Dreaming Team and ITERA 2019, Scotland

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Next week, Edinburgh-based Dreaming Team will enter ITERA 2019, a five-day adventure race in the Highlands of Scotland. The team consists of David Harcourt (captain), Simon Smith, Helen Farquhar and Megan Davey, who know one another because they all entered the Loch Gu swim-run race and are all around the same pace, though according to Megan they met in the pub and took to stalking one another on facebook.

Itera 2019 (from iter, Latin for journey with an a is for adventure) is a non-stop adventure race for mixed teams of four run over a course roughly 600 kilometres long, with shorter options for teams that don’t want to complete the full distance. The race itself begins on Monday 12th August and finishes on Friday 16th. It is non-stop and so far north there will be plenty of daylight (darkness from 10.30pm to 4am) and a few surprises along the way, including (considering Scotland’s sometimes dodgy weather) somewhere warm and dry to sleep near transitions. ITERA 2019 is part of the Adventure Race World Series. See more about ITERA 2019.

David Harcourt took time out from a holiday in France to write some thoughts before the race and then asked the team to comment (resulting in an occasional NB: from Megan). Images courtesy Dreaming Team 


Last minute team change due to injury to Simon. After some panicking we have blagged Helen’s hubby, John, that he needs to do ITERA. To be fair it has been on John’s radar for many a year. And John knows more about ITERA than the rest of us put together. Oh and John is training for the XTri ManxMan Extrem Triathlon next month…

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First a bit of Form
Dreaming Team are novices at adventure racing, but have considerable form in other areas of sport. Helen and David come from a triathlon background and have both done Celtman Xtri. Simon has a climbing background and also runs and swims. He entered Loch Gu swim-run in a team with David. Megan has a long history of ridiculous and generally wet team sports, including 19 caps for NZ women’s and age group Underwater Hockey teams. She captained the NZ Underwater Hockey Under 18 team – finest moment, a devasting 5-0 win over South Africa in 1994. It’s been downhill ever since. Although she swore she would never ever again play a sport that meant repeatedly getting wet, she transitioned to Swimrun in 2014, winning Loch Lomond Inch by Inch in 2017. She also climbs and surfs and once walked from Cape Wrath to Ullapool for a laugh. 

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Why ITERA? Why now?
David Harcourt: I found out about ITERA from Paul McGreal. He did the last ITERA in Wales and of course he runs Durty Events and is assisting with this ITERA. He told me it was coming to Scotland and that I would love it. NB Megan: I bumped into Paul at a triathlon last year, and he sort of laughed and looked a bit guilty, and said “Oh you’re doing the ITERA with Dave, are you…?”).

Purely on the strength of Paul’s recommendation I signed up as soon as entries opened, without any notion of a team – I was confident I would find 3 others. And it is in my home country – just perfect!!! It was only after entering that I began to look into what I had taken on - to be honest I still don’t really know. 

As we are all adventure racing novices we have decided to keep it unknown – obviously we have all the required kit and so we are aware it is mainly running, kayaking and mountain biking, all with navigation, but we don’t know much more than that. Having read the rules we are pretty apprehensive about teams going right through the night with just one ten minute compulsory stop. (NB Megan: I hoped there would be more swimming and less mountain biking but c’est la vie. Otherwise, I’ve read a blog and looked at some photos to see what it’s all about ).



The physical side
Personally I trainall year round and don’t do that much specific for specific events. That said, I have decreased my swimming for ITERA (actually forced upon me due to shoulder injury) replacing it with more running. Simon also trains all year round as well. Helen has been building herself back up again, quite literally, after a bad accident and several operations. Megan has been upping her cycling; she is already being a strong(NB -ish) runner (NB Megan is a rubbish cyclist which is why she does Swimrun. Her training has consisted mostly of a 25 mile daily commute to work, on an electric bike). 

We have been employing the ostrich technique when it comes to sleep deprivation, though I suspect we will need to pull our heads out of the sand on this soon. It is very much a journey into the unknown for us, but hey… that’s part of the challenge (NB Megan has tested her sleep deprivation navigation on recent trips to Assynt, the result being that she failed to find a bothy she had already visited - but at least she had the sense to know that she’d stuffed up)..

Planning and Strategies
We do not know what is coming! We will be taking lots of food (NB …and humour) and currently our thinking is to stop every night and have a proper mash-up, then put the tent up and get a few hours kip (NB yeah!!). However, we have no idea if this is realistic or even possible as there may be compulsory night sections and check points. 

We have agreed that we will go at the speed of the slowest person (NB sorry!) and not get grumpy with them… but that decision was made when we were fully slept and not starved of food…

We will take on specific tasks out on the course but what they are I think we will learn as we go…


What will be the most challenging aspect event?
We each have disciplines that we are weaker at: I know that I am not a great runner but will be strong on the bike. So the most challenging aspect may be encouraging team mates when you are strong and they are not feeling so good, without coming across as patronising or getting disgruntled.

We fully expect ITERA to be very physically challenging and hopefully we have done just enough training that our bodies will be able to cope physically. Mentally is whole other ballgame.

What are your expectations?
We are expecting great experiences being out in the wilds of Scotland for 5 days. I don’t think knowing Scotland will be an advantage, but it will definitely not hurt us that we do most of our training in Scotland and are therefore used to running and cycling in the cold and wet -  because Scotland isn’t always sunny and warm… (NB And we know about midges, though perhaps ignorance would be better…)


What does achievement look like?
We are realistic and achievement for us is aiming to finish the short course on good speaking terms and have had a good challenge.

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