The Strathpuffer 2018
Report by Mr Park. Outdoor Education Co-ordinator
Last weekend a team of eight students entered the mixed school category of the Strathpuffe - a 24 hour endurance mountain biking race which has legendary status in mountain biking circles and attracts competitors from all over the world. It is certainly a challenge, even for experienced adults. With sub-zero temperatures throughout, icy rock sections, a thick blanket of snow covering the whole course, 17 hours of darkness, miles of grueling terrain, it was going to be a very challenging 24 hours for the team.
Joe C got us off to a great start at 1000 on Saturday morning and soon the whole team got into the swing of the event. Henry K and then Marcus D followed, both put in good rides over the hilly and technical 12 kilometer circuit. Next up was our youngest team member Maisie M (12) who rode her first lap early Saturday afternoon. Her previous mountain bike race experience ensured she returned safely despite the treacherous conditions. Leon K took over as the light began to fade, managing a fast lap. Cameron FM then rode off into the first of the dark laps. For the next 17 hours all the students not only had the snow, ice and cold to contend with, but also darkness. Shaun C embarked on his first lap as the grip of the night really began to set in. James M became our final team member to complete a lap as the temperatures began to fall even further.
Charging light batteries, fixing punctures, eating hot food, preparing safety equipment, boiling water, keeping the fire stoked, attempting to keep warm and maintaining bikes became the routine right throughout the night. Returning to snow covered freezing tents to try and get some sleep only brought partial respite from the relentless regime. When most sane people would be tucked up in bed sleeping on a mid-winter Saturday night all our team members completed at least another lap of the arduous course. Shaun C was out on the course when the sun began to rise meaning the event was entering its final stage. At about 0850 on Sunday morning Leon K embarked on Gordonstoun’s final lap and crossed the finish line almost exactly at 1000 on Sunday morning, 18 laps later and bringing the team home first in the mixed school category.
It was certainly an amazing event for the students to be involved in. Would they do it again? You would have to ask them. It was however, an event and experience for all of them that embodied Gordonstoun’s motto, “Plus est en Vous”.
With thanks to Gary Williamson Photography for these fantastic pictures of members of the Gordonstoun team.