 120 points, so I’m fairly happy with our efforts. We could have scored more no doubt, but I do tend to drive too fast in the forests for my navigator to be able to spot all the number boards!
We drove 794 miles door to door and 392 miles on the event itself – Craven Arms to the Daresbury Park Hotel. At the moment our total stands at £595.00 plus £162.18 Gift Aid on the justgiving site and £1175.00 plus £231.45 Gift Aid in cash and cheques, so, so far our total stands, today, at £2163.63, so we exceeded our target of £2000.00.
£106,000.00 was raised in 2009 and in 2010 we improved on that by £17,000 – a total of £123,000.00 being raised. The event has been run nine times now (we missed the first one) and in that time it has raised over £656,000.00
So, again thank you for sponsoring Team 5. You are helping us to continue to raise money for this very good cause. So far, in eight years, we’ve raised over £15,774.00.
Again, many thanks.
David Kent and Mike Stapleton
Macmillan 4x4 UK Challenge events
Team 5 – Macmillan 4x4 Challenge 3rd, 4th, 5th & 6th March 2011
2010 – Co-driver David Kent – Raised £2163.63, drove 794 miles, joint 40th overall. (Total raised by 78 teams £123,000.00)
Total raised so far by Team 5 = £15,774.00, total raised after 9 events = £656,000.00
Driving Force events
Team 5 – Co-driver Rob Cable – Driving Force 5th, 6th & 7th November 2010
2010 – Co-driver Rob Cable – Raised £423.20 including Gift Aid, 6th place.
15 Haviland Way, Cambridge, CB4 2RA
For Macmillan, tell everyone to sponsor us at: www.justgiving.com/muddybluetoo-2011
For Help the Heroes, tell everyone to sponsor us at: www.justgiving.com/robandmikedodrivingforce-2010