Review by Alan Moore.
The Great Kinder Beer Barrel Challenge is a team event that is very underground, they don’t advertise, they don’t charge you excessive costs, in fact they don’t want hundrends of people there hence they have a strict selection criteria – you have to live within the local vicinity and its invite only.
It may well only be 5km but it’s 5km of heart pumping exhaustion. The obstacles consist of a 75kg beer barrel (hence the race name), a 650m hill called Kinder Scout and your own abilities.
The aim is to build a carrying device to transport your full beer barrel from the Snake Inn to the Nags Head pubs. This, if you believe local mystical tales, is to commemorate an Edale local who on one dark winter’s eve many years ago donned his Parker, slipped on his wellies and trudged over Kinder to the Snake Inn when the Nags Head had ran out of beer and the roads were closed. But thats only half of the story because he then carried a full beer barrel the return 5k journey through streams, peat bogs and of course over that little 650m hill they call Kinder Scout. But thats enough reminiscing of how it started what is it like today?
It’s now done in 8 man teams who turn up with carrying contraptions made from ladders or in the case of one team a home made stretcher. You attach your barrel to it and the adjudicators come and inspect to make sure you haven’t broken any of the unwritten rules. It must not have wheels, and it must be secure.
My team’s carrying device consisted of a 10ft ladder, 4 poles attached so we could lift and carry and bike inner tubes to put over shoulders to take a little pressure of the arms. The barrel was fastened on tight using a ratchet strap and then shrink wrap, finally we mounted our team mascot- the 6ft tall Babycham bottle, after all this is Team Babycham!
Our carrier passed inspection and we were given our race number – team number 3. This meant that we set off third of the twelve teams.
The start begins opposite the Snake Inn amongst the woods with teams starting every 3 mins. We cheered off the first 2 teams before we took our place, 3,2,1 and we were off, but after 10m we realised we were all a bit dehydrated so we stopped, cracked open a bottle of babycham and shared it around. Other racers even popped down for a quick sip.
The first 500m is through the woods with many tracks to take and this time we went right (last year we went left and got lost). Soon we found ourselves crossing the stream at the base of Kinder Scout and its here the fun begins. Looking up the track we could see the other teams pushing on and so did we.
At 1km in the gradient is still steady as we follow the track up the hill. At this stage we are jogging/walking and all in good spirits but we knew this wouldn’t last as we turned the corner. The next kilometre is what determines your over all time. You can make up 20 minutes or lose 20 here. The path disappears and the incline starts to get steeper. You have a choice of taking the steep route thats shorter or traverse the hill climbing gradually that’s longer.
In 2017 we went steep and it almost resulted in 2 heart attacks so this year we traversed and this seemed to be the done thing as teams followed in our footsteps.
The next kilometre was tough going so we stopped and swopped carrying positions often, the gorse grabbed your ankles, the ground sucked your feet in, and the heart rate rose. Reaching the top we had caught one team and had been overtaken by two others. Already we were in a stronger position than last year where at this stage everyone had overtaken us!
Now at the long crossing of the summit with no paths, no references or focal points to look for, we just went in the direction the barrel took us. Up and down gullys, through streams and into knee deep bogs until we reached the other side and could finally take a bearing. Time to descend down.
Over the side we go with 2 men at the front pulling the ladder and 2 behind guiding the barrel but it soon became evident that we are no longer in control of said barrel, its come alive and it wants to go as fast as it can so we held on tight and enjoyed the ride. Running as fast as we could holding on tight at the back trying not to lose our footing we managed to reach the bottom and assessed the damage. Two broken carrying handles, two hanging off and a twisted ankle so not a bad descent.
Picking up our pieces we headed off to the finish line. It’s all steady running now so the heart rates comes back down to earth. Down some steps over a bridge and it was just 100m sprint to the finish.
The day is finished off with a presentation. Each team is clapped as they are asked to collect their rewards of a bottle of beer and a certificate for the days efforts. Another year, another great event.
Check out Alan’s race video here: