For those of a sporting disposition, the annual Tree House Triathlon in Botton Village is a unique test of mettle.
After a bracing 400m swim in ‘Lake Taylor’, a pond high up in the woodland at the head of Danby Dale, competitors undertake a 5km run through woods and fields and onto the moor above, before cycling from
the church in Botton for a 20km return journey to the village centre.
Botton forester Alan Ayres thought up the event as a fun challenge for anyone brave enough to enter. People can choose to go the full distance, opt to run and bike only, or simply do the swim. Local friends join in the fun too.
Last year’s event was the most challenging ever. Thankfully the sun was out but exceptionally heavy rain the day before and strong winds made the going very tough.
Swimming in soup
Silt had washed into Lake Taylor, turning the water to a shade similar to oxtail soup and reducing underwater visibility to virtually nothing. However, there were a record number of entries, making for a bit of chaos as the swimmers jostled for position.
With water temperature a disappointing 11 degrees C, Stef the Joiner exited after two laps but went on to complete the rest of the course after warming up again.
Only one competitor, Sam, played it safe and wore a full wetsuit, no doubt ensuring a better swim time but costing time in transition. Nanda put in a solid swim for the Thirsty Ferrets, the sole team entry.
However, Alan managed to lap the rest of the field (swimming into most of them in the process) giving him a lead into the run - which was tougher than usual with soft, muddy ground as well as more gates to jump due to sheep and a closed footpath section at the end.
‘The wind doesn’t care’
James, who was taking part for the third time, said at the end: ‘The first time I did the bike ride only. Last year I decided to do the run and then the bike. This year I did the running course and then the bike ride. When I got up on the ridge there was this headwind and for awhile I was tempted to throw a big tantrum. But I told myself, the wind isn’t going to care if I’m tired. The wind isn’t going to stop. So I’ve got to pace myself a bit.
‘I was with people for most of the run, but then I got to the back on the ride. I had fun though.’
At the finish line
The previous year’s overall winner, Botton mechanic Mark, had to withdraw due to a breakdown call-out, leaving Alan to produce the fastest time for the full course.
However, the biggest cheers were for those coming in at the end, for those whom the ordeal was toughest. In Botton, the taking part is more important than being the best.