For the previous three years a team of us from work have taken part in the Rotary Startrek Night Hike, usually held on the vast expanse of Exmoor National Park, to raise money for local charities (Hospice Southwest, Children’s leukaemia care, etc).
This year was no exception.
Although initially the omens didn’t look too promising.
We generally field a team of between four and six, and this year we had four of last year’s squad lined up to take part – myself, Mike, Shane, and Brett.
As usual, my old friend James had provided one of his trademark cartoons for our team t-shirts, which I duly had printed.
This year, as it was the event’s 21st anniversary, we thought that we’d go for a Star Trek theme, and James had depicted us all as various characters from the Next Generation TV series.
Our team was to be called Make it Slow in tribute to Captain Picard’s “Make it so number one” catchphrase.
I was cast as Data, Mike was Picard, Shane was transformed into Worf, and Brett was to be Commander Riker. (see Random Photos page)
Unfortunately, soon after the shirts were ordered, Brett found that he had to attend a martial arts show in Birmingham on the night of the hike, leaving us a team member short.
Since teams are supposed to be a minimum of four, we needed to get a new recruit fast.
Asking around at work served only to encourage more people to form teams, increasing our competition and leaving us no better off.
Then we had a stroke of luck. One of the other teams at work had a couple of people pull out, so we combined our resources, gaining Steve and Paul, and adopting their team name as they had an earlier start time.
So, we were now officially called Brian’s Nemesis, a reference to the super-competitive captain of the fourth and final team from work, whom we had always previously been thrashed by.
We were also all competing together, so to speak, for an inter-company trophy, which our firm won last year;
The next thing that caused a change of plan was the fact that the weather had been so bad for the previous few weeks, the moors were waterlogged, so the location was moved to the coastal town of Woolacombe, an area of rugged natural beauty, steep slopes, cliff paths, and windblown hilltops.
And last night, it was finally time to go hiking.
We met up in the car park and registered our team, got our first clue sheet and compass bearing, and off we went.
It didn’t take long before we caught up with our supposed main competition, Brian’s team, and overtook them. This caused a massive boost in morale, and from then on we set a steady, fast pace, arriving at the first checkpoint ahead of time.
We had also got most of the clues in the first section, and were feeling very pleased with ourselves.
Purely by coincidence, I’d been to Woolacombe a couple of weeks before with Elaine, before we’d known the hike would start there, and taken a photo of what we believed was the answer to the clue, “Three forces in granite”, a granite war memorial dedicated to English, American, and Canadian troops…
…along with some of the rock formations we ended up clambering over…
After having completed the longer, second leg of the first of the two loops in the figure-of-eight route, we came into the main tent to register our time, much to the amazement of the stewards who weren’t expecting anyone back so soon.
At this point, I was approached by the man doing the Twitter feed for the event, and he encouraged me to supply a quote.
Well, considering our team name, it seemed too good an opportunity to miss, so I got him to post;
“Brian’s Nemesis beating Brian already”
to which he added
Come on Brian, you can do better than that.
(which, with hindsight, probably didn’t help)
So, egos bolstered, we set off on the second part of the course.
This turned out to be tougher than the first leg, featuring several killer hills, really taking a toll on the legs, and prompting the annual thought of “Why do we keep agreeing to do this”
Still, once we got to the final checkpoint, spirits rose once more as we determined there couldn’t be much more “up” to get back to sea level.
The final triumphant stroll down the hill back into Woolacombe was very pleasant, with the clear, starry sky above us, a slightly pissed female hotel guest asking if we’d “found the pot of gold in the hills” from her balcony, and the knowledge that we were once again ahead of schedule.
Arriving at the base, we found that we were the first team back, leading to much smugness and talk of how Brian would react to us beating him for once.
We posed for our souvenir photo with the head of the Rotary Club, downed a quick complimentary pasty, and made the drive home satisfied with our achievement.
Whilst unwinding at home with a drink in front of the TV at about 2am this morning, (and after having put a rather smug post on Facebook about our victory over Brian), I thought I’d check out the Startrek feed on twitter, to see how other teams were faring.
I shall allow you to read the following thread for yourselves, as I haven’t the heart to write it down.
(click the link)
We have still to have all the facts confirmed, but there doesn’t seem to be much doubt that we will be hearing about this for some time to come.
As a friend commented on my hastily deleted post on fb (I may be smug, but I’m not stupid)
“Pride cometh before a balls-up”
Very true. Next time, we won’t let the red mist of competitiveness get in the way of what the event is all about,
winning at all costs charity.
Thank you to Brandit printers for their usual fine job on the t-shirts.