Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Blokfest - New name, new faces, new wall! By Jen Wilby

“When you move your focus from competition to contribution life becomes a celebration. Never try to defeat people, just win their hearts.”

Bloc Testing @ Mile End - Photo by Blokfest Team

Round 1 of Blokfest kicked off on October 20th at Mile End in London. Mile End opened in the late eighties and is housed in an old pipe engineering works which is located within Mile End Park. The wall has grown over the years, to include the astonishing Monkey Room, awesome training room and the brand new Secret Garden.

For those that have been living under a rock, Blokfest is a series of climbing festivals which stretch to walls as far north as Nottingham and will run over the next five months. It's fundamentally a climbing competition which gives you the opportunity to test your wits & skills against the evil minds of the setters, Alex, Mike, Gaz and Kornelija. It consists of 25 blocs which range from standard to plain old powerful with a bit of wacky put into the mix. You have got three attempts at each bloc and for those lucky enough to have one of the top 5 scores, you'll be in the super showcase final. For those that didn't, the showcase gives you the opportunity to witness the South's finest jumping and crimping to battle it out for the top spot. You've got DJ's, spot prizes, challenges, freebies and much more. It's an awesome day out/in :)

Helping out with registration saw me at Mile End for 8am, with a quick walk with Podey along the beautiful canal, then it was down to business. It's phenomenal how much work goes into putting this type of comp on. The planning starts well in advance, organising, walls, dates, holds, volumes, your t-shirts, DJ's, prizes and much much more. I think we owe a huge shout out to the Blokfest crew for their mega commitment. You can read more about the team here: http://www.blokfest.com/p/the-team.html

The junior's braved the torrential rain and were uber eager to start, with some arriving as early as 9am - with a 10am start! The blocs are split, so while Junior and Adults have mostly different blocs, some will the same. The juniors began and it didn't take long for the Pope to be crushing his way up the blocs with the adults wondering where on earth he got those forearms from and also slightly worried about getting on the blocs themselves :)

I creeped out from reception every now and then to check out how the juniors were doing. Becky & Nathan Waley were climbing with their quivering enthusiasm I admire. The star for me was Reading Climbing Centre's Climbing Academy member Amaile Momo. A new member of the squad who has shown awesome intuition when climbing. I've watched her a lot at RCC and she always amazes me. I've never seen a child climb with unwavering commitment or intuition as Amaile. I'm excited to see what Amaile has to offer the climbing world in the future.

The Final Junior results were:
Under 16 Boys:
Cameron McLoughin
Jim Pope
Timo Zheng

Under 16 Girls:
Imogen Horrocks
Libby Gamble
Alish Garside

Time for the adults to begin and wow, there were a lot of them! It just goes to show how popular Blokfest has become and it's only in it's 2nd season. The highlight of the blocs were in the new Secret Garden Mile End had built, which had some wicked angles to play on, including a slab which the Blokfest crew took full advantage of, with heartbreaking results ;)
Beastmaker provided an awesome set of wooden holds, including one which looked like a tree! The adult score cards started to accumulate and it soon became apparent that the top 5 were changing, which made it quite exciting. The team decided to add an extra 30 mins of time due to the volume of people - so folk had that extra time to claw those points in.

Jon P topped the mens score with a strong effort considering he's been injured, with Leah topping the girls. A big shout out to Audrey who made the top 5 despite being very ill. Audrey sadly pulled out of the final leaving Belinda Fuller to take the 5th spot.

The setters stripped and reset some awesome final blocs. The lights went out, the DJ on and Mike took the mic :)

The men's final blocs ranged from horrific looking slabs, which made it appear like only levitation would see the guys to the top. To some mega dyno's and figure of 4's! Ben West put on a fantastic effort to take the top spot.

The female finals looked to test the power and balance of the girls, with Molly not looking at her best, which is not a surprise  due to her comp season and awesome performance as well as BOB the day before. Molly put in a fight to take 5th place. Leah also showed fine form, coming straight from winning the BOB in Nottingham the day before but was just pipped to the top by Micheala Tracey.

Another top round guys!

Molly on Women's #1 - Photo by Simon Fowler

Crowd ready and waiting - Photo by Simon Fowler

"I'm not in competition with anybody but myself. My goal is to beat my last performance."

 On a personal note it was awesome to be there and watch the finals but I made, what turned out to be a hard decision that it would be my final comp. Why? I started doing comps because I was petrified of people watching me climb, so I threw myself in at the deep end with the aim of over coming fear - which it did. Whilst I was doing them I met some awesome people and had loads of fun trying blocs and cheering folk on. They were good times. I enjoyed learning about myself and how I climb and deal with what I found to be a stressful situation and also more about why I climbed, what worked for me and what didn't, 

I came back from the trip, almost a year ago now, looking to get back into the comps, but things have changed and no matter how much I have tried - my heart just isn't in it. Things have changed so much, the style, the people and the ethics. I'd like to make a point, that this is my personal feeling which is very much related to my experiences and new motivations. It has nothing to do directly with Blokfest - what they are doing is awesome. 

I would like to focus on my outside climbing, no queuing, no "elbow's out" to get on the problems and no pressures - just fun. Which in return will bring it's own rewards. 

The Saturday before Blokfest, my partner spent the full day in London with friends, having breakfast, climbing @ The Castle and heading out for a few drinks after. He came back full of tales of fun climbing and banter. I stayed at home and slept. That's when I realised  I would have had more fun climbing on Saturday than what I did on Sunday - so there is no more debating. Decision is made. 

Work is also a huge factor, its more demanding and unpredictable and I can't do everything - and outside is where I want to be. That's if the weather ever clears up! Last weekend we were a little optimistic and headed up to the Peak, I was so excited to be back on the Grit. It's been a while! I'm the first to admit that the Grit "is not me" but I love throwing myself on it! :) Alas - we ended up at The Climbing Works - the rain didn't stop. We had a rule never to go if it's rained the day before, but we were so excited we broke the rule - lesson learnt. English climbers have to be optimistic ! I was reluctant to head to the works, but it was good fun. Catching up with Amersham Local Nick Brown and fellow BeyoneHoper Evie, Yann and James! 

Its been a long month  - however I have purchased some rings, Gimme Kraft, and some resistance bands ... let's get going !

Until next time - with some Gritstone tales.

Happy Climbing

Jen x

PS - Lack of photo's and wisdom this time !

No comments:

Post a Comment