The three day urban sports festival was held in Gravesend at the Cyclopark. Events and activities included inline & quads skate, circus skills, BMX, skateboard and scooter. Camping facilities was available too.
I only attended the final day so can’t comment on the Saturday and Sunday events.
It was an hour journey from Charing Cross station on the train. The great thing about going to an event like this was that we had our skates with us. It took about twenty minutes to skate from Gravesend Station to Cyclopark, saving us the taxi fare. We saw some longboarders doing the same on the way but they were struggling when they got to the hill.
The inaugural event was well organised. You could sign up online ahead of time. As I was unsure whether I could make this event I did so on the day. Everyone was given different wristbands depending on what event they may be partaking or if you were just spectating. I signed up for the inline skate half marathon.
We got at the venue early so we caught the end of the slalom competition. Natalie, one of the organisers had been trying to persuade me to enter this but I hadn’t really slalom skated since the last competition, four months ago. (Speed skating has had my attention lately, hence the marathon sign up).
The slalom skaters were amazing as usual. It did make me want to get into the cones, just maybe away from the really good cool people!
We saw them do jumps and slides as well. Something I’ve done very little of. They demonstrated an immense amount of control whereas I’d go for it, commit and just hope for the best.
I only signed up for the half as I have the full marathon at Copenhagen a week later. Having not done a full distance before on my speed skates I didn’t want to potentially cause an injury, or not give myself enough time to recover before the event a week later.
The racers included inline skaters and longboard skaters. For the full and half event we were split into our designated start points. Full marathoners started first.
Soon after the half marathoners lined up. My friend Mark, aka Sushi invited me to join him in pacelining together for the race. I was unsure whether I could keep up with him but he reassured me he was going to take it easy. At the start line I had two rows of people ahead, Sushi was at the front. I don’t like fighting for space so I stayed put, aiming to squeeze past when I had the chance.
The gun shot and people scrambled for positions. It all happened really fast and that was the last time I saw Mark before the end of the race.
At the start of each lap was a nice downhill straight where you could really sprint down. I thought about using that stretch to recover but the speed was just too inviting with nobody in the way.
The course otherwise was very hilly, lots of sharp turns so it was difficult to actually get into a nice rhythm.
Part way up the final hill my friends Ania, Chidi and Thomas had perched themselves on a bench to cheer us racers on. Very good position to do so as that hill became longer after each lap.
There was a very sharp U turn on the final bend. If you overshot you would have ended up down a grass hill. Fortunately I tested the track out before the actual race as I freaked a little the first time, breaking quite heavily on my speed skates. As the laps went on I engaged it more efficiently with tight cross-overs.
As I went around I could see the other events going such as the BMX and Scooter. It was great to see what the other groups were doing. This also provided entertainment as I climbed the steep section of the course. Later on I was pretty much taking one step at a time up the hill.
It was a really hot day. Every time I passed my friends I envied the ice cold beer they had. Roger in jest offered his beverage. During the rest of that lap that’s all I was thinking about. I fancied a cheeky swig. So when I saw Roger again I accepted his offer.
That was the most memorable lager I’ve ever sampled. Being so thirsty I became all the more conscious of its sweet bitter flavour slipping back, working its intense taste all the way down. Slowly dispersing its coolness where it touched. I felt refreshed from that sip which surged me to go faster, knowing I could have a full bottle once I finished. (I don’t encourage or endorse alcohol during active exercise!).
Unfortunately that boost of energy didn’t last long. On the final lap I lost a bit of enthusiasm as my legs ached and cramped. My smile and bouncy energy was not around this time as I passed my friends on the hill. No posing for photos this time. I just wanted to finish.
Hats off to the longboarders as they look like they were struggling with the hilly track. A lot of them walked up the inclines.
Mark came first. So much for him taking it easy! There was no way I could have kept up with him.
I finished at just over 46 minutes (I can’t remember the exact time) which was a similar finish time to my race at LIM. This was a surprise to me as I was literally walking up some sections of the Cyclopark but at LIM I was more consistent with my pace. (On reflection I must have made up the time difference with the downhill sprint at each lap at Blitz).
Blitz Festival Finale.
To finish the day my friend Gary was attempting to break the Guinness Book of Records’ fastest time to complete a line of twenty cones on one inline skate. Unfortunately it didn’t happen that day but his attempts were impressive. They had the official Guinness man, camera crew and CBBC presenter with all his cheesiness for the event. (It took forever for them to film everything and I was getting hungry..).
Blitz Closing Comments.
This was a really nice day out and it was great to see urban sports from various disciplines all in one place. I was gutted to have missed out on watching some of the other events on the other days such as the skate cross. Hopefully I’ll catch more events next year…
Highlight of the day.
My friend Richard had the great idea of going down to Whitstable after the event. Watching the sunset on the beach, whilst eating a well-earned fish and chips with everyone was bliss.
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