Related Links
John's sponsors

» submit an item · an event

John pushes his way uphill
John pushes his way uphill
Bristol Crane Abseil
Bristol Crane Abseil
John - Après-race!
John - Après-race!
The start of the Rat Race in Bristol
The start of the Rat Race in Bristol

Internal News - 21 June 2005

Bath student John is a real rat

University of Bath student John Laughlin recently claimed second place in the Crest Nicholson Rat Race Urban Adventure in Bristol, the largest adventure race in the UK.

John, a final year MEng Sports Engineering student, has been competing at this booming sport for only three years having moved on from mountain biking racing. However, after a lot of training and experience development, he has managed to reach the top tier of racers in the UK in 2005.

Adventure racing is on the whole a team sport in which three racers run, bike, kayak, navigate, climb, descend and traverse on ropes, amongst any number of other non-motorized modes of transport including horse riding and inline skating. Races are a journey that usually takes place in the wilds and last between six hours to six days. Teams experience any number of wonderful highs and terrible lows in order to reach a triumphant finish and to enjoy some of the most remarkable experiences of their lives.

However, on the weekend of 11-12 June, the racing came to Bristol for the first in the Rat Race Urban Adventure Series, where John and his Macpac Anatom team mates were joined by 85 other teams in elite, adventure and novice categories. The cream of UK elite adventure racing was present including third in the world team Saab Salomon and The North Face; however, the majority adventure class was made up of fit but inexperienced locals, including a few University of Bath students.

A separate Rookie class allowed novices to have a go at a much-shortened course of three hours on the Saturday night, while the main field tackled an extra 80km course on Sunday.

Stages included biking along the Bristol to Bath Railway Path, orienteering in Blaize Castle Park, exploring the caves under Redcliffe and abseils down the height of the Avon Gorge and from the cranes in the Bristol Floating Harbour. Kayaking took place in the Floating Harbour but there were also a host of unusual challenges including a marching challenge and rifle shooting at the local Royal Navy HQ, and a mid-race boardroom interview at the Bristol Evening Post offices.

“It was an amazing race that really showed the best of the city, from every angle, inside and out, up and down. We had a really great race with only one bad moment when my teammate, Iona, badly sprained her ankle” said John, who is in the Sports, Medical and Materials Group in the Department of Mechanical Engineering .

“Fortunately she’s tough and with strong painkillers and a bit of teamwork, we got round at a really fast pace.”

“We had some wonderful moments including the big abseils in the Avon Gorge and off the Floating Harbour cranes, but to finish second in this massive race close to home in Bath beats them all.”

The next race in the series takes place in Edinburgh on 16-17 July followed by Manchester on 6 August.

Adventure racing takes place all over the country with many new race series this year devoted to novices. Details can be found on the Sleepmonsters adventure racing website. (See related links section).

For those captivated by the Rat Race, it is expected to return to Bristol in 2006 and a TV programme of this year’s race will be shown on Channel 4 in October.

John’s team is sponsored by the New Zealand outdoor equipment manufacturer, Macpac and Anatom.