An Epic Journey

By Flo Tilley

My second European competition happened to be held in a not so local location as my first European- Edinburgh; but a 2 and a half-day train journey to Moscow. (3 days returning!)

The wall was specifically built for this competition, in a park surrounded by trees in the centre of Moscow. The wall was all of 12 metres high; however I was pleasantly surprised when I saw our routes. Our first qualifier was on a constant 20-degree wall, just my style, and the second, 40 degrees; a style just like at Ratho. The GB team was in luck! I was climbing 4th on my first qualifier and I felt relatively calm compared to how I felt on my first ever climb in a European in Ratho! I felt I climbed well until I had to do a big reach near the top, unfortunately I tried doing it the tall persons way and consequently fell off! I was psyched for my second route on the 40-degree wall as I enjoy this style. However they don’t suit me as well as the less steep stuff does, as I currently do not have the power, which I unfortunately needed for a number of the moves on this climb. To my frustration the climb threw me off just as I was making head way on the steepest part of the wall. I came down disappointed, as I knew I could have climbed better.

Even though I messed up on a move I still felt I climbed the first part well and calmly but when I got to the steeper section a number of holds up, I had to make the clip but couldn’t quite get it and I knew I had to move on as it drains your body trying over and over again. Crossing over to the next hold I came off after losing some concentration.

Molly Thompson-Smith and Luke Tilley, my brother, however did a storming job! They both toped both their qualifiers! Furthermore they climbed amazingly in the final! Both getting the same spot on the podium, 3rd place!Team GB did pretty well overall with 2 out of the 3 on the podium! I have come back with a whole lot of experience for Europeans and catching trains! Even though I am not hugely happy of how I climbed I know it will come with experience and more hard-core training!

"The secret of life, though, is to fall 7 times and get up 8 times" Paulo Coelho. (From 'The Alchemist', an inspiring book to read after an inspiring weekend!)

To get to Moscow we came by train. An Epic 2 and a half-day journey! On the way it went swimmingly, going through France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus and then to Russia, Moscow! The trains were all on time and we had no problems, however the return journey was a different story!
Because Luke did so well, we just had to wait for the ceremony, which then caused us to run 1km to our train, we had 10 minutes till our train left when we arrived at the station so all was good, until we realised we were at the wrong one! Oh dear! The guards tried to be very helpful, unfortunately as they had absolutely no English it didn’t help the situation; only until too late did they realise we had the wrong place!

After some hanging around in the correct station we got tickets to Warsaw, it seemed liked things would be alright again, we had a bed and we were going to the right place. All good until we arrived at the Polish border and had to show our visas, and apparently being 6 hours past the expiry is not tolerated. The visa control with their big hats and authority gave us some trouble, demanding that our visas expired all 6 hours ago and we had to extend them, throwing us off the train just two minutes before it left. Oh dear!

A quick phone call from a guard and a mad taxi man, Timo, whisked us to the police station where we were interrogated by the chief inspector why our visas had expired and we waited to be ‘freed’. With the help of Timo knowing everyone we got our visas made in 3 hours rather than 5 days. We finally made it out of Belarus!

We now had the next hurdle to jump, the train to Warsaw from Terespol. At about 10 at night a train arrived to go to Warsaw but apparently it was a train just for Russians and they were not going to pick up anyone, not even my puppy eyes swayed them. So we found ourselves with no bed and the next train being at 2 am. Oh dear!

We had 4 hours in a train station in the middle of the night so it looked like we would be kipping on the benches. I don’t recommend it; with people shouting, trains coming and going and one hard bench there is no comfort! Finally 2:00 came and we got our train, still with no bed but a compartment of our own and a soft seat to lie on.

An extra night in Cologne, the train to Brussels in the morning, and then finally, to a well missed home. An extended adventure that I doubt I’ll forget (or repeat)!

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