Well, I arrived at the Outdoor Show 2008 a bit later than the rest of the Alpkit group because I had to go to college on the Friday morning. When I got there Beth met me at the gate to give me my exhibitor pass which had a lovely passport photo on it. Oh the joy.
Once I got into the show, at about 4.00p.m. I was desperate to see the Skymasters course on which I was going to be competing. When I saw the course suspended from the enormous roof of the National Exhibition Centre, I actually thought that it wasn’t as large as I had been expecting. Then I noticed the tiny climber up in the shadows of the huge volumes and realized that this route was going to be extremely strenuous and tiring. I felt excited that I was going to be able to participate in such an event but incredibly nervous; this route was nothing like anything that I had climbed before: there were swinging volumes with huge gaps in between them; the wall was freely suspended from the ceiling; and there was a ridiculously huge television screen there to watch out every move. My excitement overtook my nerves for the rest of the night and a small group of us had races up some palm trees which was an activity open to everyone at the Outdoor Show.
It was not long before we were all making our way back to the hotel and then off to an Indian restaurant for dinner. This was good fun and allowed us all to get to know each other better, including some members of the Alpkit Team that we had not previously met.
The next day, Saturday; the day of the Skymasters competition, we arrived at the NEC in good time to find out our running order and prepare ourselves. I was up 2nd to last. I was extremely nervous. We all watched our route be demoed and it looked much harder than what I had seen the previous day. Nevertheless, I watched the first few climbers then proceeded to go warm up and prepare myself for the very extreme climb I had ahead of me.
I concerned myself over the efficiency of my warm up and my hydration levels, as everyone who came down off the route said how excruciatingly hot it was. I also kept a close eye on the running order and how long I had left. Before I knew it I was tying on to the end of the rope about to start the climb. I knew that the first part of the climb was relatively easy and it was best to do this with speed.
So I attempted to get up the first pillar quick, I believe I did so in about 40 seconds. As I reached on to the first overhanging volume a mass of nerves and thoughts ran through my head. Not what I wanted. I climbed under the roof of this first suspended overhang and overheard the commentator mentioning how smooth I was climbing, I almost laughed, this was not good, smooth climbing for me. I reached the wobbling barrel which I found incredibly disconcerting; I could not see my next holds on the other side of the rounded, wobbling volume. I got overly nervous and was physically shaking. So much so I missed my next hold, slipped and fell. When I fell, I got caught in the rope and span upside down numerous times.
My time on the Skymasters route was over. Much sooner than I would have liked. I let my nerves get a hold on me and totally lost my focus and did not have a positive mental state. I lost out this time because of that, but I know that it is something I am going to work on, and than, next year, I shall be more prepared and hopefully do better than I did this year. I currently feel quite determined about this.
For the mean while, c’est la vie, I shall have to focus on next year.
Saturday night, the Alpkit Team attended the after show party which had food, drink and music. The band was really good and had numerous dancing contests.
The next day, Sunday, Beth was competing in the final and we were all helping out with the Alpkit store. Beth was in isolation for the most of the morning. When she finally came out to compete we were all there to cheer her on. She climbed really well but it was so tense for everybody watching as we were screaming for her to keep going as we knew where she had to reach in order to get further than the previous climber. She did succeed in doing this and it was fantastic to watch.
The rest of the day we helped around the Alpkit stall, including counting the votes for the coLAB competition. At the end of a long day we all helped to pack up all the gear on the Alpkit store and say our goodbyes till next time. All in all it was a really good event and I had a lot of fun, and my thanks to the Alpkit guys for getting us more involved in the whole experience.